What Counts as a Canopy in Lake Oswego?

As we’ve seen a few times, towns and cities change their local ordinances in regards to carports and canopies. Sometimes, these changes are practical, while, in others, they’re done for aesthetics. Mainly, the visual improvement of the neighborhood or town is targeted and those in the area with existing canopies need to put them in the back of their properties. In most cases, what is a canopy and what is a carport is defined – for the most part. More specifically, the size and location of the structure is an important aspect in many of these ordinances.

Nevertheless, a recent article was published regarding changes to a similar ordinance in Lake Oswego. The gist, according to the linked article, is to only have such temporary structures, like canopies, on the property for certain periods at a time. What’s mainly being targeted are PODS, those portable storage containers that are designed for temporary use only. But, as implied, these are being left on the property and used like carports and portable garages instead. The ordinance specifies that such storage containers can only be on a property for no more than 60 days during a year. Similarly, temporary canopy structures (these aren’t defined, either) can only be used for three out of 30 days.

But, aside from the changes for anyone that lives in Lake Oswego, what is defined as a canopy and portable storage unit isn’t clear – at least by this article. Does a portable garage count as a temporary portable storage unit, or, because it can be left out for even years at a time, does it not fall into the same category? Or, because it is a canopy of some kind and can be taken does, does it qualify as a canopy? Are portable garages and permanent carports even addressed, or, because they fall in between PODS and pop up canopies, do they not fall into either category?

More Solar Carports in New Jersey

Solar carports are always good news. Not only are they used as a source for clean energy but, also, they incorporate a metal carport’s design to make a versatile structure. While some solar carports in the US generate energy for the electric grid and to power electric vehicles beneath, most just do the former as a way to use clean and sustainable energy sources. Another solar carport project is in the works in New Jersey, this time at Atlantic Cape Community College. Much like the carports set up at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, these carports are also designed to support part of the power for the school buildings.

Designed with Pepco Energy Services, these solar carports will be added to five lots on the school’s Mays Landing campus and to the Cape May courthouse. Overall, the school will be paying seven cents per kilowatt for this system, with all six solar carports used to generate 2.3 megawatts – half of the energy for the campus or enough to supply half the power to 220 homes. The local power company charges 15 cents per kilowatt used. Additionally, this project is planned to be the largest solar power effort for a community college in the United States.

The design for each solar carport hasn’t been revealed yet, although most likely it will be a metal design supporting solar panels. Much like the solar panel system in Long Island from a few weeks ago, these carports are still in the works and, so far, no suggestion of incorporating electric vehicles has been added. Because solar carports give a sturdy design to support photovoltaic panels and give cars under all the benefits of sun and rain protection, the structures benefit nearly all at the school.

Get Your Car – and Carport – Ready for the Snow

product5813ef1603a35f50892ac8d3d68ff396Many Mid-Atlantic states have experienced higher-than-average snowfalls over the past few weeks. Cities like Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia saw snowfalls over 30 inches, which is generally unusual, even for northern cities. While amounts like this are often more typical of New England states or upstate New York, be prepared for the weather, regardless. One article published recently gives some advice for those in the Mid-Atlantic region regarding snowfalls. Most of this consists of buying food before the snow hits and having enough salt for your sidewalk, but it also hits on some points regarding your car and carport.

In regards to getting your car ready for the snow, the article linked mentions that all cars should be parked in a carport or garage and to keep them away from curbs and alleys. This is not only better for the car but, for the day following the snow storm, a street cleared from vehicles is more beneficial to those plowing. Although this protects your car from the snow, one point the article failed to mention is preparing your carport. A carport or any other portable structure not anchored, for example, might not withstand a 30-inch snowfall. Worse, it may collapse on your vehicle.

When snow’s reported to hit, check the stability of your carport. Most importantly, it should be anchored into the ground either with concrete or with metal anchors. If the structure is anchored, check all joints and the roof to see if all are stable enough to withstand snow and wind. Also, to prevent snow or ice from forming on your car, see if you can get a full-coverage shelter or modify your current carport or portable garage with sidewalls and a door.

