- May 21, 2019
- Posted by: Scott Paparella
- Category: Custom Home Advice
Large RV Garages Are The Answer – Make Room for Your Dreams
Cape Coral and Fort Myers are Recreational Wonderlands – The Florida RV Life
One of the great things about living in the Fort Myers and Cape Coral areas is our access to world-class outdoor attractions. Our coastal cities are built for outdoor living. Residents of our region enjoy all the recreational benefits of being a premier Gulf Coast destination. We love spending time on the beach and on nearby islands, and we also know the delights of fishing along the Caloosahatchee River and in the Gulf of Mexico. Because of the intricate network of scenic canals and waterways that run throughout Cape Coral and Fort Myers, water and nature are everywhere.
But our area’s natural attractions are not limited to our variety of waterways. Wildlife preserves and state parks literally surround Cape Coral and Fort Myers. Koreshan State Park, Lovers Key State Park, Don Pedro Island State Park, Manatee Park, and Caloosahatchee State Park all offer our residents nearby retreats that allow us to experience Florida’s wild spaces firsthand.
With so many outdoor attractions, it’s no wonder that Lee County, Florida is also the center of the RV revolution. Motorhomes and campers allow us to take extended trips to the beach and other outdoor destinations. RV owners don’t need to plan their trips around cities or hotels. Instead, they’re fully mobile and can tour the region, and the rest of the country, from the comfort of their RV, motorhome, or camper.
As an outdoor vacation destination, Cape Coral and Fort Myers provide many RV parks in the area for visiting motorhomes. Some of these RV parks also offer longer-term residence options for RV travelers from around the country. And RVs do visit our region in the thousands. Because we live in such a beautiful part of the world, with so many natural attractions combined with warm, sunny weather, over 5 million visitors flock to Lee County each year. In fact, so many people visit the Cape Coral and Fort Myers region that the tourism industry employs 1 out of every 5 people in Lee County.
While we welcome tourists to our region, we also like to enjoy our hometown sites and regional attractions. Residents of Cape Coral and Fort Myers appreciate the positive economic impact tourism has on our region. This boundless natural beauty also offers our residents and homeowners the opportunity to enjoy an elevated quality of life, benefitting from the same sunshine, water, and ecological wonders that bring so many people to our region every year.
Cape Coral and Fort Myers City Codes and Ordinances Present Issues for RV Owners
Our region should be a paradise for RV owners. But, as many residents in Cape Coral and Fort Myers know, our city governments don’t always accommodate the needs of people with RVs and recreational vehicles. The regional residents who own RVs, campers, and motorhomes know that parking, storing, and maintaining our recreational vehicles is a constant juggling act.
Even though residents of Cape Coral and Fort Myers are surrounded with oceans, rivers, lakes, and canals, and even though we are bordered by state parks and preserves that beckon with their natural beauty, our city governments are not RV-friendly. It’s understandable that our cities are not interested in littering the roadways with RVs, boats, and trailers. But in their vigilance to provide clear roadways and optimal curb appeal, our cities have become very strict about the ways residents and homeowners can park and store RVs, motorhomes, boats, and boat trailers.
- Fort Myers city codes state;
“Boats, trailers, and RVs may be parked in the side or rear yards if not abandoned by definition. All other vehicles must be parked in the garage, carport, or on the designated driveway, or improved parking surfaces of the residential parcel. They may not be parked on the sidewalks, in the city right-of-way, or on the lawn.”
- In Cape Coral, codes are just as strict. When it comes to recreational vehicles, the city code states;
“No vehicle for human habitation shall be kept or parked on premises zoned for residential purposes within the city nor on public rights-of-way of said zoned areas, except when parked entirely within the confines of a garage or carport, or in accordance with the following.”
- The same Cape Coral codes and ordinances are even more detailed when it comes to parking and storing boats and trailers.
