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For most homeowners, having a reliable and safe place to park and store their vehicles is a necessity. While many apartment dwellers are forced to park in open lots and on the street, this hassle ends (hopefully) once an individual owns a home.

Building garages and carports is a very common project for homeowners, especially those who have just purchased a home without vehicle storage. It's also very popular for individuals who own several vehicles or a very large one such as an RV.

While garages and carports are relatively simple structures, planning and building them isn't without some potential errors. The results of these mistakes range from mildly annoying to downright dangerous. In this article, we'll cover the most common mistakes made while planning and constructing garages and carports, as well as give you some tips on how to avoid these errors.

Ignoring Home DesignEdit

When constructing a garage or a carport, many homeowners make the mistake of failing to address their home's design. While your garage doesn't have to be an exact replica of your house, it always looks better to have the structures complement each other. If your home was built in a particularly distinctive style, such as Victorian, having a complementary garage becomes even more important. The obvious clash of building a plain garage next to such an ornate style of home would stick out in an unsightly manner.

If your home design is rather plain, stick with this theme when planning your garage. If your home is distinctive, incorporate some design elements from your home into the design of your garage. Colors follow the same rules; they don't have to match exactly, but they should look good sitting next to each other.

Failure to Plan for Future UsageEdit

When building a garage, your vehicles are a natural way to determine how large the new structure needs to be. However, this can be a tricky thing to figure out.

In some cases, a homeowner will build a garage to accommodate the cars of all household members, including several children in high school. This sounds like a great idea at the time, but after those children graduate and go on to college, the homeowner is left with a five car garage and only two vehicles.

At the other extreme is the homeowner who currently owns a small, sporty car. Not wanting to overspend, he builds a very small garage, thinking that even if he buys another car in the future, he'll be well accommodated. Over time, this homeowner may very well get married and have children. Suddenly, the household isn't well accommodated at all.

Nobody knows exactly how their household may enlarge or diminish over the years, and so it's impossible to build a garage that will meet every possible need. However, remember that extremes are usually not the best ideas.

Ideally, your garage should comfortably accommodate your household for years into the future. With this in mind, build something with a bit of room for growth if your household is young. If your children are already grown and out of the house, scale down your plans to fit your current needs. Avoiding this particular mistake is not an exact science, but some educated guesses can help save you from wasting space and wasting money.

Wasting Money on Rental SpaceEdit

Due to their large sizes and somewhat awkward shapes, many people who own boats or recreational vehicles keep them in paid storage. While this is a good solution, keeping valuable possessions safe, it's not an inexpensive one.

If you're building a new garage and have the space available on your property, consider making that garage large enough to accommodate all your vehicles. While the initial investment will be higher, you'll ultimately save a great deal of money in rental fees.

Failure to Utilize All Available SpacesEdit

Far too often, homeowners make the mistake of using their garage solely for vehicle storage. While this is the primary purpose of a garage, most structures have an abundance of space which sits unused.

If you have a hobby which would benefit from a dedicated workshop, now is the time to think about creating some space for it. In many cases, something as simple as extra storage and a work table can go a long way toward turning a garage into a fun place to work on your hobby.

Storage can be extremely useful in and of itself. Installing or purchasing tall cabinets is a great way to store infrequently used items that won't be hurt by extreme temperatures. The space above the rafters is also a great place for storage. A few inexpensive sheets of plywood can turn those exposed beams into the basis for a handy place to store larger, lightweight items when they're not in use. In order to get the most out of your new investment, it only makes sense to use all the space available.

Ignoring Building CodesEdit

Building permits are required, in most areas, for the construction of any new structure. Local building codes are the rules which determine how those permits are issued. Don't make the mistake of forgetting to obtain a building permit. Not only will most contractors refuse to work without a permit, but if they do, you could be setting yourself up for some costly headaches down the road. A structure which has been built without the proper building permits can result in heavy fines for the owner, and the city has the option, in many cases, of requiring that you either tear the structure down or make big changes in order to meet code. In addition, your insurance company may refuse to cover any structure which was built without a permit.

Another reason to heed all building regulations is safety. Some regulations are in place to ensure that a new structure doesn't interfere with power lines, underground utility lines, or other public facilities. Play it safe, and pay a visit to your local government offices to obtain a permit before you build. In most areas, you'll need to bring your building plans with you in order to have them approved.

Ignoring Personal SafetyEdit

Getting home late at night and having to walk from the garage to the house can be a little intimidating, especially if you live in an urban area. While it's not an everyday occurrence, criminals have been known to wait for distracted individuals to hurry past on their way inside. It only makes sense to make every effort during the planning of your new garage to keep yourself and other household members safe.

Experts agree that the safest type of garage is one which is attached to the main house. In this scenario, there is no need to go outside at all, greatly minimizing risk. If you have the space, strongly consider attaching your new garage to your home.

If your property shape or size won't accommodate an attached garage, your next option is a breezeway. These simple structures are basically outdoor hallways, linking a garage to the main house. Like any structure, they should be constructed in harmony with both the garage and your home. Some breezeways feature a third door which opens directly onto the front or back yard; this is completely optional but does offer added convenience.

Another very basic safety feature which many homeowners make the mistake of ignoring is garage security. If your home is equipped with an automated alarm system, be sure to extend that protection to your new garage as well. If you don't have a security system, make sure to shut the door every time you enter or exit the garage, and invest in an electric door. They're much more difficult to pry open, making them less likely targets for burglars.

Ignoring Carport OptionEdit

We've talked a lot about garages, with little mention of carports. For most homeowners, a garage is simply a better option. They offer more options, more versatility, and more security than an open carport.

However, don't make the mistake of thinking that a garage is your only option. If your property can't accommodate even a small garage, building a carport is still a great way to protect your vehicle from the elements.

Depending on your budget, carports can be elaborate or extremely simple. The most basic consist of a supported roof or awning, while the most intricate often feature a durable roof and are enclosed on three sides by fencing. Some are quite beautiful, made of trellis fencing over which climbing plants have been allowed to grow. Simply because a carport is a less expensive and smaller option does not mean that it has to be unsightly or inconvenient. If your budget allows for it, a carport is a wonderful option for homeowners who just can't fit a garage onto their property.

As you can see, the most common mistakes when it comes to garages and carports usually result from a lack of planning and a lack of attention to detail. By checking with local regulations, planning a garage or carport which is in harmony with the rest of your property, and paying attention to personal safety issues, you're sure to end up with a structure that you and your entire household will get a great deal of use out of for years to come. Keep in mind smaller details as well, such as incorporating storage and accommodating all vehicles. As always, hire an honest and reputable contractor to help you with your construction project.

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