Parking Canopy to Catch/Divert Snow - Recommendations

10 Replies

BP Community--I'm under contract on a 4-flat property here in Chicago (thanks for all your help @Brie Schmidt  !) The rents are under market on all units (which I intend to re-mediate ASAP).

Behind this property, there is a concrete parking area with 5 spaces. 

I intend to owner occupy this 4-flat and want to reduce the hassle of brushing snow off my car every day in the winter. 

I am interested in installing a canopy-type structure over the parking spots for two reasons: 1) personal convenience while I owner-occupy; and 2) provide something that will differentiate the units to tenants (covered parking is nearly non-existent in the area). I've done a rent analysis and most units of similar quality offer street parking only. 

I believe it'll be easier to command market rent (or slightly higher) with covered parking.

What are your thoughts on this strategy?

Does anyone have recommendations for Chicago contractors that can help me with something like this? It's got to be able to withstand heavy snowfall and the Chicago elements. 

Any permitting issues I need to be conscious of? 

Thanks, all!

Very likely you need a permit, so I would start by calling the building department and discussing that.  May well turn out to be set back issues or something that makes these difficult to install, which would account for why this amenity is unusual.

A flat cover would avoid sliding the snow off, but would need to be strong enough to hold up some maximum load.  I'm sure the building department has some guideline.  OTOH, you might be able to get away with lighter construction if the snow can slide off.  But then it needs some place to go.  Not sure how wide that space is, but space may well be an issue.

Keep in mind you can't change the rents if the tenants still have valid leases.  You're bound by those leases and local laws as far as giving notice and changing rents.

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@Jon Holdman  good tips, thank you. Two units are on leases and the other two are M/M. Market rent is $1600. Unit 1 is M/M at $1100 (I will likely occupy this unit). Unit 2 is M/M at $1200. I want to get Unit 2 to market rent, but, if the tenant decides to leave, I'll be faced with finding a new tenant in the Fall (tough time to get new tenants). By building a canopy, raising the rent on unit 2 may make the pill easier to swallow and get them to lease up through the Spring. That's my thought process.

I may also need to get an architect to draw up plans for a canopy or cover. Not sure.

Would love to get the opinion of any contractors out there.

Post pictures when your done with construction.

I've been in 100's of multi units in the city and don't recall ever seeing what you are describing .  Down in Texas well yes common

When we lived in TX many moons ago some apartments did have covered parking that was just a light weight structure with only a very small slope for drainage.  Those would have never worked around here because of the snow load.  I know you have big snows there, too.  I'm pretty sure you're going to need a very heavy duty structure or one that sheds snow.  And if you shed snow you have to have space on your property for it to accumulate.

these guys do commercial and residential metal carport covers at what seem to me to be reasonable prices even w/ freight charges. They do custom sizes and a have variety of designs designed for various wind/snow loads. 

(I haven't worked with them, this is just leftover info from some research I did about fixing a carport)

We had this in NJ and it was a lightweight plastic top but in Chicago it might just be metal roofing.  It is probably set backs that would prevent it so first stop is the building department and they may even have something you can look at online first.  You probably would not need an architect for this the contractor could do plans if that is okay with the building department.  Recommend not using a flat roof given your area although the stuff in the above link gives you some ideas.

@Jean Bolger  Thanks for sending that link! These lightweight carports are in line with my thinking. The space in the back of the property fits five cars and would need an L-shape carport. This picture is the closest thing that would work. I'd probably need a custom design.