RV garage construction: Planning FAQs
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).