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A roof over the family car: Carports are back

This car port is at a house located

This car port is at a house located at 9 Trynz Lane, in Hampton Bays, New York on 4/30/10 Credit: Doug Kuntz/Doug Kuntz

When Frank Penna decided to replace the two-car garage of his Hampton Bays home nine years ago with an open-air carport, he hit the extra space jackpot. The move gave him room for an entrance foyer, an added bedroom that doubles as a gym, a large bathroom, an office and a sauna. And he likes the carport, which allowed the expansion and gave him shelter for his vehicles. His son appreciated it for a different reason.

He and his college friends used to hang out there at night and play beer pong, Penna says. You know kids.

Popularized in the 1930s by Frank Lloyd Wright, carports are both functional and versatile. A carport is never simply a carport. It is a barbecue-party magnet, a rainy day shelter for kids, a refuge from summer heat and a clubhouse quickly filled with neighbors, lawn chairs and chatter.

Carports are most common with suburban homes of a certain era, generally those from the 1950s and '60s, real estate agents say. They're cheaper to build than a garage and can cut down on the cost of a home but lack the overall protection of an enclosed area. Most carport owners compensate for less storage space with an additional shed.

Jerry Tranes, a longtime agent whose wife recently sold a Commack home with a carport, sometimes has trouble convincing buyers from Manhattan of the shelter's charms.

"We get people who move out from the city who have been parking on the street or maybe paying to park somewhere," he says. "Now, they're buying a single-family house and they've got an obsession with having their own garage."

He gives them this statement to chew on.

"We find that maybe 60 percent of homeowners with a garage don't use it for their car," he says.

Penna has remained satisfied with his carport transition all those years ago. His son finished school and has moved away, so there's no more beer pong. But he still gets a kick out of pulling into his carport in bad weather.

"Every time I drive under it and it's raining or snowing, I'm a happy puppy," he says.

HAMPTON BAYS $2.9 million

LOCATION 9 Trynz Lane

LISTING HISTORY First listed for $3.2 million, the house has been on the market four months.

TAXES Around $21,000

WHAT'S FOR SALE A five-bedroom, four-bathroom contemporary on 1.2 acres with waterfront views and beach access. The home has a separate master bedroom wing and guest wing connected by a walk-through. It has a heated Gunite pool and a Jacuzzi, an indoor sauna, an outside kitchen, a work shed and a full basement. The carport was designed by an architect to accommodate several cars and fit in with the home's contemporary look.

LISTING AGENT Constance Porto, Village Real Estate of the Hamptons, 917-731-4317

ST. JAMES $739,000

LOCATION 283 River Rd.

LISTING HISTORY The house was listed three months ago at $775,000 and has had one price reduction.

TAXES $15,391

WHAT'S FOR SALE A three-bedroom, 2 1/2-bathroom Victorian with an updated kitchen, hardwood floors, French doors, a wraparound cedar porch and a garage. It was built in 1986 from Victorian-era plans and won an architectural award. The carport was architecturally designed and painted to fit in with the Victorian theme. Both the carport and the shed are separate from the house.

LISTING AGENTS Eleanor Mangino and John Matthew, Century 21 North End Realty, 631-724-8500

LEVITTOWN $429,000

Location 16 Shelter Lane

LISTING HISTORY On the market eight months with this Realtor.

TAXES $10,507

WHAT'S FOR SALE A three-bedroom, 1 1/2-bathroom Colonial with an updated, eat-in kitchen, formal dining room and hardwood floors throughout. Sliding doors from the dining room lead outside to the carport, which is handy since the owners often use it for weekend barbecues.

LISTING AGENT Donnamarie Chaimanis, Laffey Fine Homes and Estates, 516-978-9393


SELDEN $259,900

LOCATION 177 Magnolia Dr.

LISTING HISTORY On the market since October with one price change.

TAXES $5,228

WHAT'S FOR SALE A three-bedroom, two-bath Colonial with a full basement. The upstairs was added in 1999. The main floor was renovated, including bathrooms and the kitchen. It has a circular driveway. The unattached carport was built by the owners to house a new car.

LISTING AGENT Margaret Tsoukaris, Remax Integrity Leaders, 631-736-2000


LOCATION 3 Field Place

LISTING HISTORY On the market since July 2009, the house originally was priced at $349,990 with two price changes.

TAXES $5,995

WHAT'S FOR SALE A three-bedroom, two-bath ranch with an eat-in kitchen, a dining and living room, a home office and a den-family room in a finished basement. The carport is used as a garage and also a picnic and recreation area.

LISTING AGENT Marina Cheung, Zip Realty, 516-986-5557

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