Carports have surged in popularity over recent years, attributed not only to their primary function of protecting vehicles but also for their versatility in uses ranging from workshops to outdoor entertainment areas. The benefits of having a carport extend beyond just safeguarding your car; they can also protect outdoor equipment and even add to your home's value.

But when it comes down to setting up a carport, one of the first questions many potential buyers ask is: how much will it cost to build a 12x20 carport? This size is among the most sought after due to its ample space for a standard vehicle while still offering room for storage. In this post, we'll explore the cost implications of buying a prefabricated or custom carport versus taking on the project yourself.

Buying vs. Building a Carport: A Cost Comparison

The first fork in the road is deciding whether to purchase a carport kit or to build one from scratch. Prefabricated or custom carports come with their set price tags, including the cost of materials and labor for assembly (if you're not doing it yourself). On the other hand, choosing to build your carport allows for a more hands-on approach and potential savings.

Costs of Pre-Fabricated or Custom Carports

On average, a pre-fabricated metal carport kit for a 12x20 space may range from $1,200 to $4,000, depending on the material quality and design intricacy. Custom carports, designed to fit specific needs or aesthetics, can escalate in cost, potentially reaching over $5,000.

Building Your Own Carport: A Breakdown of Expenses

Venturing into building your own carport involves several costs that shouldn't be overlooked. Here's what to consider:

  • Materials: Depending on the materials chosen (wood vs. metal), expect to spend anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000. Metal carports tend to be on the higher end of this estimate but offer greater durability and low maintenance.
  • Labor: If you're not going DIY and hire help instead, labor can add significant costs, approximately $500 to $1,000, varying by location and the complexity of the project.
  • Permits: Never forget to factor in the cost of permits. While these costs differ by area, they can range from $50 to $400.

DIY Carport Building Steps

For those inclined to build their carport, here's a simplified guide through the process:

  1. Planning and Design: Decide on the size and material. Ensure your design respects local building codes.
  2. Site Preparation: Clear and level the site where the carport will be constructed.
  3. Construction: From setting the foundation to framing and roofing, follow your plans to create the structure.
  4. Finishing Touches: Apply any necessary finishes to protect against weather or enhance aesthetics.

Selecting the Right Carport

  • Size: Ensure the carport fits your vehicle comfortably. A 12x20 carport is ideal for one car with additional storage or workspace.
  • Material: Choose materials based on durability, maintenance, and local climate.
  • Local Building Codes: Check your local building codes to ensure compliance in terms of size, location, and construction standards.

Real-Life DIY Carport Case Studies

To give you a sense of the potential savings and satisfaction from building your carport, we reached out to individuals who've successfully undertaken such projects. One such story comes from John, who managed to build his 12x20 metal carport for under $3,000, a fraction of what he was quoted for a custom job.


The satisfaction of completing a carport build, coupled with the potential cost savings, makes DIY carport kits an appealing option for many. Whether you opt for a pre-fabricated kit or decide to design and build your own, understanding the associated costs, materials, and legal requirements will ensure a smooth project from start to finish.

Looking to implement this project soon? Stepping into the world of carports for sale, particularly metal carports or custom carports, requires a solid foundation of research and planning. Portable carports, as well as DIY carport kits, offer flexible solutions for those on the go or tackling this as a weekend project. Whatever route you choose, the shade and protection offered by a carport are invaluable, offering peace of mind and a boost to your property's value and functionality.

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