Garage building thoughts, aesthetics & ultimate shop layout

The all purpose conversational forum
Post Reply
User avatar
duemila club
Posts: 2088
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2016 12:08 am
Last Name:

Re: Garage building thoughts, aesthetics & ultimate shop layout

Post by cgranju » Sat Nov 10, 2018 10:46 am

Oooh, thanks everyone! I had not thought of anchor points. Guess I need to do some research on that...simple enough I am guessing. My Building contractor already did if we know about where lifts will be installed he will have the slab built up stronger.

I’m on the fence regarding a trolley. Having used at least roof-located hoists in other shops, I can easily see how it can become a must-have. It will depend on the structural engineering.

Drains & water inside are somewhat of a non-starter for me due to topography and the fact I’m on septic wastewater (which is awesome for everything but this) and I don’t want to do the codes-req’d plumbing 300’ to our drainfield (and there’s a utility bathroom about 50’ away in the house). I’ll have spigots outside, close to the doors for washing, etc & the builder (a car I can’t say how much that’s an advantage over some of the other dudes who bid) already was talking about a slight slope towards the door to ease cleaning.

Again, many thanks and any ideas no matter how seemingly trivial or obvious will be appreciated!
Chris Granju
sunny East TN
owner of a number of Fiats built prior to 1986
User avatar
Posts: 672
Joined: Fri Oct 07, 2016 3:28 pm
Last Name: DeGasperis
First Name: Joseph

Re: Garage building thoughts, aesthetics & ultimate shop layout

Post by SimcaBertone66 » Sun Nov 11, 2018 9:31 am

Harbor Freight sells a very nice, and inexpensive folding engine crane …. stores neatly against a wall when it is folded up... mobile to any location in the shop too.... spend the money on something else … sounds exiting … when are you breaking ground ?
Joe DeGasperis
User avatar
Posts: 604
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2016 7:55 pm
Last Name:

