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formerly Brijesh
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Discussion Starter #1
I currently have a 4 car garage to house my old tundra, wife’s highlander , the Fj and both our motorcycles. I am working on some specs to build a shop in my backyard so that it is long enough that I can work around a vehicle away from the elements (30’ deep) and some room for welding or other shop work. Looking for suggestions that you may add or afterthoughts. I will post the outline on here soon, in the mean time what height door would you recommend, I am thinking 14’wide x 12’ tall with a 3’ header on top.
 

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Plan on either a lift or a pit. If you can get at least 12' ceiling space, a lift is very convenient (able to just walk over to the workbench to get another tool), but is also always in the way when not in use (its structure blocks access to the doors, etc.).

A work pit costs about the same money (around $2000~$3000) as a lift, and is completely "gone" when covered with the 2x12 planking (cast a 1.5" deep x 2" wide shelf around the perimeter for the planking), and can be used in a shop with very limited headroom. But, you have to get back out of it each time you need to go over to the toolbox for another tool (I leave a small step ladder in it). Also, it has to be at least 3' longer than the vehicle so you can get in/out while the whole underside is accessible. If your shop isn't long enough for that, then move the vehicle fore/aft for access at each end as needed.

Also, plan on more lighting than you think. Look for full spectrum bulbs (they cost more and are worth it).
If you can afford to provide full utilities in the shop, go for it. It is an amazing luxury to have hot and cold running water available for washing jobs.

If you are in a hot/cold environment, fully insulate (for cold below 20F, spray foam is more effective than FG batts), and plan for a heater. If well insulated, a small window AC can deal with summers.

For the ultimate in work comfort, and efficiency, radiant in floor heat: 2" of XPS foam under the slab, run 1/2" PEX tubing matrix before placing the concrete (have an HVAC contractor design the matrix for balance and efficiency, then you can do it yourself). A slab kept at 55F all winter long, in a well insulated space, is not as expensive to do as you'd think, like $50 a month for my 30 x 25' shop. Heat source can be a simple gas water heater, closed combustion to prevent fire risk in the shop.

A well insulated shop needs air exchange, for that a Heat Recovery Ventilation Unit can provide the air exchanges, and exhaust fumes while working.

My friends tease me that my shop is nicer than my house, which may be true. It all depends on where you spend the most time, I guess.

Norm
 

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Plumb some pipe along the walls that is connected to your air compressor. Every few feet have a T installed with fittings to plug in a shorter air hose for whatever you're working on. I don't like having 50' of hose to get in the way and trip over. Or perhaps a reel mounted on a wall for the air hose.
 

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Definitely a lift (Pits don't work around here due to soil conditions)
One of the nicest features I've seen was in a dyno room in one of the local NASCAR shops. One the walls, close to floor level, they had lights around the perimeter shining towards the primary vehicle space. The result was a lot of light underneath whatever you're working on with no shadows! As mentioned above, full-spectrum or high CRI (color rendering index) lights really help.
 

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formerly Brijesh
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Discussion Starter #6
Good points! Unfortunately a pit is not an option out here where I live due to the high water table. That was the thought process when I decided to go with 12' high door and with the additional 3' header, I can potentially lift the truck high enough to work on the underside. I currently have one of the garages that is attached to the house plumbed for an air compressor, with 2 pick up points with driers on each wall, I have the rapid air tubing and fitting which is easy to add or delete lines and so far zero air leaks, I will be having a similar set up in the shop as well. Same with the outlets and wiring, plan on having several outlets and enough lighting.
As far as the heating and cooling is concerned, being in GA, we don't have to worry that much about the cold, and I plan on having dual roll up doors, one on the front and one on the back, and I can open them up during summer and a blower, is enough to keep it comfortable. I have worked in my garage while I lived in Kansas and all I needed was a kerosene heater by my side. pics show dimensions in inches , and how far it will be set back from the house. Just in the process of getting quotes etc, and fine tuning the design
 

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If you are going the compressed air route, might I suggest making an "out house" for the compressor(s). It takes the intermittent noise out of the shop and gives you some floor space back.

Along with piping along the walls, add more electrical outlets than you think you'll need.

I'm adding a connection outside the house so I can easily air up without having to open up the garage door. It's also useful for blowing out the shop vac filter. I can keep the door closed and keep the garage sort of clean.
 

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We put in a water heater and the compressor outside in separate lean-to on the back side of our shop - hugely glad due to compressor noise. Hugely glad for hot water as well - helps in cleanup of most anything.

If you are doing serious piddling and fixing, get yourself a parts washer, and make sure you have a pressure washer and an area to clean your babies.

