What Does a Carport Cost to Build?

If you own a home and you don’t have a traditional garage but you want a way to keep the rain, sun, and snow off your car, figuring out your carport cost is a good solution. A carport is an open structure that attaches to your home or is freestanding. They could be something as simple as a roof on poles, or you could get them with up to three walls attached with a concrete pad and a roof. They come in a huge range of sizes to help accommodate different numbers or vehicles, types, and sizes. 

However, the more elaborate your carport will be, the higher your carport cost will go up to. Also, whether you want a freestanding structure or an attached one will influence your total carport cost because some are more labor-intensive than others. These are permanent structures that will shield your vehicle from inclement weather like hail or severe storms, and you can make them match your home or stand out. 

Because of these different factors, your carport costs have a broad range to them. On average, you could easily spend between $2,000 and $10,000 for your total carport cost. Most people end up spending around $8,500 for a galvanized steel structure that measures 18-feet by 18-feet and has two walls. Permit prices, site preparation, size, whether you want to paint it, and whether you install a concrete slab will all factor into your final carport cost. 

However, many people see this is an affordable way to protect your car from the elements, and it can also create a covered storage or work area right next to your home. If you’re wondering which factors influence your total carport cost the most, this is for you. We’re going to break down the biggest price factors, and you can use this quick guide to decide whether or not you can justify your carport cost and add one to your home. 

1 Attached Carport
This larger carport can easily hold two or three cars, and the roof comes designed to match the house to create a seamless look.
Carport by John Coley / CC BY 2.0

Carport Cost by Size

Carport size will influence your carport cost because it requires more materials and time to create if it’s larger. A lot of people build these carports for a single car or two cars at the most, but you may also want to create a carport for three or more cars or a larger RV. Depending on the number of cars or vehicles you want stored, your average carport costs by size are: 

  • One-Car – A single car carport usually measures 12-feet by 20-feet. Depending on the style and material, your carport cost will start at $2,400 and go up to $7,200. 
  • Two-Car – A two-car carport is slightly bigger at 20-feet by 20-feet on average, and your carport cost will range from $4,000 to $12,000. 
  • Three-Car – If you want to store three cars, your carport will typically measure 30-feet by 20-feet. It will need to be bigger if you have large SUVs, trucks, or other large vehicles. The average carport cost ranges from $6,000 to $18,000. 
  • Four-Car – It’s more rare, but it’s still possible to build a carport large enough to hold four cars. They usually measure 40-feet by 20-feet, and the carport cost will range from $8,000 to $24,000, depending on the style and material. 
  • RV – RVs generally won’t fit inside garages, even if you convert your garage. So, it’s not usual to build carports to fit them. They usually measure 20-feet by 30-feet, and your carport cost will start at $6,000 and go up to $18,000, depending on the style and material. 

You’ll usually find carports in 12-foot by 20-foot and 20-foot by 20-foot sizes, but it’s possible to customize your build to a size that fits you. Below is a short list that breaks down the average carport cost for differently sizes structures: 

  • 10-foot by 16-foot – $1,600 to $4,800
  • 10-foot by 30-foot – $3,000 to $9,000
  • 12-foot by 12-foot – $1,400 to $4,300
  • 12-foot by 24-foot – $2,900 to $8,600
  • 12-foot by 36-foot – $4,300 to $12,900
  • 15-foot by 30-foot – $4,500 to $13,500
  • 16-foot by 16-foot – $2,500 to $7,600
  • 16-foot by 20-foot – $3,200 to $9,600
  • 18-foot by 20-foot – $3,600 to $10,800
  • 18-foot by 30-foot – $6,500 to $19,400
  • 20-foot by 20-foot – $6,000 to $18,000
  • 21-foot by 22-foot – $4,600 to $13,900
  • 22-foot by 36-foot – $7,900 to $23,800
  • 24-foot by 24-foot – $5,800 to $17,300
  • 24-foot by 26-foot – $6,200 to $18,700
  • 30-foot by 20-foot – $6,000 to $18,000

How Material Impacts Carport Costs

Once you figure out which size carport you need, you have to decide on a material. You can choose from steel, wood, and a blend featuring aluminum and polycarbonate. Each material comes with different attributes that can help you justify your carport costs, and the most popular ones are: 

Metal

If you pick metal for your material, you can choose from steel, aluminum, or metal composites. It’s extremely common for people to build metal carports that have a polycarbonate top, but they can also come with fabric or metal tops attached. You’ll usually get a prefab set or kit to build your metal carport, and they usually feature an open design on all sides. 

