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Semi-OT: How big is too big for a garage/workshop?

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  • Semi-OT: How big is too big for a garage/workshop?

    Short version of a long story: we bought an 1800's era schoolhouse last year with the intention of renting out the schoolhouse and having my mom live in the 1920's vintage inlaw cottage while I use the 1950's vintage garage/workshop however I like. Thing is, now that it's gotten to the point that we're ready to fix up the garage SWMBO has realized that putting a gambrel (2 pitch barn-style) roof onto the existing 27' x 40' structure would make the "garage" larger than our current house (~1800sq-ft). I don't particularly have a problem with this, as I've already acquired a quite comfortable couch and have a 3 keg commercial kegerator for it (in additional to the home shop stuff), but figured I'd ask to see what you all think would qualify as "too big".

    A couple mitigating points to keep in mind:
    1. our current place is on .2 acre, compared to the .5 acre our very-similar-looking-planned-garage is on

    2. chances are we'll move to the new place for at least a couple years, as we're currently in a particularly *BAD* school district and the "new" place is in a *particularly GOOD* one (daughter is 2 and a half)

    3. while the fact that the property is on a major thoroughfare is a minus value-wise, I believe it is grandfathered for home-business/light industrial (garage was the workshop for a HVAC/roofing guy prior to his passing 10-15 years ago)

    4. who could say no to a house sized garage???

    But long story short, I've got a 27' x 40' structure to put a roof on and probably won't keep the property long term. Throwing a 12/12 gable roof on it came back at ~$23k, so would you bother putting a gambrel on it to increase the room upstairs or simply redo the failed flat roof?



  • #2
    Given my druthers (not my wife's!) I would build a 3000 sqft barn like shop with shop downstairs and a living area upstairs. I would plunk a 200 sqft "house" out front for the county to assess but would live in the barn. In another life I guess this will come true.


    • #3
      My 64X40 shop with 12ft. ceiling is under my living quarters. The machine tools are in an adiquate sized room which may be heated and comfortable in the winter. Full size pool table for when I need to relax. If needed the whole shop can be brought up to a comfortable temperature in about 15minutes. As long as I am carefull to not spread out too much there is pleanty of room.


      • #4
        To answer the question posed in the title, there is no such thing as too big of a shop.


        • #5
          If you have to use a golf kart to go from one end of the shop to the other, and it runs out of gas...or the batteries die before you get there, it's just big enough.
          No good deed goes unpunished.


          • #6
            There is too big in terms of taxes, heating, constructional costs, etc, but not in terms of usage. My shop at about 900 sq ft total is now too small. We have about 5 times that much space at work, and I've looked around in there with the idea 'if this were my shop'- for the projects I want to do yet, it's not too large. I don't have grand aspirations either, just the desire to have room to do some of the things I'd like to. For me, there will always be several projects in the works at one time, and it's not practical to move one out of the way for another for the most part. There are projects which come up which I must do that are not of my imagination- things that have to be fixed, etc. I have never had enough workbenches, or rolling carts for that matter. Everything needs a space, and there must be room to get around easily, which also includes larger items like vehicles. I do hope I get to build my 'dream shop' at some point while I'm still willing to be active in all my hobbies. The living quarters that would be part of the shop probably wouldn't need to be even a quarter of the size of the shop.

            But I do have to get back to costs- I don't want to pay high taxes for covering thousands of sq ft of ground with concrete, I don't want to pay high costs for heating and air conditioning, and I don't want to spend my entire worth building and maintaining it. I probably will have to divide my 'dream shop' into heated, semi-heated, and unheated areas, just to meet some of the criteria in a realistic way.

            Personally, I'd try to avoid spending a good chunk of cash on a place where I won't spend more than a few years. If there was a down-to-earth picture of that value coming back to me when I move, it might motivate me into a little more spending. I'm a little over 60 now, and I'm having to start considering the effort I'm putting out and where it's going- I'm probably not going to be able to lift and carry more than another couple hundred tons in total from now til I pass, so I want to expend that in something that is satisfying to me.
            I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-


            • #7
              I would never spend money fixing a flat roof.
              Byron Boucher
              Burnet, TX


              • #8
                I keep asking myself,,,,,,,,,,,, WHY are buildings STILL being built with Flat Roofs!!

                Stupidist design going!!


                • #9
                  Some companies specialize in building sloped metal roofs over flat roofs. Not cheaper than gooping up the flat roof but more reliable in the long term. If you build a gambrel roof to give yourself upstairs space keep in mind that the existing roof construction may not be strong enough for a floor.
                  "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel"


                  • #10
                    I have yet to see a garage that is too big.

                    OPEN EYES, OPEN EARS, OPEN MIND

                    THINK HARDER




                    • #11
                      Building a big shop probably won't add as much to the value of the property, so if you are there a short time, you may lose money on the investment.


                      • #12
                        bob's forumla for garage size. calculate how big you need. example 20x20. now with that raw data bubble size example 40x40. now add 10' to each side. to end up with a 50x50. this finished number should last about 5 years before you need an addtion or another building. now second floor area does not count as this can be looked at as found space.


                        • #13
                          Simple rule.... size of garage is equal to or less than size of wallet.
                          John M...your (un)usual basement dweller


                          • #14
                            I originally planned on a 25 x 30 shop. I ended up with a 30 x 70 shop. It's still a bit small...
                            The 12 foot ceiling is nice. The r-50 insulation is SUPER nice.



                            • #15
                              You haven't met my tax appraiser
                              Byron Boucher
                              Burnet, TX