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