Re: Garage building thoughts, aesthetics & ultimate shop layout

Post by mikehynes » Sun Nov 11, 2018 1:00 pm

I've built a couple of garages in recent years so I thought I might give you some of my thoughts. I didn't take time to read though all of the feedback that you've received so sorry if I'm being redundant. Also, I'll give you my thoughts for my situation, yours of course is different. BTW-Grassroots Motorsports has documented their recent garage build. Some good info there.
How you locate the building will affect the way sun and shade affect heating/cooling and light. Plan accordingly.
You need pretty good capacity. I opted for 200 amps even though just my "buzz box" 225 amp welder could use all that and more. It's hard to have too much capacity but as you go over 200 amps things can get pretty expensive.
It's hard to have too many. 120 v, I placed quad outlets every four feet along the wall. I also placed several outlets in the ceiling for things like drop lights, and door opener lights. I placed them high on the walls for the overhead door openers, and security system/cameras. I also placed them outside, both low for outdoor outlets, and in the eves for motion sensor lights, cameras.
240 v, these are pretty expensive so limit them to the "best" locations. I placed one near the overhead doors, one over the lift, and one in an area where I might do some welding. I also ran 240 v wire outside near the concrete pad for both an AC compressor and air compressor.
Overhead lights
More is better, put together a plan. Don't forget extra lighting over work benches. LEDs are coming down in price, but it's pretty easy to find very inexpensive conventional florescent lights that have been taken out of commercial buildings. Place drop lights above your work areas so you're not tripping over electrical cords on the floor.
Windows help bring in light, the more the better. But, they are expensive, take up wall/storage space, and don't have great R value. I placed a workbench under the windows I have on the west side.
I chose to put radiant heat in the floor. I used a conventional gas water heater (and still haven't blown my garage up! It is approved for use in a garage, it's got a screen...), but a tank less heater may be a lot more compact. I also made sure that I had plenty of insulation below the floor and also around the perimeter of the foundation to 4' depth.
I used an old gas furnace that I got free from a friend who replaced it with a more efficient model. I replaced the AC parts (compressor and A coil) with new and am just using the old furnace for the fan. I looked at the compact ductless split systems but chose the conventional system because it moves a lot more air. I thought that would be better at removing humidity. Since I mounted the furnace near the gas powered radiant heater water heater I could hook-up the gas to the furnace for conventional heat, but the radiant heat works so well I have no plans to do that.
Hard to have too many shelves and storage racks. You can build some pretty robust shelves out of 2X4s and plywood, and you can make them fit your layout. Having common sized storage boxes, and shelving sized to fit them, helps a lot. You may be able to store things in the attic. If you can, plan on putting flooring up there when the rafters go in. And don't forget old kitchen cabinets and counter tops make for great storage too.
Ceiling height
If you plan on using a lift you need at minimum a 10" high ceiling. 12" is much better though.
4 post works best for storage, 2 post for work. Take your choice, the 2 post can be used for storage, but the 4 post is pretty easy to install and can be mobile. Of course you could just have one of each... Plan on having 240 v electricity to power the lift, and you'll need a source of compressed air for it too. Plan on having 120 v power to the lift too, you'll need it for battery chargers, lights, etc.
I see that you don't think water is in the cards, too bad. I put two laundry type washtubs in (along with a floor drain) and I use them almost daily. It's sooo much easier cleaning things up when you have water.
I splurged for a toilet, but I have water too. They are nice to have, but not necessary when you can just use the great outdoors (no neighbors).
Floor coating
I opted for professionally installed epoxy. I didn't want the flakes, but did opt for lots of sand to prevent slipping on wet floors as we park our daily drivers in there. The flakes would have helped to prevent seeing the inevitable tar that the tires leave on the floor, but the tar would still be there. I would be a lot less aggressive on the sand if I had to do over again. You need some, but it's real hard on the knees when working on the floor. Still the epoxy is great for cleaning up oily messes.
Get overhead doors high enough to clear your tallest vehicle, and remember that you have to clear a four post lift, if you want one of those too. I recommend the openers that mount on the side because they are real easy to install, very quiet, and won't interfere with a lift, For the entrance door get a wide one, I recommend a 48" door.
Parts washer
You're going to be cleaning parts, it's a lot easier when you have a parts washer. I put some of the 1/8" thick white bathroom hardboard paneling behind mine, it helps keep greasy crap off of the drywall.
Having internet service is great and mostly needed for security these days, and TV is nice too. If you have to run cables in to get internet and/or TV do that while you're building.
Good luck, from someone who used to have to do all my work in a gravel driveway I'm sure you'll really appreciate your new garage.
Two '80 124 Spiders
Lots of X1/9s
Mike Hynes
User avatar
duemila club
Posts: 2088
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2016 12:08 am
Last Name:

Re: Garage building thoughts, aesthetics & ultimate shop layout

Post by cgranju » Sun Nov 11, 2018 1:21 pm

Yep...actually, I still have the one (slightly stronger design but legs aren’t made to fold...not a big deal) I got from HF as “mail order” (delivered to a truck terminal) in the early 1990s. After a storied life with a few runaway attempts, I bought a replacement hydraulic cylinder for it earlier this year in anticipation of a driveline swap that is now on hold because I can’t imagine doing it now when I’ll have such a better work space soon.

Picked up the building permit Thursday and now is when the waiting on various contractors begins. I’m supposed to be meeting the grading guy tomorrow to mark trees to save, limits, etc. & I’ve got to work out with the spousal unit where our new utility pole will be located (oh yeah, the shop will have it’s own meter & Clean power)

I’m excited...sort of doesn’t seem real. Probably not a big deal to many, but this has a lot of meaning for me.
Chris Granju
sunny East TN
owner of a number of Fiats built prior to 1986
User avatar
duemila club
Posts: 2088
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2016 12:08 am
Last Name:

Re: Garage building thoughts, aesthetics & ultimate shop layout

Post by cgranju » Sun Nov 11, 2018 1:41 pm

Thanks on that Mike! Not a big deal to skip the early thread because originally it was more about hiding a prefab inexpensive workshop in a residential setting. But, that wasn’t really going to fly if I am to stay married & I like my wife, so I engaged an architect friend to design the prettiest serious workshop we could imagine (& afford). It makes sense because where I live is a pretty nice residential area and in the end the whole gig (including Building in a better back yard) adds a lot of that’s good despite no plans to move.