Personally, I can't see needing a lift when there are things like big floor jacks for a relative pittance - lifts will also make for another thing to break that isn't cheap to fix. I hate pits because going up and down gets really tiresome. So we just use a pair of big floor jacks that slide under one of the workbenches.

We did pipe oxy/acetylene to 3 spots inside, because I hate the hose runs. Same for air - tees and outlets along walls. We made an A-frame that screws together out of 4" pipe - it sits on a rack behind the shop for removing engines/trans - not an everyday op, so no need to have it inside. But it is required when breaking tractors, which has been the most common use for it.
 

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I got a 3 ton floor jack at HF for 90. For the '51, I bought some jack stands from HF also. If you are careful and patient, they've got sales every now and then.

The more I think about it, I don't like hoses on the floor either. I'd get a few hose reels and suspend from the ceiling/truss work.

One more thing now that I think about it. If you can find one of those "clean up fairies" to put things away and clean up the mess - money well spent!
 

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Run as much of the electrical & DATA under ground as can. Run a spare to possible at a later date to charge a car. Underground is cheaper labor wise and materials wise. Don’t run anything underground smaller than 3/4” inch. 1” is a better minimum size.


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formerly Brijesh
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Discussion Starter #12
Great ideas! Thank you for the suggestions. Here are some restrictions that I have to live with.. I live in a neighborhood which has a ‘HOA’ ( yes those dreaded words that make any dreamer cringe) . I have really old grumpy neighbors on the side where my shop is expected to go, so running a compressor outside won’t go over well. But you are right that is valuable real estate that I could use on the shop floor. Secondly, getting water out to the shop is an added expense I am not sure I can incur at the moment, although it was in the original thoughts. I am sure my wife would appreciate me not dragging al that grease and muck into the house 😄 Then there is the electrical.. yet to figure out if I have enough juice that I can pull from the house or need to run a line from the main box 🤷‍♂️
Speaking of lifts, a buddy of mine who used to own an FJ had a movable lift that she could bolt to the floor when in use and then roll it out of the way when not needed. I am trying to get details on that, didn’t know if any of you on here has had any experience with something like that?
 

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Go ahead and run drains under the concrete where you'd want a future sink, toilet, etc to go. MUCH cheaper to do it now, even if it doesn't connect to anything initially. Nobody wants to chunk up their garage floor. Water lines can primarily be in the walls, so those don't have to go underneath. I'd keep electrical runs in walls and ceilings and not in the floor at all due to your location. Not worth the risk of water getting into those conduits.

As to your ceiling height, you can save some money and make it easier to get HOA approval by lowering the walls but vaulting the ceiling inside. 10'-12' walls with a decent vault still leaves you plenty of room for a lift without having such a tall building.
 

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Go ahead and run drains under the concrete where you'd want a future sink, toilet, etc to go. MUCH cheaper to do it now, even if it doesn't connect to anything initially. Nobody wants to chunk up their garage floor. Water lines can primarily be in the walls, so those don't have to go underneath. I'd keep electrical runs in walls and ceilings and not in the floor at all due to your location. Not worth the risk of water getting into those conduits.

As to your ceiling height, you can save some money and make it easier to get HOA approval by lowering the walls but vaulting the ceiling inside. 10'-12' walls with a decent vault still leaves you plenty of room for a lift without having such a tall building.
Sparky suggests you stick to moving crap and not electricity


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My brother in law has one of those types of lifts. He said it's nice but in the way sometimes, like when doing brakes or anything with the frame. He's going to put in a 2 post lift when he retires in 6 months.
 

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formerly Brijesh
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Discussion Starter #17
Yeah I am considering a two post lift too. But I might be getting ahead of myself here. Still waiting on quote from my buddy and his contractor with plans drawn out, so I can gauge how much in it I will be.
 

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I'd die for a lift! Well, maybe not die, perhaps a left nut. devilgrin.jpg I'm not able to crawl around under cars anymore and a lift would be wonderful..
 

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Sparky suggests you stick to moving crap and not electricity


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Not a fan of fixing electrical crap, especially under-slab. Been there, done that too many times. Heating and air vents under a slab are even worse though...

Speaking of electrical-- Check with your local utility company with regard to costs associated with a separate meter base for the garage. Some companies will include two on the same bill for no extra charge, while others have separate bills with a minimum charge for the second base. I've seen some locally up to $50/month minimum charge for that second base. In that case, I might err towards running the main power into the house and running the house as a subpanel off the garage unless the reverse is easily accomplished. Obviously, each company is different on their policies.
 
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