Secure home parking: Garages and Carports explained

The ever-increasing cost of on street parking coupled with rises in crime and vandalism mean more and more people are looking to add garages or carports to their properties.

But what should you be looking for in a garage? What does it take to get one built? What can you get for your money? And is it really any safer than parking on the street?

Why should I use a professional?

There are two main ways of getting a garage or carport built. The first is to buy a ready-made garage from one of a number of reputable suppliers throughout the country. The second is to hire a builder to build one for you from scratch.

If you want to buy a ready-made garage, the best thing to do is get a few quotes including your specific measurements, the style of garage you want, and how long you expect it to take. Professional suppliers will come and assemble the garage but you will need to provide extremely accurate measurements and make sure that you have adequate foundations to lay the building on.

Companies such as UK Garages, Eurovudas Ltd, and Compton Buildings can all provide in depth personal advice and brochures before you decide to purchase any pre-constructed buildings such as a garage or carport.

The second option when thinking about a garage or carport is to get a builder to construct one for you from the very beginning. This may work out as a better option if, further down the line, you envisage the garage being used as a study or a den, rather than just somewhere to keep the car.

Local builders can be found on customer rated and vetted websites such as www.findabuilder.co.uk and www.ratedtradesmen.com. An excellent way to find a good builder is to ask friends and neighbours to recommend someone or try to talk to people who have been in a similar situation as yourself.

How much will it cost?

The costs of building a garage or carport on your property vary greatly depending on individual circumstances and preferences in garage type. Some people may need foundations built before they begin, while others may be in a position to start building straight away. Additional features such as electric doors or mahogany doors will cost extra.

Make sure you always shop around with different suppliers to ensure you’re getting the best price. If you’re using a reputable builder make sure to get a quote in writing before they commence work and the cost should not rise above this.

Will I need planning permission if I add a garage or carport to my property?

For already constructed garages which you buy ready-made, the law defines them as pre-cast concrete sectional garages and states that in the majority of cases you do not need planning permission, as they are deemed temporary structures. However, that need not necessarily apply to your specific building, so to be on the safe side contact your local authority planning office to discuss if you require planning or not.

It is worth noting that you may need planning permission if your proposed building falls into one of the following categories:

  • The proposed building goes beyond the front elevation of your house (unless you have a very large front garden).
  • More than half the area of your garden is covered by the proposed building.
  • The building is more than 3 metres high, or 4m if an apex roof.
  • The garage is within one metre of your existing house wall.
  • The building is going to be attached to the wall of a dwelling.

You may not need planning permission, but may fall under building regulations if:

  • The floor area of the building exceeds thirty square metres, or the total cubic area of the building exceeds seventy square metres.

How do I get planning permission?

Your local authority contact number and website can be found at this link. They will also be listed in local directories. They will provide you with the relevant forms to complete, and inform you of the cost.

In the event that you need to apply for planning permission, you should ask your garage supplier or building contractor for basic drawings of the proposed garage and product specification sheet you will need to return with the completed application.

The council will then decide on the application, which varies in time depending on the authority. A typical period for planning is 6-8 weeks.

If you need help with your planning forms ask your garage supplier or building contractor for help, as they should have previous experience of filling in these forms. Make sure that any deposit you pay for your garage is fully refundable in the event of permission being refused.

What type of doors should my garage have?

The choice of what type of door to get for your garage or carport depends on your own personal tastes, such as what material you would like it to be, whether you want it automatic or manual, as well as some specific details relating to your property such as space etc.

The following are some of the most popular options, but check with your garage supplier or builder for a full list of what is available.

Up and Over Garage Doors

Up and over garage doors fall into two main categories - canopy or retractable.

  • Canopy Garage Door - The canopy garage door is the simplest and most common type of garage door mechanism, its name derived from the fully opened garage door panel protruding about a third forward of the sub frame to form a canopy. It gives the maximum drive-through width when open and is the easiest to install. The door is balanced and assisted by torsion springs positioned above the door panel on the head of the fixing frame. The canopy door mechanism is generally only available up to 8 feet (2438mm) wide. It is not generally used if the garage door is to be automated.
  • Retractable Garage Door - The retractable garage door is fast becoming the more popular type of garage door mechanism, its name derived from the garage door panel retracting fully into the garage when open. It is the mechanism that will convert easily and safely into electric operation with the least equipment. The drive-through width on a retractable mechanism is reduced as the lifting arms sit in between the sub-frame when the door is opened, be careful when limited for width that you do not restrict access too much.

