Carport vs Detached Garage (9 Factors to Consider)

Are you tired of leaving your car out in the rain, snow, or scorching sun? Need a dry place to tinker or work on your car?

Sheltered parking such as a carport or enclosed garage is the logical option. But which is better? This article compares the two based on 9 important factors.

carport vs garage

See Also: All-Wheel Drive vs 4-Wheel Drive

What is a Carport?

A carport is a small to moderate sized structure designed to shield one or more vehicles from the elements, once erected.

Carports come in many different sizes and configurations, with some of the largest being substantial enough to house two or more vehicles. On the other hand, smaller carports that house just a single vehicle can be purchased at rather reasonable prices.


Carports are typically constructed of rigid structural sub-sections, which bolt together during assembly. This “frame” is then shrouded in sheet metal to provide protection from the elements.

While some carports are shrouded with sheet metal on just two sides, others feature a third walled end. However, there are also a number of more economical carports that do not exhibit a walled construction, instead featuring only a roof.

What is a Detached Garage?

A detached garage is a freestanding structure that provides fully enclosed protection from the elements for any vehicle contained within.

Garages typically feature a wooden-post frame, to which the structure’s exterior facade is affixed. Many garages are encompassed with sheet metal siding, though brick and vinyl-sided garages are also quite popular.

detached garage

Detached garages can be built in virtually any size one sees fit. Some of today’s most common garage sizes are 15 x 20, 20 x 20, and 20 x 30. However, those wishing for a little extra room to tinker can opt for some much more sizable ones. Additionally, most modern garages now feature concrete floors, in a bid to keep dust down.

Factors to Consider

There are many different factors to consider when deciding between purchasing a carport or building a garage. Though several of these key factors might be of greater significance to some consumers than others, all are worthy of keeping in mind.

The following are several of the most important factors to consider when determining whether to build a detached garage or purchase a prefabricated carport.

#1 – Cost

Building a detached garage is far more expensive an endeavor than purchasing a carport. The cost associated with building a detached garage typically ranges from $20,000-$50,000. 

Meanwhile, most carports can be purchased for under $2,000, with some smaller carports even costing significantly less. There are also additional costs associated with building a detached garage, such as those related to getting the necessary permits, and subsequent increases in annual property taxes.

Advantage: Carport

#2 – Appearance

For most, the appearance of a detached garage will prove favorable to that of a prefabricated carport. Most garages feel like a natural addition to any property, and can even be built with similar trim and siding to that of your house, thereby streamlining its appearance.

In contrast, carports are metal structures that come shrouded in the manufacturer’s choice of siding.

Advantage: Garage

#3 – Size

Detached garages tend to be far more sizable than carports, providing additional storage for vehicles, tools, and additional supplies/equipment. A garage can literally be built to any size and consideration that its owner desires.

On the contrary, carports come in a limited number of sizes, based on the manufacturer’s specifications. However, a carport tends to be an excellent choice where overall real estate is limited.

Advantage: Garage

#4 – Installation

Overall, a carport is much easier to assemble. The bulk of such units come with easy to follow instructions and can be constructed to satisfaction in a single afternoon.

A detached garage, on the other hand, requires significant planning to build, with assembly falling outside of the skill set of most consumers. For this reason many sign with a contractor before building their garage.

Advantage: Carport

#5 – Protection and Security

A detached garage undoubtedly provides a higher level of overall protection than a carport. This stems from the fact that a garage is a fully enclosed structure, complete with heavy exterior doors and insulation.

By contrast, carports are generally openly accessible through one end or the other, though they do provide a moderate degree of protection from the elements. However, areas that are prone to high winds or heavy snowfall may not be the best places to put up a carport. But even with a carport, you don’t have to worry about your gasoline freezing in your gas tank.

Advantage: Garage

#6 – Storage

Due to their more limited size, carports are seldom able to offer the same degree of storage capacity as a detached garage.

Depending upon the size of a garage, such a structure generally allows for the storage of one or more vehicles, as well as an array of tools. Some sizable garages even feature enough floor space to house multiple storage racks or shelves.

Advantage: Garage

#7 – Permits and Regulations

One major drawback to the construction of a detached garage is the fact that doing so often requires a building permit. Aside from this, one must also honor their municipality’s building codes and regulations to avoid being fined.

This is not a consideration when purchasing a carport, as no permanent structure is being erected. However, one is also advised to check the regulations of their homeowners association, where applicable, when purchasing a carport.

Advantage: Carport

#8 – Home Resale Value

A detached garage certainly adds to a home’s resale value, due to the fact that it is a permanent structure. In fact, many prospective buyers look for houses with garages of one type or another when looking to purchase a home.

However, the same can not be said for carports, which are highly unlikely to add much in the way of overall value to your property and in some cases may lower property value if they are in poor condition.

Advantage: Garage

#9 – Maintenance

Carports tend to be relatively maintenance free, due to their rather basic construction. The occasional revealing of a sheet metal joint is about all that is required to keep a carport up to par.

On the other hand, the upkeep of a detached garage is similar to that of a house. With age, roofs begin to leak, foundations begin to crack, and siding wears. These are all issues that must be addressed in a timely manner.

Advantage: Carport

At a Glance Comparison


Detached Garage


  • Allows more storage 
  • Provides higher resale value 
  • Provides more protection to vehicles
  • Added attraction to the general house


  • Upkeep similar to a house
  • Requires building permit
  • Costs more to build
Josh Boyd

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