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RV garage construction: Planning FAQs

Topics below include: RV garages vs RV carports - Why metal RV garages are less common - Insulation & HVAC for your RV garage - Notes on snowbirds, multi-use garages, etc

This page is mainly for people planning to add a typical new RV garage to their property. However, if you have some other priority instead, then a few more quick options are below. (Note first that our RV garage builders can help with a wide range of construction projects, ranging from custom RV garages with 2 stories or an attached studio apartment... to extra-long carports for RVs, motor homes, & boats, etc). NEXT, SCROLL DOWN *INSIDE* THIS BOX.

So, here are a few quick options that are related to the main article below. First, if you are mainly looking for a facility to park your RV or boat for long-term storage, click here to let us know. Or, if you want a custom-built home with an RV garage (either one that is ready for you to buy or one that is designed & built to your specifications), click here.

You can also use that last link if you have other "unique" needs, such as for the building of a new RV garage that includes an attached guest house (like is shown on the right). Also, use the last link above if you are have the challenge of residential zoning restrictions where you need 14 foot of clearance but the garage door panels must be no more than 8 feet high (like is shown below with the bifold two-panel garage doors).

Construction of a new RV garage

First, there are a few different kinds of shelters for parking your RV that you might be considering. Next, we'll address garages vs carports and then metal RV garages vs stick-built (standard) RV garages. (Finally, below that is an extensive photo gallery.)

The two issues of garages vs carport and metal vs other exteriors (brick, stucco, etc) overlap on the issue of insulation. This issue will be most important in certain locations, especially when the new building will be a multi-purpose "garage plus work area." We'll get to that shortly.

RV garages or RV carports: which will be best for you?

This topic is pretty simple, so we will cover it first. As for carports, they offer some overhead protection from the sun and hail. Obviously, unless the RV carport has fencing or some other barrier, then it offers none of the security of an enclosed garage.

However, carports are inexpensive and fast to build, plus involve less complication as far as permits and inspections. Further, with an open carport, there is usually no problem from the metal of the carport heating up in direct sunlight. The open air design of a typical carport allows for any hot metal to get plenty of air flow so that the metal roof does not form an oven (like an enclosed metal garage can).

With RV carports, one unusual thing you might want to consider is vehicle loans (and the related issue of insurance coverage). If you want to park the RV long-term and reduce your insurance coverage to only cover minimal things like theft, then you may want to check your insurance provider (or their competitors) to get their input on how much extra value you might expect from an enclosed garage for your RV instead of just an open carport.

Metal garages vs Standard garages

The simple reality is that metal garages can be quite unfavorable in extreme climates like ours. When you contact us, if you'd like to hear about the experiences of past clients who previously had metal garages and then decided on a standard garage, then let us that know up front. We might even be able to arrange for you to speak to them directly.

In very hot places (like the deserts around Phoenix, Arizona), a metal garage for your RV can basically become an oven. In places that are very cold (or very windy), a metal RV garage kit can also be rather unappealing (unless significantly modified).

If the main issue is just high winds, then it may work to have metal siding as long as you add some extra stability, like with the framing of a "pole barn." If you have ever seen a tornado or hurricane ripping sheets of metal off of a building, you probably know that the framing shown below is only an "improvement" (not a guarantee of stability). However, in a place with high winds, a basic wood infrastructure with metal sheets as siding can be much more durable than a 100% metal building.

Insulation and HVAC

What about insulating your RV garage? Especially if you are using the garage for anything other than storage of an RV, then having the garage built with insulation can be a very valuable investment.

With a standard stick-built garage, extra insulation in the walls and ceiling can greatly reduce the typical temperature extremes. With a metal RV garage, insulation can also help some (and adding or replacing insulation long after the initial construction can be much easier with a metal building than with other buildings). However, adding lots of insulation to a metal garage still might not bring the temperature range down to what you'll need. For instance, although you can add a layer of insulation to metal siding (just like you can to the inside of a metal garage door), that does not shield the exterior metal from direct sunlight. So, if there are no trees for shade on your property, then a metal garage can get extremely hot in the direct summer sun.

Direct sunlight can raise a metal garage to "frying temperatures"

How much will this issue matter to you? It depends largely on the local climate. In a place like Scottsdale AZ, summers are very hot and clouds to shield the sun may be very rare. So, people who live in the deserts of Arizona year-round and then erect metal garages (even with extra insulation) will often realize during their first summer that they need a regular garage built instead. (We'll be happy to share some of their stories with you or even get you in touch with them for them to tell you themselves.)

