Carports

Cabin carport solid state home inspections

There are two common types of structures for parking cars, enclosed garages and covered carports. Professional home inspection standards include the car parking structure as part of a standard home inspection which includes attached or detached structures. For home inspectors, carports are usually less complicated to inspect than full garages.


Carport or Garage

Garages and carports can either be attached to the home or detached from the home. The simplest difference between them is that a garage is a fully enclosed space with vehicle and man-doors where a car port is an open space. For security purposed, car ports have very little security besides perhaps some additional lighting for stored vehicles and objects where garages can be locked up for security.


Detached Carports

Detached carports are typically made of woof or metal structures and have quite simple beam and post construction which is easy for home inspectors to examine. Roof coverings can be flat roof materials or steep roof materials and should drain correctly with gutters and downspouts. The floor of the carport can be made from a variety of materials including asphalt, concrete, or brick pavers however the floor should be slightly higher than the surrounding property allowing for correct drainage. If the slope of the driveway brings water towards the car port, a drain should be in place to catch the water and safely direct it away from the structure.


Occasionally home owners will modify car ports to add walls or even fully convert the carport to a detached garage. While this can be done correctly, most car ports do not have the perimeter foundation required to build solid exterior walls which may result in premature deterioration of the walls starting from the base. This deficiency is not always clear to visual home inspectors if the interior and exterior walls of the carport are enclosed.


Attached Carports

Attached carports share some structure with the main home. This can be one or more walls or often the carport extends below a level of the home which then forms the covering for the carport. Inspection of attached car ports is similar to detached in that home inspectors are looking for appropriate use of materials, good performance of materials, and signs of maintenance that may be required.


Attached carports that are converted into enclosed garages can pose a serious safety risk to home occupants. Exhaust fumes from cars need to be separated from home living spaces with a gas seal as a build up of gasses like carbon monoxide can be fatal. When a home is built with a carport in mind, the builder does not need to worry about gas seals but if the carport is later enclosed, the gas seals may not be in place and home inspectors are not able to confirm this gas seal during a visible inspection.


Issues of roof coverings, drainage, structure, and flooring material are all similar to detached carport descriptions above.


Electricity

It is not uncommon to find lighting and power outlets at a car port. Whenever electricity is used in an outdoor space, it needs to have correct weather resistant wire, junction boxes, switches, and outlets in place and this is a common deficiency in car port inspections. GFCI's are also an excellent method of protecting electricity users in carports from the risks of electrocution, particularly in a wet environment.


Final Thoughts

Car ports provide some protection from the elements for vehicles and shelter for occupants getting in and out of them. Many car ports are built by amateurs and concerns for gas and electrical safety as well as appropriate building practices are not often followed. Always have your home inspected by a professional home inspector to help protect your family from sub-standard work and give you confidence your home is safe and solid.


By James Bell - Owner/Operator of Solid State Inspections Inc.