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.

Large-Size Rounded Roof Shelters

The previous post was about peaked roof shelters on a larger scale, also referred to as industrial size shelters, and rounded roof shelters can be found on this scale, as well. At this height, rounded roof shelters are used for all of the same purposes as the peaked shelters from before, but merely the shape is different. If you’re looking for an alternative to constructing a new barn, one of these industrial sized shelters can be constructed instead. As with all types of portable storage buildings, these can be expanded over time if you need to add any additional vehicles, equipment, or other investments and don’t have enough storage space.

The typical rounded roof portable garage most are familiar with is the smaller sized shelter, which is usually the longer shelters used for RVs and other seasonal vehicle storage. These shelters are longer than they are wide. Barn-style rounded roof shelters, on the other hand, have the opposite type of dimensions, with the width being longer or equal to the length. In terms of storing vehicles, however, the vehicles, be it RVs or farm equipment, should be able to fit inside one of these shelters. Doors, in the case of these shelters, are at least twelve feet high. Larger vehicles needing to fit into the canopy will need larger doors.

With the last industrial sized shelter mentioned on this blog, the doors were insulated aluminum roll-up doors. This, however, is somewhat of an anomaly in terms of portable shelter construction, and usually the standard roll up or zipper doors are made from the same polyethylene material as the rest of the shelter. All of these rounded roof shelters have attached roll up or zipper doors made from the same heavy-duty polyethylene treated to be UV resistant and waterproof.

Different Types of Portable Garage Frames

As you can see from the Shelters of America video above, portable storage buildings come in a variety of styles. This includes the two you see here, a barn-style portable building and a peaked roof portable garage, as well as the rounded roof portable garages that were mentioned in previous posts. Some flat roof portable canopies are available, but these are rarely used as permanent shelters and, instead, as garden canopies. What do you use each type of portable building for? Are some styles of portable buildings better than others for certain pieces of equipment?

The peaked roof portable garage is one of the more common types of portable buildings on the market. From general portable shelters like carports to smaller portable sheds, this design is used. In some cases, as for carports, polyethylene side walls aren’t added and the polyethylene roof protects the vehicle sufficiently. But if you need all-around coverage, which is important if a seasonal vehicle is being stored, then one of these shelters can be designed with polyethylene canopy walls. This design is standard for smaller portable sheds. The peaked roof canopy in the video, however, is taller than average and is probably best used for RV storage or as a carport for a medium-sized truck.

The second style of shelter seen in the video is a barn-style portable garage. Essentially, this type of peaked shelter functions much like the ordinary peaked roof ones, except it’s a wider structure. Because of the barn-like style and shed-like design, these shelters are typically used for housing farm equipment. Farm equipment, like vehicles, includes regularly used and seasonal designs, and one of these barn-shaped shelters can house both regularly-used and seasonal farm equipment equally.