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Choosing a carport

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An attractive gabled carport.

Selecting the right carport is no easy task. There are many decision to be made. But, confusing as it may seem, there’s really only three choices that need to be made:

  • Constuction: freestanding or attached
  • Roof style: flat, gabled, or skillion
  • Construction material: timber, steel, or brick

When choosing a carport, consider both the practical and aesthetic aspects. You need a carport that will protect your vehicle – but you also want to make sure it blends with the style of your home and property to improve its resale value. For older or more unusual homes, it pays to consult with an architect or building designer to ensure the style of your property is maintained. 

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Construction

Freestanding

Freestanding garages offer considerable flexibility in placement, so long as you abide by local council and national construction codes.

Before you decided where to place your freestanding carport, you will need to ask local and state authorities the following questions:

  • How close to the boundary can it be?
  • What are the rules concerning the appearance of the front of the home?
  • What are the rules with regards to access to the carport from the road?
  • Will you affect your neighbours' car access, views or flow of natural light?  

Attached

Attached carports can provide savings as you don’t need to pay for supporting one side of the carport – it’s already on your property! You do, though, need to give careful consideration to ensure the stability of your existing and new structure. Questions you need to ask of your home’s designer include:

  • Is the fascia of the existing structure capable of supporting the additional weight?
  • Will the roof framing need to be strengthened?
  • If you have a hipped roof, how close to the corners (the weakest part) will the carport be?
  • Will the resulting combined structure be able to withstand reverse loads for uplifts?

Roof style

Providing you have the finances and imagination, you can have any style of roof imaginable on your carport. Most Australian homes, however, have one of the following:  

Flat roof

Flat roofs are possibly the most popular type of carport roof, as they are cheap and quick to install. As with other flat roofs, however, flat carport roofs can be difficult to drain and susceptible to damage from water pooling and ice forming. A slight incline can make a big difference in the drainage of the roof, without altering its appearance. 

Skillion roof 

A skillion roof is a flat roof with a significant slope. Many modern homes have a skillion roof for its impression profile and passive climate control properties and apply the same roof to the carport to tie the designs together. 

When planning a skillion roof, be aware of the maximum height of carports as laid out in the BCA - this may affect your ability to put a steep slope on the roof, but your architect or building designer can help you with stay within the guidelines.  

Gabled roof

A gabled roof is ideal for mimicking the style of your home. They generally require a little more in materials and labour than flat roofs and thus a bit more of an investment, but the finish can be worth it.

Gabled roofs are also useful in areas with a high rainfall or chance of snow fall, as the material will drain off much more easily than on a flat roof. 

Materials

Timber

Timber is an attractive and generally affordable buidling material. 

Before constructing in timber, do research into the type of timber you're going to use and ensure that it is suitable for purpose. A good starting place is our article on pergola materials, which looks at the various timbers available in Australia.

Additionally, if you live in an area at risk of bushfires, check with the regulations laid out in the BCA, section '3.7.1.6 Class 10a buildings'. 

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Steel

Steel offers a great material to build carports from – so long as the carport has been constructed to meet Australia’s tough environmental conditions.

For a steel carport that lasts, choose one where the coating is impregnated during manufacture. Also inquire as to the warranty against peeling, chipping or rusting.

There are different grades of steel available. If you live near the sea, you’ll need to ensure the steel can stand up to salt spray. The manufacturer should be able to address this question.

Brick

For brick homes, echoing the type and colour of bricks in your carport is an excellent way of drawing the two elements together. 

Masonry carports are more likely to need a permit to be built, so be sure to check with your local council and with the state regulations to see if a permit is required. 

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