Parking Restrictions and Your Carport

It’s not uncommon for an area, particularly a city, to have certain parking restrictions – even outright bans on where a vehicle can be placed. Some cities restrict parking to only one side of the street, while not all houses can construct a driveway on the front yard to alleviate any parking problems. One city to institute a similar parking ban recently is Birmingham, Alabama. The city’s parking ban now prohibits parking on front yards. This new ordinance, called Section 11-8-9, gives even more restrictions on where a car can be parked on a property and under what. For the latter, this often is where restrictions on portable garages and carports come in.

In the case of Section 11-8-9, vehicles, such as cars, RVs, and motorcycles, can only be parked in the front yard only if the area is paved over or is a permitted driveway. No cars are allowed to be parked on grass. This front area may also have a carport or portable garage, according to the link above, as long as that structure is incorporated into the main house structure. Independent or portable structures, as implied by the previous statement, are not allowed in this area. But, they can be placed on other parts of the property, however. Section 11-8-9 specifies that this front area can be paved and cars can be parked there, as long as it leads to a proper parking area on the side or in the back of the home. A carport or portable garage can be placed in one of these locations.

While such parking bans aren’t exclusive to Alabama, this instance is an example of the various ordinances concerning carports that you need to take into account before purchasing such a structure. For example, if your area restricts placement on these structures in the front of your home, measure the area behind or to the side of the house for your structure.

Considering Building Codes for Carports and Garages

We’ve analyzed a few building codes pertaining to carports and portable garages on this blog for different areas. While building codes vary with each town and sometimes even between neighborhoods, one distinct aspect common to many of these codes or ordinances pertaining to codes is that all structures need a building permit and few are allowed on the front lawn. However, an article was published recently, with a building inspector as the author. Because carports and portable garages are popular and practical structures to put up, he listed some pointers from his town of Hot Springs, South Dakota:

• Nearly all portable structures require a building permit to be obtained. This isn’t usually the case for pop-up canopies and other such temporary structures. Getting a permit usually entails filling out an application for the building department and submitting your building plans with it.
• The location of the structure in relation to your home, the streets, and your neighbors is important. In Hot Springs, a carport must be 25 feet from the street, eight feet from the house, and five feet from the property line.
• A carport cannot be placed in the front yard.
• Pay attention to the amount of space your portable structures, such as carports, portable garages, and sheds take up. In Hot Springs, such structures may only take up 30 percent of the lot’s area.
• If a carport has two enclosed walls, it’s considered a garage, which has different local building codes, including being anchored.

No matter where you live, such points need to be taken into account when you’re purchasing a carport or portable garage. The sizes you can choose from may be limited, particularly if such a space requirement or location restriction is part of your local building codes.

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.