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Anyone build their own shop?

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I mean, literally, built your own shop?


I have wanted to build a shop for a long time.  That time might be coming soon.  I've been saying that for 3 years now though, lol.


Any tips, tricks, lessons learned?  Anything specific about your shop that you can't live without?  Anything you did that you regret and cant stand?  


Any suggestions on where to get some "stamped" plans that don't come along with a GC and dont cost a small fortune?   I know what I want, just need someone certificated to approve what I have drawn.


I plan on contracting out the concrete and roof, but I hope to handle everything else.

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The metal building guys have set plans for an endless number of sizes. Be sure to get concrete guys to level the floor not just a smooth floor. Large electrical panel and lots of lighting. And I always wanted a white epoxy floor too. Not a recommendation but something like this. 


Edited by TimS
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Things on my list for when I build one in a couple years:

Loft / attic space for storage. Epoxy floor is very nice. Built-in work benches with powerstrips. Utility sink. One perfectly level bay for scales / setup. Lift. Air compressor in attic with coiled hose down to floor. Insulated walls / heating. TV with internet for ChampCar live. 

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I have two out buildings right now. One for storage and one for the shop. They were here when I bought the house. Things I would have done from the start:


- insulate the shop

- install furnace for heat and a/c

- epoxy the floor

- install led lights all over the shop

- create a work area for drill press, bench grinder, vice, etc

- pallet racking to store spare parts

- built in shelves to store supplies (brake cleaner l, towels, etc)

- a storage area to keep items when I'm working on a car 

- tire storage shelves

- set outlets all over the shop for easy access to electrical


I think that's about it.  I hardly use air tools anymore with my Milwaukee impacts. No need for tire mounting and balancing because my brother in law has the setup 


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I built my own shop 6 years ago.  40' x 32' with 12' high walls for a 2 post lift.  I did a "stick built" instead of a pole barn because of resale value (wrong assumption for me). I paid for excavation and concrete slab (did a monolithic slab instead of a tradition poured 42" footer), but did the rest of the construction myself.  The whole project was done part time as I had a real job to go to everyday and money isn't infinite, so it took 2 years to have a shop with vinyl siding, 3 garage doors, shingled roof, insulated walls and ceiling, electric, lift, air compressor, welder, and storage shelves.  I saved over 55 gallons of used motor oil thinking I would put in a waste oil heater, but that never materialized.  A torpedo heater did a great job since it was properly insulated.  I did my own drawings and did not have to have them stamped before applying for my building permit.


Things I learned:

1. Put the lift in a location that makes sense.  Will you have a car up in the air and want to open the garage door?  Make it so you can by either opening the door straight up or pushing the lift as far away from the door as needed.  I did both and put the lift too close to a back wall, which meant I had zero clearance in front of my tow vehicle when it was on the lift.

2. Put your welder near the lift, mine was in the opposite corner and was never close enough to weld exhaust or anything on the car while it was on the lift (Duh).

3. Pole barns go up faster and cost less.  You can finish them just as nice inside and out, check with your local code enforcement as some towns want similar construction for outbuildings as the house.

4. Monolithic slabs have no downside despite what old timers might say.  I live in upstate NY and never had any heaving, cracking, moving, etc. with my concrete floor.  I had 3 quotes for the floor and the lowest quote convinced me to go this route after showing me whole houses he had build on top of slabs like this without issues. YMMV and your code enforcer might disagree.

5. LED lights on high ceilings, even with white walls and ceiling were terrible for lighting.  I got round 120W equivalent lights and they are terrible.  I'm using a shop light for every job and I have good eye sight.

6. I thought I needed to buy a used lift taken out of a dealership or something, but when you look for a proper installer you can get a great BRAND NEW lift for less than you might think (unless you've been looking).  I had a brand new 10k pound 2 post lift delivered and professionally installed (minus electric) for just over $3,100.  The brand was Forward, which my understanding is this is the residential division of Rotary. It was ALI (American Lift Institute) certified, which put my mind at ease leaving my 9,000 pound tow vehicle on for days on end.


I'm moving in a month and will not have room to build a shop at the new house.  I will absolutely dread not having the lift anymore and will figure out what to put in my standard 2 car garage to mitigate this loss.  Max Jax or a Quicklift are probably my only 2 options for a standard height ceiling.  The additional value of the garage was approximately $0 when I sold my house.  It made it more appealing to someone looking for a shop that size, but didn't mean my appraised value increased significantly.  I should have saved the money up front and went with a pole barn.  Again, YMMV.



Edited by Originalsterm
Very poor spelling
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I think GRM did some articles on building a home shop within the last year or so. 


I built my own shop many years ago. Definitely get at least a 12' ceiling for a lift, make sure the garage doors and openers won't be an issue with a car on the lift. Lots of lights and power outlets. Not long after I poured the floor I wished I had done radiant heat, but now I'm not so sure I keep the temp pretty low most of the time and just turn it up when I'm going to be out there more than an hour, so I don't think that would work with radiant. A handwashing sink is the thing I wish I had the most, but plumbing wasn't really an option for me with a detached garage in the city. A used tire machine and balancer will pay for themselves quickly, but they do take up a good bit of floor space, so maybe plan for that. I also knew the footprint of my lift before I poured the floor, so I made that part thicker with more steel in it and also set the base of the lift into the floor so that the part you normally drive over is flush. 

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