Teh E36 M3
Teh E36 M3 Reader
7/10/10 4:59 p.m.

I'm buying a house, and the wife and I have negotiated a 16x20 garage with "storage" loft above. She didn't want it to overwhelm the house, so my idea of a 24x30 garage was merged with her idea of a 10x15 shed to arrive at the 16x20 with loft (that was a struggle).

With that in mind.... I'm in Northern Virginia, which I've found has a propensity to be effing cold in the winter (I moved from Hawaii). I'll be here 5 years, so I have to balance the garage mahal with the life of a military man. I'll tell you what I'm thinking so far and if you have anything to add, please do so!

-cold water (might add tankless or small tank heater at some point) -sewer (for deep sink and possible urinal at some point) -220v power (for welder, a/c unit, and potential air compressor) -natural gas line (for heater, and potential water heater) -internet line (no tv in my garage)

I intend to insulate the crap out of it and a/c it with a "through the wall" type unit to save money over the mini splits. Any ideas on heat? We're pouring from scratch, but the radiant option just seems expensive. I was looking at a through the wall a/c that was a heat pump and had that option as well, but its only 10k btus.

What am I missing?

DeadSkunk Reader
7/10/10 5:19 p.m.

Have you gone to www.garagejournal.com yet? That's where you can find everything you want to know.

jrw1621 SuperDork
7/10/10 5:26 p.m.

Missing. Depth.
Is there any way you could go deeper even if it is 4 feet like 16x24? What you have currently is a 1.5 car garage which means just one car inside and you can actually open the car door. You will have a tiny bit of space to one side but after adding grill and mower you will be right back to no space. If you go 4 feet deeper you could have the ability to have the back wall be bench/cabinets and actually still be able to stand in front of a car with the hood open.

Aside from that, an insulated garage door is key.

Teh E36 M3
Teh E36 M3 Reader
7/10/10 5:47 p.m.

To solve the depth problem, I'm going to build an 8x10 shed for the garden stuff. I understand just one car inside-- that was one of the compromises so the garage wouldn't overwhelm the house. We are in a pretty urban environment, and I had to concede that my original design was a bit much for the house and yard. Also, the main inhabitant of the garage will be the MG Midget, which makes a garage this size look pretty big. I want to be able to pull the wrx in for repairs as needed though. Insulated garage door: Check. Definitely in the cards.

Also, thanks for the garagejournal link- I've spent some time, and there are great garages... I'm not one of them though... just something about being here that is home. You guys generally share my (low buck) philosophy with these type of things and are also generally much more creative. I'm not building this thing to be the coolest guy on the block.

jrw1621 SuperDork
7/10/10 6:28 p.m.

Be sure to understand you local zoning. Additional garage and shed may not be allowed.

Osterkraut Dork
7/10/10 7:48 p.m.

Is internet really required? Modern wireless routers are pretty damn long-ranged.

That's all I got.

Jensenman SuperDork
7/10/10 8:16 p.m.
jrw1621 wrote: Be sure to understand you local zoning. Additional garage and shed may not be allowed.

Definitely get a permit for the garage. As far as the shed: sometimes it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission. When pouring the slab, have them put the door opening roughly 1" lower than the rest of the slab, that way rain etc won't run inside the garage. That's easily done while pouring and forming the slab, not so easy later. I can post a pic to show what I mean. You might also spec a 2 or 3" rise at the rear of the slab, that way if you need to hose out the shop the water will quickly run outside.

The mini splits are more expensive but are much easier to install than a though the wall unit. I'm hesitant to recommend any sort of flame based heater in a garage except perhaps a ceiling mount waste oil type unit or a home type unit mounted well above the workspace. Gasoline etc vapors are heavier than air and will collect around the floor; I had a customer whose lower legs were badly burned due to gasoline fumes from his lawnmower igniting in his garage. It took about 2 years for him to get back to reasonably normal movement and his legs still looked like hell.

As far as size, for one car that will be marginal if you are planning a restoration but sufficient if you are planning only repairs etc. Build a serious workbench and add lots of lighting.

Run as much stuff as possible out there while you are building; 110v, 220v, water, sewer, phone lines, cable, alarm wiring etc even if you think you might not be using it. Wire and pipe are cheap, but that way you only have to dig the ditch once. Man, more than once I have wished I'd gone ahead and run water and sewer to my shop. Caution: the local permit folks are going to look closely at sewer since they don't want you dumping waste oil etc down the drain (not that any of us would do something that stupid). We are back to permission/forgiveness again.

Teh E36 M3
Teh E36 M3 Reader
7/10/10 8:28 p.m.

Internet? I'm digging the ditch anyway- roger on wireless range, but since I have to roue the electrical anyway, I can't imagine that running the cable will be that bad. Zoning has no worries about buildings under 150 sqft so the extra shed shouldn't be an issue. It's surprisingly lax in this fairly liberal county for setbacks etc- I definitely plan to get a permit. I was wondering if the sewer line would raise any red flags- what if I just put stubs in when the slab is poured "just in case"?

The heat remains the big issue, and I'm hesitant to go for a mini split because they seem to run over $1500 for the heat pump. I'd like to keep it under $1k. Heard of 'shinco'? Found on CL for $750 (mini split).

Toyman01 GRM+ Memberand Dork
7/10/10 8:43 p.m.

Harbor Point Mini Splits start at under $700 for a 9000btu heat pump. If you have access to a vacuum pump you can install it yourself. I installed the one in my house without any problem almost a year ago. I ordered it off their Ebay site Here

As far as size, you are going to have to be relentless about getting rid of stuff. 16X20 will fill up in a hurry.

edited for spelling

Jensenman SuperDork
7/10/10 8:50 p.m.