“It shall be unlawful for any person to park, store, keep or maintain, or permit to be parked, stored, kept or maintained in front or side yard of a single or multiple-family residence, or on a vacant lot in a residential area, any boat or empty boat trailer, either or both. A boat, a boat on a trailer, or an empty boat trailer may be parked on the rear yard provided the same is not allowed to fall into a state of disrepair, or grass or weeds allowed to grow around or under it to a height exceeding 12 inches, in which event it may then be declared a nuisance and the owner charged accordingly. An empty boat trailer may be parked at a launching site during the period of time that the boat is launched therefrom for a single voyage and while in the process of loading or unloading the boat and/or trailer. A boat, empty boat trailer, or a boat on a trailer may be parked entirely within the confines of a garage or carport meeting the requirements of this ordinance.”
That’s a lot of legal jargon, but it all boils down to just a few fundamental rules.
- Don’t park your RV, camper, boat, or trailer in your driveway
- Don’t park your RV, camper, boat, or trailer in the street
- You may be able to park it on your lawn or in your backyard
- Don’t leave your RV, camper, boat, or trailer on your lawn or in your backyard for long
- It’s okay to park your RV, camper, boat, or trailer on your property if it’s hidden in a garage.
If you live in a different town or state, please check your local ordinances to see how your RV and boat storage decisions may be affected.
Cape Coral and Fort Myers Ordinances Encourage RV Garages
In Lee County, all city ordinances allow you to park your RV or motorhome on your property if it is parked in a garage. The preferred storage method is inside the garage, behind closed doors. In our region, thousands of us love our RVs, boats, or trailers, but many of our neighbors consider them to be eyesores (no matter how luxurious our motorhome may be!)
Unfortunately, as any RV owners can tell you, it’s impossible to park almost any RV in a standard-sized garage. Only smaller pop-up campers may fit. That’s why more and more homeowners in Cape Coral, Fort Myers, throughout the county, are choosing to build large, customized RV garages. These attached garages are designed to work with your home’s exterior and are large enough to accommodate your RVs, motorhome, or camper, and to keep them neatly stored behind an attractive, automatic garage door.
When you consider the explosion in RV and motorhome ownership, it’s no wonder large garages, designed just for recreational vehicles, are becoming the next big thing in home developments. After all, RV and motorhome travel has become an increasingly common part of the average American’s life. In affluent communities with a high proportion of homeowners 50+, RVs are even more prevalent and have become a core part of many lifestyles.
In fact, recent industry reports found that about 10 million RVs are now on the road in the U.S., which means almost 9% of American households own an RV, motorhome or RV with a cabin and hood.
It’s interesting to note that boat ownership is also on the rise, and not just in Florida. On average, nationwide, one in ten households now owns a boat. And while recreational vehicle ownership is on the rise throughout the country, RV, motorhome, and boat ownership are exceptionally high in Florida.
These statistics won’t surprise anyone who lives in Florida. We have always known how to make the most of the great outdoors. After all, Floridians live in one of America’s greatest outdoor paradises. For many Florida communities, RV, motorhome, and boat ownership are just part of everyday life.
RVs, motorhomes, and campers are so common in our part of the world that we sometimes forget how much we actually invest in all of our recreational equipment. For many households, spending on RVs can exceed the cost of mortgages.
With so much time, emotion, and money invested in our RVs and recreational vehicles, it makes sense to house them in a safe, protected, sheltered environment. Storing these vehicles in garages is a smart way to protect our investments from the elements, including damaging UV rays, extreme heat, punishing rain, mold, mildew, gale-force winds, and even insects.
A secure, well-designed RV garage can also be an attractive, integrated part of your home and property. While some of us remember when RV garages were large, silver, industrial-looking sheds crammed into a back yard, today’s RV garages are sophisticated, architectural additions that can add scale, interest, and even curb appeal to your home. Maybe that’s why more and more homeowners in Cape Coral and Fort Myers are making RV garages the latest addition to their residences.
The Inconvenience of Motorhome Storage Facilities and Outdoor RV Lots
While some city ordinances allow for short-term parking, giving you a window of time for you to load and unload, this parking is limited to a few days. RV owners in Cape Coral and Fort Myers are dependent upon inconvenient, off-site storage. That means that even when their recreational vehicle is on their property, they must rush through the packing and unpacking process required for trips.
