How Much Does It Cost To Build A Workshop?

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Blog entry by gdpifer posted 02-20-2011 10:37 PM 13162 reads 1 time favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

(I posted this on my personal blog a few weeks ago. Just thought you might enjoy it here.)

I “Googled” this question, phrased as “how much does it cost to build a shed?” That is a hard question to answer as there are a lot of variables. One site said $18.00 to $22.00 per square foot. Another said that “according to the Craftsman National Building Cost Estimator program” the cost would be $22.85 per square foot. Some sites gave hints how to save money, such as doing your own labor, using used or recycled lumber, etc.

My woodworking shop did not cost me $22.85 per square foot, which would have been over $5000.00. If you have been reading my blog for the last several months you know that I did my own labor, salvaged material from an old house and obviously cut my expenses to the bone. I’ve kept pretty close account of my expenditures and so can give you my cost to build my workshop.

This is a photo of the old house that I salvaged my building materials from. There was adequate framing lumber, siding, roofing and wall boards to construct my workshop. I had to purchase concrete blocks (although there were a few that had been used under the house to add support to sagging sill logs), concrete mix, fasteners, electrical wiring and some old windows.

In this picture you can see the stacks of used lumber I had hauled home. Almost all of the lumber used for framing was rough sawn. Most of the 2×4’s were truly 2” by 4”, the 2×8’s were 2” by 8”. There was a great deal of work involved pulling all of the old nails out of the boards and getting it hauled home.

The first expense I had was the cost of gasoline for my little truck. The old house was 25 miles from my home and I had numerous trips up and back. I tried always to bring a load of material back whenever I went up. Based on the number of trips, the average cost of fuel and the approximate MPG I got I invested $250.00 in gasoline.

Here is my material cost for what I had to purchase.

Used windows $40.00

Concrete blocks and concrete mix $125.00
Fasteners (nails, screws, staples, etc.) $115.00
Electrical (breaker box, wire, cable, switches, outlets, etc.) $290.00
Miscellaneous $20.00

So, for material cost of $590.00 and gasoline cost of $250.00 (a total of $840.00) I have a 16’ by 14’ workshop with a storage loft above. Instead of $22.85 a square foot I have cut my cost to $3.75 per square foot. And, if I count the square footage of the loft as additional my cost drops to $1.88 per square foot.

My parents were married in 1929 at the beginning of the “Great Depression.” They learned to live frugally and I grew up learning about recycling before I ever heard the term. So, recycling an old house into a workshop is just a natural for me.

This is the end result. It has taken me a little over a year since I starting dismantling the old house pictured at the top of this post to get to this point. It hasn’t been a fulltime job of course and could have been done much more quickly if I had hired a contractor to do the job with all new material, etc. but I just did not have that extra $4500.00 or so to spend.

IF you would care to read the story from start to finish of the project you can go to my personal blog ( scroll down and find the listing on the left under “labels.” Near the bottom of the list is the label “woodworking shop.” Click on this and all 14 or 15 posts will be pulled up, of course the latest one will be first.

-- Garry, Kentucky

10 comments so far

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3115 days

#1 posted 02-20-2011 11:12 PM

great you have your own shop now
and build with recyclet materials it can´t be better
congrats all around from here :-)
looking forward to see what projects this building
can throw out of the big mouth

take care

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3673 days

#2 posted 02-20-2011 11:14 PM

Its good to have your own shop.

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 3774 days

#3 posted 02-21-2011 12:15 AM

Great looking shop. You did a beautiful job on it. Have fun setting up your shop.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View woodman1962's profile


150 posts in 2688 days

#4 posted 02-21-2011 02:14 AM

Great looking shop i love to see old used things made into something nice.I am sure you will get a lot of enjoyment out of it.I can not wait to see what comes out of it too.


View Shawn K.'s profile

Shawn K.

56 posts in 2666 days

#5 posted 02-21-2011 02:29 AM

That’s a dream shop if I’ve ever seen one. Sitting on that swing on the porch with a warm cup waiting for glue to dry has got to be one of life’s sweeter moments.

-- -- Never entrust power to those who desire it.

View Dave's profile


11429 posts in 2840 days

#6 posted 02-21-2011 03:52 AM

Wood is the most non recycled product there is. Great job.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View Manitario's profile


2630 posts in 2883 days

#7 posted 02-21-2011 04:44 AM

That is a really great looking shop; reclaimed wood has such a warm, classic feel.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3238 posts in 3712 days

#8 posted 02-21-2011 05:27 AM


Your shop looks great and becomes even more attractive when you share that you built it yourself with recycled materials! Thanks for sharing your story.


-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View redryder's profile


2393 posts in 3102 days

#9 posted 02-21-2011 08:24 AM

I can really appreciate your shop being your project…..very coool

-- mike...............

View Chefshep's profile


121 posts in 2683 days

#10 posted 02-21-2011 08:32 AM

Awesome!!! what AN INSPIRATION!!!!!!!!!! Garry, That is like the best. Seriously. So cool:)

-- Chefshep :) "When we allow our present to quarrel with our past, we risk jeopardizing our future.” - Winston Churchill

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