Property Laws for Boat and RV Storage

Using a portable storage shelter to protect your RV or boats during the winter months is a practical and economical idea but, like carports and portable garages, these shelters may experience some restrictions on where they can be placed. In recent news, DeWitt, New York enacted a law regarding these vehicles being placed in driveways and front yards. For those who own these vehicles, the only viable option to meet these laws is to keep the vehicle stored in the backyard. Like most similar laws, this one in DeWitt became effective January 1, 2010, to keep property values in the city up, as RVs and boats are considered eyesores.

Some neighbors have petitioned the city to make an exception for their area, but, at this moment, such a law is up in the air, according to the article linked above. Those who don’t store their vehicle in an inconspicuous place face a fine of $200. At the moment, RVs, boats, and similar seasonal vehicles like snowmobiles can be left in front of the property for ten days, before the owner is fined for breaking the law. However, not all homes, especially those in a city, are equipped with large enough backyards for an RV or boat and a shelter, and what should someone do in this case?

In some cases, the logical step would be to put the vehicle in storage or, especially for boats, to store it near a water source away from home. Not everyone has this luxury, however, and storing such a vehicle on their property is far more economical than finding a storage facility that won’t keep an RV outdoors. At the moment, those in DeWitt are waiting for updates on this law for their neighborhoods but, even if you don’t live in DeWitt, your city, town, or neighborhood could have such restrictions. Like going to purchase a carport, check your local laws in regards to owning such a vehicle and the shelter needed to protect it.

Can Snow Damage a Carport?

In theory, no, snow should not damage a carport. In fact, most carports and portable garages are designed to be sturdy enough, so that, in case of heavy snowfalls, rain, or wind, the structure continues to stand and protect your investments inside. This, of course, only applies when the shelter is maintained and installed properly. As most of the United States has recently experienced heavier-than-average snowfalls, a town in North Carolina saw a few carports collapse from the snow. While the types of carports aren’t mentioned under the linked article, the situation brings up the question, “Are people installing and maintaining their carports properly?”

In a warmer part like North Carolina, snowfall is rarely an issue, and the state is too far northeast to experience the damage done by hurricanes and tornadoes. In a sense, you could say that North Carolina is in an ideal location for owning a carport, as extreme weather rarely becomes an issue. Or, is it? As we see in this particular article, freak weather can come, and, as an owner of any portable outdoor shelter, you should be prepared for it, especially if items are stored inside.

To keep your carport or portable garage in tip-top shape, the first thing to do is to make sure the shelter is installed properly. This includes putting it in the ground and anchoring the shelter by either anchors or with concrete. As soon as the poles are firmly planted into the ground, the only issue left remaining for safety issues is the roof. Whether a polyethylene or galvanized steel roof, all are attached to the rest of the structure, and, periodically, the joints need to be checked. If they’re rusted or weak, then they should be replaced, and portable shelter dealers like Shelters of America and Portable Garage Depot carry replacement parts for such needs.

Fire in Carport: Self-Contained in Structure

What happens when a fire starts in a carport? If the shelter is designed properly, it should stay inside the carport. In a town in British Columbia, Canada, a carport did have a fire start inside and, luckily, the fire stayed within the structure. According to the linked article, the residents of the home with the carport were alerted to the fire from a smoke detector and no one inside the house was hurt. The only damages to the home appeared to be from smoke. While whatever was inside the carport was damaged, the shelter kept the fire from spreading.

Why didn’t the fire spread? As we’ve seen before with outdoor portable structures like carports and portable garages, the structure is fire retardant. Many of these structures – although not all – need to meet California fire standards to be labeled as fire retardant, which includes NFPA 701, CPAI 84-7, and California Title 19 certification. Once a shelter passes all of these, it can be labeled as “fire retardant.’ Especially when such structures are used at fairs or any place in the sun, the shelter needs to not burn from fire. While this generally means from the outside, a fire can also occur inside the shelter, and this appears to be the case for this carport in British Columbia.

While passing such certification is nearly always associated with polyethylene portable garages and carports, metal carports can be fire retardant, as well. Galvanized steel is somewhat fire resistant, and this material makes up all carport frames and, for metal carports, the roof. While steel may change shape from fire after a couple of hours, this fire didn’t last that long and, regardless of whether the structure was made fully from steel or steel and polyethylene, the properties of the carport allowed it to be contained.

Using Portable Storage Buildings on Farms

Many think of farms as large spaces of land for crops and animals with metal and wood buildings like barns and silos dotting the landscape. While this is true up to a point, one common fixture on many farms is portable storage buildings for storing equipment and animals. Although wood or metal buildings may seem sturdier and appear to offer more protection, portable storage buildings with galvanized steel frames and polyethylene canopies have proven to nearly be just as effective. While a farm won’t become entirely composed of portable storage shelters, many are added to the various permanent buildings. This includes small and large portable sheds to store equipment and other objects and shelters for animals.

