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Garage or carport – that is the question!

Up until around 1925, no-one ever thought of putting a garage next to their houses. Cars were available, but who could afford one? Upper-class villas did however have a coach house in the rear part of their property for their coaches, and later for their cars.

Today almost anyone can afford a car – and now many families have three cars but only one garage! Where should the other two go? On the road, in another garage or underneath a carport? That is now the question, as long as the property is laid out so that one or the other are possible.

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The two photos show how (left-hand picture) two prefabricated garages can be positioned on a wide property. Houseowners are then at least able to store two cars so that they are protected against the wind and weather; however, prefabricated garages in this uniform construction are not exactly attractive in appearance. As can be seen from the photos, it is possible to find more attractive solutions if the property allows it, and even to obtain additional living space in this way. And the driveway leaves space for another two cars. This family will not, therefore, narrow a residential street with their cars so that the fire brigade has difficulty in working their way around the cars parked on the right and left-hand sides of the road.

Whether a garage or a carport – nothing may be erected without a building application or even a building permit. If the property is wide or long enough, and if the building authorities have no objections, houseowners have to decide: garage or carport? As far as appearance is concerned, a carport can look smarter and “lighter” than a garage. The double carport here in the photos has been lined towards the road and towards the neighbouring properties with a yew hedge. This protects quite well against drifting snow and hail, which in winter can cause car windows to ice up. This is indeed a disadvantage of a carport: it protects against the sun’s rays and hail, but not necessarily against drifting snow and rain blown in by the wind. And when it is icy cold outside, it is also icy cold in the cars positioned under the roof of a carport. If it is possible to attach the carport to a side of your house protected against the wind, these disadvantages are substantially reduced. Such house carports are also advantageous with regard to stability.

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In standalone garages, icy cold weather leaves cars not much warmer than under a carport. Garages are erected without thermal insulation, so drivers will climb into a cold car there, too. However, the situation is very different if the garage is integrated into the building structure (see photo). If the garage is then constructed with a thermally-insulated door, drivers will be able to start up their cars without having to wear padded gloves. A standard version of garages integrated into house constructions are those covered by a lean-to roof, as has been the case on farmhouses in the Black Forest region for centuries.

Can building owners or homeowners erect a garage or carport themselves? In the case of a carport provided by specialist traders as a building kit, the answer is obviously “Yes”. The beams and the roof construction join together almost by themselves. And laying column foundations is not the most difficult of tasks. However, individually-built masonry garages are rather different: ring foundations and a floorplate have to be concreted. And the masonry must be accurate, unless mistakes can be hidden by plaster or wooden slats. In case of prefabricated garages, manufacturers supply highly detailed plans as to how the foundations have to be laid. Column foundations, as for carports, are commonly laid here.