Our Portable RV Garage: ShelterLogic Garage-in-a-Box

As we decided to try living in a travel trailer while we build our home, it was critical that we give the trailer some added protection from the weather and rain. The challenge with protection our trailer was finding the balance between being frugal and finding a quick solution as we arrived in the rain. For the sake of time and keeping our sanity, we decided that we needed a portable RV garage.

garage in a box- our portalbe rv garage

As our trip to Idaho was approaching, we were keeping a close eye on the weather forecast to ensure we would arrive in sunshine. We estimated that we had a couple months of sunny weather before the fall and winter rains would arrive in full force, so we thought we had plenty of time to protect our trailer.

As you know, we’ve decided to buy a 19′ trailer to live in while we get settled and build our house. We got a great deal on our trailer and only paid $2,500 for something that was in excellent condition, but there is a good amount of dry rot on the trailer not to mention it is prone to leakage. During the first rain storm (didn’t see that one coming in August!), we woke up to rain inside of the trailer! We knew that this trailer would work only if we could get it under shelter before the rains arrived.

The last few days before our trip it seems that the weather took a turn. When we rolled into Idaho on a Saturday afternoon, it was raining cats and dogs! We caulked the trailer before leaving, but didn’t caulk it enough. The ceiling seemed to be okay but we had water leaking in through the window by our bed which ended up soaking the side of our mattress.

Needless to say, we couldn’t assume that we had two months to get our trailer protected. We needed a dry place to store it, ASAP!

The challenge was this: Our trailer is temporary living, so we don’t want to invest a lot of our resources into the trailer or a temporary structure to protect it. We were asking ourselves the question “Should we hold out to build our barn, should we build a carport, or should we run down to Home Depot to buy a ghetto carport tarp?”

Barn vs. Enclosed Carport vs. Portable RV Garage

The entire idea of this journey is not to run down to Lowes or Home Depot to buy our supplies, but to be frugal and use as little money as possible. Here were the pros and cons of our three different options.

Build a Barn

Our original plan was to build a barn to put our trailer in. We want a gambrel roof barn that is large enough to put our trailer in, will have plenty of shop space to work, storage for our belongings, storage for our batteries and generator, and room for an apartment upstairs. This would give us a space to build components of our home, would allow us to transition out of the trailer in a timely manner, and would give us a more relaxing place to live while building our home which could take a few years to complete.

This is the style of barn we want to build. We would park our RV in it, have a wood stove to keep the barn warm, have plenty of space for working and storage, and we could live in the 800 sq ft loft comfortably.

Pros: If we could go straight to building our barn then we wouldn’t waste any resources on a temporary dwelling for our trailer. If we hustled, we may be able to get the frame of the barn completed with a roof by the time the rains arrived.

Cons: We want to build a timber frame barn with the timber on our property. This would entail cutting trees down for lumber, getting some sort of portable sawmill, and require a good deal of planning. We still didn’t know where we would want to put the barn, or the house for the matter, so if we started building right away it seemed that we would be jumping the gun by a lot. We simply needed time to plan, practice, and we wanted to unwind a bit. We thought if we took this route it would be way too stressful as we weren’t even settled yet!

Build an Enclosed Carport

We were then thinking we could build a simple carport for our RV such as the one below. We could build it just large enough for the RV with a little extra space to walk in and for storage.

Not a great representation… but we could also build a simple carport and even enclose it for a basic metal building.

Pros: This would allow us to have a sturdy structure for our RV. We would be able to put it up in about a week or so, we could buy our supplies at a local building store or at Home Depot, and it could be a good addition to the property. If we built it large enough, we would be able to store our generator in it, do without a storage unit, and have a structure that would look nice on the property.

Cons: In pricing out the materials for the carport, we saw that this would end up costing us around $3,000… for a simple structure! Holy cow! This is a great reminder of why we want to build our house from timber on our property. Spending $3,000 on our temporary carport seemed like a ridiculous investment. We wouldn’t be able to sell it, it would be difficult to move, and it wouldn’t eliminate our need for a large barn.

Buying a RV Portable Garage Shelter from Home Depot

The last option we had was to get some sort of heavy duty portable garage or carport. This seemed kind of ghetto, but it seemed that we could get a basic portable rv garage for about $150 – $500.

heavy duty portable garages - rv garage kits
What we thought was the least-desirable option… a temporary carport which would provide strictly basic protection from the rain.

Pros: A portable RV garage would allow us to get our trailer protected that day. It would take the pressure off of trying to build anything upon arrival when we are still feeling frazzled. It would only cost $150 – $500 which was a minimal investment. We would likely be able to sell it when we were done at a small loss. This would also give us much more time to observe our land to determine where we would want to set up a more permanent structure.

Cons: We don’t like the look of the rv portable garage shelter… it looks kinda tacky. It doesn’t seem that this would work for us long-term, and it could also have issues with the wind. It wouldn’t allow for any storage space, they may not be tall enough for our needs, and we don’t want to go the Home Depot route… period!

Since we didn’t want to be under pressure to meet a deadline on building our permanent barn, and since we didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a carport just to cover our trailer, we decided that a portable rv garage would be the way to go.

Our Portable RV Garage Solution: ShelterLogic Garage-in-a-Box

All things considered, we were leaning towards the last option of purchasing some sort of basic, portable RV garage. As we arrived in the evening on a weekend, the only place open was Home Depot, so we jumped online to see what they had available.