Leaving your motorhome at an RV parking lot or a storage facility means that you must use two drivers to get to and from the storage destination (one to drive the car, and one to drive the RV.) Depending on your storage agreement and parking space assignments, you may have to park your vehicle far from the property entrances, and you may be forced to park in crowded lots close to other RVs or boats. Additionally, most RV lots in Florida are not covered, so your motorhome is exposed to the elements every day of the year.
Many of these kinds of RV storage lots are unpaved grass fields or have paths strewn with gravel. This means that RV and camper owners may have to deal with tracking through the mud during the rainy season. And since the vehicles are stored outside, the extreme Florida heat can make the interiors of RVs insufferably hot in warm months. Food stored in the camper ages quickly in the heat, meaning anything with an expiration date must be removed.
Extreme heat also drains batteries. Your RV or motorhome battery can dry up during hot summer months. High temperatures can evaporate your RV battery’s liquids and weaken its charge. For batteries in motorhomes, heat deterioration also accelerates the corrosion process, and may irreversibly damage the internal structure of the battery,
Perhaps most daunting of all, when you store your RV at a lot or in a storage facility, you must empty your waste tank before parking your vehicle. That means that, after each trip in your motorhome, before you unload or store your vehicle, you need to find time to make a final visit to the dumping station.
Three Reasons to Build an RV Garage: Convenience, Convenience, and Convenience
Yes, a large RV garage will protect your vehicle from theft and vandalism. Yes, parking your RV or motorhome in a weatherproof shelter will extend its life and reduce issues like rust, warping, or fading. And yes, adding a large, well-built RV garage will ensure that you stay in compliance with city ordinances. A new RV garage may also impress your neighbors.
But the most surprising and satisfying reason many RV and motorhome owners build garages for their recreational vehicles is convenience. It’s EASIER to keep your possessions at your home. It’s easier to pack and unpack. It’s easier to prepare for trips. It’s easier to clean up after you get home. RV and motorhome garages will make your life easier.
At the most basic level, an RV garage will eliminate the trips back and forth between your home and the RV storage unit or parking lot. Too many homeowners in Cape Coral and Fort Myers accept the inconvenience of storage unit rentals. They regularly trek to storage lots before and after using their RV or motorhome. After all, to stay compliant with city ordinances, and to avoid hefty fines, many people must pay to park RV, campers, or motorhomes in another part of town, at an off-site storage facility.
But once you build a large RV garage for your motorhome, all of those inconvenient, uncomfortable, time-consuming rituals disappear. With a spacious RV garage attached to your home, you will find that you have the luxury of time. You’re now able to disregard limited parking time ordinances and slow down your preparation for trips. Instead of rushing to load and unload supplies, food, and duffle bags from your RV, you will now find that you have weeks instead of hours to stock the cooler, load up the pantry, check the gas, or inspect tires.
Not only can you gradually plan for the food and supplies needed in your RV or camper, but you’ll also find that by being so close to your RV or boat, you’re now more willing to “load up” with extras. Now you’re happy to bring special blankets and pillows. Trading out towels is easy. And when your RV is just outside the kitchen door, it’s easy to set up an extra coffee maker or to simply bring the kitchen supplies you prefer (instead of the ones you left in the RV after the last trip.) With a spacious RV garage, if you leave something in your camper or motorhome, you no longer need to drive to the storage lot to retrieve it.
The convenience of onsite storage also gives you the time and space you need to care for your RV or camper. Instead of trying to beat the clock when cleaning your curb-parked vehicle, you can now decide when to clean up your RV. The care and maintenance of your motorhome or camper are done how you want, when you want.
Cleaning the interior of your motorhome can also become easier. In your new RV garage, with easy access to outlets and hoses, you’ll find it convenient to use all kinds of home cleaning tools, previously out of reach. Give the carpet a good cleaning using your favorite vacuum. Take your time cleaning up the dashboard area using your preferred cleaning supplies. And because you’re always just steps away from your laundry, you may find you’re more motivated to wash those removable seat covers or freshen up those musty curtains.
