Is It Cheaper to Build a Garage or a Carport?

If you need a space to store your car, you essentially have two main options: a garage or a carport. But before you decide which one’s right for you, you should first consider what each has to offer in terms of features and the installation process. And if your budget is a major factor in this decision, you’re probably wondering which option is cheaper.

A carport is cheaper and faster to build than a garage. However, a garage will last longer and add value to your home because it’s more permanent and durable. A garage is also more effective at securing your vehicle from harsh weather conditions.

In this guide, we’ll highlight the key differences between carports and garages and look at their building costs. We’ll also cover which of the two options provides more value in the long run.

Key Differences Between a Carport and a Garage

Carport and garage

The main differences between a carport and a garage are as follows:

Curb Appeal

Carports and garages are available in various designs and styles.

Carports often have a roofed metal frame, a fabric-draped metal frame, or a permanent structure attached to your home. Some carports have no walls, while others feature three walls of stone, brick, or another material that matches your house. Since they are open on at least one side, you can use attached carports as an outdoor patio and a car cover.

On the other hand, garages can be attached directly to your house or stand-alone. However, they are enclosed rooms with four walls and a roof most of the time. You should note that carports are usually built as stand-alone structures for convenience, while garages are more likely to match the aesthetic appeal of the rest of your home.


Carports and garages are both normally built on top of a concrete slab, but carports are faster and easier to install compared. You can usually install them in several hours or a few days. They also lack windows and doors even if they have three walls, speeding up the installation time.  

If you don’t have a slab in the desired location, you’ll need to level the ground and pour one yourself. You can then construct the carport using a metal frame or a simple three-sided structure.

For quick and easy installation, you can also purchase a carport kit complete with the necessary components. You can then install it yourself. Otherwise, you can hire an expert to build and design the carport from scratch.

On the other hand, building a garage is a more intensive and time-consuming process. This is because garages have four walls, a door, and sometimes windows. The good news, however, is that the walls are usually made of durable materials like a cinder block and are covered with siding that resembles the rest of your house.

Depending on the size and plan to finish the interior, this process can take anywhere from a few days to a few months to complete.

Extra Space and Storage

Carports are mainly created to protect a vehicle from harsh elements, so they don’t have a door or a way to secure the shelter. This is why they are rarely used for storage — your belongings could easily be stolen. Carports are also not considered living spaces, so they don’t have to comply with building codes.

Apart from housing your vehicle, garages can be used for storage. And because they can be locked, equipment like lawnmowers, bikes, washing machines, and cleaning supplies are often kept inside.

The best part is that depending on your finishing; you can use a garage for other purposes; you could use it as an office or even build a second floor above it to add more living space.

Protection and Safety

Carports protect your vehicle from weather conditions, such as the scorching sun and snow or hail. They, however, don’t protect your vehicle from theft because they don’t have a door or, in many cases, walls.

Your vehicle is, therefore, safer and more secure in a garage. A garage also keeps the elements out.

Regulations and Permits

Carports aren’t considered living spaces, so they don’t have the same building codes as houses. This means that fewer cities will require you to obtain a permit, and there are few to no restrictions on size or materials.

Conversely, garages are considered a part of the living space. They must have flame-retardant and insulated walls. Garages also often have electricity and require a permit alongside inspection, increasing construction costs and installation timelines.

Building a Garage or Carport: What Are the Costs?

Carports and garages vary in price.

The cost of a garage is determined by its size and the type of finishing materials used. It should also resemble the house, so if your home’s facade is expensive, the garage’s price will probably follow suit. The cost of a carport, on the other hand, is dependent on whether it’s an open carport or one with walls and the material of those walls.

A simple carport may cost only a few hundred dollars, but a permanent structure can be much more expensive. You should also note that a foundation or slab is mandatory for carports and garages. If you don’t already have a slab, pouring one will cost around $1,200 for a 20×20-foot area.

A garage usually costs anywhere from $30 to $60 per square foot, which leads to total costs in the tens of thousands of dollars with finishing costs and materials.

Alternatively, a permanent carport with a roof attached to the side of the house should be in the thousands of dollars.

Does a Garage Add More Value Than a Carport?

New carport on renovated home

A garage adds more value to your home compared to a carport because it’s more durable and permanent. It also enlarges your living space, allowing you to use it for various purposes, such as an office or storage room. This is hard to achieve with a carport because it does not provide security or privacy.

Additionally, after incurring the initial installation costs, garages will serve you for much longer. They may be more costly to build than carports, but they offer a greater return for your money in the long term.

Every car deserves a decent place to call home. And the best way to determine which structure is best for you is to consider your needs. Do you simply want to protect your car from the occasional rains or scorching sun? If yes, then the carport is ideal for you. You’ll have it installed within days, and you won’t break the bank.

However, if security and better protection from the elements for your car are top of your list, a garage is the way to go. The same is also true if you plan on selling your home in the future since garages are highly attractive to homebuyers.