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Forum topic by RexMcKinnon posted 03-16-2011 11:13 PM 3748 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2593 posts in 3369 days

03-16-2011 11:13 PM

Topic tags/keywords: garage workshop

Hello everyone,

Hopefully this year I will start my new (depending on who you ask, me or my wife) workshop/garage. Here is my general plan so far.

I want a 2 car detached garage with a loft for storage of seasonal items. 1 bay will be used regularly by my wife and the other will be mine. This bay will have tools setup with mobile bases so I have the option to put my car in if I want but most days my tools will take priority.

I thinking minimum 24’ x 24’ but I have space to go much bigger. Well my property has space to go much bigger but my wallet might not agree.

I don’t want to borrow money to do this so I am doing the project over 4 – 5 years. I know it is long but I gotta feed my kids also.

My general plan is this:

Year 1; Choose design/plan, get building permits and pour foundation.
Year 2; Build structure and finish outside.
Year 3; Electrical, insulate and finish interior and move tools and storage from attached garage to new detached garage.
Year 4; Convert attached garage to play/tv/family room.
Year 5; In case I fall behind on budget or time from the previous years.

My goal is to do as much as the work as possible but I will have no choice to hire help as I am not an expert builder and even if I was I don’t have any friends close enough that could come over and help for a few hours.

My goal of this post is to gather as much info as possible from all you LJs out there with the experience. I am looking for any advice but some specific things would be;

Size; I mentioned that I wanted minimum 24’ x 24’ but I think I would like to 28’ x 28’. What do you think? I know everyone thinks bigger is better and I agree but the all might dollar will decide in the end. In the end I want to open my car door and get out without acrobatics when my tools are stored against the wall. So I need a 2 car width with enough space on each side for work bench and storage.
Shape: How about shape also. I’m thinking 28’ x 28’ but 24’ x 32’ is almost the same square footage. Do you guys see any advantage over a square or rectangle?
Access to the loft, exterior vs interior. Exterior will save space inside but that’s another set of stairs to shovel in winter. I would prefer interior and am planning to use the wasted space uner the stairs to maybe enclose a dust collector.
Heating; I think this will depend a lot on permits and insurance. I would love a wood stove but for the obvious reasons… I don’t have access to gas so I will most likely be electric.
Electrical; I don’t have a clue about electricity. I will probably for this to be done but any layout tips would be great.
Others; I want as little maintanance as possible so I’m thinking metal roof. My house is brick but the garage will be siding. I would prefer 2 garage doors instead of one large one. Any cost saving tips are more than welcome.

I know I am asking a lot but I don’t want people going crazy to do my project for me. Unless you really, really want to ;). I really just want tips and starter points and I will do the research myself. I can’t research something I am not aware of is my reasoning behind this. Any links to resources are also welcome.

Thanks in advance.

-- If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail!

17 replies so far

View Alexander's profile


193 posts in 3284 days

#1 posted 03-16-2011 11:41 PM

Rex, One thing to note is you will put stuff, cabinets, frezzers, bikes and so , againts the walls of the garage. A car door needs room to open. I think the wall of the garage should be min. 4’ past the garage door opening. My garage is 3 car with 2 car for my wife. I still have stuff along the walls and if we put two cars in there it would be tight. My shop size is 16’X29’. Go to to see my shop. It sounds large but with what I have in it is is tight. You can see many shops on LJ that will give you an Idea of size for your shop. Good luck. Look forward to seeing what you come up with.

-- John at Sugarloft Mountain........Don't argue with an idiot; people watching may not be able to tell the difference.

View RexMcKinnon's profile


2593 posts in 3369 days

#2 posted 03-17-2011 12:04 AM

Just took a look your shop. Gives me lots of ideas thanks. I know that there are many shops on LJ. Too many to go through one by one. I was hoping that people would do like you did and say, Hey my shop is close to what your looking for, here’s a link.

Thanks for that.

-- If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail!

View Skip Brewer's profile

Skip Brewer

24 posts in 2808 days

#3 posted 03-17-2011 12:15 AM

Rex, one thing I would suggest is to get acquainted with Sketchup. Lay out your design, download some models of saws, planers, a car, etc and then move them around in the space to see how they would all fit. It will give you a better feel for how your space would work than just a drawing on a piece of paper.

-- Skip, Califormia

View wiswood2's profile


1138 posts in 3869 days

#4 posted 03-17-2011 12:27 AM

My garage is 24×24 and it is to narrow and for depth with my truck in there I have 1 foot in back and about 4 foot in front way to small ,I wood go at least 26 wide and 30 foot long, no mater what you make it , it will be to small. I have a 24 by 26 built on the back of it for my shop and it could be biger. good luck with the build.

-- Chuck, wiswood2

View RexMcKinnon's profile


2593 posts in 3369 days

#5 posted 03-17-2011 12:43 AM

rlb1961; Good suggestion, I have already start modeling my existing garage to practice. When I pick a plan for my new garage I should be ready.

wiswood2; thanks for the confirmation. My gut was telling me 24 by 24 might be tight. I like the 26 by 30 idea. Lots of room after the cars.

-- If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail!

View jack1's profile


2113 posts in 4201 days

#6 posted 03-17-2011 01:20 AM

When you think you have the perfect size add 15%. There’s always something else that will need a home…

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

View RexMcKinnon's profile


2593 posts in 3369 days

#7 posted 03-17-2011 03:48 PM

Jack I added 15% when I installed my hardwood floors. The nice part about flooring was I was able to return the unused boxes. I can’t return the unused space in a garage. LOL

Jokes aside your probably right. No matter how big I make it I (my wife and kids really) will find junk to fill it.

