Carports & Carriage Houses

Thursday, 4 June 2015

At Chart Garages we often hear from people enquiring about our carriage house designs but referring to them as something else: carports. It happens fairly regularly, and there can sometimes be a little confusion as to what exactly the difference is, if any?

While they can often mean the same thing, there are slight differences in their original distinctions.


timber-carport-exampleA derivative of the french term ‘porte-cochère’, which means covered portal, carports are cantilever, post-supported or freestanding shelters that help protect your vehicles from the elements. They are large awning type designs that are typically made from a metal like steel or aluminum, with a glass or polycarbonate roof.

In their most common format, they provide shelter for one or two cars, supported by posts.

Carriage Houses

A carriage house differs from a carport in that it is a usually a free-standing structure located away from the main house. The term was originally coined because back in the early 20th century, these were outbuildings used to park horse carriages and store tack. Indeed, it is why they would also be referred to as ‘cart sheds’.
carriage-house-exampleThese days, a carriage house is typically an open fronted, single story structure with a roof supported by regulated spaced pillars. Normally made from timber, they act as prestigious standalone buildings.

Which Is Better?

A carport and a carriage house will typically provide the same core benefit – protecting your vehicles from the elements and natural problems like bird droppings and tree debris. However, neither is really better than the other, it’s just they may have different suitable applications.


Perhaps the biggest influencer in making your decision between a carport or carriage house for your property is the amount of space you have available. A carriage house is a stand alone outbuilding, so you will need to have the space on your driveway or land to accommodate it. If you only have a small driveway that runs alongside the outside of your house, a carport is more practical option.


A carport is typically a single-purpose feature. It provides shelter for your vehicle against the elements. A carriage house, however, has the flexibility to provide multiple functionality and extension possibilities. Because it is a free-standing building, it can be modified to include extra modules/units like an outside office, stable or even a workshop.


Due to the materials and planning needed, a carriage house will typically cost more than a carport to erect. They are a much more substantial design, sometimes with the need to lay down purpose built foundations as well. However, due to the flexibility of design, a carriage house can end up being as cheap or as expensive as you want. Upgradable features like cedar roof tiles or adding extra modules such as stables can increase the cost.


A key benefit of a carriage house over a carport is its aesthetics. As freestanding buildings, carriage houses can look really prestigious and add an undeniable visual quality to your property – even helping to increase the value of it. With the flexibility to add additional design flourishes like oak-framed curved bracing and slate roof tiles, a well designed carriage house will offer outstanding value for money.

Conversely, carports are not as attractive, especially if the design is not in keeping with the design or look of your house. The materials used can often look out of place, however a nice timber-built carport design can look good in the right circumstances.


Both carports and carriage houses are low maintenance structures in their own way. A carriage house built from natural timber will mellow nicely with age as they are built from pressure-treated wood. If combined with a natural roof material like cedar shingles or slate, it will deliver a classy rustic finish as it is weathered by the elements over time.

The robust materials also used in a carport means that they too need little upkeep. However, debris that can gather on the shelter roof (bird droppings, sticks, leaves etc) will need to be regularly cleaned to maintain a nicer aesthetic.


We hope that clears up the differences between a carport and a carriage house. There will always be a certain amount of overlap/conjecture depending on the design of each specific structure but hopefully this article will have given you a clearer idea of what to expect when discussing your requirements with potential suppliers.

To see our full gallery of carriage house designs, head over to the product overview page now, or request a free brochure today.