When is a garage not a garage? When it has been repurposed to serve a variety of homeowner needs.
From workout centers to storage repositories, the most successful “garage” transformations don’t necessarily meet the traditional definition of the word.
Whether you’re just looking for suggestions or you’re hot on the trail of an idea that provides an alternative without emptying your bank account, check out these clever ideas for inspiration once you review our 9 options below.
In this article we will describe and discuss 9 Low Cost Alternatives to a traditional garage so you will have many options to choose in case your current property does not have one.
Table of Contents
The carport concept was the brainchild of the legendary Frank Lloyd Wright in 1936.
Wright was somewhat obsessed with designing alternate garage options that, in his words, encouraged homeowners to consider carports because they cut down on hoarding!
“A car is not a horse, and it doesn’t need a barn,” Wright said. You may agree if you’re into minimalism and don’t need more than a place to park your car out of the elements.
- -Carports are inexpensive to build or buy.
- -They may not be subject to zoning laws
- -Carport kits are readily available and offer great variety
- -Erect one in a relatively short amount of time
- -They protect cars from multiple environmental assaults.
- -Likely won’t shelter more than one car
- -Zoning or local laws could prohibit installation in some areas
- -Rarely large enough to accommodate storage racking
- -You can’t lock these to safeguard possessions
- -May invite colonization of critters seeking shelter.
For homeowners who worry about theft, the elements and animals seeking shelter, sheds are becoming ideal alternatives for homeowners seeking more security.
Like carports, these prefabricated structures are expanding the size and scope of these structures, the more sophisticated ones sporting doors wide enough to park a car.
Zoning laws could be prohibitive in some areas, but in others, a shed makes a great compromise you may wish to consider.
- -Material choices range from wood to steel
- -Prefabricated shed elements speed up installation
- -There’s a shed on the market for every budget
- -Shed design options match home exterior styles
- -Choose the size that best fits your property.
- -The largest models on the market are pricey
- -Local laws may limit the size of your shed
- -Sheds may be easier to break into
- -Won’t necessarily add to a home’s value like a garage
- -Storage space is very limited.
3. Car covers
For folks who neither have space nor interest in building a structure to accommodate a vehicle, a car cover makes a great alternative, albeit with limitations.
Car covers come in myriad styles, colors, sizes, and materials, ranging in price from $20 to several hundreds.
Look for a cover with the greatest number of layers (thicknesses) for the least amount of money if you seek the most value in a temporary car protection solution.
- -Protects car bodies from bad weather and UV rays
- -Helps keep rust and corrosion at bay
- -Your car won’t have to be washed as often
- -There’s a car cover for every budget
- -Requires only a little room when stored.
- -Buy the wrong size and you defeat the purpose
- -Embellishments could scratch a car’s finish
- -Won’t safeguard auto from theft or vandalism
- -Covers made of 100-percent waterproof trap moisture
- -Critters find it easy to take shelter beneath car covers.
4. Portable Garage Kits
Forbes magazine contributor Chauncey Crail was tasked with evaluating 2021 portable garage kits and he found plenty from which to choose.
Calling this type of car protector popular among adventurers who spend lots of time outdoors, he says that these kits are excellent choices for those who want an easily moveable garage.
- -Likely to last between 10 and 20 years
- -Structurally sound, versatile, and durable
- -Able to withstand high winds and weather assaults
- -Only basic hand tools needed to assemble
- -Excellent value for the price.
- -Anchoring a unit could require rebar, concrete or asphalt
- -Could take up to 8 hours to construct
- -May or may not require building permits
- -Kits for large units could cost up to $900
- -Won’t safeguard your vehicle from theft.
Prized by ancient Egyptians and Syrians to protect market stalls and patios, Romans invented the first retractable awnings, hung at the Colosseum.
By the 1800s awnings had grown in popularity as sun shields, decorative installations, and affordable building attachments to safeguard cars.
Shoppers can expect to pay between $100 and $600 for metal, $150 to $650 for fabric, and $250 to $4000+ for high-end retractable units.
- -Awning sizes, materials, and design options are limitless
- -Some come with 5-year warranties
- -Shoppers can choose mechanized or hand cranked models
- -Reduces the sun’s impact on car interiors
- -Available in a wide range of price points.
