View Full Version : Permanent Garage Advice Needed

09-27-2006, 01:04 PM
Well as per my earlier post, I will be building a new garage to house my beloved Triumph some time in the next 3 to 6 months. It will be a stand-alone structure with enough space for 2 cars and a pretty decent workshop. Also perhaps a mezzanine (for parts/junk storage).

So what would your "must haves" be for a new garage?

I am thinking at least the following:
- Nice smooth epoxy coated floor
- Plenty of power outlets (including at least 1x240V for an arc welder)
- Lots of fluorescent lighting
- Ceiling/wall mounted radiant type heaters for those cold New England winters
- Built-in work bench surfaces along at least two walls
- Big industrial sink

I was also toying with putting in a car hoist, but that may be over-kill for a weekend mechanic such as myself. Also wondering if an I-beam with block-and-tackle is a useful addition or if a floor engine crane is fine should I ever have to pull the motor out.

Anything I missed?

Thanks again for any insights folks can offer from their own experience.


09-27-2006, 01:20 PM
I would consider north facing sky lights and a ceiling height of at least ten feet to allow for engine removal. A car hoist is a fun idea, but for a weekend mechanic, it will be more in your way then used. My preferences for the rare time I need to remove engines is to rent a floor engine hoist or reinforce and brace a rafter and use a come-a-long.

09-27-2006, 01:32 PM
You can put it between your tennis court and bowling alley right next to your indoor built in pool!
LOL /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/jester.gif/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/savewave.gif /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/england.gif
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ $$$$$$$$$$

09-27-2006, 01:34 PM
Have the foundation wall poured with a 6 - 8 inch curb and a sump in the center of the pad
-OR- go all out and put in a pit !!

09-27-2006, 01:36 PM
Sorry I forgot, H+C water would be nice as well as one /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/thirsty.gif fridge (just for your friends) /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cheers.gif ya know...

09-27-2006, 01:39 PM
You can put it between your tennis court and bowling alley right next to your indoor built in pool!
LOL /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/jester.gif/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/savewave.gif /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/england.gif
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ $$$$$$$$$$

[/ QUOTE ]

Hey - I own a Triumph, not a Jag! Closest to a built-in pool on this place is the septic tank. LOL

09-27-2006, 01:42 PM

just in Jest! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/lol.gif /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/england.gif

09-27-2006, 01:49 PM
There are two things I'd suggest:
1) Get a Griot's Garage Catalog (www.griotsgarage.com). It has tons of stuff you'd want in a dream garage, so just looking at the tools/cabinets/lights will definitely spark an idea or ten.

2)Either get "Dream Garages" (I think that's the name of the book) from a book store (or online) or go tour some local dream garages owned by collectors in your area. People have some great ideas for making car work easier. My friend installed lights in the floor in his dream garage, along with a cable hook-up so he can watch tv/listen to digital music stations. I have a laptop with a wireless connection in mine. You want to make sure you have all the space, storage and tools necessary to have fun in the garage.

Don Elliott
09-27-2006, 01:52 PM
The 220 volt outlet will be good for a MIG welder - more useful than an arc welder for thin gauge sheetmetal.

09-27-2006, 01:57 PM
try this: https://www.amazon.com/Ultimate-Garage-Jeanne-Huber/dp/0376012013 /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/england.gif

09-27-2006, 02:41 PM
Let's see: cable tv to watch the game while working on your car, internet access to order parts and view this forum, a safe hiding place to hide the reciepts for all the stuff you will order for your car, telephone hookup, beer fridge, stainless steel gas grill, bathroom so you never need to actually leave the garage till bedtime.I would also go for some type of car hoist system, sand blasting cabinet, and last but not least a couple of girly calenders.

09-27-2006, 02:50 PM
why not just bring the bed and wife in with ya, you could live there...

09-27-2006, 03:04 PM
One thing I have been very happy with is the electric outlets in my garages. I have always installed them 4 feet off the ground and very frequent (I put them every 6 feet along the wall). No need to bend down to plug things in (inside the house looks matter so they can be low but in my garage they need to be high) and there is always on within reach.

09-27-2006, 03:06 PM
why not just bring the bed and wife in with ya, you could live there...

[/ QUOTE ]

There is a guy not far from here, in Gloucester MA, who has his car collection housed in a renovated fire house (complete with pole). He lives upstairs. Very cool setup.

09-27-2006, 03:39 PM
I had a wonderful garage at a house I owned some years ago in Colorado.

