by Adia Walker/ Published March 2015
Investing in carports can be a major purchase—and decision—for many community associations. To help boards and residents feel confident about the choice, we sought out some insight from an industry professional. Whether you are replacing old carports or planning a new carport project, it’s important to ask questions before, during, and after the process. Glen Kohlenberg from Absolute Aluminum, Inc., a company serving Venice, Florida for more than 20 years, has guided many boards through the bidding, building, and maintenance of carports. Dedicated to educating people about carports, Kohlenberg spent some time in an “ask and answer” session with the Florida Community Association Journal to share his experience and knowledge.
There are lots of variables including wind and building codes, along with design. Industry standard prices can range from $4,000–$8,000 per parking space.
Depending on how many parking spaces are involved, it can take from 30 days to four months.
Most carports in Florida are built in non-season from May to November.
First, take a poll of all residents to find out who would want a new carport or to replace an existing carport. Choose a design the residents like and a contractor that has built the design you have chosen. Then, find out if there is money in reserves or if you will need to assess the residents. Other important questions to consider include: How long will construction take to build or replace carports? When will the carports be built? What type of warranty is available from the manufacturers or contractors? What kind of return on investment can we see with new or replacement carports?
New carport designs are slowly changing; it takes an aggressive contractor to get current associations to look at their buildings and see why you want to blend the latest design and materials into the new carport designs. You can transform the look of your building with the right carport design. Remember, it’s hard for a board and residents to visualize a new carport design because they have been parking under the same, old carport for 30–40 years. But once the new carports are built, they all wonder why they did not do it years ago.
Lack of proper maintenance is the main problem that I see. Communities with lots of trees do not keep the leaves out of the gutters, they don’t keep the roofs cleaned of debris, and they don’t keep the carport posts and beams painted.
Most carports built today can last 30–40 years. But, we have a wave of existing carports all around Florida that have been built and lasted 30–40 years already. The main reason carports need to be replaced today is that they do not meet the current building and wind codes, plus designs and materials have come a long way in the last 30 years.
In today’s world, insurance plays a huge role in new or replacement carports. With insurance companies trying to limit their exposure, and with Citizens Insurance of Florida working to limit its policies, you see more inspections of carports and lower coverage or no coverage at all. This can only mean the existing carports have met their lifespan. No association should be without carport insurance coverage. They open themselves up to exposure if there is a wind or storm event.
The best way to prolong the life of carports is to keep your carports clean! The roof, gutter, and carport posts are the most important. Keep carport posts painted and rust-free. Often, the posts become rotten at the asphalt level. This is caused by not keeping the posts sealed and painted all the way down to the asphalt. Pressure wash your carports at least once a year; twice a year along coastal areas. Keep the sand and salt off the roof. As needed, replace the carport post bolts and enlarge the bolts if your carports are along coastal areas to combat erosion of the bolts due to salt air.
Kohlenberg also notes that while most community association boards have an interesting mix of backgrounds among their members, construction experience—and specifically carport construction experience—does not always top the charts. With this in mind, it’s important to know when to seek out advice from the experts who live this experience every day. If you are in the mar-ket for new carports, need your old carports replaced, or simply want to keep your current carports looking and functioning at their best, we hope this question and answer session has given you some ideas on how to achieve your goals.