The water part is tricky and I am already considering acceptable ways to have a wash sink/utility sink...but opening the whole tier of cost/complexity/etc of a very long run of wastewater line is just too much. Since we will have water at/outside the structure, a gardening-purpose outdoor wash basin might be the compromise.

I’ve been trending towards my still-large Fiat spares collection fitting into mostly 2 size containers as it allows better consolidation in the basement & some level of organization (thank you, label maker!), so I figured overhead shelving (12’ ceiling height) will be sized accordingly (I’ll get an factor-of-safety weight & I know the size).

For wall outlets, the builder suggested (as an option) exposed conduit to allow simpler modifications later, but in general the theme I’ve always heard is you can’t have too many outlets or too much light.

I was just thinking about the floor, and treatments or plain concrete. I’ve budgeted for only the slab, no special treatment or coating, but maybe that’s not an awesome idea.
Chris Granju
sunny East TN
owner of a number of Fiats built prior to 1986
User avatar
mille club
Posts: 1017
Joined: Sat Jan 23, 2016 11:40 pm
Last Name:

Re: Garage building thoughts, aesthetics & ultimate shop layout

Post by andy » Sun Nov 11, 2018 2:42 pm

Just to jump on the band wagon here...

Lighting - you can't have too much.
My shop (20x40) came equipped with 8 foot double tube florescent (warehouse style fixtures). The were noisy (buzzed) and provided adequate but flickering light.
About a year after I bought the place several of the tubes had failed, I started shopping around. I found these: ... UTF8&psc=1

They work great! Instant on, no buzz, super bright, no shadows, and very easy to mount and wire up. I have had them in the shop about a year now, no sign of degradation or loss at all. I have since replaced all the florescent lights with these (about 20 of them).
Andy Jossy
Medford, Oregon
65 Corvette
68 124 Coupe
72 128 Autocross car
82 124 Spider
86 X 1/9
88 Yugo
14 500e
User avatar
tremila club
Posts: 3624
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2016 9:18 pm
Last Name: ridge
First Name: richard

Re: Garage building thoughts, aesthetics & ultimate shop layout

Post by rridge » Sun Nov 11, 2018 3:51 pm

Ditto on lights and particularly LEDS. No warmup period or sensitivity to low temps. No flicker (at least on the higher quality ones). I use a mix of tubes and bulbs in conventional sockets. Both LED tubes and bulbs give you plastic globes with no risk of accidental shattering.

Fixed base ceramic light sockets mounted on boxes on the sides of low overhead rafters give you an outlet at every bulb. They also give you the flexibility to tailor wattage to the particular location and to easily adopt newer lighting technology including smart bulbs as they become available.

Most garages have some percentage of their wiring exposed. Protecting exposed cable from physical damage in work areas is always a good idea. In addition, mice and squirels will show up sooner or later in most garages and they love to chew on vinyl cable. Consider using MC armored cable and metal boxes wherever cable and boxes are exposed to physical damage or accessible by vermin.

It's nice to have an electrical sub-panel with a 220v feed in a garage. It allows you to mount ground fault breakers much closer to the loads and gives you flexibility to add additional circuits in the future for things like welders, electric heat or a/c, electric vehicle charging and even solar panels.