For the former, buildings as large as industrial shelters can store various pieces of farm equipment, as well as tools, seeds, and animal feed. If an object or supply needs protection, it can generally be stored in one of these shelters. Manufacturers like Shelterlogic carry barn-shaped portable sheds, which are essentially a variation of peak-style storage buildings with all-around coverage. But even rounded roof shelters provide sufficient coverage and, for more protection, some of these buildings are built with metal doors instead of polyethylene roll-up doors.

Aside from equipment, animals can be protected by these shelters, as well. While one of these structures won’t become a permanent stable, they’re often used as a run-in shed. A run-in shed is used for horses but other livestock like sheep and cows can use a similar shelter. One of these larger rounded roof shelters is ideal as a run-in shed, which, when placed outdoors in a pasture area, allows livestock to run through it and use it as shelter during the day. At night, they can be placed in a proper shed or stable.

Vents for Portable Shelters

While portable storage buildings allow for some air circulation, a shelter may need additional ventilation, especially if it’s storing a seasonal vehicle like a boat or RV. One option to allow more air circulation is to install a vent into the polyethylene canopy at the back of the structure. This way, both heat and condensation can exit the structure easily and cleaner air can circulate around inside. Stores like Shelters of America and Portable Garage Depot sell such vent kits that allow you to allow a plastic vent to the back of a canopy structure. Once you have such a kit, you can cut a hole in the polyethylene canopy and follow the installation instructions for adding a vent.

In general, a vent kit comes with two durable injection molded vents. These plastic vents are designed with UV protection and weather resistant resins. This way, the vent won’t be damaged when outside for an extended period of time. Each vent comes with pre-drilled holes so that it can be attached to the canopy easily with basic hardware. As mentioned before, a hole large enough for the vent will need to be cut into the polyethylene material. Additionally, two vents can be used at once, depending on your or the shelter’s needs, or one can be used as a replacement.

Why would a canopy need a vent? Although canopies are designed to be waterproof and mildew and rot resistant, some water still may find its way inside the shelter. Without enough ventilation, the shelter could cause dry rot or mildew to build up on a vehicle while in storage for several months. Although canopy shelters like portable garages and sheds allow for some circulation, additional ventilation may be needed for a shelter. Adding one or two vents to a portable garage will allow additional circulation to lessen the chance or dry rot or mildew building up on a vehicle.

Accessories for Your Portable Storage Building

When a portable garage or carport goes up, it may need some additions. This includes various anchors to keep it stable on dirt or concrete, as well as modifications to the actual polyethylene canopy like roll-up doors and vents. In general, a canopy structure needs at least one of these devices to stay up or for all-around protection. Of course, this depends upon what you’re planning to use the structure for. If you’re simply planning to keep the structure in your backyard as a carport, then some anchors will be needed to keep the structure from tipping over, while vents and roll-up doors may be needed if the structure is used for protecting a seasonal vehicle.

Anchors for a portable storage building come in a few different varieties. A carport or portable garage may need to be placed on concrete or asphalt, and, in this case, mounting feet are needed to attach the shelter to a hard surface. But, as many yards are dirt, a shelter still may need to be secured in the ground. For this purpose, many canopy dealers carry standard and duck bill earth anchors to help you secure your structure in the ground. While both need to be driven into the ground, the latter type involves no digging or concrete and can support up to 1100 pounds.

Aside from securing a structure, other canopy shelters involve modifying a structure, especially when one is used to store seasonal vehicles. In this case, such accessories include vents and roll up doors. Most canopies do not come with a roll up door, and one needs to be installed if you want full coverage for a vehicle. Similarly, a vehicle in storage for several months at a time needs ventilation, and a plastic vent can be added to the polyethylene canopy to allow more air circulation.

Using Carports for Storage

Portable storage buildings have been one option for storage. Whether a carport or a portable garage, one of these medium-sized shelters – one slightly larger than one car – can protect a vehicle and store other various objects. Some use these shelters much like a shed to store tools or to work in, or else the shelter can store any random items that would likely be placed in a brick-and-mortar garage if the home had one. But, as zoning laws for carports have been a common topic on this blog, some zoning or property rules don’t allow carports to be used as storage. While such a law applies more to open carports than fully-enclosed portable garages, what can be stored in a carport can be an issue depending upon where you live.

In the case of the article linked above, the condo association allowed carports but they were to be used for cars only. While only vehicles were allowed in these structures, bikes and outdoor toys like basketball hoops were not. This caused the residents of the condo in Granby, Connecticut to move to neighboring town Simsbury, but the fact remains that towns, landlords, and condo associations can restrict where you can place, how large, and what is inside a carport.