The whole problem with 'putting in stubs just in case' is what I ran into: there are stubs in my slab but too many other projects etc popped up, pushing that way down the list of things to do.

16 x 24 will fill up quick, my 26 x 26 did. When it was first 'dried in', I stood in it, looked around and said 'there is no way I'll ever be able to fill this up'. Wrong. Since you are somewhat limited on space, look for inventive solutions. For instance, my short range plans include putting my welder and plasma cutter on one cart rather than two, that will save the 'footprint' of one cart.

irish44j HalfDork
7/10/10 8:57 p.m.

OP, since you're local, feel free to come by and see how I've managed to maximize space in my 2-car garage (of which half I get to use) - enough so that I did a full Triumph GT6 restoration in the one half and still had room for other projects. It's a 20x24 garage. Of course, things are alot easier when it's a little LBC in one bay

Since it's an attached garage I obviously don't have the limitations you did since I already have internet, sink, HVAC nearby, but maybe it will give you some ideas anyways....I'm in Burke probably 15 minutes from you ifyou ever want to swing by and talk LBC's and garages.

Raze HalfDork
7/10/10 8:57 p.m.

how high is your ceiling? If it's 10' at least, LIFT!!!

irish44j HalfDork
7/10/10 9:17 p.m.
Raze wrote: how high is your ceiling? If it's 10' at least, LIFT!!!

OP, +1 to that...I would give up half the stuff in my garage for a lift. Unfortunately, two bedrooms above make that idea a no-go for me. If I was building a garage though, that would be priority #1. DO EEEEET!

jrw1621 SuperDork
7/11/10 7:19 a.m.

What about the idea of selling your wife on the concept of property value. A two car garage vs the 1.5 you are considering should have a higher resale value. Heck, around here the cool houses are all putting in 3 car garages.

It's 4 feet. Can you at least get her to agree to a standard 20x20? of course, if you really put two cars in a 20x20 you will have less working space than 16x20.

In your original post you state you will only be there for 5 years. If it were me, I would build the more standard 20x20 to help the sell-ability of the house.

4cylndrfury SuperDork
7/11/10 7:33 a.m.
jrw1621 wrote: In your original post you state you will only be there for 5 years. If it were me, I would build the more standard 20x20 to help the sell-ability of the house.

This times eleventy bazillion - losing some yard real estate may not be as big a deal as it sounds if you are in an urban enough environment - a lot of people move to urban areas to avoid maintaining a big yard, but no one likes chiseling ice off the windshield before work - people will probably be willing to spend some more bucks on your home in 5 years if theres the chance of getting their cars in there - is there mass transit in your area? that will be a factor in this equation - some potential buyers may choose to commute that way rather than own their own car. Area has mass transit - garages are less of a priority due to the likelihood of less cars in the family. No mass transit? bigger garage may attract a larger buyer pool/offer. Talk to your Realtor, they will provide insight into the potential return on investment for a given size.

My other suggestion is spen a lot of time investigating storage solutions. When the wife and I purchased our first home, I had never really had a garage - and suddenly I had a real 2 car space - I thought I had all the room in the world - I soon found out the hard way that a little better planning couldve netted much better storage results. You dont need a 12 foot bench for a lot of projects, so be willing to give some thought to sharing that wall with a lot of shelving/cabinets. Use masking tape on the floor/walls to layout your space before you begin permanently fixing anything in place.

Moparman Reader
7/11/10 8:58 a.m.

In reply to 4cylndrfury:

You make an interesting point a project-addict like me has not considered. That being housing your daily driver in the garage. That is a concept of which my wife can never learn. I live in the mountains of Northeastern PA where morning ice is the norm from November through April and I have here accepting this as unavoidable.

93gsxturbo Reader
7/11/10 10:50 a.m.

I would go at least 22' deep so you can fit a truck with an 8' bed in your garage.

One of the best things about my garage is while it may only be 18' wide, its 22' deep so I can fit my extended cab long box truck in it with minimal hassle.

20' deep wont even fit a Tahoe or Suburban comfortably.

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess SuperDork
7/11/10 11:02 a.m.

The A arch metal buildings are about the best value for shop construction that I've figgered. There are some tricks to it, but pretty easy to put up. Check out futuresteel.com. I've bought two from them.

patgizz GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
7/11/10 11:31 a.m.

a new wife that lets you build the garage you want is required.

Teh E36 M3
Teh E36 M3 Reader
7/11/10 1:33 p.m.
patgizz wrote: a new wife that lets you build the garage you want is required.

I'm ten years down the road, bud... getting one of those would definitely break my budget! BTW- there's no "let" in my relationship- it's all a give and take. I won't be treated like a dog, no matter what 'more experienced' people tell me.

Much of the discussion has been about how the thing will match the house- money is of concern for sure, but it can't be any kind of ugly, can't be too big, etc... we don't have any place to hide it, and are very much in an urban community- it's that extra two feet here or there that are going to make it look all wrong next to our (relatively) small house. Also, it will house my MG Midget 95% of the time- the Subaru is becoming a bit of a beater, and again, because of the narrow driveway, the car in it will get driven more. You'd have to do rearranging to get more than one back there.

patgizz GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
7/11/10 4:18 p.m.

ah - midget in a 16x20 not bad.

i'm working in 26x30 and it's ok for 2 vehicles and tools strategically placed on rollers and against the walls. you'll be able to put stuff on the back wall and down the sides a couple feet out on each wall

44Dwarf HalfDork
7/11/10 7:44 p.m.

Forget fiberglass insulation you want SPRAY FOAM. Higher R value and seals even the smallest cracks. If it attached this equals less smells transfering in to the living quarters.


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