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4 Carport Permit Tips: Do You Need a Permit for a Carport?

Carport building plans and blueprints next to a carport permit document stamped "approved."

A carport is a great investment that provides protective shelter for your vehicles and greater peace of mind for you. But you might be wondering: Do you need a permit for a carport installation on your property? If so, that’s a great question—and this guide is here to help you get answers.

Key Takeaways

  • Understand the importance of building permits for carports and how to quickly find out if you need one.
  • Find out how you might avoid needing a carport building permit because of size limitations and structure permanence
  • Know the potential risks of building a carport without proper authorization.
  • Learn the steps to obtaining a carport permit to build or install a carport on your property.

Please note: This guide provides general information only. Each state, county, town, and city may have unique building permit requirements, so you will need to check with your local government authority for the exact requirements for building a carport in your location (see the tips below to learn how to find the right authority to contact).

Tip #1: The Fastest Way to Find Out if You Need a Carport Permit 

A rubber stamp with the word "approved" being applied to building blueprints.

In many areas, installing a carport is considered a construction project that requires a building permit. Building permits are official documents issued by local government authorities that certify the approval of your construction project. 

Local regulations may determine a carport’s materials, size, and placement on a property to ensure it doesn’t pose any safety risks or violate any zoning laws. A building permit will confirm that your carport meets regulatory safety standards and adheres to local building codes.

Do you need a permit for a carport? There’s one sure way to know.

Different states, cities, and counties have their own rules, requirements, and fees regarding carport building permits. That’s why there is no universal answer to the question “Do I need a permit to build a carport?” Depending on where you live, you may or may not need a building permit to build or install a carport on your property.

However, finding out if you need a building permit for a carport in the area where you live is simple. You’ll just need to contact your local government agency responsible for issuing permits. Here are some suggestions for how to get a quick answer:

  • Do an internet search for your city’s building and permits department or its planning and development department and contact one of those offices. 
  • Call your city hall or county administration office and ask them to connect you to the department that issues building permits.

Be prepared to talk with your local building authority about the material (wood, metal, etc.) and the size of the carport you want to build or install so they can best help you. Also, be sure to discuss whether your carport will be attached to your home or freestanding on your property. You can ask them direct questions like, “Do I need a permit for a freestanding carport?” or “Do I need a permit for a metal carport?” to help inform the conversation and get specific answers.

But first, read the next tip to find out why you may not need a building permit at all.

Tip #2: How You Might Avoid Needing a Carport Permit

A fenced empty lot between two homes.

Did you know you may not need a building permit for your freestanding carport or attached carport, depending on its size and whether it’s a temporary or permanent structure? In many areas, there are specific size thresholds and other factors that determine whether a building permit is required for a carport. 

Of course, these factors will vary based on local regulations. It’s crucial to confirm with your local building authorities whether your planned carport installation is exempt from permitting or not. The main factors to consider include:

Lot Size

In certain areas, depending on your lot size, smaller carports may be exempt from permitting requirements, while larger structures may require a permit. Contact your local zoning and/or building department to determine the specific carport size thresholds for your lot size.

Height Restrictions

Height restrictions are also important in determining the size limitations for building a carport without a permit. In some areas, structures that are less than a certain height don’t require a permit, so you may find you don’t need one. However, if your planned carport’s height does require you to get a permit, you may face restrictions in making it too tall. 

Local regulations may impose limits on how tall a carport can be, especially if it’s near residential properties or in a historic district. Height restrictions are typically in place to maintain the visual appeal of the neighborhood and prevent obstruction of views.

Setback Requirements

Setback requirements refer to the distance that a structure must be positioned from property lines, roads, and other structures. These requirements ensure that there is adequate space for emergency access and maintenance—and can help prevent potential conflicts with neighboring properties. 

Setback requirements can influence the size limitations for building a carport without a permit. However, even if a permit is not required to build your carport, you may need a variance (an exception to the normal rules) if you want to build it closer to a property boundary than is normally allowed.

Structure Permanence

Depending on whether your carport is going to be a temporary structure or a permanent one, you may or may not need a building permit for it. For example, a portable carport may not require a building permit. As always, check with your local building authority and make sure you understand how they define temporary and permanent structures.

Tip #3: 9 Risks and Consequences of Building a Carport without a Permit

The question "Risk?" surrounded by a calculator, reading glasses, and pen.

While some people may be tempted to bypass the permitting process to save time and money, building a carport without a permit can have serious consequences. Following are nine risks you may face if you decide to build a carport without proper authorization:

Risk #1 without a Carport Permit: Legal Consequences

You could face fines, penalties, or legal action for non-compliance with local building codes.

Risk #2 without a Carport Permit: Safety Concerns

There may be structural safety issues that could endanger you and your property or even a neighbor’s property.

Risk #3 without a Carport Permit: Insurance Issues

Insurance companies may not cover carports built without permits and may deny claims arising from them.

