Building a workshop/garage - the odyssey

Thanks to @Craig_Balzer for supplying his extensive and detailed notes on the shop he constructed on his property, they greatly influenced me in planning out my newest project. While I live in a semi-rural community, I still live in an HOA (Home Owners Association) with fairly strict guidelines on what can and can’t be built. While I have dreamed of building a detached garage for several years, it is only in the past year that I have gotten serious about actually spending the money and literally fighting city hall and the HOA to get one built.

While my property is just shy of 2 acres (1.98 to be precise, which the city is) we have a restriction on having one “out building” per full acre. As you can see from this Google Earth view of my property, I already have a small pool house / ride mower storage building. The way around this limitation is that any other new buildings must be “attached” to the current structure via a roofed attachment. This rule does not dictate walls, just a full roofed attachment, which others in the community have done, hence my planned breezeway to our back patio / deck.

A little over a month ago I met with a contractor and architect to begin the planning of my shop, which based on needing to be attached to the house and required property setback, as well as spousal limitations will be 30 feet wide by 45 feet long with 12 foot high brick clad walls. Additionally, the space will have a 10 foot wide mezzanine level that is nine feet from the first floor and an open truss roof structure giving me a maximum of 18 feet of roof clearance in the center of the structure.

Thee plan below have been submitted to the HOA and so far have received a very positive review, but not formal acceptance yet. The more detailed framing, electrical, plumbing, and foundation plans will be submitted to the city next week, after the contractor provides his cost estimated to me this week. Assuming I don’t faint or have a stroke, the question is when the contractor can begin on the foundation given weather, temperature, rainfall, and concrete availability.

Given what others in the neighborhood have gone through to get approvals, while I’m optimistic that I dotted all the tee’s and crossed all the eye’s (LOL) until I get the HOA approval and city building permits I will be holding my breath. More to come…


Large seating area pertaining to the bathroom area along with 4 to 6 roll toilet paper holder
1 billion LED lights because your over 50 and a matching magazine rack in the bathroom as well
Heated floor in the bathroom too
The rest I really don’t care😄


Very nice use of space.

You’ll love that mezzanine. Is that where you are going to stash your air compressor? What other large tools (drill dress, 20-ton press, grinder, etc) do you need to place? If I may, I would recommend putting them under the mezzanine – unless:

that is where you can place work benches: you can fit a 10-footer between the back man-door and the last window on the left (a tear-down or dirty bench) leaving room for a nice long 10-15-footer along the back wall with easy/cheap lighting with the fixtures mounted underneath the mezzanine floor. Put your tool chest just inside and to the right of the back man-door and both benches are covered with easy-access to tools.

You putting in a lift? – you certainly have the ceiling clearance for it.

You will also enjoy all the natural light coming from the 5’ wide windows.


1 Like

Craig, originally the mezzanine was only going to be for storage, but the more I’ve looked at it and talked to some of my buddies that have built garages (without mezzanines which I credit to you) the more I’ve decided that it will serve a multiple purposes (including my desk, computer, a love seat or sofa and TV).

I was going to place the compressor under the L-shaped step as far back in the corner as possible. a four post lift is in the plans along with its caster kit, so that I can move it around as needed. My plans include acquiring a bench grinder, anvil/vice, MIG/TIG welding cart (possibly a plasma cutter), a drill press and a hydraulic press.

I’ve been trying to decide on what kind of work benches I need (type of construction), shelf storage and cabinet storage. Right now I haven’t really placed all of that out on my drawings but I’ve ensured more than adequate electrical outlets and lighting outlets. My plan is for all LED fixtures both under the mezzanine, the walls of the garage and some suspended in the center but above the maximum height of the lift plus a tall vehicle.

Here are a couple of thoughts, only one of which addresses the utility of the garage. I would not put bright work lights on the walls as you will may them to be irritating. Bright lights at eye level are not pleasing, hence the invention of light shades long ago. My recommendation would be put LEDs in the ceiling to create bright ambient lighting and then use task lights. Second, think about asking your architect to design a garage door system that will look less industrial. It looks like this garage will form part of your front façade of your home as seen from the street and not everyone loves the sight of a huge garage door. It doesn’t cost that much more to add some architectural detail which will preserve the aesthetics of your home. Looks like a great project. I’m jealous.

1 Like

All aside
I use the Mitsubishi
Heat and a/c unit with dehumidifier as well
Looks great
Tv upstairs?

I’ve asked for a 16 foot wide garage door (traditional double width) for future resale, I would have been happy with an oversized single door. But I’ve spec’d out a 10 foot high door so that the four post lift on caster can be wheeled outside to either clean the garage or to power wash the underside of a car. I could have gotten by with an eight foot high door, but the architect suggested that an eight foot high door on a 12 foot high wall (let alone the peaked front) would look puny. Given that I want ceiling height without garage door tracks, I’ve specified an insulated metal roll up door. Several homes in the area have roll up doors on their detached garages for RV’s etc. I may have her add a small window near the peak for a detail.

Not sure where the TV will go, but the mezzanine will be where my desk goes. My HVAC guys are sizing the space right now for the mini-split. My garage today has a Carrier unit and I will likely get the same brand but larger capacity unit. As it stands right now, to support the walls and the roof, the vertical joists will be 2 x 6’s with spray in foam insulation. The walls will be a new to me product called smartcore (see pic below)

I only brought it up because I sold a house with a large shop. The husband loved it and the wife was less than enthused.


It’s a good point. We have a neighbor who built a shop on his property earlier this year. All the houses in the area are brick and very nicely maintained. He used a fax brick front (facing the street) and wood siding on the other three sides and it is an eyesore in many folks around heres opinion. He intentionally or unintentionally devalued his house. I’m going to spend the money matching our house brick and roof shingles to ensure it doesn’t devalue the property. We planned on landscaping the front side of it and I turned down a small window near the peak, but will rethink house to dress up the front a bit.

You might consider a soundproofing enclosure for the compressor.

Guide to Sound Reduction for Air Compressors | Quincy Compressor


This is a great idea and one easily accomplished given that I want to install the compressor under the mezzanine steps… I will plan on doing this, thanks.

1 Like

A central vacuum system located in the same soundproof enclosure is also very nice.

Looks like regular T-111 board to me. I used it a couple of times for siding. If you’re going to have it painted or stained, be sure to have it treated with a TSP and bleach solution first, as recommended, otherwise, in any sort of humid climate, it will be mouldy in a year. Mine was in Florida.

1 Like

Good to know, I’ll ask more questions. I was told that it was able to be used indoors or outdoors. I originally asked for just plywood walls.

An aesthetic and practical option might be a large window on the front under the peak to admit natural light into the main space. Maybe arched? Also a smaller window in the mezzanine.

1 Like

You need a large book case as well up in the loft with manuals and books…
Its a great refference room

1 Like

Bob, check this air compressor out, I have one and it is super quiet! My old sears compressor would scare the H*** out of me every time it started up… this one, hardly notice it… model 10020C

1 Like

Don, thanks. I actually have a small one of this brand. I may upsize at some point, but this is what I use now.

These two quotes from you sparked in my head: wiring the outside of the garage.

  • You’ll want to consider wiring a spare 220v outlet on an exterior wall (or just inside the garage door) so your welder can be used outdoors/under the lift that has been rolled outside
  • You’ll want to consider wiring 110v outlets on each exterior wall
  • I see you have water in the back left corner of our plan – You’ll want to consider plumbing water bibs on multiple exterior walls