It was about 30x30' with a 11-12' ceiling and heated. An old crawlspace-type forced air heater was simply hung from the rafters, worked well keeping it to 50-60F, which is plenty IMHO.

It had two 9-10" tall roll up doors and separate tool room, office and even half bath (very handy, kept grease out of the house!). We bought a cheap used over/under washer and dryer to stick in the corner to clean rags, etc. There was also a large industrial sink. The house had a central vac system, and there was an outlet for that in the garage, too.

The separate house was 20-25 years older, the garage had literally just been built by the previous owner when I bought the house. He had to sell when he found out the hardest possible way that, no, he couldn't have an automotive upholstery business in a residential neighborhood. He found that out right after building the garage for the purpose... So, be sure to check your zoning codes before turning over the first shovel-full of dirt!

I had to do some work on it all when I first moved. Everything was there but practically nothing worked (garage or house). Garage doors were "secured" by bending the latches, two openers weren't wired right, the central vac ran all the time when it was plugged in, the garage heater pilot light wouldn't stay lit (similar problems inside the house: brand new dishwasher didn't work, range had one working burner out of 4, humidifier on the heater system wasn't working, even roof trusses around a newer fireplace built where the old 1-car garage had been were under-engineered and needed reinforcement). The list went on and on and kept me busy for the first few months for the more critical items, for a year or two fixing some of the other, less urgent issues. It was all worth it, though!

While there, I usually had 3 cars (one was a full size conversion van... and the TR4, of course) and at least a couple motorcycles in the garage and never had any space concerns. It was great. Haven't had it so good, since... at least not garage-wise!

I do think an I-beam or two, for heavy lifitng, a good and possibly easy idea since it might be needed for structural support, too. You can put a trolley(ies) on it(them) and hang a chain hoist(s) to lift engines, pull bodies off, etc. Ten foot or higher ceiling is certainly nice, but I've managed with less (and a higher ceiling is harder to heat.

If you plan future restorations, or are a typical LBC pack rat, build in lots of storage space!


Ab Crevoiserat
09-27-2006, 04:33 PM
All kidding aside, Heat and a Lift. Definitely not overkill. Think about how many times you raise and lower you car just to rotate the tires. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cheers.gif

Mickey Richaud
09-27-2006, 04:38 PM
Speaking of heat, has anyone any experience with embedded heating in the floor? I know about infrared and radiant heat, and am sold on the concept, but am intrigued with the idea of a heating grid in the floor to augment the rest of the heating system.


09-27-2006, 05:18 PM
A bathroom.


09-27-2006, 05:22 PM
I could use an exhaust fan and /or port to exhaust tailpipe emissions-- especially when I want to keep rain/snow/heat/cold out and work on the car, disperse fumes, etc.
Air compressor
Ramps for raising the car easily-- I've heard of (and will looking for myself, a set that collapse almost flat when not in use.

09-27-2006, 06:07 PM
Speaking of heat, has anyone any experience with embedded heating in the floor? I know about infrared and radiant heat, and am sold on the concept, but am intrigued with the idea of a heating grid in the floor to augment the rest of the heating system.


[/ QUOTE ]

Actually that's a great idea, although I've not seen it done in a garage specifically (have seen it done in slab on ground home construction). I think a radiant/hot water heating system could handle it all (how hot do you need a garage to be, anyway?), and probably would be a lot more efficient than any sort of forced air. It would be more expensive to install initially I'm sure, since some sort of grid of pipework in the floor would be needed, when the concrete is poured, but would likely pay for itself in a few years time. A couple other factors: On the one hand forced air picks up dust and circulates it, on the other hand, it will dry out moisture brought into the gar. on cars faster.

Shoot! I forgot about the girly calendars... am glad someone thought to mention 'em! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cool.gif

While convenient for servicing cars, I'm not a big fan of pits. They can be dangerous! A lift would be great, but ramp and jacks are generally sufficient. A system to pull out exhaust is also a great idea. A plumbed in compressed air system would be cool, too.

09-27-2006, 06:27 PM
cold start ballasts in your flourescent fixtures, they are worth the extra bux. New England cold can wreak havoc with those fixtures in an only part time heated garage.