Live in an Area with Flooding? Be Careful with Your Carport

Carports protect cars and vehicles from many forces of nature: rain, snow, UV-rays, and mold. But, when water starts to accumulate from a flood, a carport won’t protect your vehicle. Seem like commonsense? When it comes to flooding, your car may as well as left unprotected than in a carport. One article from the Orange County Register details what happened recently to homeowners in Laguna Woods, California, during a rainstorm that caused high flooding in the area. In many parts, the water levels in carports and around the cars reached three feet. Meanwhile, residents who evacuated the area didn’t take their vehicles and, as a result, many vehicles inside carports became damaged.

In this case, nothing will protect your car from a flood, and the best plan is to get the vehicle as far away from the scenario as possible. Nevertheless, if you plan to own a carport or portable garage, it will protect against many other elements and natural disasters. Concerning water, carports and full-coverage portable garages made from metal and polyethylene are designed to be waterproof and protect the surface of the vehicle from water exposure. Similarly, while prolonged exposure to water can cause mildew or mold to build up, excessive exposure to sunlight can fade or crack the surface of such a vehicle.

In addition to the properties of most carports and portable garages, the shelters are designed in such a way to withstand heavy snowfalls, rain, and snow. For the best protection, rounded roof shelters allow all types of precipitation to roll off the shelter. Square tube shelters, in addition, offer significant strength with a peaked roof design. Both types can withstand winds up to 95MPH and snowfalls up to 55 pounds. But, this is only the case if the shelter is installed properly. If the metal frame isn’t anchored into the ground, the structure won’t be as strong.

Portable Garages and Classic Cars

What’s the best way for sheltering a classic car? If you don’t own a brick-and-mortar garage, a portable garage with sidewalls should suffice. One auto advice columnist for the McPherson Sentinel gives a mentioning to such portable shelters to protect classic cars but also mentions about having an already-built garage delivered to your location to protect the car. His main favoring for the latter? Portable garages are prone to building up moisture during certain parts of the year. Is his assumption accurate, or is storing a classic car in a garage actually better for the vehicle long-term?

Shelter is needed for any vehicle, be it an ordinary car, seasonal vehicle, or classic car, to protect it from UV-rays and rain, as well as the build-up of any mold or mildew on the surface. To have all of these qualities, the shelter must be treated to be waterproof and UV resistant – or to have these qualities naturally – and should have enough air circulation to prevent mold and mildew from building up. In this case, a portable garage equipped with side walls has all of these qualities. The polyethylene canopy is treated to be UV-resistant and waterproof and added vents or a fan improve the air circulation.

Storing a classic car and a seasonal vehicle like a boat or RV isn’t significantly different. After all, all of these vehicles are used mostly in warmer weather and are kept in storage during the winter. Storage is crucial at all points during the year to prevent the surface and any internal parts from being damaged. During the summer months, the shelter should be equipped with vents, which need to be installed separately, and a fan inside to increase circulation. The winter months, however, don’t need as much. In either instance, check with local zoning or building codes first to see if you can add such a structure to your property to protect your classic car.

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.

What are Square Tube Shelters?

If you like the style of a peaked-roof shelter but want the strength of a rounded roof one, a square tube shelter, such as those by ShelterLogic, gives you the look with the properties. Their square tube shelters, called ShelterTube, have a box shape, without any sloped or angled edges often associated with most peak-style shelters. Whether to store a car, boat, or other items, these ShelterTube square frame shelters need to be properly anchored with concrete for you and your vehicle to get the full benefit. With sizes of 12, 18, and 24 feet wide, a square frame shelter can protect more than one vehicle at a time.

ShelterLogic claims that these shelters are made with “ultra strong” high-grade steel, which, for the outdoors, is going to be galvanized. The actual frames for the 18 and 24 feet models all have reinforced rafter braces and bolt hardware at every connection point. Additionally, the shelter has a solid steel base rail for ease of installation. Accompanying the steel shelter is a heavy-duty polyethylene canopy with full coverage including a back and front door. Because having the shelter anchored is important for it to be fully effective, concrete anchors are also included with the kit.

So, what can one of these shelters do when protecting your vehicle? High winds and heavy snow are concerns for those with vehicles and, for protection, opt for a rounded roof shelter because of such properties and strength. When anchored correctly into the ground with concrete, the ShelterTube can withstand 53 pounds of snow on top and 95 miles per hour winds. Of course, when the shelter isn’t anchored into the ground with concrete – other anchors won’t suffice for this and rounded roof shelters – it might not withstand either amount of snow or wind.

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.