'There are few things cooler on earth than owning a fast, fun car that you're proud to drive-except maybe owning your own place to build and maintain that car. It's a growing trend we're seeing more of as we talk to people at shows and events. Guys are building their own shops. Not just rich guys, either, but regular guys who work for a living. So we decided to investigate. We wanted to find out what is involved in setting up a personal garage: what you can do to add on to your existing property, or how to find commercial space for lease, and how to construct, equip, and maintain your place.
Taking on a project of this magnitude is admittedly a daunting one that is hard to cover in a single article. Imagine how a "build your dream car from the ground up" story would look! Still, we will give you good information on where to start and who to ask for guidance. We spoke to several people who have gone through the process, and we'll share their wisdom with you. There are many options, even for those on a tight budget, and you don't need to own a home to do it.
The Expert Witnesses
While researching this story we talked at length to people in the business. Chris Whitney and Gene Sherman both built shops on their property. Whitney is the shop foreman at Galpin Auto Sports, and his 1,200-foot shop is featured in This Guy's Garage on page 22. Sherman is a self-employed designer/fabricator who operates his company, Reflexx Designs, out of his 1,500-foot shop in Riverside, California.
We also spoke with Matt Delaney, business owner of Bay Automotive, a repair facility in Huntington Beach, California, and Robert Plant, facility architect for Galpin Ford. He's led the design teams that have constructed a number of dealerships and aftermarket repair franchises. These two guys shed some insight on how to rent a commercial space, an appealing option for those of us who don't own a house or don't have enough space on our property.
On the "supply" side, we talked to Jay Behm, an architect who sells building plans online, and Kamal Sabeh, general manager of Bottom Line Steel Buildings, manufacturer of steel buildings in a variety of configurations.
This building is available from Bottom Line Steel Buildings.>>>
Build It In Your Yard
This is the obvious place to start. If you own a house, you can add on to it or your existing garage. Or you can do like the guys we talked to and build a separate shop on your property. Whitney put up a steel building in his backyard, while Sherman built what he calls a hybrid. It's from Miracle Truss and is made up of steel trusses that he finished with lumber framing, insulation, and drywall. Steel buildings aren't the only option, though; you could build a wood structure as well.
Step one is to start with some research. Determine the size of the space you need, and come up with a budget. This is a crucial step. Be brutally honest and realistic with your assessment, or your project will never get off the ground. Everyone we've talked to says the same two things: You always wish you built it bigger, and everything costs more than you expect. "When you add up your expenses, triple them," says Gene Sherman. "It's the little things like hardware and wiring conduit that nickel-and-dime you past your projected amount." In fact, Bottom Line Steel Building's Kamal Sabeh says most building projects fail due to insufficient budgeting. "A lot of people just aren't aware of all the costs involved." The steel and siding to make a steel building aren't that expensive, but people often miscalculate the amount they'll have to spend in construction materials to put the place together and in the ground.