09-27-2006, 06:31 PM
When I made my retirement shop I included the following.
10 inch thick walls and 18 inch ceilings - insulation is cheap!
White steel lining the walls and ceilings.
8 foot overhead doors doors.
36 inch wide entry doors.
LP heat. Keep the shop at least at 55 at all times.
Thermopane windows. One of those large windows must be located directly over your workbench preferably facing south west. The sun must be allowed to shine in.
Use dual 8 foot 75 watt fluorescent bulbs all around the perimeter.
Make all the electrical boxes have 4 outlets each. Run one phase on one side of the shop and the other phase on the other side - that way you can always have 240 when you want it.
Use a minimum 3/4 dia steel electrical conduit for all wiring. Run at least one row of outlets down the ceiling. 240 up there will be used someday ( milling machine etc ).
I live in central Wisconsin. You are welcome to visit and get some more ideas.

09-27-2006, 07:30 PM
Here's my one car shop.

You can find lotsa info on www.garagejournal.com (https://www.garagejournal.com)

09-27-2006, 07:33 PM
I used to work for Morton Buildings Inc. (NFI)in their advertising department. For those that don't know them they are a national building company that does custom design/build structures. My job was to drive around the country and photograph(portrait and architectural) and videotape (tour and interviews) premier properties and their owners.

Most of my time was spent with Custom horsebarns and indoor riding arenas since I grew up on a ranch and know how to deal with 'horse people'. I did get to check out some really nice suburban garages and farm shops though.

In those, I had a chance to see many of the different heating options in use. In floors are really nice if you are going to be bringing in a wet car as they eliminate puddles. Infra-red heaters also do pretty well with that. The other great advantage that infra-red has is that it can also warm your tools. If you have ever picked up a cold metal tool in a shop only heated by forced air you can understand the benefit of not having to wear gloves to hold your tools. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/thumbsup.gif

I was at one Farm shop in Minnesota that had both infra-red and an in-floor matrix. Above his office and toilet he had built a 'cafe' of sorts. In the winter all the local farmers gathered at his farm shop for their morning coffee gathering. Where they could sit and talk about the weather and politics and then go tinker on either the brand new combine or one of the antique tractors. They could do either in shorts and a t-shirt if they wanted to (Farmers in shorts- yeah right) during a blizzard. Pretty nice place really.

Sorry, a little memory lane trip there with a slight bit of 'on topic' info. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif


tony barnhill
09-27-2006, 07:48 PM


09-27-2006, 07:57 PM
I know a few people with radiant floor heat. It is a little slower in regaining the heat after the door has been opened, but everything else makes up for that small inconvenience.
I walked into one last year with ice cubes for toes. Within five minutes, I realized my feet were toasty. No more heating your tools up before handling them. Working on the floor is very comfortable. Heating costs, as I've been told are lower. I don't believe the installation costs are that bad. You need tubing for the grid, a hot water heater and a thermostatic unit. It's definitely worth looking into.

09-27-2006, 08:05 PM
See my answer on your other post for temporary.

09-27-2006, 08:11 PM
Look into a floor heating system. My friend ran a series of hoses before pouring the cement. This circulates hot liquid and now he heats his entire shop using a hot water tank. Very efficient and comfortable. It is slow to heat up, but can maintain a constant temperature very economically.

09-27-2006, 08:29 PM
One thing everyone FORGOT! An extra room in the shape of a DOGHOUSE! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grouphug.gif /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/lol.gif /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/iagree.gif

09-28-2006, 07:19 AM
NO PHONE! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/nonono.gif

09-28-2006, 07:37 AM
If you don't have a phone how in the heck are are you going to order pizza???

09-28-2006, 08:15 AM
ok phone... but no incoming calls /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/nonono.gif

09-28-2006, 08:49 AM
Thanks guys (I'm thinking its mostly guys that responded) for all the great tips. And also for some of the wishfull thinking too. Perhaps I should have constrained my question a little more (bank manager, spouse etc.)

So I have updated my "wish list" with the following:
- sky-lights and double-glazed windows
- min. 8ft ceilings with I-beam for a chain winch
- flourecent lighting around the parimeter and oversized/extra conduit
- lots of outlets
- infra-red heating

Some of the things I will NOT be including are:
- Telephone
- T.V.
- Wet bar with fridge
- radiant floor heating (love the idea, but on a slab, it is very inefficient - you end up loosing half the heat to the sub-soil)
- Bathroom (don't want to worry about freezing pipes in the winter so need to keep plumbing to a minimum. Also expensive)
- Jacuzzi, media room, squash court, etc. etc. (and probably not the girlie calandars - see "constraints" above)

I am still up in the air on a 4-post hoist (no pun intended). I am really geting quite good at lifting the car with a trolly jack and 4 jack stands - I have super-heavy duty "AC Hydraulics" ones with the flat rubber tops).