They had something called a Garage in a Box by ShelterLogic. They have many rv garage kits available depending on the size of your RV. It seemed that it was a durable carport that could be fully enclosed, was easy to assemble, was sturdy, and cost $499. We gave them a call and they had one in stock, so we raced down to Home Depot (about 30 miles away) to check it out for ourselves.

After thoroughly checking it out and comparing the measurements of it to our trailer, it seemed that it just may work for our needs. We swiped our debit card, loaded it in the Subaru, and headed back to the property.

Here is the Garage in a Box unboxing video we made. In this video, Jesse will explain the details of the Garage in a Box, the specifications, why we purchased it, and you will also see some fun footage of us assembling the thing!

All said and done, we are happy that we took this route. It sucks to spend money on something so temporary, but we have peace of mind that our trailer is now protected from the elements and we can have a more relaxing time planning our barn, knowing that there are no deadlines to meet.

The thing to keep in mind with a journey like this is that you need to be fair and reasonable with yourself. While it’s nice to do everything yourself and save money, sometimes you just need to buy something from Home Depot to make your life easier. We have no guilt.

Get involved!

Have you done something similar? Would love to hear your ideas!

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I am an aspiring homesteader on a journey to become self-sustainable and free. In my past, I've worked corporate jobs to make ends meet and get ahead a little; it didn't make me happy or confident in my future. Since taking the leap to self-employment and living a more simple life, my happiness levels have increased greatly and I've never felt more alive. I finally understand what I want in life and how to get there, and that is what this blog is all about.

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Comments

    • Jesse Stafford says

      Isn’t there something magical about a clean slate? Though we can’t forget where we’ve come from! Thanks for stopping by Matty!

  1. says

    You made it! Know things will start coming together and rain flow will help decide where to locate all the buildings. Hope the cats are as happy as you 2 are! Keep on trucking, your plans are wonderful.

    • says

      Thanks for the comment, Elna! Things are coming together smoothly so far and the cats seem ecstatic… they have been racing around the property, climbing up trees, smell like pine, and are happy to be out of the car :-)

    • Jesse Stafford says

      Hey Trouble!

      Thanks for stopping by! It’s so rad that we have all this technology stuff to share things with each other! Appreciate your upbeat attitude and support. WHEN you come visit, (yes there are warm showers and wine), you’ll love the area. :) This week felt a bit like hell week. More fun than we can handle that’s for sure. Ready for a vacation! haha

  2. says

    One thing we did with our tarp-covered carport to protect it from wind damage was to buy cheap but sturdy rope and lash the rope back and forth over the frame on top of the tarp. This prevented the wind from tearing it to pieces. It worked rather well, though it does look even more ghetto. :-) Also make sure it is secured to something heavy! We had three 50 gallon water barrels (our water supply) we attached our carport to (which we used as a covered porch rather than to cover our actual trailer).

    • says

      Hey, sometimes it’s all about whatever works! We picked up some concrete pier blocks today to give the carport some additional height (18 inches or so) and it will also give some weight. We also picked up some supplies to build a small porch for the side of the RV so that we aren’t going directly from dirt to the inside. I suppose the test will be when we get some high winds :-)

      • Jesse Stafford says

        Hmm….if we tie a string to it on a windy day would that be like flying a kite? 😛

        Great idea on the rope Maridy!

  3. Miranda says

    We put one of those up, but then got slapped with a building code violation for the structure being secured to our concrete driveway without a building permit.

    • says

      That is unreal. This is precisely why we picked the location we did… no building permits. We went into the planning and zoning department today (comprised of one man) just to double check and he confirmed that we don’t need a building permit for anything… anything we are comfortable building will go so long as it’s 20ft from the property lines on all sides. Where are you located Miranda?

      • Miranda says

        We are in Edmonton, Alberta – Canada. It’s a big city and a neighbor complained that the “building” was too close to the property line. It’s not too close, it just made it hard for her to see when she backed out of her driveway into the alley. Lots of building permits needed here! Glad you’re good to go :)

        Too bad about your trailer leaking. We just found ours leaked a bit too from driving in the rain. We got stuck on the road driving through North Dakota over the weekend and there was a huge storm with a tornado warning that our little trailer didn’t like.

        • says

          What was the outcome of the neighbor complaint? We’ve read about a lot of that stuff happening. People want to keep their views but don’t want to buy all of the surrounding property!

          Oh man, glad you survived North Dakota! I can’t imagine driving a trailer through a huge storm with a ton of wind! We don’t like towing when the weather is calm, ha! Hopefully a little caulking will do the trick, or otherwise hopefully you have a bit of shelter for it. Trailers are great but are definitely far from perfect… unless you want to buy a brand new $20,000 trailer that supposedly doesn’t have any issues yet!

          • Miranda says

            We had to apply for a permit for the structure. We did survive the storm as we headed through Saskatchewan. There was a tornado warning and the rain was coming down so hard that we couldn’t see. The trailer is new so it shouldn’t leak. The water came up through a vent pipe in the floor because the roads had started flooding. But, all is good and dried out now. We have learned…

        • Jesse Stafford says

          Your unfortunate circumstance sounds all too familiar and far too common. :( When your neighbor doesn’t even have the respect to come talk with you before tattling to big brother it makes me angry. Exactly what the government wants. Little immature spies. Nazi Germany, anyone? Having had very similar experiences was a huge motivator for us to find an area where people resolve problems amongst themselves. Sans government.

          Your adventure through Saskatchewan sounds “exciting”! I’ll bet you have some stories to tell from that drive.

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