What Size Carport can I Build Without a Permit (The Numbers)

Sometimes your dream home doesn’t come with a garage. Or maybe you had to get an extra car for your kid and you don’t have enough room in your current garage setup.

Whatever your reasons, you need to get a carport. A carport is an absolutely great and easy way to make another space for another vehicle.

They aren’t expensive at all, they require little tools outside of what they come with, and you usually only need 2 adults.

They can come with walls or not, with a door or not, and in so many different colors. We know we love the idea of a carport.

Let’s see what it takes to get one in your yard.

Can I build a carport without a permit?

First let’s get this answered. No. And yes. Most places, most cities, most states require a permit for your carport. There are a handful of counties and a few states that don’t require it.

But it also depends on if it’s a free standing carport or if it attaches to your house. We know, that’s not the best answer.

How do I get a permit?

Okay, so you will probably need a permit for your carport. There are a few steps to take to get it.

  • Call your local city office
  • Make a plan of the site
  • Pay the fee and fill out the application

Once you have that taken care of, here are a few extra tips before you start.

  • Make sure you know where your lines are (power, water, etc)
  • Put your permit where it can be seen

It might seem like a lot for a carport. Getting it approved the correct way the first time will save any headache and possible fines later on.

All it takes is one nosy neighbor, which seem to be in abundance these days, and you could find yourself needing to show your permit.

It’s simply better to have all your bases covered these days.

Which carport needs a permit?

Let’s look at some kinds of carports and if they might need a permit.

  • Portable/temporary carport

This one doesn’t seem to need a permit. If the one you have is the kind that can be moved around your yard as needed, then it seems the city doesn’t care if you have that.

Yes, it is technically an outdoor structure. But how you put it in the ground makes a difference on if you would need a permit. If you can lift it, it’s fine.

  • Attached to your house

Yes. All signs seem to point to this style needing a permit. You are technically adding to your home.

  • If it exceeds the measurements set by your city

Your city or country may have specific sizes that you can have before needing a permit. Even if you have one that didn’t need a permit and want to upgrade to a bigger one, you’ll need to check if that new size is okay.

  • Any carport that is being fixed into the ground

If you are pouring, digging, cementing, or making this structure a permanent fixture on your property, better call the city. Get that permit. Once you are thinking about having a carport in its spot until it needs replaced, you’ll need a permit.

Again, even if you have one that is only sitting on the ground with anchors and didn’t need a permit, but now you are wanting to have it live in that spot, you will probably need a permit.

Call your county. There are a few that still won’t mind if it’s a carport you are wanting to dig for.

Is it different between US states?

All of this might seem a bit confusing. That’s because each county and city can make its own decisions on what it wants a permit for.

So while it’s not a state by state issue, it is a county by county issue. You can live in one county in a state that doesn’t require one, move to a different county in the same state, and need one there.

Even if it’s a permanent carport, it’s still not considered a living space. There’s no insulation, no electricity, and no other codes that need to be followed. But you could still need a permit.

Even though they don’t follow along the same lines as a garage would, there are a lot of cities and counties that will make you get a permit.

But they won’t tell you what kind of materials you can and cannot use.

Does the size of my property make a difference?

Not that we could find, no. The only thing that matters is how far from the edge of your property you have it.

That would make sense. It needs to be far enough away to not be a burden to your neighbors should something happen.

So if you don’t have a lot of land or space, you are going to have to measure. Every county has their own measurement requirements for how far away from the edge of your property your structure needs to be. Lots of calling for this carport.

Even if you have a tiny bit of land, as long as you can fit it far enough away from your property line that is required, you are fine. It might be an eyesore, but you can do it.

What if I already have a carport on my property?

Modern carport car garage parking made of silver metal and glass

If you bought a house that already has a carport, you should be fine. As long as there is a permit for it if it was needed, you are good to go.

If you cannot find a permit, call and ask if one was needed. If it was, ask for a copy of the permit so you don’t get into any trouble down the line.

If there wasn’t a permit, but one was needed, explain the situation and see what needs to be done. You might only need to pay the fees and fill out the application.

Rarely will they make you take it down, especially if you just purchased the property. But crazy things happen all of the time, so call and ask.

Can I increase the size of my existing carport?

Absolutely. This is totally fine. Remember, this is going to only be at the cost to you. Thankfully, carports were actually made with this in mind.

You can buy kits to extend the entire roofline of your existing carport. That way you aren’t having to take it all down and start from scratch. You get the extender kit, new wall kit if you want that, and you are good to go.

You would need to dig or drill new holes into wherever you anchored your existing carport. But that would be easier than redoing everything.

You can separately buy whatever pieces or parts you need for your carport to make it bigger, to add walls, or add extra support.

Compared to what it would cost to add on to a garage, you’ll be getting out fairly cheap.

Again, as long as it doesn’t exceed your counties size limit and still stays within the restrictions of how close it can be to the edge of your property.

If either of those get compromised, you may have to think about rehoming your carport.

How big can my carport be?

Most standard carports are 20 feet long by 12 feet wide and 6 to 7 feet high. Just enough room for you to get in and out of your car.

Again, depending on where you live, 10 feet might be the highest you are allowed to go, and you may have to stay within a certain amount of square footage for a permit or to not have to get a permit.

Along with that, the higher your carport goes, the bigger the posts have to be to support it. This makes sense.

You don’t want your carport falling over or falling on your car, right? Neither does anyone else. Follow the specifications always. This is not a time to go rogue.

What material can my carport be?

Honestly, this is up to you. Do you want it to match your garage? Match your house? Don’t care? Most carports are some kind of plastic or steel. You can also get fiberglass or wood.

They come in so many colors and wood stains that you can match to any existing structure. That part is solely whatever your aesthetic is.

Well, that’s about all of the time we have to today folks. We hope you learned that there isn’t one overall rule or answer for this one.

From the size of the carport, to where you put it in your property, to the height of it, to how you place it in the ground, it all starts with a call to your county.

As far as money goes, a carport is definitely the way to go in terms of needing a place to store your car affordably. You can also use a carport for an outdoor event, a patio cover, a place to work outside so you don’t get sunburned, and much more.

So if you are thinking about a carport, we suggest making that call to your city because the benefits outweigh the small fee.

Alright guys, that’s it for this article, if you are interesting in reading more about carports, we have lots of cool articles related such as:

How To Raise & Jack up Carports (Metal & Wood Varieties explained)

Inflatable Garages & Carports – Are They Any Good (Important Facts)

Is a carport considered a permanent structure? (3 Minute Read)

Carport Swaying? Here’s How To Stop It! (Simple Steps)

Steve Foster

Suburbanite, tech geek, handy man, automation enthusiast who started blogging about the stuff I do around my home and found he had a knack for it.

Recent Posts