Anyone got opinions on the type of floor to use? Is floated concrete O.K., or is an epoxy finish worth the extra?

Thanks again for all the valuable advice (and the humourous advice too).


09-28-2006, 09:07 AM
The infloor heating when properly installed will loose no heat to the sub soil or perimeter due to the fact that there is a reflective isolation blanket installed directly below the cement and below the glycol runs. Lots of the the newer garages in our neck of the woods have in floor most do have and additional on demand forced air heat booster to heat the room back up after the opening of doors.
I would still run in a sump drain because of no matter where you are you will get dirt, sand, mud snow melt on your floor. The water supply and sump drain make for a clean shop area. Remember " A clean shop is a happy shop"
Coated floors will also make for speedy clean up. Check first with your cement supplier for their recommendations on this first though, as I think that cement needs to breathe ??

09-28-2006, 09:28 AM
Allow room to install a compressor, so that it will not interfere with you layout. Make sure you have ample power coming in to run it as well, even you do not install at this time.

Then you can start to think about allowing for the air lines, etc.

09-28-2006, 11:22 AM
Put in a air compressor and plumb in several places around the garage. Get a good supply of air tools.

09-28-2006, 11:25 AM
Don't forget a sound system. Speakers in the ceiling pumping out your favorite tunes as you merrily work on your favorite toy. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif

09-28-2006, 11:33 AM
convective heat (circulated hot water) in the floor is cheap, while you are pouring it, could always do final hookup later.

Has any one seen the HGTV series on extreme garages? Some people have way to much money & time. (I'm soooo jealous!!!) /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cool.gif

I love the web! See link. Might have to cut & paste.


09-28-2006, 11:50 AM
Don't forget a trap door. You'll need a place to hide when the wife comes looking for you with the to do list. You may want to consider special locks on the doors. Something to prevent her from dumping stuff on your work bench.
Epoxied floors are nice but be sure to add something to the paint that will provide traction when the floor is wet. Epoxy is very slippery when wet, and even worse if there is oil.

09-28-2006, 11:53 AM
How about a good Alarm system?

09-28-2006, 12:07 PM
These are great ideas!!

My 2cents worth... Put the air compressor OUTSIDE. Unless you got the money for a screw compressor, it'll resonate all over your garage. Put it in a small lean-to with the plumbing and regulators inside. Use closable vents for proper circulation of pump unit and protection from the cold. I have run a setup like this for years and I LOVE IT. Not to mention a 60gal compressor takes up quite a bit of space in a small garage...

09-28-2006, 12:16 PM
My 2cents worth... Put the air compressor OUTSIDE.

[/ QUOTE ]

Now THAT is a good idea! I have a pretty decent portable compressor (2HP/30Gal I think), but could still set it up outside under a shelter. Love those air tools!


09-28-2006, 12:52 PM
how about a waste oil burner for heat?

09-28-2006, 12:59 PM
now where are you gonna get waste oil from. Certainly not the floor .... /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif
Don't run H2O in the in floor, Glycol is far more efficient

09-28-2006, 01:02 PM
You could always keep a bucket under the car...

09-28-2006, 01:29 PM
I'm no super garage construction expert, but I've worked in a number of them over the years. Were I building my dream garage here's some of the things I'd be looking at.

Polished cement floor, uncoated. Done this way, they are virtually indestructable. I've yet to meet a cement coating that didn't come off. Traction is remarkably good on polished cement, and it cleans up superbly.

Foam boards under the cement slab. As in pour the cement over them. Remarkable how well they insulate and keep the cement from being so bone chillingly bitter in the winter.

Pipe the slab for radiant heat. Even if I never use it. It's not that expensive to have the lines put in before you pour.

White paint the walls and ceiling. Boy is a garage bright then.

I saw a place paneled with pegboard. Talk about a place to hang things! You could hang anything, anywhere. Darn handy.

Top lights are nice, side lights are incredible. I've yet to have too many.

Consider reinforcing an area for a crane or hoist. You may not install it, but it's nice to be ready for it.

Run water and gas lines and stub up. Maybe you'll never install them, but again, it's sure nice to have them out there.

You can never have too much workbench.

You can never have a garage that's too large to work in.

