Garage & shed design ideas, inspiration & pictures

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How do carports differ from garages?

As any South-African will know, our weather can be quite unforgiving (from Cape Town’s winds to Durban’s rainfall to the excruciating sun beating down on our entire country), meaning one has to invest in some sort of cover for one’s vehicle(s).

carport is a semi-covered structure that is designed to provide limited protection for vehicles parked underneath them. Usually, they are open from three sides (sometimes four) with a flat roof, although this can differ depending on the style you want to achieve, especially when trying to match it up with your house’s façade. Carports might not offer the same protection and cover as a garage when it comes to shielding a vehicle from the elements, yet they are much more cost effective. They do, however, provide more ventilation and are very easier (and quicker) to construct than a garage.

Carports can either be free-standing on its own out in the yard or right next to the house, or attached to a wall. And don’t forget that even a carport or garage can definitely help to increase the value of your house if you decide to sell.

What’s the best location for a garage or carport?

Unless you have quite a big front yard, a carport or garage right in front of it is not the best idea, seeing as it will hide a big portion of your façade. If your space allows for it, rather build one right next to your house (attached to the main structure, for safety reasons).

Should you have no choice but to add a carport or garage to the front of your house, at least allow its design to flow with your main house’s in terms of similar colours, materials, type of style, etc. Keep in mind that you may require approval from your council, so check before you or those professional builders start construction.

If you have access and the available space, constructing a garage in the back garden is a good option. This location is more convenient for storage and more flexible for future conversion to another use, such as a granny flat. 

How big are modern-day garages?

The general rule for storing cars is that you need 3.6m x 7.2m of space per car. A double garage, therefore, should be approximately 7.2m x 7.2m. This increases depending on the size of the cars you are planning to park in there, and also if you plan on using your garage for other purposes, like storage.  

What to know about garage conversions

Not all of us use our garages to store our vehicles and other valuables, and some of us are even lucky enough to have more than one/two garage(s), which means we have some potential to play with, like converting that old garage into additional indoor space.  

If you are going to use your garage as a living space or are turning an existing garage into an additional room, then consider things like insulation and waterproofing. A steel garage will be hotter in summer than a brick one, so think about what will be inside that garage.

In general, all garages and carports are constructed on a concrete slab, so you’ll need to have space to lay one. And the heavier the structure it has to support, the greater thickness it will have to be.

Why is a metal carport a good idea?

Metal carports are the most effective in that they protect cars, regardless of conditions. Apart from being durable, they can be crafted into different shapes to suit the desired area and are also easy to maintain. Bear in mind that they tend to go with more modern/contemporary styles than, for example, rustic or country homes.

Although they are often more costly, they are cost effective in the long run as damage and the maintenance thereof is kept to a minimum. Carport panels are insulated with a polystyrene foam core, which is then covered with steel or aluminium. Choosing between steel and aluminium depends on what you want for your carport.

Aluminium carports:

Aluminium is a light metal that tends to dent easily. Although it is easily manoeuvred, it is not a particularly strong metal. Its advantage lies in the fact that it doesn’t rust as easily and, therefore, does not require as much maintenance. However, should you live in an area that is prone to heavy hail, maybe don’t consider aluminium for your carport, as it is doubtful that aluminium will be able to handle the weight and damage of heavy hail.

Steel carports:

Typically, steel is known to be stronger than aluminium. Although it rusts easier, modern galvanising techniques have allowed a longer-lasting, rust-free steel frame for carports. Should rust affect your steel carport, the affected area can simply be repainted. With sufficient maintenance, a steel port will prove much more advantageous than one made of aluminium.

What are the best ways to include storage in my garage?

As the most convenient place to store items for the garden and home, the garage can end up quite the cluttered space, especially if you still need to fit a car in there.

·         One way to free up more floor space is to opt for plastic storage bins that fit into DIY brackets attached to the ceiling. Bear in mind that those bins can’t be too heavy.

·         Industrial shelving is another way to hang shelving from the ceiling. South African hardware stores stock a range of shelving and baskets for interiors that can easily be modified to provide garage storage. Before you consider this option, make sure the roofing is solid and secure, and able to take the weight.

·         Make sure you allow space for items that you use regularly. A hanging rack or floating shelves against the wall can easily accommodate small garden tools and equipment, as well as sporting goods or seasonal clothing packed in boxes/bins.

And when it comes to flammable items, such as paints, always have a lockable cabinet (preferably one that has a ventilation grill) to keep such items safely out of reach of children.