You can make them portable, freestanding, or attached, so you have a lot of flexibility here. Per square foot installed, your carport costs range from $10.00 to $30.00. The style and metal you pick will be the biggest price influences. 

Polycarbonate

Plastic or polycarbonate carports aren’t 100% plastic, despite what the name may have you believe. Instead, they typically feature aluminum support posts or legs on an aluminum frame. The top features a thicker sheet of polycarbonate plastic that allows light to stream in while screening out snow, rain, or UV rays. 

You can create them attached to your home or freestanding, but they usually don’t come with any walls on them. They give your home a very modern design aesthetic, and they usually come designed to DIY. Per square foot, your carport costs will range from $12.00 to $20.00, depending on the style and materials. 

Wood

Having wood for the bulk of the material for your carport is very common if you want to create a custom structure. You can build them out of several different wood species, have complete walls on your structure, and have a range of roof materials and styles to choose from. 

Wooden carports can come with metal roofs, traditional shingle roofs, or you can fit it with a more modern polycarbonate roof. Per square foot installed, your carport cost will start at $15.00 and go up to $30.00. It can fluctuate if you want something more elaborate. 

2 Carport Material
Picking out a material for your carport will influence your costs. Some material is much more expensive than others, and you also have to think about what you’ll pay out in maintenance.
Carport by paintchipdiaries / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Carport Type and Price Points

Did you know that there are several types of carports available and each one will impact your carport costs? The materials and style will also play into your price, and some types work much better for a specific installation process than others. Your contractor will take space and area into consideration before they recommend one specific type of carport. Your most popular types with the price points are: 

Attached

Lean-to or attached carports get built right into the side of your building or home, just like you would a greenhouse.They come with dual support poles and have a roof. They can have additional walls beside the one they’re attached to in order for the structure to have more support. Attached structures are usually made out of wood, but you can choose from polycarbonate or metal too. 

The more elaborate your structure is and the more walls it has, the more your carport cost is going to increase. This type of carport requires you to make modifications to your existing structure, and this drives your starting costs up over freestanding models. Your average carport cost for an attached type starts at $1,200 and goes up to $10,000. 

Freestanding

You can install a freestanding carport anywhere you like on your property. They can be something as simple as four posts and a roof, or you can make them slightly more complex and add walls. You can make them from any material, and they come in a host of styles and sizes to suit your needs. On average, your carport costs will range from $900 to $6,000. 

Portable

This is a temporary structure, and they typically feature a fabric covering that you stretch over a metal frame. They’re easy to move and very lightweight. The fabric will create a full seal for the inside, and this gives you slightly more weatherproof storage. However, they’re easier to damage due to how lightweight they are, and your carport cost will vary from $400 to $1,200 on average. 

Cost to Add a Roof to Your Carport

Just like adding a new roof to your home, you’ll need a roof on your carport. At the most basic point, the carport is nothing more than a supported roof over your vehicle. When you buy a prefab carport like a polycarbonate or metal option, the roof comes as part of the package. For this style carport, metal standing seam or polycarbonate roofing are the best choices. They can be curved, angled, or flat. 

If you want to build a wooden carport, you’ll need to put on a separate roof on the structure. You can add traditional roofing shingles to make it match your home, or you can pick from polycarbonate, metal, or any other flat material. 

While it’s not uncommon for a lot of carport roofs to be flat, many of them get installed at an angle to allow snow or water to slide off and not pool. This helps keep your roof in good condition year in and year out. Adding a roof will increase your carport cost by $240 for a shingle-style roof or up to $600 for a polycarbonate or metal roof. 