09-28-2006, 02:38 PM
With regards to Foxtrapper's last two points, I could not agree more. This is just an other example of 'Mores Law' which as we all know is 'If some is good more is better'

09-28-2006, 02:48 PM
With regards to Foxtrapper's last two points, I could not agree more. This is just an other example of 'Mores Law' which as we all know is 'If some is good more is better'

[/ QUOTE ]

And following up on that point. One thing I heard over and over from Morton owners was that if they were to do it over, they would build it bigger. Figure out how big you need and then add a few feet to each direction. You rarely hear people complain that there shop/garage is too big.


09-28-2006, 03:46 PM
Thanks Foxtrapper - that is a good list. As for "never big enough", while I am sure that is true, I don't want too much of a monstrosity taking up the place.


09-28-2006, 04:02 PM
As for "never big enough", while I am sure that is true, I don't want too much of a monstrosity taking up the place.


[/ QUOTE ]

Absolutely, most people figured on their smaller buildings that just having a few extra feet in each dimension would be all they really needed.

09-28-2006, 04:28 PM
You must have the obligatory couch for the ferocious guard dog. This couch is from SWMBO's Van and is removable from a wooden rack which has 4 swivel wheels - which is handy when working on the brakes as well.

09-28-2006, 04:44 PM
Are we having fun or what? Essentially all of us dream at one time or another about having our own garage/workshop that truly becomes My Space and nobody elses. I still work out of a one-car enclosed garage that doubles as a place for my wife to store a lot of her stuff, not to mention that she really wants the garage for the new Accord we just bought. Ain't gonna happen. I have a friend that has multiple workshops for his collection, all British cars. Now, he is not a rich man, just a good mechanic in his day job and his wife supports him in his passion, rebuilding British cars. His is up to number seven, with a few to go. He has essentially everything you could ask for, including a professional quality spray room, but the biggest asset is his absolute adherence to a total neatness policy.
A place for everything and everything in it's place. I think that quality storage is paramount in having a truly great workshop.

I still think you need a bathroom.


09-29-2006, 07:04 AM
still nuthin like jacking up the car in the driveway, while lying in a pool of mud trying to get that stubborn bolt to release.......come on we've all been there!

just don't want to go back!

09-29-2006, 08:48 AM
JPeter, The "ferocious guard dog" looks like he might just viciously lick you to death. Will he at least run for tools when your under the car?

10-02-2006, 09:16 AM
As many have suggested, radiant floor heat is a MUST! I don't know where you heard that you'll lose heat to the ground, but if the slab has been constructed and insulated properly, it won't happen. Radiant floor heating makes having a high ceiling practical.

Separate, sound insulated room for you air compressor with sound attenuated venting to the outside. If you can, make it big enough for a dust collection system in case you decide to expand into wood working.

Lift/hoist... Well, the garage I work in has a huge beam spannign the width and is equiped with a chain hoist we never use. When time came to pull an engine, I used an engine crane (get a folding model, btw). I long for a 2-post lift. At the moment, I have seven cars to keep track of. I would probably use a lift at least once a week.

High ceiling. You can't have a high enough ceiling. Especially if you get a lift. Cooling in the Summer will be easier. As for heat, see comment #1.

Put EVERYTHING on wheels or hang from the wall. Shelves, cabinete, benches, everything. This makes cleaning much easier. Hang work benches from the wall so they keep the floor clear. Personally, I'm not a big fan of a large workbench. Flat surfaces collect crap.

Polished vs. epoxy. Well, there are benefits to both. Both require regular cleaning and care. Epoxy has one big benefit, IMO: it is a much brighter finish and therefore makes your lighting much more effective.

Air plumbing, receptacles, etc, have been gone over.

Unfortunately for me, I work in an industry where I design electrical systems for high-end cGMP facilities, so I get all sorts of engineering ideas that easily apply to garages and so I'm dreaming about this sort of thing constantly. However, cGMP facilities are not cheap. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/crazy.gif

10-02-2006, 09:47 PM
STORAGE!!!!! Can't have enough. Get more. BELIEVE ME. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif

10-02-2006, 10:29 PM
My shop is in the city and I was only allowed 1500 sq. ft. That's a nice one car shop if you have any knd of metalworking equipment.

I recently leased another 14X40 storage building and I put a 12X14 balcony in it...this is strictly storage for my projects, plus equipment not needed for the present project.

The moral of this story...build it bigger!

10-03-2006, 08:38 AM
There are some really great ideas here. The question now is selection and method of payment...

10-03-2006, 09:26 AM
Now picture time views from the loft stairs ... for my messy shop

Big power tools (lathe, drill press, etc) are in my inside woodshop in the cellar.