Risk #4 without a Carport Permit: Property Resale Problems

When selling your property, not having permits for structures such as carports may deter buyers and complicate the sale process.

Risk #5 without a Carport Permit: Neighbor Complaints

Unauthorized structures can lead to disputes with neighbors, who may report your illegal carport construction to authorities.

Risk #6 without a Carport Permit: Retrofitting Costs

Authorities who find out about your unauthorized carport may require you to bring it up to code, which can be costly.

Risk #7 without a Carport Permit: Limited Use

You might be restricted in how you use your carport, as it may not be officially recognized for certain functions.

Risk #8 without a Carport Permit: Future Remodeling Issues

Any future renovations or expansions of your carport might be more complicated because prior unauthorized work needs to be addressed first.

Risk #9 without a Carport Permit: Demolition and Loss of Investment

If your carport is deemed illegal, you may have to dismantle and remove it entirely, resulting in a total loss of your investment plus demolition costs.

Tip #4: The Proper Steps for Obtaining a Carport Building Permit

A clipboard with a checklist being checked off.

Once you’ve determined that you need a carport permit, the next step is applying for one. Keep in mind that to be granted a building permit for your carport, you will need to follow your local government’s specific building permit requirements, guidelines, and regulations. While permitting processes vary, here are some general steps and recommendations:

Step 1: Ask about Local Building Codes

Call or visit your local building department’s office to find out the specific requirements for carports in your area. They may also have a website where you can research this information. In addition, an online code library may have building code information for your area which you can then confirm with your local building department.

It’s critical to understand the local zoning laws, building codes, and regulations as these will dictate your carport’s size, placement, and construction standards. 

Step 2: Plan and Design Your Carport

Create a design for a carport you plan to build from scratch or, if you’re buying a carport to be built or installed for you, obtain pre-made plans from the seller. Ensure that the design adheres to local building codes and suits your property layout.

Step 3: Prepare Documentation

Gather the necessary documents for your building permit application. Typically, you will need a detailed site plan showing where your carport will be located and how far it will be away from property lines and other structures, along with architectural drawings, blueprints, or plans, and any other required documentation specified.

Step 4: Fill out the Application Form

Complete the online or printed building permit application form provided by your local building authorities. Provide accurate and detailed information about your planned carport, including its dimensions, materials, and intended use.

Step 5: Submit Your Application and Pay the Fees

Submit your completed application form along with the required documents to your local building department. Be sure to pay any applicable fees.

Step 6: Wait for Your Application Review 

The building permits department will review your application and supporting documents to ensure that they comply with local building codes and regulations. They may request additional information or modifications to the plans.

Step 7: Receive Your Permit to Start Building

Once your application is approved and your plans meet all requirements, you will be issued a building permit to proceed with your carport’s construction

Step 8: Construct Your Carport and Complete Inspections

Begin construction, strictly following your carport’s approved plans. Any deviation may require revisions to your permit. Your local building authorities may also conduct inspections during or after construction to verify compliance.

Benefits of Having a Carport Permit

A person's hand stamping a document.

We’ve covered quite a bit in these carport permit tips. Now let’s recap some of the key benefits of getting a permit to build a carport should your local regulations require it.

It Shows You’re a Responsible Community Member and Property Owner

By obtaining a building permit for your carport, you demonstrate your commitment to following building codes and safety regulations around concerns such as structural stability, fire safety, and environmental impact. You’re contributing to a safer community and setting a good example, which everyone can appreciate.

You’ll Have Greater Peace of Mind If You Decide to Sell

Adhering to local regulations also provides peace of mind when it comes time to sell your property. Potential buyers may request documentation to verify that all structures on the property were built with proper permits—and you’ll have that to show.

You Can Prevent Potential Conflicts Down the Road

A building permit confirms that your carport is compliant with setback requirements, height restrictions, and other regulations. This can prevent potential conflicts with neighbors, homeowner’s associations, and local government authorities.

How to Save Money on a New Metal Freestanding Carport That Meets Building Codes 

A metal carport underneath trees.

Are you looking to save money on a new metal freestanding carport without any worries about whether it will meet local building regulations? Our American steel carports start as low as $1,295 and are meticulously crafted and installed, ensuring their structural integrity and adherence to building codes in all the states we serve. We can also provide you with the architectural plans required for the building permit, if you need one. 

Better yet, our metal carports cost less than a do-it-yourself (DIY) carport or the carports that other sellers offer. That’s because they’re shipped straight from the factory and delivered via cost-effective delivery routes that help save our customers lots of money.

If you’re interested in getting a new metal carport for your property at unbeatable factory-direct prices, check out the array of customizable styles and options that we offer. Use our easy online builder tool below to customize a carport or garage to your exact specifications. Once you’re happy with your design, place your order with a small, fully refundable deposit and get free delivery and installation. 

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Alan Bernau Jr

Alan Bernau Jr. is the founder and owner of Alan’s Factory Outlet. He has helped more than 75,000 homeowners design and install custom carports and garages over the last 20 years.

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