I am a new homeowner. Having lived in apartments my entire adult life, I know NOTHING about remodeling, etc. I want to put in a driveway and carport in my very long back yard (alley access). I have no idea where to even start. Do I hire an architect first? Can I start contacting contractors right away? I know I'll need a building permit from the city, but I literally need to know where to start before I get to the permit phase. Any help this homeowner novice can get will be greatly appreciated!
Try taking a look around your neighborhood and see if there's anything that strikes you as being similar to what you'd like to see in your own yard, even if it's not exactly the same. If the tone and character strike you as appealing, talk to the homeowner about how it was accomplished. That path may take you some good recommendations.
In all probability you will need a building permit and plot plan showing the garage in relationship to lot lines to secure local government approval. Talk to the permits office regarding zoning requirements with particular attention to setbacks for an accessory structuire (garage). You probably don't need an architect. A reliable home improvement contractor in your area should be familiar with all the code requirement necessary build the garage.