Sewage access is another convenience that many homeowners include in their RV garages. With some simple modifications, you can make it easy to empty your tank after you get home, on your schedule. You can say goodbye to the exhaustion you feel when you begin the end-of-trip ritual of looking for a dump station. Dump your tank when you’re ready.
A well-designed RV garage is also convenient because it will include a few spigots, so you can hook up a hose and spray down your vehicle in your garage or your driveway. To keep the floor and foundations dry, be sure to include a few well-placed drains in the floor. With this setup, you can wash your RV when it works with your schedule. The additional of running water also makes it simple to clean windshields and windows. With the right tools at your fingertips, it’s now easy to do a little extra detailing, like polishing your tires or conditioning the leather seats, all in the comfort and privacy your spacious RV garage.
And because your RV is now parked on a clean, level, concrete surface, instead of bumpy gravel or on a grass field covered in ruts, your feet stay clean and dry getting into and stepping out of your vehicles. You won’t have to slosh through mud and rain to get your RV ready for your next big adventure.
And the final, fun, benefit of convenience is that your friends and family may want to do some at-home camping. Many homeowners find that when their RVs are snugly parked in a secure garage, relatives and grandkids like to “camp out” in the RV, instead of in a guest bedroom. Your RV garage may give “staycation” a whole new meaning.
Don’t Forget About Storage for Your Boat or Trailer
In Fort Myers and Cape Coral, we take our boating seriously. Once you have decided to invest money in a boat, you will need a place to store it, service it, and clean it. Even if you choose to keep your boat in a dock or marina, you’ll need to stow your trailer. Cape Coral and Fort Myers ordinances don’t allow you to park the trailer out back and forget about it. If you don’t have a large enough garage, you will have to find a lot or storage unit for your boat trailer.
For boat owners who spend a lot of time traveling, finding a secure space for your boat is critical to your peace of mind. After all, boats and trailers are at risk for theft or vandalism, and boats or trailers parked in yards or carports are also at risk for damage from wind and weather. And because we all live in Florida, animal and insect infestations are a constant concern, especially for boats that are protected by a tarp.
A well-designed garage can provide a safe and secure storage alternative, and it can also make boat ownership less stressful and more enjoyable. A good boat and towing trailer garage should include a few spigots to provide running water. And the level concrete floor should include a proper drain system so you can clean the salt and mildew off your boat, wipe down interior vinyl, hose out coolers, and even clean your windshield. Make sure you include some electrical outlets for lights, tools, or to change battery operated devices. All of your boat and trailer maintenance can be done on your property, on your schedule, in total privacy, in the comfort of your garage before or after a dusty road trip.
What Will Your RV Garage Look Like?
While many homeowners yearn for the practicality, security, and convenience of an attached boat or RV garage, they are unsure of the aesthetics. How will a large RV garage look connected to their home? Where will it go? Will the neighbors consider it an eyesore? Will it add to the resale value?
How will the addition of an attached RV garage look on your existing home? The short answer is: however you want. With so many RV and motorhome owners across the country, home builders have had the opportunity to get creative with building techniques and styles. There are now hundreds of ways that a builder can design and integrate an RV garage to fit in with your home’s style, the neighborhood setting, and the particular configurations of your lot.
RVs & Corner Lots
If you have a corner lot, you have more options for RV access, so you can choose to add your garage to the front or the back of your home. Homeowners with side driveways or side street access to their lot, sometimes prefer to build the RV garage onto the back of their residence. The garage entrance faces the side street, while the bulk of the structure hugs the back of the home.
To create a more cohesive look from all angles, some homeowners add windows to the side of the RV garage on both levels. Some use closed shutters to give the illusion of windows. Others get creative with surfaces like stone or trims on the back wall of the garage to make it a stunning backdrop to backyard pool or patio spaces.
By constructing the RV garage onto the back of the home, it may be easier to preserve the uniformity of your curb appeal, while still giving you the opportunity to create a bit of interest in your roof line.
