Follow Up on Mesquite, TX, Carport Ordinance

We posted a few months back in regards to a carport ordinance change in Mesquite, TX, that essentially stated that older structures with carports can keep them, but those planning to add carports or portable garages need to be wary of certain restrictions, such as colors, roof type, and placement. This original ordinance had yet to go into effect at the time, and, recently, another hearing was held regarding these changes. According to the linked article, some changes to the original ordinance were brought up after the original January and February meetings. At the moment, we don’t know what the future will hold for erecting carports or portable garages in Mesquite.

Nevertheless, one issue regarding carport laws and ordinances was brought up recently in The Daily Observer, the newspaper that serves part of the Ottawa valley area in Canada. Residents of a town in the area have not been heeding to a carport ordinance passed back in 2007. Although the details of the ordinance aren’t mentioned in the article, residents, as mentioned, continue to put up these structures without consequences – so far. Home owners were allowed to keep their carports and portable garage is added prior to 2007 owners, but others were banned from adding these structures, as the town considers them fire obstacles and not strong enough for snow.

The Ottawa Valley, for those not familiar with Canada, is on the border between Ontario and Quebec provinces and starts from Ottawa and goes northwest of the city. Although in Canada, the snowfall in Ottawa is considerably less than in places like Winnipeg and 2009 saw the area have a record 54 centimeters (about 22 inches) of snow. Considering snow weighs about 15 pounds per cubic foot, this would mean that the average amount of snow accumulating on a carport would roughly be 30 pounds per foot. Most carports, however, are designed to withstand 50 pounds of snow per square foot – assuming it accumulates on a rounded or peaked roof.

Change of Carport Ordinance in Mesquite, TX

One piece of advice for buying a carport or any type of portable shelter for permanent use is to consult your local zoning laws. Often, these ordinances are created to keep up property values in certain towns, cities, and neighborhoods, but they’re also subject to change. In the case of Mesquite, Texas, the town’s carport ordinance is about to go through some major changes, particularly for front-of-the-house structures. While, ideally, keeping your carport or portable shelter is best at the back of your home, all shelters may be subject to such regulations. If you live in Mesquite, here are some of the changes that will happen for front carports:

• The carport must be the same color and same material as the rest of the house.
• Metal is no longer an acceptable material for front carports. Polyethylene and metal carports, however, aren’t mentioned.
• All carports must have a pitched roof, but that roof cannot be higher than the roof of the house.
• The structure should cover no more than 400 square feet.
• The structure must also be built over a drive way – no grass or concrete pavement.
• Neighborhoods platted after 1973 cannot have front carports.

Regarding all of these new ordinances, having a backyard carport is nearly easier to own than keeping one in the front. Nevertheless, this revised ordinance doesn’t address some significant issues regarding carports and other portable structures. First off, can the structure have side walls or are only open structures permitted? Can the structure be anchored, either by concrete or metal anchors? Does the law change in regards to shelter for seasonal vehicles like RVs and boats? Can only vehicles be stored in carports or are other materials permitted? Hopefully, with additional revisions of this ordinance, such points will be addressed.

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.

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.