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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK, here's the deal I have put a little cash aside to build a shop in my back yard. I have been doing a little shopping around and still have no idea what I should do. I know several of you have shops, if you don't mind sharing a few pictures and experiences, I would appreciate it.

I am not looking to build anything huge 24' (deep) X 30' (wide), tall enough for an inside lift (14' ceilings). Roll up or sliding door must be on the front (30' side).

I don't know all the advantages and disadvantages of wood vs. steel. It does get VERY hot in the summer where I live, but I figure if it is insulated it shouldn't make much difference.

I would like to start building this thing in the next 1-3 months (depending on weather). The shop will be strictly for tinkering on cars/motorcycles etc.. not for storage.

Please point me in the right direction, Oh and I plan on building it myself (with the help of a few friends).

Two or Four post lift? Why?
 

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Personally, I much prefer wood over metal. Even insulated, metal building to me just seem so much hotter in the summer and colder in the winter (probably not too much problem where you live though). Plus you can have trouble with the walls sweating if they are sheetmetal. And they are noisier inside and out (insulation helps though). However, with the way lumber prices have been going, you can save a lot of money going sheetmetal. To me, the perfect setup would be stick construction and a metal insulated roof.

One thing to remember...you can almost never have too many electrical outlets, or lights.

I know a lot of people with 2 point lifts, and they seem to work fine. However, to me, a 4 point just seems so much safer...I like the thought of 3500+ pounds over my head supported as much as possible.

A vent fan of some sort is also a good idea, as is a door or windows on the opposite wall as the garage door (for cross drafts in the summer).

There are several excellent computer programs out there for designing stuff like this, that will give you a good idea of how much materials you will need, and give you some idea of what the finished product will look like.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the fast input. I am 99% sure I will go with a 4 post lift for several reasons.

2 posts are cheaper
2 posts make removing the wheels easier.

Vs.

4 post has every other advantage. You can still remove the wheels. You can open the doors (depending). You don't have to get on the ground, they are very stable if you have some jerking to do, If you need to do some frame work it can be done (cutting welding, tubing etc..) you don't have to worry about vehicle weight bias changing and the vehicle becoming unstable.

These are the reasons I think 4 post is the better way to go. I haven't bought it yet so if I am missing anything let me know.

Other than costing a little more I don't see any real disadvantage. The company I am looking at is Auto Lifters web site www.autolifters.com I still have some comparison shopping to do.


Ramjam, I understand your point about going deeper, but I have to stay within the rules (10' from the house and 3' from each property line. I have a lot of room to go wider but not much to go deeper. I will re-measure, I know I left a good safety cushion. Remember I am in California, LOL.

Is your shop wood or steel? Any pictures?

Travis,
I know wood is better during extreme weather. It does get very HOT here (over 110* in the summer), but it doesn't get all that cold maybe reach the low 30's upper 20's on occasion. I am just weighing out my options. Steel is cheaper and will never rot, get termites or burn down while I'm welding.

Wood tends to look nicer (from what I have seen so far), quieter, cooler/warmer, but costs more. I found a set of plans online I like for a wood built shop, I have yet to find anything for a steel building (that I like).

What are these computer programs you are talking about? Where can I find them? what are they called? To buy plans will cost me $350 for the wood building I found (comes with a materials list, blueprints etc..).

Keep the input coming please.
 

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Royce, I see you are looking along the same lines as I am on a new garage. I've been looking for a steel framed wood building with a cathedral ceiling for my new shop. I found a manufacturer that makes steel buildings that fit the bill, but I can't do all steel because of local ordinances. I'm still checking, but you might want to take a look at these guys. http://www.miracletruss.com/
 

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I built my 30x30 with 2x6, I never though about steel. I didn't make the ceiling high enough for a lift though.
I wasn't back into cars when I built it.

I had the concrete poured and did stem walls, so that I could hose out the garage. I didn't want the drywall going all the way to the floor...It seems to work. I also designed the trusses so that the attic is totally open down the middle for storage...that works well too!

Besides that....I added central air so that I would have cool in the summer and warm in the winter. That's probably the best feature.


Here is a brain dump of what I remember doing:

- I drew up the plans with a friend.
- Got all of the permits myself.
- I hired the concrete out.
- I framed it with some friends in about a weekend.
** TIP Home Depot will make a materials list from your plans and drop everything off at your house! **
- Hired a guy to roof it.
- Hired my neighbor to stucco.
- Installed the windows
- I ran the power from the house ciruit breaker to a mini box in the garage, that was about a 150' run! Dug it with a trencher, ran the PVC, pulled the #8 wires (PIA!), had it inspected, fixed the errors, had it inspected again. Roughed in the rest of the electrical with my father in law.
** TIP AC Air handler requires 220!!
**
- Hired a guy to install the AC
- Ran 220 to the air handler!
- Hired two guys to hang the ceiling drywall, I consider that grunt work and didn't feel like doing it myself.
- Finished the electrical had it inspected..passed!
** TIP - add lots of outlets 110/220 and lights! **
- Paid a company to blow all of the insulation in and hang the rolled stuff. Again I didn't feel like doing that!
- Hung all doors.
** TIP use insulated door if you are going to run AC **
- Used spray foam around door frames to ensure a good seal/insulation.
- Hung all rest of the drywall, taped, mud'd, sanded, textured, sanded and painted white!
- Installed base boards
- Painted garage floor with epoxy paint. Works pretty well!