  • Polycarbonate – $500 to $700

Carport Cost to Turn it Into a Garage

You can’t turn every carport into a garage. Most carports have a design that centers around it staying open, and they don’t get framed to add walls or garage doors. So, you might have to tear down the carport and build a garage where the carport was. If it is possible to switch your current carport into a garage, you’ll pay between $120 to $200 a square foot to do so. Keep in mind that most garages are much larger than carports, so your current two-car carport most likely won’t be able to hold two cars once you finish converting it. 

Another option is to enclose the carport like a garage to try and keep your carport costs down. You will need to have a builder or engineer come and look at the structure to see whether or not this is possible. If it is, you’ll pay between $120 and $200 a square foot to finish and build the garage. 

Carport Costs for a Solar Model

Maybe you want to install solar panels for your property. If so, installing a solar carport is a good idea. With this structure, your carport roof features 100% solar panels. They get angled to catch the sun’s rays. This type of roof puts limits on where you can put your carport, but it allows you to keep the panels off of your home’s roof while giving you a parking area at the same time. 

If you want the panels to provide power to your home, the carport has to be bigger than a single car setup. In many instances, it has to be bigger than a two-car garage to support the solar panels. To build a solar carport that can power your home, your average carport cost is $60,000. So, this is a higher-end project. But, it can cut your utility bills significantly. 

3 Solar Carports
A solar carport is a much more expensive option, but it’s one that can help return some of the upfront costs by cutting your utility bills year after year, especially if you live in sunny locations.
Old school carport by MacQ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Additional Cost Factors to Consider

When most people think of carport prices, they just think of the structure itself. They forget all of the other potential items that can cause your carport costs to go up quickly. This can result in a nasty bill at the end of the project, so the biggest factors you want to keep in mind are: 

  • Anchoring – Most carports will get anchored to the concrete foundation they sit on. The anchors get drilled directly into the concrete or asphalt, and this helps to hold it securely in place. Anchoring usually gets included in  your original carport cost prices. However, if you do it later, you can pay between $100 and $200 an anchor. 
  • Gutters – If your carport is by your foundation or attached directly to your home, you might want to install gutters on one side. Doing so will ensure it slopes water away from the house to prevent damage. The gutter cost will vary depending on your material, but you’ll pay an average of $7.00 to $10.00 a linear foot. 
  • Lighting – No matter if your carport is freestanding or attached, it might be a good idea to add lighting to make it easier to see at night. Adding outdoor lighting can increase your carport costs by $3,500 to $4,500. 
  • Painting – If you build a wooden carport, you’ll need to stain or paint it to protect it from rot and mold due to element exposure. Painting it will also make it blend into your home better for a more cohesive look. The average carport cost to paint it is $450. 
  • Storage – Carports usually feature an open design, but it’s very possible to buy a carport that has an attached storage area on one side. The storage price varies depending on the security level you want and the size. For prefab setups, this will start increasing your carport costs at $4,000 and go up. 

Carport vs. Garage

Unlike garages, carports aren’t fully enclosed spaces. So, this means that your carport costs tend to be much lower than an attached or detached garage. They’re not securable, don’t have doors, and they usually don’t have walls. Garages can get locked, and they’re better at storing things. Also, garages can be better at protecting your vehicle from extreme cold, snow, sleet, and the sun. On average, your carport costs are around $7,200 while a garage can cost an average of $35,000 to $53,000. 

Carport Benefits

One of the biggest benefits of having a carport is that it can keep your vehicle out of the elements. They can provide shade if you live in a desert landscape to ensure your car doesn’t get superheated in the sun. They also keep your car dry and free of snow or rain in the winter months. 

If your carport has additional walls or a fabric cover on it, you can use it as a storage space when you’re not using it for your vehicles. In some setups, you can attach your carport directly to the home to prevent you from having to go out in the weather on bad days if you need something out of your vehicle. 

Maintenance Requirements

No matter which type of material you pick out for your carport, routine maintenance will factor into your carport costs because they all need some. Metal or aluminum carports tend to dent. If you use steel, it can rust. You need to paint metal carports to keep them looking their best and prevent a seal against the elements. Wooden carports should get paint or coats of stain every year or two to keep moisture out and prevent them from rotting, cracking, or warping. 

