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Ideas and suggestions for big garage / steel workshop? Experience with prefab steel buildings?

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Hey y'all - we moved to an unrestricted/unincorporated neighborhood early this year, with the idea of building a big steel outbuilding for cars and metalwork (and maybe some extras.) We have no experience with prefab metal buildings, and would be contracting the whole thing out. Any tips and tricks for metal buildings?

We're in the planning process, and I wanted to hear your input! Off the bat I can think of:

  • A lift or two (2 post and 4 post)
  • A *perfectly* level part of the pad for car setup/corner balancing
  • Sewer, water, and electrical stub ups through the slab
  • floor drains to a sump for cleaning / spill management
  • High bay LED lighting
  • Air conditioned area
  • Awnings on the sides to shade the trailer and provide a patio/hangout space

The building will be somewhere around 40'x50', 18' tallish construction, steel prefab. It will be installed on a concrete slab with a large driveway.spacer.png This is the layout of the property. We need the green striped area for a septic leech field, so that's the driving factor on shop size.

image.thumb.png.baec72644e669158b0c06a76c085b18b.png

  • Lots of storage
  • Insulation!!
  • Grinding / painting room

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My first thought is that your plan is awesome and I am crazy jealous! What an incredible place to work. 

The only two ideas I'd add, which you may already have in mind, is (1) to have some way to section off a part of the space for dirtier work such as grinding, sanding, and painting. I hate having to cover everything in my garage when I do tasks like that. And (2) include more storage than you think you need. You can really never have enough!

 

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Awesome!  Wife and I want to build something on our property as well.

Will follow your process, maybe learn some things 🙂

 

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Ditto on the storage space point. Our hangar is even bigger than your shop, yet somehow we seem to not have enough storage space. The place came with four sections of decent-size steel shelving, but it's only about 7' high, so I've been looking into buying some super tall warehouse pallet racks. There's a ton of vertical space that's being wasted right now.

 

And in case you haven't already reached this conclusion, you definitely want insulation, even in the non-climate-controlled areas. Our building isn't insulated and it's a goddamn sauna in summer. Need to get that taken care of one of these years...

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 I’ve seen shops where the back third has a loft on top of an area with work benches and tools. The rest of the shop is full height for the cars and lift.  That combination seems to work well because it provides significant extra storage as well as bringing the ceiling and lighting closer to the workbench area in that back space. Could be a way to maximize the room you have. Just a thought. 

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quick bullet points since I should be working...

  • workshop/ clean room area can be enclosed single story. use "roof" of that for storage area.  however, you must consider floor loading if you plan to store big stuff up there.
  • grinding/welding area should be on opposite side of clean workshop for obvious reasons.  you can segregate the fab area from rest of shop with welding curtains on rolling stands.
  • the floor doesn't have to be perfectly level for scaling purposes..   it's handy, but I would still plan to use stands/ scale platform under the car so that you have access under the car  to make adjustments.  in most shops I've seen, the floor is marked for the stands at specific locations for specific cars.  for instance, Louie's shop had markings on the floor for Miata, Mustang, and 370Z setup since he was working on those cars regularly.  then it doesn't take him long to level the stands and get under the cars.
  • pallet racks are cheap shelving options and you can go stupid high with them if you want-- you just need a way to access it!  Maybe put a 20ft high shelf on the wall of the 'clean room' so you can access it from both ground level and the clean room roof..  
  • POWER..  plenty of it!   do you have access to 3 phase power feed?  given your background, I figure you have that handled. 🙂
  • Ventilation--  consider multiple roll-up doors on opposite ends of the shop so you can get some air flowing through the shop.  Also be sure to find a way to vent the upper area and remove the hot air vs. blowing it down into the work areas.   The fencing around the property causes some wind breaks and reduces airflow, but still having a door in the back will do you some good.
  • dehumidification--   at least down where I am, my tools are rusting in the toolbox because of the humidity and condensation in the garage when temperature changes.  you might want to consider a large-area dehumidifier or air conditioner for the whole building.  you wouldn't need to cool the whole thing to 68 deg in 100deg heat, but mainly to remove the humidity on those crazy spring/fall days when the temp swings and there's condensation forming on every solid surface.
  • IM JEALOUS!  I have the real estate at my place, but neither the time nor the funds (nor the approving wife) to build the shop I want...