That's all I can think of....


Oh...It's really hot in AZ, so I didn't put any windows on the west side of the garage. That way the setting sun can't heat up the garage in the afternoon. Works great!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Jon,
Those werre the exact same buildings I was looking at if I decided to go steel. I have to check with my city to see if they even allow steel. For some reason I don't think they will (I have yet to see a steel one in town).

Paul I didn't know that about Hone Depot. This is very helpful. I can design it exactly how I want it and they will figure the materials for me (perfect). I need to see what all the city requires for permits.

I am leaning towards wood/stucco to match the house better. This will be an "auxilury" shop I have an attached garage out front. I will run power and other lines under ground before I pour the concrete.
 

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Talk to your truss company directly in your area. They can design trusses for any needs you have and they are amazing at what they can do.
They can give you some inside height that you wont see on the outside if you dont need full attic storage area.
Plugs plugs plugs 220v and 2x6 insulated frame is the way to go.
I agree with the 26 or 28 feet deep if you can swing it with local zoning or even apply for a variance, that extra 4 feet is amazing at what it gives you inside.
Low voltage wiring, cable and speaker connections and phone plugs everywhere, and GFI alot too.
good luck
 

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Something I dont have in the shop and wish I had...RESTROOM.Going "potty" outside runs the risk of scaring the neighbors.And god forbid a guy needs to "take care of some paperwork" that means washing up and taking of dirty shoes before comming in the house.I cant remember how many times after doing yard work all day I thought....if only I had a shower in the shop.hmmmmmm
 

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Punch, Broderbund, and others make some really nice home design software for around $60. Walmart used to carry them, as do some other places that sell software. I'll dig them out and look up their websites if your interested.

The concrete stemwalls are also very nice to have...as mentioned above they let you hose out the shop without fear of damaging the walls. It is also a good idea (if you plan on sheet rocking the interior) to use sheets of plywood or OSB for the lower wall layer as it is MUCH more resistant to holes and markings than sheetrock. You know, for when you get mad and throw tools, or open a car door into a wall, etc. You also need to decide if you want any storage in the rafters/trusses...the design of each is different, as is the price. Since you probably get little, if any, snow, you can also save a few bucks by going to 4' centers on the trusses, but if you want storage most companies recommend 2' centers IF snowfall is ever an issue. Oh yes, and once you have had a shop with a bathroom, you'll wonder how anybody could ever live without. A small 5 gallon or so electric hot water heater is also very nice to have.

It also helps during bug season to have your security light mounted somewhere away from the door entrance :D
 

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i dont know what you have for power at the house (200a?), but i would try to put a 100a subpanel in the garage. if you have a 200a service in the house, and use mostly gas appliances, you could likely run a 100a feed from it to the garage, and still be good.
the reason i say this is, like everyone says you cant have enough lighting/power in a shop. and if you add a/c, heat, a lift, compressor, all the lighting and plugs including a welder, you'll potentially be using a lot of power. not to say 50a wont take care of you, but wouldn't it suck down the road to have to redo your feeders and pipe (if its underground) if you find your short on power. if nothing else, run a panel size you feel safe with, like a 50a, but run feeders for 100a. then down the road changing it will be as simple as a couple of breakers, if you work it out right.
just some thoughts, good luck
 

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Thought of more stuff...

I second what click said. It is much easier to have a truss company design/build the trusses for you. It isn't expensive and they do them right based on the plans!

When you have the concrete poured get someone who has a clue. They will need to dig the footings (to the appropriate depth), setup the forms and setup the rebar. If this is not done correctly you will not pass inspection and we all know without a good foundation a building will be junk! Also, make sure they install the straps in the concrete when they pour. If you get the cheapest guy they may be dopey and you need something to attach the base plates of the walls to the concrete. Then you will have to get those "redheads" (home depot) to further attach the wall base plates to the footings.

