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On the surface, carports and garages might seem pretty similar. But in reality there are quite a few differences that mean one will be a better fit for you than the other.

If you’re looking around for a timber solution to house your car, bike, tractor, lawn mower, or even your gardening tools, how do you know which is right for you?

While we don’t build stand-alone carports at Gillies & Mackay, we do sell timber garages with attached carports. And we’re keen to help people figure out whether they need a full-blown timber garage, a carport or maybe even both.

So, in this blog, we’re going to explore:

  1. What a Carport is…
  2. What a Garage is…
  3. The main differences are between carports and garages (use, security, cover, materials, cost, installation time and planning)
  4. How to decide which one is right for you…

So let’s dig deeper…

What is a Carport?

Carports are kind of like a pergola for cars, or a garage without a roof. They are constructed using upright support posts and a roof.

Carports are great at serving their purpose of storing a car and in some instances, can even give you outdoor space with some shelter.

timber carport

What is a Garage?

You’re probably pretty familiar with what a garage is, even if you don’t already have one. It’s a fully enclosed space that provides storage for your car and other goodies. It gives you maximum security and protection from the elements.

However, due to these inherent differences, a garage requires much more material (four walls), takes more time to build, and so is more expensive.

It’s also worth noting that there are many different types of carports and garages. These include concrete, brick, metal and timber.

At Gillies and Mackay, we know our timber, but we’re not experts on the other types of garages. For that reason, in this blog, we will focus on timber garages

timber garage

What are the differences between a Carport and a Timber Garage?

So now we know exactly what a carport and garage are. Now let’s dig a little deeper into the differences to help you figure out which one is right for you.

Carport vs Garage: What are they used for? 

One of the major differences between a carport and a garage are their use cases. They both offer shelter for your car (or whatever you are storing), but in different ways.

A carport is great for storing awkward-sized cars, trailers, quad bikes, or maybe even a boat. If you want to show your car off to all the neighbours while keeping it protected, then a carport is a great option. It can also provide shelter for an outdoor workspace if you just want something overhead to keep the rain off.

A garage, on the other hand, is great for storing all of the above and many other things.

Got a bunch of belongings that you’re not ready to throw out yet?…garage.

Need a workshop, and somewhere to work on your car?…garage.

Perhaps you need a big space for your home gym?…garage.

With the added protection a garage has from the elements, it’s much more versatile and can adapt to many different use cases.

Carport vs Garage: Which is more secure?

When it comes to security the carport’s open wall structure leaves it falling behind here, unfortunately. There are no walls for potential thieves to break through, leaving your belongings in plain sight. So, a carport offers very little extra security.

A garage, on the other hand, keeps your valuables out of sight, and out of mind. It’s definitely an extra deterrent for thieves. Pair this with a substantial wall structure and your security is looking good. 

When it comes to your garage door, we work closely with the team at Tayside Garage Doors. They will be able to best advise which is the most secure if that is your priority. 

A bonus for both carports and garages is that you can mount a camera to watch over your car/belongings. We hope that you wouldn’t need to use it, but it is an added deterrent.

Carport vs Garage: Which gives the best cover?

timber carport with car

Again, this all comes back to the design of the carport. With at least two open walls, you’re never going to get the same coverage or shelter in a carport as you would with a garage. Of course, it will stop the rain from battering down on your head.

With that being said, if you stay in an area where you don’t have harsh weather conditions and only need to store your car, a carport may be enough for you.

If you’re looking to do anything other than storing a vehicle in your space, or you’re in an area with extreme weather conditions, you may want to consider a garage. The coverage is going to be vital, especially in rainy climates such as Scotland – where the rain likes to go sideways.

P.S – does it ever stop raining here? Asking for a friend…

Carport vs Garage: Are the materials different?

Garages can be made from more materials than carports. As we’ve already mentioned, garages can be made from concrete, brick, metal or timber. Carports on the other hand, are typically only made from UPVC or timber. 

Looking at timber garages in specific, it’s most common to see ‘single skinned’ builds.

What exactly do we mean by this?

Well, the walls and roof of your garage are typically going to be made up of one layer of timber – the external weatherboard. This means that the timber you see on the outside is the same as your see on the inside.

No different from a big shed…

With garages being a BIG structure, we recommend keeping your eye out for good quality, thick weatherboard and framing. These will make the biggest difference to the longevity of your garage. 

If you’re looking for a garage structure that is going to last, we recommend looking for something with a three-tier wall structure. These buildings are usually built to be building control compliant and are the mecca of garages. If looked after, we would expect these buildings to last you a lifetime. This is how we build our garages at G&M, and you can find out more about it here.

Carport vs Garage: How much do they cost?

This is where carports really excel. They are going to cost a lot less money than a garage. The reason is simple – there is a lot less material that needs to go into the build. That means that if you simply need somewhere that gives your car a little bit of overhead protection, a carport is a great choice for you. 

For example, a 6m (d) x 3m (w) timber carport could cost anywhere from £1,500 for a lesser-quality build, to £4,500 for a high-quality build.

A 6m x 3m garage, on the other hand, will set you back anywhere between £2,500 and £7,500. If you are looking for a larger garage then they can be over £13,000 (check out our pricing here).

Again, there are massive quality differences between these two ends of the scale. Please read the specification, look out for the differences from the section above and pick what is right for you. 