Try as one might, it is almost impossible to make overhead doors water tight at sides and particularly at the bottom. Whether or not you ever plan to wash cars or even hose down the floor, you will need some slope towards the door openings to manage leakage from wind driven rain. A gentle slope can also direct runoff from ice or snow brought in on a vehicle in a safe direction.
'81 Turbo Spider
Rockville, MD
User avatar
quattromila club
Posts: 4503
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2016 10:03 pm
Last Name:

Re: Garage building thoughts, aesthetics & ultimate shop layout

Post by vandor » Sun Nov 11, 2018 5:37 pm

> Windows help bring in light, the more the better. But, they are expensive, take up wall/storage space, and don't have great R value.

Placing horizontal windows up high will bring in light but not limit wall space as much.
'71 124 Spider, much modified
'72 124 Coupe, new project, ex-Pete, ex-Eli, ex-Jack car (all Mira members)
'73 124 Wagon, no floors
User avatar
Posts: 761
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2016 11:05 am
Last Name: Decker
First Name: Dave

Re: Garage building thoughts, aesthetics & ultimate shop layout

Post by davedecker4 » Mon Nov 12, 2018 5:18 am

Great pointers there Mike! I was going to mention some of those but you did a great job laying them all out.
Dave Decker
a 'couple' Fiats and Lancia's
User avatar
seimila club
Posts: 6270
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2016 7:27 pm
Last Name:

Re: Garage building thoughts, aesthetics & ultimate shop layout

Post by jseabolt » Fri Nov 16, 2018 1:04 pm

Chris, you should move up here, Hawkins County has no building codes when it comes to garages or storage buildings! Well I guess if you lived in a subdivision you couldn't erect what I just built behind my garage this summer. See below:

I'd imagine the same companies that work around here service the Knoxville area was well.

There are several companies here in the tri-Cities that build garages. The two most common are All-steel and Post-steel. I got the All-steel building. Couple of drawbacks. This building uses metal truces every 5 or 6 feet. Which means I have nothing but unusual space above me. This space is heated and wasted. I've got some 220 volt outside unit heat pump fans I'm planning on mounting on some 2X4s in the rafters to help cool me in the summer and push down any heat in the winter. They also used R7 bubble foam insulation which is rolled over the frame then the tin is screwed onto. At 32 degrees my 90K BTU propane heater runs non stop at maintaining a 60F temperature.

Don't skimp on insulation!

The Post-steel building uses 4X4 timber posts but no metal truces except on the ends. Which means you can build a loft for storage space. You can also put a ceiling in it so you are only heating 10' high floor space. If I had to do it all over again, I would have went with a Post-steel building.

Electricity: Tap into your home breaker box. 100 amp service should do it unless you plan on using a high powered welder. If you get a separate meter for your garage, the electric company charges a minimum fee for the meter. Same goes for water.

My garage is 30X54 and I have my Yugo, Spider, Citroen, Trabant, Subaru, 68 Ford and my MGB, shelves, work bench and other stuff and still some room to work on mowers. The trick ? Harbor Freight vehicle positioning dollies!

Just remember, the less junk you pile into it, the more room you have for cars!

If you have to meet some sort of building codes (garage has to match you house) you can get that plastic faux brick stuff in 4X8 sheets.

I just built a storage building roughly 400 square feet using reclaimed materials. The walls were from an old cooling tower shroud I got from work. The lip at the top cracked from 25 years of vibration. They repaired it once but decided this time to just replace it. They were going to through it into the dumpster and I asked the shop manger if I could have it. The roofing tin was from an old tobacco warehouse. The roof structure is made from sawmill lumber 2X4s. I estimate I have around $500 in materials.

I'm still in the process of building a door but I have already started to pile it up with riding mowers, lawn equipment and some of my toys.
IMG_20181009_140334230_HDR.jpg (243.18 KiB) Viewed 1774 times
door.jpg (194.97 KiB) Viewed 1774 times
shed 2.jpg
shed 2.jpg (194.04 KiB) Viewed 1774 times
shed 3.jpg
shed 3.jpg (151.55 KiB) Viewed 1774 times
The cooling tower shroud chronicles: ... 9ikLbDm1sH
Last edited by jseabolt on Fri Nov 16, 2018 1:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests