January 5, 2019

Carport Question: Fix It or Nix It?

Our old carport is the first project listed on my "Project Plans for the New Year" post.

Currently, it's being used for firewood storage, but we've often discussed a multitude of possibilities for it. Unfortunately, it isn't in the best shape.

We're not sure when it was built, likely about the same time as our pantry. The construction techniques, materials, and problems certainly point to the same builder.

The siding falling off in the above photo is minor. The real problem had to do with the roof.

This is the side that gets the brunt of stormy weather.

Between an inadequate roof overhang and roofing nails exposed to the weather, the windward side of the carport was in pretty bad shape. Girders and ends of roof rafters were all rotted out.

Was it the same on the leeward side? Dan removed the composite fascia board and found everything to be pretty sound.

Pounding on the girders, however, made the whole building wobble! That wasn't a surprise, really, considering that the posts are simply set on top of the carport's brick foundation.

Because the knee braces are primarily ornamental, the builder's fix to stabilize the structure was to brace it like this...

Between that and the plywood ceiling, the old carport has managed to stay standing for who knows how many years.

The last thing Dan did was to take a peek through the front gable vent cover to get a look at the rafters. Except for the rotted ends on the one side they were in good shape.

Based on all of the above, Dan decided to work with the existing structure rather than tear it down and build a new one. First step? Mill the lumber.


  1. Angle irons and masonry bits should help you fasten the posts to the foundation.

  2. What will the new/remodeled structure be used for? Car port once again or . . . ?

  3. Sometimes in situations like that, my preference is to tear it down, salvage the lumber and start over exactly to what I want instead of fixing something like that to try and make it fit my needs. A benefit is that sometimes you get some really high quality lumber out of old buildings that you just can't find anymore.

  4. I am no expert, but my one concern would be the posts. It is hard to tell from the pictures, but they look quite a bit weathered.

  5. Gorges, that's a good idea.

    Mama Pea, for sure it will be used to keep our firewood under cover. The other idea is to make an outdoor grill and cooking area there. Dan does a lot of outdoor cooking and it would nice to have that undercover too. :)

    Ed, that's true about the lumber. I think Dan evaluated it mostly on time. To tear down and build anew would be more work and take more time. He's been in a get-'er-done mode lately. :)

    TB, the posts definitely aren't in the greatest of shape. Plus, being 4x4s they probably aren't the stoutest choice for the job. I think Dan's looking to replace them.

  6. I am really glad that Dan decided to restore. I am a true believer in redo instead of tear down. We had a two car detached garage with a lean when we got to the ridge, and a lot of folks kept telling us it should be replaced with a new metal building. We kept looking at the cost, and after the math was all done, we restored the wood, and then had metal installed on the facia and it looks like a million bucks now! And its all sturdy and will give another 25 years of service. It will be super to follow your and Dan's progress.

  7. Sounds like a wise choice and probably won't cost as much money. Nancy

  8. Can't wait to see the progress - love the way Dan works.

  9. I'm sure Dan knows if it is worth saving. I think it will be a nice place to cook or eat. It could also be screened in. Philip/MN

  10. Wyomingheart, I think it will be less work in the long run, even though it will have its challenges. It's so nice you could repair yours. We looked at replacing with metal too, but the cost wasn't very attractive.

    Nancy, I hope it works out that way!

    Mrs. Shoes, thanks!

    Phil, I've thought about screening it in too! Not sure if that will happen, but it would be appealing to eat outside without mosquitos. :)

  11. I've not done any kind of work with fixing old buildings, so maybe this is a silly question - but is Dan going to fix the support posts to the foundation, in any way? I hope it's a relatively smooth venture, with no surprises. :)

  12. Part of me agrees with Georges and Ed, but so much only needs minor repairs. The posts need to be replaced ASAP or you'll lose the whole structure. You gotta have a dry place for firewood. That's priority no 1 for this winter. I suggest wood pallets siding half way up for a knee wall for an outdoor cooking and canning area.But that's me being logical and frugal again LOL! Cockeyed Jo

  13. Chris, that's a good question! He's going to replace them! That will be step #1. We're hoping for a smooth venture as well. Happily, the pantry roof repair was pretty straightforward. Trouble is, one never knows till they get there. :)

    Jo, part of Dan agreed with Gorges and Ed too. ;) I was no help because I said it was up to him. He's doing the job, so I felt he needed to choose which way he felt most comfortable with. The pallets are a good idea, although I have to say we haven't given the cooking area much thought yet. Dan's says that's up to me (which is only partially true), so I need to take some measurements, get out some graph paper, and work through a couple of ideas.

  14. Hmm. Very interesting! It seems from your photos that the structure's biggest problems are those side posts that sit on top of the bricks, and that there's not enough overhang at the eaves. Could he move the side posts IN, make them longer and with better foundations and deeper overhang?

  15. M.K., those are exactly some of the ideas we've been running through. Hopefully our final decisions will be the right ones!

  16. We went through similar evaluations on the Tobacco barn here. We found out it was built in 1928.....imagine that. With the work we had done it is working out incredibly well. It is full of animals as a barn should be. Your carport restore/rebuild will give you a wonderful "new" building. You two are such a great inspiration to small homesteaders and living with a fixed income.


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