Have you ever framed a building? It's not rocket science, but it's important that you build the walls to the code for your area. I think home depot will be able to help, giving you the appropriate sized beams for each opening (windows, doors, etc). I used glue lam beams, they are laminated beams and are pretty darn stout. Have you ever set trusses? Again, not rocket science but you need a few guys to be able to throw each truss up to the two guys standing on top of the framed walls (kind of tricky). Those trusses are heavy enough to put a serious hurt on someone not to mention the sharp little metal plates (gussets?) that hold them together that can cut you very deeply very quickly. You will also need hardware (metal straps) to attach the trusses to the walls. They are available at home depot.

Honestly, if you don't know what you are doing (or know someone who does) I wouldn't frame the building yourself. It is pretty dangerous work, not rocket science but it needs to be done correctly or your building is junk. Finding a local framing crew (willing to do side work for cash) to come out and build it for you is not hard and they will slap that thing up in a weekend.

Home depot can get all your lumber, hardware, doors, windows, pretty much everything. And you can dicker with them a little as there are other local places that will do the same! :D


I could go on and on about the rest of the project but I'll stop, just build it right and DON'T GET HURT!!!
 

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I used trusses for my 24x28 and it was great as I built the garage with a friend of mine. I have outlets every 6' at waist height so I don't have to bend down ( or worry about water). I have 10' ceilings with a 4 post lift and love it. If I had known I was going to have a lift I would have had 12' ceilings but I can put my camaro all the way up and stand under it. My truck gets about 4' high and I sit on my roll-around chair ( neat item ). I just added a 12x20' addition. Now I need more land!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Great input.

No, I have never built a building or worked in construction, I have poured concrete several times. The good thing is I have lots of friends that have/do. I am good with my hands so I am not afraid to jump in there. I know a couple electricians, concrete people, etc... I will make sure I use my connections and take care of them, so I have to add that to the price. I didn't think about getting the trusses pre made. I will be calling my local building department to see what I can and cannot do (ie...steel, wood, size).

I talked it over with the wife last night and we decided to go a little wider 24 X 36' (I can't go any deeper), I also have a garage attached (3 car) to the house, so this in a shop not a garage. I would love to have one the size of a warehouse, but it just can't happen where I live.

I will check the service to the house, I think it is a 100A service and yes I have 220. I will have a welder, lift, plasma cutter, compressor, but those will not all be used at the same time (since I will be the only one working out there). I will run the most I can get away with.
 

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Cool Royce!

I didn't mean to discourage you or anything, it's just that sometimes "do it yourselfers" try to "over do it themselves" if you know what I mean.

I figure for me, if I understand all aspects of a project then I can do it myself or at least manage it myself bring in helpers as needed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Paul,
No offense taken, I would never attempt anything like this if I wasn't pretty confident I could handle/learn what was going on. I have always been pretty handy (metal, wood, auto shops), I have built plenty of fences, etc... Used to have a summer job doing that type of work (which is what made me go to school and learn something). Nothing wrong with doing that type of work, it is just something I didn't want to do every day.

Wish me luck I am heading down to City Hall (planning dept.) to see what I can and cannot do. This may change everything.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Ok, I am not limited to steel or wood as long as it has a decent apperance and matches the house. That's the good news.

The bad new is they have some strange way of deciding how big it can be. I can only cover so much of "MY" rear "yard area" which it a zone 20' from my rear fence the entire length of the yard, but of course for a fee you can have that altered a bit. I have no rear neighbors behind me.

I can only cover 280 sq ft. of that rear yard area. Without any variances applied for. That would leave me about enough room to build a shop that was 17 X 24' (like my neighbors), this is not big enough to bother with. I will apply for a variance and see how that goes and also look at other places in the yard that it will fit. One other bad point is I can only have a 12' mid point to the roofline (meaning if you measure half way up the peaked roof that would have to be 12' or less), but only if it is in that rear yard "zone". There are ways to get around that such as having a sunken floor (2') so I can have the 14' ceiling I am after. Of course that will create other issues to deal with. The permits are only $600 including all inspections (electrical included).

You got to love living in California :rolleyes: I understand they don't want people going crazy, but they need to modify the rules a little. I have more than enough yard, I don't get that rear most 20" rule. Or the 12' deal. You won't even be able to see the shop from the front of the house and there are no rear neighbors.
 

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If you promise not to make fun of the mess at my shop, I'll show you the basic layout.
First we have the lift:

At this point we can see the lift, the storage area and the clutter you will aquire. I am standing next to my work bench, and the roll up door is behind the 3rd gen T/A.
From there we turn around from the top pic and look at the oil shelf, and bench:

You can see the compressor, and part of the huge swamp cooler on the left. We also have the mobile vice/chopsaw table, and lots of parts on the ground, that seem to breed, and expand.
Then we have the roll-up insulated door, and couch:

And finally the tool box/ car storage area:

It's a little bigger than what you'll be fitting, but if you cut my shop in half, it's about the same size.
Again, excuse the mess, we are in the middle of a partner change over. He still needs to get his 4th gen.
Tyler
 
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