Beware that direct sun on metal can even lead to a fire hazard in some cases. It is not a joke that metal can reach temperatures that will actually fry an egg!

Hot metal can burn you (or even ignite cardboard or paint)

Think about this carefully! Do you have any cardboard boxes in your garage near the garage door? What if those boxes fell and ended up leaning directly against the metal of an uninsulated garage door in direct sunlight?

Maybe you can imagine the risks. If the entire garage is metal, that multiplies the issue. It is even worse when you live in a place like central Arizona where outdoor temperatures often go far over 100, because then a metal garage door (or metal siding on a metal garage) can probably start a fire in your garage if the metal is touching a flammable material.

I knew a construction contractor in Arizona whose subcontractors left some paint NEAR some metal that was in direct sunlight. The paint got so hot that it ignited. Then, the entire structure burned down. The contractor got sued. Next, there was an issue with the contractor's insurance company because leaving the paint in a location that could easily get so hot was determined to at least border on negligence. So, even when the homeowner "won," they had lost a ton of time (and had gone through far more stress than expected).

Of course, that is unusual. What is typical? Typically, a regular garage (not metal) might only get twenty degrees hotter than the outside temperature.

Again, that is just from the heat of a single metal garage door. So, you can imagine what can happen if the entire garage has uninsulated metal siding that gets direct sun throughout the day- especially if the temperature outside surges past 100 or 110.

(Incidentally, I live just outside of Phoenix and yesterday's high was 119. Earlier today, I picked up a newspaper that had been tossed on to our driveway - where it was exposed to direct sunlight plus the heat of the cement- and even the paper itself was extremely hot!)

HVAC: year-round vs snowbird + parking only vs multi-use

Still on the topic of temperature, are you planning to park your RV year-round or only during the months with pleasant temperatures? For "snowbirds" who will ALWAYS be away in their RV during the unpleasant parts of the year, the higher cost of a standard garage MIGHT not be worth it. The temperature issues are not as important when the garage is empty, right?

Next, are you planning to use the building for any other purpose besides parking a vehicle (and basic storage)? If so, then you may strongly prefer a stick-built garage with thick insulation (or even walls made of mason blocks).

While you can easily add a few fans or even an AC for cooling in any garage, metal garages in some places will simply be too expensive to heat or cool to be worth it. You will probably want a standard stick-built garage instead (or even a more luxurious garage with a finished interior and epoxy-coated flooring, like shown below).

Also, if the RV garage is going to be attached to your house, then extending HVAC in to the garage area can be reasonably inexpensive, although good insulation is often sufficient. With regard to metal garage doors in direct sun, those can either be insulated or replaced (with a garage door of another material that is not going to burn your finger if you touch it after a few hours of direct sun, like the wood garage doors shown on the RV garages below).

How long will it take to build your RV garage addition?

Briefly, depending on the specifics of the RV garage, it can take anywhere from several weeks to a over a month. Why?

First of all, when building an RV garage, this usually requires waiting to get a permit approved, which can take more than a week. If a standard blueprint does not fit your needs, then the garage needs to be custom-designed, which requires additional time (and cost) prior to the issuing of the building permit.

Further, it is always important to consider the specifics of the soil and terrain to make sure that the foundation is a good match for supporting a big, heavy garage containing an RV (with respect for the expected flow of water on your property during any wet seasons). Usually, the ground is ready (and in many cases people will already have a cement driveway in place). However, if not ready, then it can take another day or more to clear the terrain of trees or bushes or just to level and pack the dirt.

Once the permits are issued, the financing has been secured, and the ground is ready, then one of the next big factors that can influence how long the actual construction takes is... the weather. If there are no delays from severe weather, then the construction of the garage addition can begin to be built within two weeks of applying for the permit (if there are absolutely no delays relating to all of the initial "paperwork").

Many RV garages are not built on an existing driveway, so they need the foundation poured (which then must dry). The framing and roof can be built next, then the electrical wiring will be added for the garage door and lights (as well as natural light from windows). The exterior siding and interior drywall can be installed, then the garage door and opener. So, ultimately, completion time for construction of your new RV garage can range from many weeks (for a typical RV garage) up to 6 or more weeks (like if you are adding a second-story or a workshop on a custom-designed garage).

