Building the RV Carport – Trouble in Paradise

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Well, as you might have imagined – there have been some changes to the original plan.  Apparently, the difficulties lie in the engineering.

Our carport, as designed, was to be a one-car-wide structure.  That in itself might not be any problem, but since it’s meant to cover an RV, our carport is quite tall.  It’s also freestanding.  In the winters, we can get quite a bit of snow and wind, and the load (specifically, a racking moment) on a tall, skinny, freestanding structure can be pretty significant.  At least that’s what the results of the engineering analysis said when we finally got it back.

Now, back in the day, I was an engineer myself (Auburn University, Aerospace Engineering, 1989), so I probably could have figured this out before we even got this far.  But I’ve gotten old and lazy, and couldn’t be bothered to remember what Dr. Spring said those 26 years ago – so we had to wait for the analysis to come back.  When it did, we weren’t too happy.

Back when I was in college, we did things the hard way – with graph paper and such. We also had hair.

The first thing they wanted was for the posts to be buried IN the concrete tubes instead of mounted atop them.  There was no way I was going to do that with wood posts, because they would rot.  So we countered with steel posts (which we would wrap in wood to get a wooden look).  The steel posts were accepted, and would result in only a minor cost overrun due to the need to fabricate brackets on them and whatnot.

But the counter punch floored me.  The steel posts are fine.  But they have to be buried in concrete TWENTY-FOUR INCHES IN DIAMETER AND 6 FEET DEEP!  That’s about .7 of a CUBIC YARD of concrete per post.  There are 8 posts.  So that’s 5.6 cubic yards of concrete.  Each cubic yard weighs over 3500 pounds.  So that’s about Twenty Thousand Pounds of concrete to hold this thing in place.

Really?  I mean, yeah, we get snow here, but it’s the normal water-based snow.  Not the lead-based snow they apparently get wherever this guy went to engineering school.

But there are other problems.  The first being – I don’t know if we have 24 inches worth of space to work with.  Here’s what the west side of the driveway looks like

RV Carport SiteDon’t ask me where we’re going to put 20,000 pounds of concrete…

And the second problem – we can’t find anyone to bore us holes of that size.  We’ve tried most all of the fence contractors in Salt Lake City, and none of them can go that deep.  Not even the ones that build the fences around prisons, airports, bomb shelters, and the like.  Our next move is to call some of those missile silo contractors from the Dakotas…

Well, at least if this carport ever gets built, I can be pretty sure it’s not going anywhere.

More on the drama as it unfolds.

James is a former rocket scientist, a USA Cycling coach, and lifelong fitness buff. When he's not driving the RV, or modifying the RV (or - that one time - doing both at once), you can find him racing bicycles, or building furniture, or making music. In his spare time, he works for a large IT company.

    2 thoughts on “Building the RV Carport – Trouble in Paradise

    1. bill

      just checked out your post on carport problems,, having built numerous carports myself here in Oregon I thought that I might offer you a little advice,,,, first check out website, Then I would be curious to see what your design specs. are, in Oregon carports are engineered at 30 lb snow load and 90 mph wind, your footing seems quite large,. and to reduce these diameters normally you can work with alternate footing engineering by increasing the depth.. You can also add more posts…. as for drilling we use a bobcat with an auger box and auger available at most rental yards. and drill comfortably to 8+ feet

      1. James - Post author

        Hey Bill – how timely! I was just about to put up another carport post. It’s still moving ahead… slowly. I should have it up next week. I’ll get the snow and wind load numbers from the contractor and include them. If Steelport builds in Utah, that may have been the easier route, but that’s water under the bridge now. This project has been cursed.


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