Where is it legal to build a metal garage?
Many people are attracted to the idea of a metal garage because of lower base prices (as in just for the shell with no added insulation or extra wood framing). Also, all metal buildings tend to involve simpler, faster construction than other types of structures (like "stick-built" from wood or made of masonry block).
However, getting a permit for a metal garage may not even be possible for many residential properties (especially when the lot is under a 1/2 acre). If your project does qualify to get approved for a permit, then you will also need to pass a final inspection (plus, if any additional concrete will be poured prior to the main construction, a preliminary inspection).
Ultimately, whether you can get a permit to build a metal garage will depend on your location (including your specific zoning and acreage). To find out what applies to your case, you will need to contact one of our local estimators (by clicking here: contact
). Also, below is additional general information, plus some dedicated sections for people in Arizona
and in Florida
Permits for building a metal garage (or carport)
If metal garages are permitted at all where you live, then the next issue is staying within the building codes (assuming that you plan to obey the laws and thus qualify for things like property insurance coverage). Speaking of insurance, one of the main ideas of building codes is safety, like from fires, high winds, or roofs collapsing under the weight of snow. A related issue is exactly where on your property you put the new structure (like how close to the property lines).
So, while your city inspector (and HOA) may have no issue with a small metal shed that is hidden behind walls or fencing in your back yard, a garage is generally a much more prominent and permanent feature than a shed. Even with a carport, which is typically just a few support posts and a metal roof, permits may be required.
Keep in mind that in many places, you would need a permit just to build any wall or fence that is over 6 or 7 feet tall. So, even if you just want a metal carport with a tall security gate across the front to protect your car from theft (along with anything else stored in the carport), then you would still need a permit for the carport as well as for gate.
Permits for metal buildings in Florida
Florida is a little different than most states. Also, since many home buyers in Florida are snowbirds retiring to Florida for the winter months, the differences may be surprising.
Consider a typical metal shed. In most places, there is no need for a building permit to set up a small metal shed.
However, in the entire state of Florida, a building permit may be legally required for any metal structure, including sheds and carports. Why are the laws different in Florida? Because of the frequent high winds that can rip away poorly secured metal roofs or walls.
Don't lots of other coastal states have similar wind exposure? Yes, but different states (and cities) can still have different laws about metal buildings (just like they can have different laws about insurance coverage for damage from storms).
Permits for metal buildings in Arizona
In a dry, hot state like Arizona, a bigger issue than high winds is fire. Especially in the very dry desert areas near Phoenix, it is possible for a fire on the exterior of one home to quickly spread to many nearby buildings.
While metal buildings are obviously themselves resistant to fire, exposed metal can get intensely hot. If the wind blows a few dry leaves on to a piece of sun-heated metal, could it ignite?
While the chance of fire from such an event may be small, building codes are not always as flexible as you might hope. For instance, in the city of Peoria AZ (west of Phoenix), they require a firewall at the property line whenever there is any structure within 3 feet of that line. (See page 2, section D of this document on carport covers.)
Requesting a variance from the building code
What about asking for a variance from the written codes? Well, until you ask, you don't know the answer, right?
For instance, regarding fire safety, do the building codes as written recognize the difference between putting a metal garage next to a wooden structure and putting it next to a fire-resistant material like a masonry brick wall of a home? Or, how about for all the mobile homes with metal posts supporting a carport?
Well, even if the written code does not permit something, it might be possible to get a variance so that a particular building process can be legal. However, even when something is clearly legal, eventually we are going to want to face the additional issue of whether any particular option would even be wise....
Who will value a metal garage (and who will not)?
Are metal garages cheap? Yes. Are they fast to build? Yes. Are they wise? That depends!
For simplicity, let's start just with the roof. Metal roofing is getting more popular, even for residential roofs. Why? It can be durable (and long-lasting).
Because metal roofing comes in panels or rolled sheets, it can be MUCH better than most kinds of roofing in regard to preventing wind damage during storms. Relative to certain kinds of roofs, metal can also provide advantages in regard to minimizing roof damage from hail.
However, you can put a metal roof on most any garage. Here, we are focusing on garages with the entire exterior and interior made of metal. So, this is not about just adding a metal roof or metal siding to a wooden infrastructure.
Sure, especially in commercial buildings, metal is becoming a very common material for internal posts (enclosed within drywall). But you rarely see all-metal exteriors except in huge industrial buildings and big commercial garages.
What about a for a residential garage (detached or attached)? Below, let's consider a few situations when a metal garage (even at your home) may be unusually favorable.
awful where you live? If so, then a metal exterior can be a big advantage over wood (and may offer a much more favorable appearance than a garage with walls made of masonry blocks).
, (who will only be using a structure during the mildest parts of the year), a metal garage may be fine. How much of the year are you going to actually go in to that garage? Do you have an RV that you just want to park and store during the off-season?
I bring this up because in the winter, structures built just from metal can get quite cold. In the summer, they can get quite hot, especially in direct sunlight.
Why? Metal sheets, when used as uninsulated walls and roofs, do not provide much insulation themselves.
Building a well-insulated garage
Some people will even attach a cooling or heating system to control the temperature in a garage (like happens at certain storage facilities). Of course, that adds a lot of expenses (up front during the construction of the metal garage plus month after month), especially if there is no insulation to improve the efficiency.
So, people who want to use a metal garage year-round sometimes will choose to insulate it (either with spray foam insulation or standard "rolled" insulation). Obviously, insulating the garage again increases the cost of building a metal garage, but it can be worth it. If you are planning to invest in a well-insulated garage,
ask an estimator
which would be the best material for your garage: metal, wood, or perhaps even masonry block.
A sleek metal garage (converted from a carport)
There is not much difference between building a metal garage from the ground up and converting a metal carport to a garage. The support posts need to be installed (and, in the case shown below, there also supports along the side wall of the house where the roof of the carport will be hung).
Next, the roof can be installed (while there is still lots of room to move around), then the walls can be hung. Finally, the garage door and opener can be installed. The garage door shown here is a "roller" garage door made of a metal alloy (although the same material is also used for more typical "sectional" garage doors).