Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Building a carport

Up until now, I've never had any kind of automobile shelter at Gamone. So, in winter, the car is often covered in ice and snow. At other times of the year, leaves and oily berries from the linden trees fall onto the car, creating a mess. A fortnight ago, I decided that it was time to build a carport. And the nice sunny autumn weather made it a pleasure to work outside. Last Saturday, I was thinking about writing a blog post with photos of the work in progress. That would have enabled me to explain that the construction of the carport hasn't left me much time for blogging. Then, on Saturday night, the weather changed abruptly. Heavy snow—rare at this time of the year—started to fall all over the Vercors range. By Sunday morning, the slopes of Gamone were covered in a thick blanket of snow. The lines of the electric fence around the donkeys' paddock had become heavy cylinders of snow, and they sagged to the ground, enabling Moshé to escape. Fortunately, he headed down towards the old sheep cabin, where I was able to lock him in for Sunday night. By Monday, the sky was clear again. The following photo of the Bourne valley presents an unusual mixture of leafy green trees and snow:

I've continued to work on my carport, although it's unpleasant to slosh around in the muddy dampness. I'll put up photos of my construction work as soon there's a bit of sunshine. For the moment, the structure is little more than half-a-dozen wooden posts set in the ground on the northern edge of the house.


  1. If you don't work in construction, engineering, or architecture I would not recommend building one of your own carports. I had built one and it ended up collapsing on my car during a heavy snow storm. It ended up costing more to fix everything than it did to actually build the carport.

  2. It's true that a certain kind of watery snow, usually falling in autumn, would be capable of crushing a construction of this kind. Here in Choranche, a few weeks ago, an unexpected early arrival of such snow actually destroyed or severely damaged dozens of trees in the Rochemuse park of my friends Tineke and Serge. Aware of the harmful effects of this kind of snow, and knowing that the tiled roof of my future carport will not be very sloped, I realize that it might be wise for me to intervene at times by scraping snow off the roof. This shouldn't be difficult because I would notice immediately any dangerous buildup of snow on the roof of the structure, and the carport is located at a spot with easy access and not particularly high. Above all, I believe that my construction principles are sound. I have incorporated sturdy triangular elements in all four sides of the structure, which make it perfectly rigid. For a tree to break under the weight of snow, the latter has to shift away from the main vertical axis of the tree, causing the tree trunk to bend slightly and finally snap. In the case of my carport, the weight of the superstructure (tiles plus snow) must be transferred vertically at all times through the six vertical posts, none of which must be allowed to wobble, bend or do a Tower of Pisa act. I'm confident that it will survive all snowfalls... maybe with a bit of help from its builder.