The mechanism can take much heavier loads with tension springs at the sides easily increased in size and strength. Retractable gear is generally used for garage doors over 8 feet wide and heavier door panels such as hardwood. All double garage doors have retractable gear only.

Sectional Garage Doors

Sectional garage doors are fast becoming one of the most popular and practical choices for a safe, easy to use and versatile garage door. They are called sectional doors because they open and close in separated sections, vertically, without any swing out from the structural opening at all. Because of this almost any shape of garage opening can be installed to, i.e. arched, angled corners, etc.

The majority of steel sectional garage doors manufactured can be divided into two categories:

  • Single skin steel- non insulated
  • Double skin foam filled steel - insulated

Some of the more established manufacturers also produce very high quality timber sectional doors in various quality sourced softwoods and hard woods such as Hemlock, European Oak, Iroko, Mahogany or Cedarwood. These are made to standard or bespoke designs.

Some benefits of using sectional garage doors are that they make full use of the space in front of or behind your garage opening as they open vertically. This is ideal for short driveways and internal space problems with high vehicles. The sectional garage door will also, in most cases, give the maximum drive through width and height, especially important for the 4 x 4 and people carrier vehicles.

The high insulation value of a double skinned sectional garage door means that it is ideal for a garage not used for vehicles. And a garage that is used for an office, workshop, playroom, gym or just lots of household items too large for the house would benefit from an insulated sectional door. The doors also seal very well to help keep the garage free from dust, leaves, mice or rain.

How safe is my garage or carport?

Most garage doors are operated using an electromechanical device, such as a remote control or an interior button, for remotely opening the garage door.

The current electric garage door operator market offers a variety of high-tech garage door openers. The frequency spectrum ranges between 433- 868 MHz and most of these garage door openers rely on hopping or rolling code technology. Because the signal is supposed to be significantly different than that of any other garage door remote control, manufacturers claim it is impossible for someone other than the owner of the remote to open the garage.

When the transmitter sends a code, it generates a new code using an encoder. The receiver, after receiving a correct code, uses the same encoder with the same original seed to generate a new code that it will accept in the future. Because there is a high probability that someone might accidentally push the open button while not in range and desynchronise the code, the transmitter and receiver generate look-a-head codes ahead of time.

As well as these advances in remote control operation things have developed in the mechanics of the operator boom and tow arm system to ensure the garage door is held firmly closed and even locked in three places. Security is really the main feature as well as safety in all modern operators. However it is important to never fit a garage door opener if it does not have a safety return mechanism when an obstruction is hit. Latest standards require a very fast reaction time for the operator to reverse when it has met an obstacle.

Accessories have also developed with technological advances and many other methods of activating the garage door opener are now available other than a hand held remote, which quite often is misplaced or dropped and broken. External wireless keypads are very useful when you have a lot of people in your family using the garage often, especially if for accessing fridges, freezers, bikes or other items that are retrieved on foot. Other accessories include key switches, internal push-button stations, card readers and now even fingerprint readers.

The Garage Door Centre or freephone (0800) 525 442 offers a full rundown on electric garage door operator types and their different security systems and applications.

How to further protect your garage or carport

Here are some effective ways to improve the security of your garage

Secure your up-and-over garage door with a ‘Garage Defender’ lock. This prevents the door from being opened. They cost from around £50 and you can find details of stockists on security website Sold Secure

If you tend to enter your garage from inside your home, and not from the outside, fix bolts to the runners of an up-and-over garage door that can be locked from the inside. Fit a padlock with a hasp and staple on the inside. Your professional should be able to provide you with this extra secure lock or recommend a hardware store where you can purchase one.

For further information contact your local Crime Reduction Office to see what measures best suit your particular needs.

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