Make a point to routinely inspect your carport for any signs of wear, tear, or damage. This is especially important in the spring months or after any big storms. The goal is to try and catch any damage early and address it before it causes bigger issues with your carport’s structure. The longer you let problems go unchecked, the higher your carport costs to fix them will be. 

Permit Costs

Whether or not you need a permit to build a carport will depend on your location, but most structures that are more than 200-square feet require a permit. Some areas require you to have a permit no matter how large your carport is because you’re building on your property. Portable or temporary carports usually don’t need permits, but any permanent structure might. 

A good rule of thumb is to contact your local city or town hall before you begin building in the planning stage. They can tell you if you need a permit. If you do, make sure you get your application in early with the required fee. They can take up to 10 days to process in most instances, and you don’t want to have to delay your project. If you hire a contractor, they typically take care of the permits and include the costs in the original estimates. On average, your permit will cost between $150 and $500. 

Deciding Between Prefab or Custom Carports

You can build a carport on-site to your exact wants and needs, but you can also get a prefab set or kit. Prefab carports usually feature polycarbonate or metal for their materials, but you can get wooden ones too. They come in certain sizes, and they’re supposed to be easy to set up on-site. In several cases, you’d put them together DIY, and this can help you avoid labor fees and reduce your overall carport costs. There is usually a high shipping and transport cost that you have to factor in. 

Custom carports get built to your exact specifications. If you have a lot that is an odd size, have unusual needs, or need to park three larger trucks side by side, you may need a custom carport. You can order custom carports from kits from some manufacturers, and they usually have higher costs than ready-to-ship prefab setups. 

Of the two options, custom carports tend to have a higher price tag attached to them. The higher carport cost usually comes from assembly or labor. Prefab kits come ready to put up, and this means you set them up quicker with lower overall costs and less labor. Custom carports need much more work to create, so your overall carport costs go up very fast. You’ll pay between $2,000 and $5,000 for a prefab carport kit or set, and this includes professional assembly. For a custom carport, you’ll pay between $4,000 and $10,000. 

Labor Costs

How much you spend to build your carport will depend on whether you want a custom setup or you pick a prefab kit. In most cases, you’ll want to have a concrete slab poured first. This slab gives your carport stability, and it allows you to have an easy-to-maintain and level area to park. 

You can also put the carport on footings instead of pouring a concrete slab, even if this isn’t recommended in most cases. Footings vary in depth by location because they have to reach at least six inches below the frost line in your planting zone. Per footing, you’ll pay around $100. 

To build a carport on site, your labor costs will be around $8.00 a square foot. So, your labor costs to build a two-car structure is around $3,200. This cost includes carport framing, finishing, and roofing. A lot of prefab setups include the assembly cost in the original carport cost. They do expect you to have a slab ready to install it on, but the setup process is typically easy. 

Where to Find a Carport Installer Near You

If you want a company to come in and install your new carport and you’re not overly worried about the carport costs, you want to go with a local company. You can start your search here: 

Frequently Asked Questions

4 Carport Cost FAQs
When it comes to your carport cost, the more you know about the building process, the more you can get a decent estimate for this project.
Daylight test #3 (exterior, wide) by John Carney / CC BY 2.0

1. Do carports boost your home’s value?

Generally speaking, carports won’t increase your home’s value. They can boost your curb appeal, depending on the style. Since they’re not enclosed and you can’t secure them, people don’t value them as much as they do traditional garages. 

2. What is the average carport height?

The height will depend on the overall size of the carport. However, the average height for this structure ranges from 8 to 14 feet. It can be taller if you have a large RV or some other type of vehicle to store, but this will be a custom model. 

3. How much will you pay to enclose your carport?

It’s not possible to enclose every carport. You want to double-check with an engineer or builder to see if you can enclose it. If they say it’s possible, you’ll pay between $120 and $200 a square foot. 

Bottom Line 

Your final carport costs will depend on a large range of factors, and we’ve laid out the biggest ones you want to keep in mind. You can look and see which ones apply to your situation and get a rough estimate of the budget you’ll need for your total carport costs. Contacting building professionals in your area will give you a better estimate, and you can decide if this is the right project for your needs. 

Carport Cost 1 Carport Cost 2

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