Owning a carport, at least gathered from information about carport zoning laws or property laws, may come with some restrictions. So you’re not surprised after purchasing a carport through a website like Shelters of America or Portable Garage Depot, inquiring about any zoning laws if you own a home or any property rules if you own a condo or rent is advised not only for your convenience but also for picking out the best structure.

Carport Zoning Laws, Part Two

Many people have carports, as they’re a far more economical way for covering your car than creating a brick-and-mortar garage from scratch. But, as we’ve seen before, many towns consider carports part of a home or, in other cases, another building on a property. Although the galvanized steel and polyethylene building can be put up or taken down at any point during the year, many towns require your carport or other portable shelter to meet certain zoning laws. As we saw previously in a post about carport zoning laws in Idaho Falls, portable garages and carports are sometimes considered permanent structures and, if you’re considering purchasing one, you should consult your local zoning laws and building codes before looking at shelters.

A similar issue has come about in Rowlett, Texas, except it concerns changing zoning laws in regards to carports. Essentially, how a carport is built defines what type of structure it is. If you have an older carport attached to your home, it generally considered part of the house and is subject to any similar building codes. A structure not attached to a home, such as the many carports at Portable Garage Depot and Shelters of America, is considered an accessory structure. For this building, a carport is restricted by size and is considered less structurally sound. In addition, such carports need to be less than 500 square feet, as the town requires buildings of this size to have a sprinkler system.

What do you do in such an instance? If your current carport, assuming you live in Rowlett, does not meet these standards, the structure will need to be modified. For those looking for a new carport, most single or two-car carports fit into the requirements, as long as you don’t attach one to your home. But, since carports and sheds fall into the same category, a larger carport may need to be purchased if you’re looking for space to store vehicles and other items. In this case, a structure less than 20 feet by 25 feet should suffice.

Portable Storage Buildings for Different Climates

Portable garage makers like Shelterlogic make portable storage buildings in a variety of shapes. Is there any reason behind this or is it only for aesthetics? After all, some buildings come barn-shaped while others are rounded. But some shelters are better for certain climates or weather conditions than others. While rounded roof and peaked shelters essentially protect the same way, rounded roof shelters are designed to let snow, rain, and any other precipitation simply roll off. But, if you’re in an area that doesn’t experience large amounts of precipitation, the South or West Coast parts of the United States for example, a peaked roof style is a better option.

Although, if you’re deciding to protect an RV with one of these portable shelters for example, the two canopies have the same format and dimensions, as well as zipper or roll-up doors, a peaked shelter costs somewhat less. In comparing prices on Portable Garage Depot, a 14 by 20 by 14 foot peaked shelter is roughly $2000, while the rounded roof counterpart with the same dimensions runs about $2650. What’s the difference? Typically, a rounded roof shelter has a more elaborate frame to put together, as each vertical piece is rounded and is attached together by straight horizontal bars. The canopy, then, fits over this rounded frame.

Prices aside, though, rounded roof shelters are considered stronger for more extreme weather conditions. If you live in an area that experiences large amounts of snow, you don’t want a canopy to buckle and break – or even tear – from snow and ice gathering on its surface. Instead, the ideal shelter will prevent snow from forming on the surface, and, as a rounded roof shape allows the snow or rain to roll off, the shelter is better designed for areas experiencing heavy snowfalls and large amounts of rain. If your area only experiences average or minimal amounts of snow, choosing a strong but not the strongest shelter will meet your needs for protection.

Zoning Laws for Carports

Installing a carport is significantly more convenient and economical than constructing a brick-and-mortar garage from scratch. Both structures, however, may need local approval, as seen in a recent news item about a man fighting for his carport. For him, as well as others, the carport on his property doesn’t comply with local zoning regulations. This includes the dimensions of the building, as well as having one on his property. But when does a carport, portable garage, or temporary shed constitute as a permanent structure in the same vein as a deck or porch? According to the article, this is generally when the structure is cemented into the ground. If you plan to pull the structure from the ground and not keep it in place permanently, the carport or portable garage doesn’t need a building permit.

For those that want a carport or portable garage on their property, this poses somewhat of a dilemma, but that can be quickly resolved by contacting any local office in charge on zoning regulations. As these temporary structures may count as permanent, contact your local office about getting a building permit anyway for one of these structures. If you do need a building permit, ask:

• Does a carport count as a permanent structure only if you have to put it in the ground? Is it not a permanent structure if you don’t cement it or set it in concrete and take it down for part of the year? As RV and boat canopies may only be up for part of the year, asking this is important, as putting up an RV canopy might end up being a permanent structure needing approval in your area.
• What dimensions are allowed? Where on my property can I put this building? As
carports and other portable storage buildings come in a number of sizes, zoning laws may have limits on how large a portable garage, carport, or RV shelter can be, as well as where you can place it on your property.

As purchasing a portable shelter can be a small investment, asking these questions before you purchase a portable storage building might help you from picking a product that can’t be put up on your property.