What to Consider Before Converting a Carport to a Garage

Converting an existing carport into a fully enclosed garage can add valuable living space and weather protection to your home. However, this project requires careful planning and consideration of costs and construction challenges. Here’s an in-depth look at what you need to know before taking on a carport-to-garage conversion.

Evaluating Your Carport Structure and Size

The first step is assessing if your carport is suitable for conversion. Consider the following:

  • Construction materials – Many carports are built with minimal structuring using metal poles and a lightweight roof. Converting to a garage requires installing proper foundations and framing to support full enclosure.
  • Roof style – The carport likely has an open-sided roof that slopes inward. The roofline will need to be extended with closed-in framing.
  • Dimensions – Measure the total dimensions to ensure there is adequate room for a standard garage door opening (at least 8 feet wide). Account for work space around parked vehicles.
  • Drainage slope – The floor will need a slight slope for rainwater runoff. Check for low spots that could lead to pooling water.
  • Electrical and utilities – Evaluate if the carport has existing electrical or water lines to tap into. New garage wiring and plumbing can add costs.

Carefully inspect the carport structure from foundation to roof to spot any issues that could complicate the conversion or create safety hazards.

Developing a Detailed Conversion Plan

Once you’ve deemed the carport suitable for conversion, it’s time to map out a construction plan:

  • Draw up plans – Have an architect or drafter create technical drawings showing the garage design. Include dimensions, structural framing, electrical, and all construction details.
  • Choose a garage door – Select an overhead door style and size that fits the opening. Consider insulation value, materials, windows, and decorative options.
  • Plan interior finishing – Determine garage flooring, wall finishes, storage solutions, lighting, and extras like insulation, drywall, or epoxy coatings.
  • Account for HVAC – Decide if you’ll heat and cool the garage. At minimum, install exhaust ventilation for fumes.
  • Permitting – Research permit requirements through your city planning office. You’ll likely need permits for electrical, plumbing, structural, and the garage door.

Having comprehensive project plans and specifications will make pricing and permitting much simpler.

Hiring the Right Garage Conversion Contractor

This is not a DIY project for amateurs. Converting a carport into an enclosed, structurally-sound garage requires construction know-how. Be sure to:

  • Find experienced contractors – Ask for local referrals. Search builders with proven garage conversion expertise.
  • Check licensing and insurance – Verify contractors have valid licensing, bonding, and liability insurance. Don’t risk uninsured work.
  • Compare project bids – Get 3-4 detailed price quotes for the full scope of work. Look for reasonable labor rates.
  • Agree on project timeline – Set a start date and project deadline. Factor in permit approval delays.
  • Get contract warranties – Secure minimum 1-year warranties on labor and materials. Lifetime roofing warranties are ideal.

Taking the time to hire qualified, licensed pros ensures your carport-to-garage conversion is done right.

Considering the Total Costs

Converting an existing carport into a fully-functional garage represents a significant investment. Be prepared for costs including:

  • Permits – Permit fees often run $100-$500 depending on project complexity.
  • Structural work – New foundation, framing, roofing, and siding to enclose the structure.
  • Garage door – Prices range from $600 for basic to over $3,000 for high-end doors.
  • HVAC – Heating and cooling costs vary based on system size, energy efficiency, and features.
  • Electrical – New interior lighting, outlets, wiring for garage door opener.
  • Plumbing – If adding sinks or drains, costs depend on complexity.
  • Finishes – Flooring, drywall, insulation, cosmetic upgrades.
  • Labor – Hiring contractors represents the majority of total project cost.

While pouring a basic concrete slab and framing in the garage may seem straightforward, all the aggregated costs add up quickly. Realistic budgeting for materials and professional work is essential.

Maximizing Your Converted Garage Space

A well-planned garage conversion optimizes every inch of your new interior room:

  • Incorporate plenty of shelving, cabinets, hooks, and organization systems to reduce clutter.
  • Add windows or a garage door with windows to boost natural light.
  • Use finishes like drywall and epoxy coatings for easy cleaning and durability.
  • Install LED lighting for bright, energy efficient illumination.
  • Run power to the ceiling for potential future additions like ceiling lifts.
  • Use the back wall for built-in cabinetry, a workbench, or bike racks.
  • Divide the space if you need an extra storage room.

Take time to think through how your converted garage will be used. Personalize the design to match your needs.

Converting an open-air carport into a fully enclosed garage takes strategic planning and preparation. Following these tips will set your garage conversion project up for success. Do thorough research and reach out to experts so you can make smart, informed decisions. Soon you’ll have a functional new living area that adds value and convenience to your life for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions About Converting a Carport to a Garage

Here are answers to some common questions about carport-to-garage conversions:

How much does it cost to convert a carport to a garage?

The total cost will vary based on size and what upgrades you include, but the typical range is $15,000 to $30,000. The largest expenses are new structural framing, the garage door itself, finishes, HVAC, and hiring professional contractors.

Can I convert my carport myself?

While ambitious DIYers may attempt it, converting a carport into an enclosed garage is complex. Unless you have construction experience, it is not a recommended DIY project. Getting required permits and following building codes is challenging.

How long does a carport to garage conversion take?

The project timeline depends on factors like permitting delays and contractor availability. Most conversions take 2-4 weeks assuming the contractor can dedicate full days to the project. Agree on a reasonable deadline before starting.

Should I insulate a converted garage?

Yes, you should insulate walls and ceilings during conversion. Uninsulated garages become very hot in summer and very cold in winter. Proper insulation makes the space far more comfortable for use.

Can I add heat and air conditioning?

HVAC can certainly be installed to allow full climate control. Running new ductwork, wiring, and installing a unit will increase your conversion costs. A simple alternative is adding a wall-mounted space heater.

Will I need new garage doors?

Yes, installing an overhead garage door is necessary to enclose the space. The door size must meet minimum code requirements and properly fit the opening. Automatic openers are highly recommended for convenience.

How do I get permits for a garage conversion?

Research permit requirements through your municipal building department. You’ll likely need permits for electrical, plumbing, the garage door, foundations, and general construction. Hiring contractors familiar with permits is advisable.


Transforming your open carport into a fully-functional garage takes strategic planning and preparation. While costs can add up quickly, the increase in property value, protection from weather, and added living space make the investment well worth it. Following the tips outlined above will help ensure success converting your carport into the garage of your dreams.