While new RV garages can be quite attractive, some homeowners may have neighborhood restrictions on garage door height. Camouflaged garages are a good choice if you don’t want to call more attention to your RV garage. Creative, new building techniques allow craftsmen to install a full height RV garage door while maintaining the illusion of a standard height garage door. In this building technique, the RV garage door façade is divided between a standard exterior garage door and a unit with covered with siding to match the home (see images below.) On these highly customized doors, both the garage and the “siding” units can fold up and out, reducing the need for additional interior headroom for the garage door, while still allowing enough space to store a Class A motorhome comfortably.
Converting a Three Car Garage Home
For many area homeowners, the simplest solution is to convert a three-car garage home into an RV garage and a two-car garage. A skilled builder will help you take advantage of the existing style of your home, adapting roof pitches and angles, to transform your third garage into your home’s new RV Garage.
Small adjustments will enable this homeowner to convert this standard garage into an RV garage. By adding a new pitch line onto the roof, this homeowner was able to minimize the visual impact of the RV garage.
The Resale Value of RV Garages
While every home and home sale are different, in Cape Coral and Fort Myers, the addition of an RV garage may increase the value of your home. In 50+ developments around the nation, RV garages are now in demand. In Lee County, RV storage is at a premium, and multiple RV parks operate at near capacity. City governments work to maintain ordinances that restrict outdoor storage of RVs. Home listings advertising “RV garage” stand out from the competition in this market.
Get Started: Planning Your RV Garage
How Large Should My RV Garage Be?
When building a garage, you’ll need to accommodate the size of the vehicle and allow for ample room to walk around your RV. The height of the entrance must allow for easy access into the space. If you have an inward closing garage door, the interior must be tall enough to accommodate the garage door overhead. For motorhomes with rooftop storage or rooftop maintenance, you’ll want to enough of headroom to allow you to access the roof easily.
Unless you already own a Class A motorhome, you may want to build your garage for a larger vehicle. This gives you the flexibility to trade up in the future, and also makes the garage appealing to a broader range of RV owners if you decide to sell your home.
For RV owners with boats or trailers, this is the time to discuss sizes that will store all your recreational vehicles. The general rule when building any type of garage is that bigger is always better. Of course, few us have unlimited space to build, so your home and your lot will probably present some limitations. Find the balance between a garage size, home size, and lot size. And remember that few homeowners complain about having too much storage space, so build as large as you can afford.
To begin determining the recommended size for your garage, you will need to first determine the clearance height, length, and width of your RV.
Motorhome Classes and Corresponding RV Garage Sizes
Class A Motorhome: This is the largest (and often most luxurious) of the RV classes. Class A motorhomes average 10 feet in height, and the length can range 21 to 45 feet in length. These RVs typically requires a garage with a minimum clearance height 14 feet, and a minimum length of the camper length + 8 feet. The garage can be longer if you want to include additional features or storage.
Class B Camper Van: This RV averages eight feet in height and can range from 17 to 19 feet in length. If you want to build an RV Garage for a Class B Camper Van, include a minimum clearance height 12 feet, and add 8 feet to the camper length when calculating the length of your garage.
Class C Motorhome: Because this type of motor home has a cab-over bunk, it’s 10 feet high, as tall as a Class A motorhome. These vehicles can range in length from 20 to 31 feet in length. Plan for a clearance height of at least 14 feet and add 8 feet to the length of your RV to determine the minimum length of your garage.
Width: The width of your garage may vary depending on a variety of factors. How wide is your RV? How wide is the space needed to open the doors of your RV? Does your vehicle have slide outs? Will you want to open those slide outs while the vehicle is in the garage? How much space do you need to service your motor? Do you want to be able to work freely on all sides of the vehicle? How far out do your mirrors extend? How tightly do you want to park? Are you comfortable parking with narrow tolerances, or do you need lots of space to maneuver?
There are many factors to consider when determining how wide your RV garage will be. Most contractors will insist on a minimum of 10 feet, but you may find that you want your garage to be wider.
Your RV Garage Builder
An RV garage can be a great addition to your Florida home. The added comfort and convenience of your garage and maintenance area can make RV-ing even more enjoyable. And the added security and stability are a smart way to protect one of your most expensive investments. Talk to your Remington Oaks sales representative to discuss how to best incorporate an RV garage in your new home building process.