Building my workshop

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Blog entry by Dan Lyke posted 01-24-2012 05:23 PM 6680 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

It’s not done. I still have a few pieces of siding to run. I need to caulk the siding and trim. I need to finish the roof edge assembly. And there’s that small matter of 5 or 6 tons of dirt that needs to get lifted to the roof.

However, my electrical inspection is today. The rainy season has come. And I can do things in my shop.

My sweety Charlene asked me to put together a progress report, a look back at what we’ve done since July when I broke my rib digging out the foundation and had to put the whole thing on hold until October, when I started in earnest. My Dad flew out to help in November, and again this January, my friend Alan and his kids helped, and, of course, Charlene carried her part of our partnership during the construction.

So, we started by digging out the foundation trenches:


Then I built forms and laid and tied the rebar:


I hired my neighbor Loren, who’s a landscaping contractor, to do the pour and concrete finishing for me. I think this was a good move. Even though I’ve put a floor over the concrete, I’d have never gotten that nice a finish on the slab, and there’s a whole lot of experience that goes in to the process. Now that I’ve seen it done (and participated in it a little), I might tackle aspects of it myself, but this project has also beat quite a bit of the “do it myself” aspect of building out of me:


My Dad came out from Ohio to visit, and he and I put together a pair of walls, and then said “huh, how are we going to get this up?”. Luckily, my friend Alan came over and pretty much lifted the things into place by himself. Wasn’t the first time he saved me a whole lot of time on this project. And his daughter helped assemble the other two walls, and by the end of the day we were putting on sheathing.


Setting the window headers


Wall sheathing on


Before the wall sheathing got inspected, my Dad left. I had to do a little correction on that, and then Charlene and I put up the fire break drywall. Any wall within 5’ of the property line needs to be a 1 hour firewall, I believe my design gives me a 2 hour firewall, but we decided that if we’re going to do the wall and a foot of the adjoining walls, we may as well do the whole thing. So I lifted a whole bunch of 5/8” Type X into place:


Charlene helped me apply the housewrap. The furring strips there stay in place, as they provide space between the siding and the wall for a drainage plane. This provides wind and shock wave resistance, it also makes the space that much more energy efficient (all of which are bad justifications for a design element, given our climate, but everything worth doing is worth doing to excess).


Siding. Prefinished HardiPlank.


And now we’re inside, on the electrical. 6 GFCI circuits around the walls, 2 in the ceiling, plus 3 220v circuits. And as a condition of the electrical permit, the city made me put in heating and made me make the building California Title 24 compliant. Turns out the cheapest easiest way to put in heating was a heat pump, so I have heating and cooling in my shop.


Siding up, and the preliminary door on.


The roof is a living roof, so it’s a fairly complex assembly. Here you can see the Enkadrain layer (over several
layers of insulation, rubber and plastic), with the grating to hold the dirt on.


Insulation inside, Charlene and a few college student houseguests who came by to crash on our floor in the Bay Area over winter break helped a lot:


Electrical trench dug. The electrical service is 100A buried in 1¼” conduit.


Wallboard up and spackle on


And wall textured and painted


And now I’m organizing inside.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

12 comments so far

View kaschimer's profile


89 posts in 2443 days

#1 posted 01-24-2012 06:16 PM

drool That looks like so much fun! I built some walls in my basement to cordon off a shop area (and I had a blast!), but you get to do everything and make it as big as you like. A little jealous… Really nice job on it.

-- Steve, Michigan - "Every piece of work is a self portrait of the person who accomplished it - autograph your work with excellence!" - Author unknown

View helluvawreck's profile


31707 posts in 2920 days

#2 posted 01-24-2012 06:27 PM

It looks like it’s coming along nicely. That will be a fine work space when you get done. Congratulations.