But what exactly warrants a garage being almost double the cost?

The obvious answer here is: the walls.

As mentioned, a garage gives you extra security, perfect if you’re storing something valuable in there. Plus, the garage will give you a lot more shelter from the elements, especially good if you need to keep moisture out. And it will give you a space that can be used all year round, useful if you need a workshop space.

Lastly, a garage will cover almost any use case you can think of. A carport is really limited to two options – car storage or space for when the sun is shining. The extra use cases are where you will find value in a garage.

Carport vs Garages: How long do they take to build?

timber garage internals

To answer this question, we need to look at three things;

  1. Landscaper Lead Times
  2. Building Supplier Lead Times
  3. Build Time

The only scenario where garages and carports are likely to differ is the build time on site. Carports are less complex structures that require less material. So you can expect the build time to be less than a garage. 

As a rule of thumb, a 6m x 3m Carport should take an experienced team of joiners around 2-4 hours to install. A garage of that size, on the other hand, would take the full day. 

If you’re left to install the carport yourself (not everyone will install it for you, unfortunately), we would recommend allowing a day, and two for the garage. 

Landscaper and building supplier lead times are the other two factors that affect how long it will take for you to get your glorious new structure. At the time of writing this, Gillies and Mackay work towards an 8-month lead time. Our accredited third-party landscapers work towards a 6-month lead time. This is the case no matter how big or small the project.

Carport vs Garage: Do you need planning permission?

If you’ve made it this far – you must mean business, so we’ve saved the nitty-gritty part until last. 

Garages are more likely to encounter the need for planning permission than carports. With that being said, neither structure instantly requires planning permission.

To help you figure out if you need planning permission, we’ve added some questions below for you to think about. If you can answer no to each of these questions, you likely don’t need planning permission, no matter the build.

  1. Is your garage/carport for business use?
  2. Is your garage/carport going to be outwith your garden?
  3. Do you live in a tenement block?
  4. Is your garage/carport going to be within one metre of a boundary?
    1. If yes, will all parts of the garage that are within that one metre be under 2.5m in height? If yes, you still don’t need planning permission.
  5. Do you live in a conservation area?
  6. Is your garage/carport wall more than three metres tall?
  7. Is your garage/carport height more than four metres tall?
  8. Will your garage/carport be used to create a boundary?
  9. Is your garage/carport going to take up more than 50% of your garden? 

If the answer to any of these is YES, then you’ll need planning permission. But don’t worry if you are buying with us then this is something we can help with.

What is right for YOU: a garage, or a carport?

Okay, now you know the differences between a garage and a carport. You know the strengths of each, and the weaknesses of each.

But which is right for you? Because one is not better than the other, but it’s likely one will be right for you.

To help you decide, we would like to guide you with a few questions;

  1. What are you going to use your garage or carport for?
  2. What is your budget?
  3. Do you require security?
  4. Do you need to protect things from the weather/damp?

timber garage

What are you going to use your garage or carport for?

Your answer to this question is going to determine if you need to read the next questions. If you plan on using your new structure for anything other than storing a car, a garage is the correct building for you. This could include the garage acting as a workshop, as storage, as a gym…the list goes on.

However, if you solely intend on using your new space as a place to store your car, a carport may be enough.

What is your budget?

We would say that if you’re working towards a budget of £5,000 or less, a carport is going to be the best option for you. 

Sourcing a garage at this price will either mean that the design is going to be substandard, or the garage will be too small for its purpose.

When buying anything, we believe in buying quality products that are going to last you a lifetime. We hate to see cheap builds only lasting a few years.

If your budget is higher than £5,000, it might also be worth taking a look at garages to see what options are available for your price point. 

Do you value or require security?

If you value or require security, you want to opt for the garage route.

As the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind”. A garage prevents people from looking into your driveway and seeing what’s there. The four walls of the garage also act as a deterrent for those who may want to break in (although we should hope this doesn’t happen!).

A carport, on the other hand, is no different to leaving your car sitting on the drive. Your car will be on show for the rest of the world to see and provides no extra protection between your belongings and the outside world.

Do you need to keep your belongings out of the damp, wind or rain?

This is especially important for those of you who are classic car collectors, or just anyone who values the dry!

A garage is the better of the two structures for protection from the weather. Again, the complete build of a garage is going to triumph against the open design of the carport when it comes to protection from the elements. 

On a side note, did you know that timber garages are the best form of garage for keeping damp and moisture away?

So which is right for you?

Having read through the questions above, you should now have a good understanding of whether you need a garage or a carport. To summarise though;

A carport is for someone who is just looking to give their car that little bit of extra protection. 

A garage, on the other hand, is for someone who wants to securely store their car with the utmost protection. As well as this, a garage can also be for those who do not want to just store a car. Other examples of garage uses can include a great workshop, storage building or even indoor putting range (yes, we have heard of that!).

Can’t decide between a carport and garage?

combined carport and garage

If you can’t decide which building is right for you, you could get a garage with a carport attached to it.

This way, you can benefit from the best of both worlds. In the summer, your garage is going to be a great workshop and the carport is going to provide all of the protection your car needs. Then, when winter pays a visit and brings the harsh weather with it, simply move your car into the garage.

Whatever building you decide to opt for in the end, we’re certain that after reading this guide, you will come to the right decision for you. 

To discuss your garage options with one of our team, book in for a consultation.

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