As an alternative to spending time and money building a garage it has become increasingly popular to invest in a portable carport which can be modified to suit the householder’s needs and therefore enjoy the benefits without the cost.

The most basic carports are structures which have four posts and a frame but just by adding sides the frame will begin to look more attractive and will give more protection. When choosing sides it obviously depends on such factors as how durable you want the carport to be, if you are looking for something aesthetically pleasing, whether you want it to blend with the house or stand out and, of course, how much you want to spend.

Heavy duty canvas or nylon is probably the most affordable material to use for sides and, as campers will know, tents help keep out the worst elements such as wind, rain, snow or hailstones. However, it depends on how long you expect the sides to last and whether it suits your taste or needs.

If you have steel roofing then it makes sense (if the budget allows) to buy metal siding which will blend with aluminum or steel carport whereas if yours is wood then you can buy untreated wood which you can treat yourself or else buy ready-made from most timber merchants.

If you need to add more weight to the structure then you can purchase sandbags (or even fill your own). Another option is to visit carport distributors who may offer anchor kits which can be attached to the sides on the posts in order to add extra weight and stability.

Another way of modifying your carport is to add lighting. This very much depends on what you are using it for – eg if you are using it solely for storing vehicles, then clamp lights should be adequate. However, if you want to use your carport as a play area or study then it might be worth investing in a electrician to install a power cable which is specifically for outdoor use. Another option is to go for more-attractive,but lower-lighting solar lights which are free to run as long as you have plenty of daylight.

Wooden carports are easier to modify especially if you have basic joinery or carpentry skills and you own (or, even better, borrow) common woodworking tools. You can add sides, flooring, shelving, storage units, a stylish entrance and even plasterboard walls to section off areas. This way you’ll end up with a structure that is better than an expensive garage and that has been (almost custom-made.