-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View dbhost's profile


5736 posts in 3286 days

#3 posted 01-24-2012 06:54 PM

What is the advantage of the living roof? I would think there would be a few positives, as well as negatives. I would think insulation / energy efficiency would be some of the positives, but I would think that the bacteria / microbes living in that soil would try to eat anything, including the rubber and whatever other roofing materials are used…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View Hoakie's profile


306 posts in 4090 days

#4 posted 01-24-2012 06:57 PM

looks great, much bigger undertaking than I had. Can’t wait to see more pics when you get moved in

-- John H. [To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk. ~Edison]

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4179 days

#5 posted 01-24-2012 08:29 PM

kaschimer, it’s not as big as I’d like (270 square feet inside), but given the size of our lot (52’x80’) it strikes a good compromise.

dbhost, the advantage of the living roof is more usable area on our 4k square foot lot. There’s really not a good economic justification I can see for it in our climate, it would probably be good for cooling (big evaporative heat sink on the roof), but we have a week or two every year when I’d care. It will be a big thermal mass, but its R-value is something like .33/inch. The estimates on the roof assembly I’ve used are in the 30 year range, but the roof does have a 2 in 12 pitch, so if it becomes a problem at that point we’ll scrape it off and put on roll roofing.

However, 30 years of having 400 square feet of strawberries is what turned us…

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View cajunpen's profile


14576 posts in 4120 days

#6 posted 01-24-2012 09:06 PM

Very nice shop Dan, looks like a fun project as well – anytime we get to play in the shop is good time :-)). Did I see correctly, did you sheetrock the exterior walls?

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View Sarit's profile


549 posts in 3193 days

#7 posted 01-24-2012 09:44 PM

Did the inspector want you to put drywall on the outside of the studs? That seems like an invitation for mold if any water gets in or wicks up from the sill.

You might want to consider some sort of guard rail for the living roof. You don’t want to accidentally back up off the roof while picking strawberries.

Overall its looking great! Can’t wait to see the green roof in action.

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4179 days

#8 posted 01-24-2012 10:46 PM

The sheetrock on the outside of the ½” ply sheathing (which is outside the studs, yes, this building is bombproof) is 5/8” Type X firebreak. It’s there to provide a 1 hour fire wall. There’s also the same thing on the inside of the building, and the walls have a nominal 6” cavity (6by sills and top plates), with staggered 2×4s. I did that portion for sound control, but except for the ½” ply it’s a standard U.L. 2 hour assembly.

The sills are 3” thick, and the sheathing and firebreak don’t start ‘til an inch and a half above that. Coupled with the termite shield and the house wrap, and that the bottom course of siding goes below the sills, I don’t think I’ll have a mold issue. We shall, however, see…

You can see the roof edge grating in one of those pictures. That’s going to get an additional cap milled out of Trex. I’ll see how it feels once we get the dirt up there, but, yeah, I may end up putting a low guard above that too.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View jack1's profile


2107 posts in 4081 days

#9 posted 01-25-2012 12:58 AM

Lookin good! Bet you can’t wait.

-- jack -- ...measure once, curse twice!

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3388 days

#10 posted 01-25-2012 05:38 PM

Looks great Dan. I’m sure you will be very happy with it. The insulation and a heat pump will surely make it a comfortable place to work all year around. I do think you have enough space for most any size project. Many of us complain we have too little shop space while others are woodworking in closet sized spaces and still manage to turn out some very impressive work.

You will be getting some ventilation from the space between the siding and the drywall which should keep it dry enough to prevent mold. The roof will probably have to be watered pretty regularly though, as it will be a relatively thin layer of soil. That is a bit of a problem with that type roofing here where I live in Norway, whenever we have a dry spell (otherwise it’s mostly raining here all the time).

So good luck with your new shop and I’ll look forward to seeing the projects that come out of it.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4179 days

#11 posted 01-25-2012 08:27 PM

Yeah, once the rainy season ends (we get 4 months of rain, though the rains have been a long time coming this year, and 8 months where ½” of rain in a month is a big downpour, and from June through mid October you can pretty much store cardboard outside) extending the yard’s irrigation system to the roof is on my list of things to do.

We’ll probably run a grid of drip irrigation, although depending on how the plants grow out we may try to put spot drippers on individual plants.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6860 posts in 4033 days

#12 posted 04-11-2012 11:16 AM

Hi Dan;

Very nice blog, and a great looking shop.

Looks like quite an undertaking.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

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