srah forst

Project Garage Part I: Introduction

By Sarah Forst

If you've ever heard my explanation for why I paint my fingernails- to cover up the grease I get under them from working on cars all the time- you can understand why a large garage had always been my dream. After months of house hunting, one builder developed a plan that would allow for a 4 car garage. Of course, eventually the driveway and street will probably have more cars than can fit in the garage, but for the time being...

I'm a "shop"-aholic - Northern Tools and Harbor Freight catalogs stuff the mailbox; weekly (or daily) trips to Sears Hardware, Home Depot, and Lowes; browsing a chat list specifically for building a dream garage. The FedEx and UPS guys even have their own key! Days are consumed with mentally designing the layout, adding up the drain on Mr. Piggy Bank, and envisioning the day when the garage would resemble a (blue light special) tech center. As the house progressed from foundation to windows and siding, the garage became less a dream and more a reality.

Since Monster Garage, freebie style, isn't too probable, thus begins Project Garage, budget style. With all the money that is already poured into the pick-pockets that will occupy the 4-car space (and driveway and street...), my meager salary left me less than those dancing, suit-wearing monkeys at the carnival. That Ingersoll-Rand air compressor would look so nice next to the Lincoln Tig welder and in front of the Bend Pak floor lift, but let's be reasonable- unless MotoIQ goes IPO, I am SOL.

bare studs
If you build it, they will buy more cars to fill it!

I didn't have a spare arm and a leg to pay the builder what he was asking to finish the garage. By (one of the fifty) state code, all walls that are connected to living spaces must be insulated and drywalled, but the few spaces that connected to the outside were as naked as a race car's interior. An added benefit in my opinion, because it makes it real easy to daisy chain a few more electrical outlets to the side wall for the price of the wire and receptacle boxes.

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Thursday, March 04, 2010 7:19 PM
Good post! My dad was a dry-waller for years and years, and i went out on jobs with him even as a kid, so i was reading your instructions carefully for errors! haha One thing you neglected to mention was that ceilings should always be boarded before walls, again to avoid unnecessary gaps at the top.

Other than that though, good how-to and definitely a needed part of any do-it-yourselfer's repertoire!
Thursday, March 04, 2010 8:26 PM
What no sky lights? Looks great. I'm jealous!
Thursday, March 04, 2010 10:18 PM
how big is your garage? I wish I had a garage instead of a parking lot. LUCKY!!
Friday, March 05, 2010 1:05 AM
when i was building my house my wife kept asking me about the interior. My constant response was "I dont care as long as i got my garage and workroom." now im just trying to fill it with tools.
Sarah Forst
Sarah Forstlink
Friday, March 05, 2010 2:57 AM
Luckily, the ceilings were already drywalled since there are rooms above them, so I didn't need to try my hand at balancing a board on my head. But great point- ceilings first and match the walls at the ceiling, not the floor, since any gap near the floor can be covered with baseboard.

No sky lights- rooms above. The garage is around 750-800 square feet, or what NYC dwellers consider a spacious 2 bedroom apartment ;).
Friday, March 05, 2010 5:41 AM
Really cool article! I can't wait to see more!

A good tip that I just heard might work for future Project Garage. Make a shed outside the garage for the compressor. It frees up space and helps keep noise down.
Miles (San Antonio)
Miles (San Antonio)link
Friday, March 05, 2010 5:45 AM
NICE. I've been planning on re-doing the garage and would love to use some of these ideas. Keep up the good work, Sarah.

Love the article so far.
Friday, March 05, 2010 9:47 AM
Only other recommendation I would suggest is have an outlet on each side of the garage with its own circuit breaker. Just in case you have 115 V welders or compressors. Or maybe a 230 or 2?
Mari Umekubo
Mari Umekubolink
Friday, March 05, 2010 10:42 AM
Enjoyed the article and the comments posted, too! Makes me want to go out and build a garage myself! :)
Saturday, March 06, 2010 1:19 PM
I get quite a bit of extra storage out of the garage attic, built the pitch of the roof has high as code allows, not a bad idea anyway in snow country. I keep all my sets of wheels up there, plus a lot of the take-off parts. Screwed down umpteen sheets of 1/2" plywood and did some ceiling reinforcement, my FIL helped build side staircase that's not really in the way. At 24'x24', I need to keep the main garage as free as possible of clutter. Nice job Sarah!
Saturday, March 06, 2010 1:22 PM
@Seagondollar Good Points. If you run wires & breaker(s) separately and GFI outlets that has worked out pretty well for me. When building the house we didn't plan on doing the garage right away, glad we did it sort of second so all the wiring out there was separate. I do need better insulation, but the challenge of 2x6 framing (vs. 2x8) make that hard as does having non-insulated doors. And the stinking cold Winters! :)
Sarah Forst
Sarah Forstlink
Monday, March 08, 2010 2:36 AM
Great ideas, keep them coming!

I wish I could use the extra storage space in the attic, but there's no easy way to put a staircase and it's much easier to just lug tires down to the basement (20-28 tires there...) than to use a ladder and throw them over the garage space. Originally, I wanted them to keep the garage attic open to have a small lift, or even build a pit in the cement foundation or a drain in the middle of the garage, but all of these were veto'd by the builder for "code."
Monday, March 08, 2010 3:22 PM
I had a similar idea, using a block and tackle pulley type arrangement but they all required some serious non-code cuts in the ceiling. The stairs are not quite code (too much rise over run) since they go from a small landing to the center of the garage (typical 24x24 garage, ceiling joists are overlapping at a center beam with one column for supporting a 24' run).

One thing people in colder climates might want to do is put a barrier over the insulation inside, too, mine is old school type of plastic, but that way cuts down on drafts and keeps things warmer. Also use insulation on the backing of the outlet plates. I am super paranoid so the outlets are mostly GFI, too.

If you ever want to do a drain, the garage slab should already be sloped ever so slightly to the front. Most places allow a grating type drain outside in front of the slab, which in places where you don't get snow is fine. Friend of mine did that, also ran hot/cold water out there so he could hose his cars down in one bay with protective sheets or just wash the floor.

Gawd I am a geek when it comes to this stuff, HF Junkies Unite :)
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