-- If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail!

View helluvawreck's profile


32087 posts in 3040 days

#8 posted 03-17-2011 05:38 PM

I’ve seen some nice detached garages that were 30×30. I believe that even if you had to add another year or pinch pennies elsewhere you might want to think about this size.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View RexMcKinnon's profile


2593 posts in 3369 days

#9 posted 03-17-2011 07:58 PM

helluvawreck: I agree and I am not in a rush. One of the major reason for this is we feel our house is getting to small and we want a place for the kids to play with some privacy. My kids are 4 and 2 so all they want is to be with me and my wife. I have a few years before they are going to want to watch TV alone and do their own thing. That’s what I am preparing for and if I get a workshop out of it… bonus.

Thinking of 30×30 makes me drool.

-- If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail!

View a1Jim's profile


117273 posts in 3750 days

#10 posted 03-17-2011 08:12 PM

This planner can help
things I would suggest is in floor dust collection, tall ceilings at least 12ft, a people door not just a roll up door,power ever where and a good number of 220 outlets. that all adds up to at least a separate 200 amp service, and bigger is always better if the budget will allow.
Here’s my shop not perfect but it works

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View dbhost's profile


5767 posts in 3405 days

#11 posted 03-17-2011 08:38 PM

I am in a 2 car garage, 18×20 and I don’t bother trying to put the cars in there. The Saturn is plastic so it doesn’t care, and the pickup is too big to fit..

IF I were building a new garage, the difference in cost, according to a developer friend of mine between 24×24 and 24×32 is miniscule. Even if you go with a Tuff Shed built one, the difference is like $2,500.00. Not nothing, but in the grand scheme of things not a huge difference… Now Tuff Shed lists a building that size about just over $20K. And they are notoriously high priced. I have seen local builders here put up good, well made 2 story garages / gambrel barns for $15K in that size.

The extra space, especially if you are going to be sharing it with cars is well worth it. If you look around at current models, you will see that fairly common cars like the Buck Lucerne and Ford Taurus (I picked those because they are longish…) are around 16’ long. Now if you were in a 32’ long garage, and gave 2 feet front and back for “parking error”, that would still give you a 12×24’ space for your tools, your stock, and your not yet completed projects. You may have to stash tools here and there, but you wouldn’t have to completely break down and slide your shop aside in order to keep the car indoors. Full size pickup trucks are another matter entirely, and you should go up quite a bit in size there. A Ford Super Duty Crew Cab LWB is just short of 22’, an F-150 Super Cab with a 6.5’ box is just shy of 20’ (and even with the bumper touching the front wall of a 20’ garage, the door can’t be closed! I know this from personal experience.) Hopefully this puts some perspective on it for you…

I guess the bigger question is, what tools are you going to want to keep in there, and what sorts of projects are you wanting to work on? That really impacts your space, and power requirements…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View RexMcKinnon's profile


2593 posts in 3369 days

#12 posted 03-17-2011 08:38 PM

a1Jim: Thanks, those points are the things I’m looking for. Going to take a look at your shop now.

-- If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail!

View RexMcKinnon's profile


2593 posts in 3369 days

#13 posted 03-17-2011 08:47 PM

dbhost: Thanks for all the info. The pricing info is really helpful. The numbers won’t be the same here in Canada but the percentage increase for an increase in size should compare very well. Also thanks for the space calculations. I think once I get some a bit more feedback I will model something in sketchup with my current list of tools and the future upgrades I am thinking off.

-- If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail!

View RexMcKinnon's profile


2593 posts in 3369 days

#14 posted 04-18-2011 04:50 PM

Well I took the first step. I went to check into a building permit. Looks like it might be my last step.

There are 3 restrictions which affect me. The garage must be 20’ from the street, 100’ from the water, and less than 14.75’ high from the mid point of the roof. There are also other restrictions with square footage with affect me.

Immediately I knew the height would be a problem because I wanted a 2 story garage. Also the distance from the road is just under 10’. Even though the road ends at my driveway it still counts. Lastly I measured the distance from the from the water to the corner of my driveway and that was 56’.

In the end I have 38000 square feet of land and not 1 square foot where I can put a garage. My property is shaped like a triangle and my house is on the wide part and I wanted to put the garage on the narrow part as the narrow part is still almost 70’ – 80’ wide where the garage would be.

I can fill out a form requesting a variance. It would cost me $350 and the odds of me get all 3 restrictions removed are not very good. All of my neighbors would have to agree and I would have to get special approval from the local environmental association because I am near the water. Of course the money is not refundable if it is refused.

After all that, I will probably contacting a real-estate agent this week.

Thanks for all your guys help but in the end I guess I wasted your time. :(

-- If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail!

View a1Jim's profile


117273 posts in 3750 days

#15 posted 04-18-2011 05:23 PM

Sorry to here that Rex. I’m a contractor and run into those kind of problems on a regular basis. I agree that it’s not likely you will get a variance for all three set back problems. In our area there was a small piece of land by the river, that had a small house that was on the market for some time it but finally sold. A short time later I noticed they were tearing the little house down witch seemed odd since the seller had done a complete make over to sell it . Seeing that the new buyers were tearing down the existing house, I told my wife that they must not be aware of the set back from the river and road codes. About a year after the tear down the property was sold again and the new owner built the same size house in the same location of the older home. My point is if buying with plans to build,check the county or city set back codes.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

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