- -Awnings must be attached to exterior walls
- -Limited lifespan for canvas awnings
- -Could require ongoing cleaning and maintenance costs
- -Won’t prevent car theft or wildlife incursion
- -Installation could require a permit.
6. Tent Canopies
Today’s car/tent canopies are fast developing their own following for unique reasons, say members of the gear team writing for Autoweek.
They’re ideal for protecting a car from the elements but they also serve as wind blockers and make ideal pop-up repair structures.
Available in many sizes to fit all manner of vehicles, if you intend to park outside for any reason, you could keep weather at bay for around $200.
- -Easy to match car models to canopy sizes for a good fit
- -Won’t require many skills or tools to erect one
- -An affordable solution for folks on budgets
- -Choose from a wide-variety of high-quality materials
- -Available in poly, steel and aluminum variations.
- -May only last for 5 years
- -Could easily succumb to high winds without proper anchoring
- -Black and blue canopies absorb the most amount of heat
- -In some cases, framing isn’t included in sale price
- -Instructions for erection could be hard to understand.
7. Quonset Huts
When the U.S. Navy found itself in need of all-purpose shelters that were lightweight and could be shipped around the globe, the George A. Fuller construction company came up with the Quonset Hut.
Meeting unique criteria — e.g., climate, portability, assembly — these iconic arched-ribbed huts filled a critical void during WWII, and remain a military housing and storage staple.
Where permitted by zoning regulations, Quonset Huts have become a viable option for homes without garages.
- -Usually crafted of long-lasting corrugated steel
- -Sold in prefabricated units for fast, easy assembly
- -Arch shape provides additional space for storage
- -Column-free design adds flexibility
- -Not an easy target for vandals/thieves.
- -Shape won’t resist wind and assaults by elements
- -Roof curvature reduces headspace in smaller units
- -Quonset huts are not always considered attractive
- -Permits could be required to erect one
- -Won’t necessarily keep out common burrowing animals.
8. Telescoping Tents
From geodesic domes to basic canopies atop 4 poles, telescoping tent products are available for every budget and aesthetic on today’s market.
Telescoping extension poles are the backbone of this product. Manufactured to stay rigid no matter how far they are extended, aluminum is the preferred pole material because it is lightweight, rustproof and rigid adjustment fixtures keep tents stable when inclement weather threatens cars.
- -As easy to install and operate as awnings minus the wall attachment
- -Takes little time to erect in advance of bad weather approaching
- -Break down and stow components in a vehicle
- -A great cheap option for budgeters
- -Lots of variety and price points from which to choose.
- -Most offer zero protection from wind-driven weather
- -No security or wildlife incursion protection
- -Locking mechanisms may not hold up on cheap products
- -Won’t keep dust from collecting on car body surfaces
- -Not a solution for storage space.
9. Pole Barn Garage
Given small differences between alternative garage options described thus far, there’s lots to compare if you’re considering a traditional option.
Pole barn garages require no foundation, are not attached to buildings, and usually rely upon treated wood poles that form a lode-bearing frame to which prefabricated metal components are attached.
In some cases, pole barn garage supports are wood, but it’s rare since metal costs less, installs faster and makes these structures more portable.
- -Get the “look” of a garage minus the cost
- -No foundation required to install one
- -Does double duty as a storage repository if large enough
- -Minimal maintenance required
- -Many styles available on today’s market.
- -Susceptible to ground shifting over time
- -Prone to instability
- -May require legal permits to erect one
- -Could corrode and/or rust if metal isn’t properly coated
- -Extreme wind could present problems.
Does a house lose value without a garage?
That depends upon the market. Currently, it’s a seller’s market and shoppers are saying yes to home purchase contracts at a faster rate than they have in years.
According to a recent real estate agency blog post, any home with an attached garage is considered a more valuable property, but a well-built, stylish home won’t lose value without one.
Plenty of shoppers are willing to buy without a garage, making plans to add one if space and zoning ordinances don’t preclude it.
Weather plays an important role in deciding how critical a garage is to a home’s value. Shoppers don’t worry as much about how a car fares in Florida, while a garage in Minnesota could be essential.
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