Maybe you’ve got a small garage, with just enough room in it to park your car, and barely enough to get out of it, let alone cover up that second car or the boat or RV that you have invested in. Maybe you don’t have a garage at all and can’t afford to custom build a freestanding or attached structure or can’t get the permits. Is your vehicle destined to brave the elements with no protection whatsoever? Not at all! There are a number of options available , it is just a matter of determining which will best meet your requirements.
What Exactly Is a Temporary Garage?
Most local ordinances will define a temporary structure, be it garage, shed or shelter, as anything intended for use for 90 days or under and which is not constructed of conventional wood or metal, which does not utilize support beams or permanently affixed wooden framing, and which lacks conventional roofing or siding. The use of “temporary” as a descriptor is, generally speaking, very misleading. Most people who buy “temporary” garages mean them as a long term solution to their problem, and it is not uncommon for these so called “temporary” structures to be used for for up to 25 years.
Within the industry, it has become a common practice to say that a temporary garage is any structure which requires no building foundation. Most building codes and inspection departments concern themselves primarily with buildings or shelters on a stable foundation and many laws have the presence of a foundation structure as part of their basic language. It can be argued that because most temporary garage solutions do not require a foundation, that the local laws do not apply in their purchase and placement—that they should be more accurately classified as “equipment” and not real property improvements. However, it should be noted that in some areas, temporary garage structures are expressly forbidden by city ordinance and state building codes, regardless of that viewpoint, especially in more northern climes where snow load and wind uplift are concerns. Always check with your local city codes and restrictions before you go shopping for a temporary garage structure, and save yourself a bureaucratic headache (and possible fines) later on!
Strictly defined a temporary garage is any structure without a foundation that is designed to provide shelter for automobiles, motorcycles, RVs, or provide storage for other items stored outdoors but which would benefit from shelter from bird droppings, tree sap, rain, snow, sleet and wind.
Types of Temporary Garage
The most common kind of temporary garage is constructed from poles or tubing and which is covered by weatherproof material and which generally (but not always) comes with an anchoring system for wind resistance. These structures are technically referred to as “fabric tension” construction, which describes the major principle of their design. The fabric tension temporary garage might be fully enclosed, or merely a canopy that protects the vehicle underneath from rain, with sides open to allow air flow (and reduce the danger of wind uplift) and easy access.
Poles or tubing may be lightweight aluminum or heavy gauge steel; the outer material shell might be lightweight polyethylene tarp or a heavier duty specially designed and manufacturer proprietary material. The features of a temporary garage will impact price, so it is a good rule of thumb to carefully consider your needs, budget AND the type of weather/contaminants that you need to protect your vehicles against before you begin your shopping.
For areas with mild, stable weather patterns, the more lightweight and portable options are probably the best and most budget friendly option. Most often these units are constructed of lightweight aluminum or PVC poles or tubing, covered by waterproof polyetheline fabric and can be easily set up in minimal time with few or no tools, no special skills required. Anchoring systems are highly recommended, even in the sunniest climes, no area is safe from sudden freak windstorms, and a lightweight temporary garage structure has great potential to inflict damage an injury if it is blown away from its original placement by a freak storm.
For those areas where routine harsh winter conditions, frequent high winds and heavy snow are a factor, it is vital that the temporary garage under consideration be rated to withstand snow load and wind lift norms for the area. These temporary structures should be constructed of the strongest support materials (ideally heavy gauge steel) to prevent structural collapse under heavy snowfall and the fabric covering should be able to withstand extreme loads per square inch without the danger of ripping. Again, a heavy duty anchoring system is recommended, the exact features of which vary depending on the type of surface the temporary garage is to be set up on. Because of their greater weight and more durable construction, even the hardiest DIYer may find it more expedient to have their temporary garage professionally installed.
There are many options too, in the size of temporary garages, from a narrow canopy/carport wide enough to park one passenger vehicle under, to more elaborate two vehicle, fully enclosed structures; from units small enough to park a single motorcycle under to larger scale units designed to offer protection to even the largest RVs. Once again, local ordinances, codes and housing association rules may apply to the size and kind of structures allowed in your area—always work closely with the relevent authorities before you purchase and after you install.