What are the steps for building your new RV garage?

Before the actual construction stages, there are the pre-construction stages, including the planning process, the initial inspection of the property, the architectural drafting of the blueprint (for custom designs only), the obtaining of building permits, and the financing of the construction. In rare cases, home owners will have completed all of those steps before contacting the building contractor. However, our RV garage builders near you can also help you to complete all of these steps of planning and preparation.

Next comes the actual construction. Typically, that involves preparing the ground (leveling the earth) to be ready for pouring the concrete foundation. Then, the crew will set up the boards that will form (set the shape of) the wet concrete as it dries. Before pouring, the grid of steel rebar for reinforcement will be installed. Once the slab is poured and dried, it is ready for framing. The framing of the roof can be started and electrical wiring can be added. Once the wiring is ready, then one of the next steps is the installation of the garage door and the opener.

Later, roof trusses will be attached and then the roof decking and exterior roofing (tile, asphalt shingles, etc) will be installed. At that point, the new garage addition is functional, but still not quite complete.

Once all the relevant inspections have been completed, then the interior walls can be finished (including insulation and drywall/ sheetrock). One of the last steps is typically the completing of the exterior with siding, stucco, and/or painting.

Last, an RV garage will also need an extra-large garage door (with sufficient height for a RV to slide right under the opening without any unpleasant crunching). Also, since an RV-sized garage door is large and heavy, it is especially important that the bracing, tracking, springs and all other parts be properly installed (and maintained).

How much will it cost to build an RV garage?

Naturally, the cost of custom garage construction jobs will be easier to estimate once the main details of the specific RV garage are clear to the estimator. There will be a few variables that will allow people to keep the basic costs low (like the exterior surface of the garage and the angle of the roofline, like flat or with a high central peak). If you have an HOA though, you might not have as much flexibility. Also, if the building permit says that you have 6 months to complete everything, then you can plan to have drywall throughout the interior installed later rather than during the initial build.

What about the dimensions? We have had requests for RV garages that were not only deep but wide (like 40 feet wide or more). On the other extreme, some people have a small or mid-sized motor home (rather than a 30 to 45 foot "class A" RV). If your motor home is under 20 feet in length, then you may just need a relatively normal garage, but with a ceiling that is slightly higher than usual.

When you contact a garage construction estimator through this site, it is best to let us know your top priorities, such as "curb appeal," keeping the budget modest, urgency of fast completion, or anything else. To request your consultation now, click contact your new RV garage builder.

The two slides below are an RV garage recently built by one of our garage builders
(Scroll down to see all of the photos from that project, including a room addition & other renovations.)

RV Garage construction
building an RV Garage

Here is a detailed slideshow of some of the first stages in the construction of the above attached RV garage (plus an extension on the master bedroom and a bell tower). For details, put your mouse over each image.

a view of one side of the new RV garage during construction. Here is the next stage, with the rear wall of the garage and the second side wall (to the left). Note that on the right of the photo, the front wall of the RV garage (where the garage door will be) has already been framed and that section is leaning at a slight angle. another angle of that same stage of construction. Notice the tower that accents the front entry. Our garage builders also built that at the same time as building the custom garage. Here you can see the stonework on the tower, plus the sidewalk leading up to it. The tall structure at the far left is the new RV garage. another angle showing off the new curb appeal Finally, at the same home, here is a room addition that was added to the side of the master bedroom. The new addition is actually just a large walk-in closet. The closet goes 8 feet beyond the bedroom and is 20 feet deep, adding 160 square feet to the total interior of this  house.

More photos of RV garages (mostly in or near central Arizona):

RV Garage construction in Phoenix AZ
building a custom RV Garage in Phoenix AZ
RV Garage construction in AZ
building a new RV Garage in AZ
RV Garage construction in AZ
building a new RV Garage in AZ
construction of an RV Garage plus guest house in AZ
construction of an RV Garage plus guest house in AZ
RV Garage construction in Phoenix AZ
building a new RV Garage in Phoenix AZ
RV Garage construction in Phoenix AZ
building a new RV Garage in Phoenix AZ
RV Garage construction in Phoenix  AZ
building a new RV Garage in AZ
Vista Montana II | Peoria, AZ | 8911 - Northwestern Plan
105 Golden Bear
French Modern
Windsor Model
Garage Addition
RV Garages
Hill Country Contemporary

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