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On 5/1/2019 at 2:37 PM, Matt93SE said:

Ventilation--  consider multiple roll-up doors on opposite ends of the shop so you can get some air flowing through the shop.  Also be sure to find a way to vent the upper area and remove the hot air vs. blowing it down into the work areas.   The fencing around the property causes some wind breaks and reduces airflow, but still having a door in the back will do you some good.

As you may know, I built myself an 80 x 100 shop last year.  I kick myself everyday that I didn't do it years sooner.

I'm in a much drier, windier climate than you and am also on top of a hill.  I did the opposing RV doors that Matt mentioned.  I also have a lot of windows.  In the Summer, my shop has constant breeze.  In winter, I can keep the doors closed and sunlight warms the shop significantly.  I didn't make any other HVAC provisions, and it is working out fine.  It would cost a ton to condition a shop this large.  The windows also enhance the excellent lighting from the LED overheads.  And, yeah, plenty of 240 outlets too.

You've got the right idea about drains.  I wish I had added more drains -- specifically where the lifts are.  Only have one in a dedicated wash bay.

Getting a good contractor is key.  I went with the contractor that the metal company recommended (i.e., Who does a lot of projects?  Who pays you on time?  Etc.).  I couldn't be happier with how the project went.

Once you have a shop, you'll need to factor in that many more projects will begin appearing.  😉

 

IMG_1521.JPG

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Also, don't forget to add a large utility sink with hot water (mine has an "instant on" type heater).  I use it all the time.

I also installed a tire mounter and balancer combo.  Not as expensive as you might thing and goodness knows we go through tires . . . .

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On 5/3/2019 at 1:32 PM, hornetball said:

As you may know, I built myself an 80 x 100 shop last year.  I kick myself everyday that I didn't do it years sooner.

I'm in a much drier, windier climate than you and am also on top of a hill.  I did the opposing RV doors that Matt mentioned.  I also have a lot of windows.  In the Summer, my shop has constant breeze.  In winter, I can keep the doors closed and sunlight warms the shop significantly.  I didn't make any other HVAC provisions, and it is working out fine.  It would cost a ton to condition a shop this large.  The windows also enhance the excellent lighting from the LED overheads.  And, yeah, plenty of 240 outlets too.

You've got the right idea about drains.  I wish I had added more drains -- specifically where the lifts are.  Only have one in a dedicated wash bay.

Getting a good contractor is key.  I went with the contractor that the metal company recommended (i.e., Who does a lot of projects?  Who pays you on time?  Etc.).  I couldn't be happier with how the project went.

Once you have a shop, you'll need to factor in that many more projects will begin appearing.  😉

 

IMG_1521.JPG

Oh man.  That. Is. FREAKING. AWESOME!

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It really is.  I'm out there all the time.

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Awesome advice y'all, thank you!

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Having some white fiberglass roof panels will give you great natural lighting. I do not typically turn the lights on in the daytime. Depending on the typical wind direction you may want to have louvered attic fans to get large amounts of heat out. 

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45 minutes ago, skillman11 said:

Having some white fiberglass roof panels will give you great natural lighting. I do not typically turn the lights on in the daytime. Depending on the typical wind direction you may want to have louvered attic fans to get large amounts of heat out. 

this is what I regret about my building.   no natural light.  I have tons of LED light in the building now...  when I'm not in there it's hot, blackout dark, and with the ridonculous coastal humidity, any surface gets mold/mildew sitting in the shop.  even raw plywood sheets leaning on the wall have a thin layer of white fuzz on them which I can only suspect is a mold of some sort.   none of this was very  bad before Harvey, but afterwards, EVERYTHING in the shop has this layer on it.   and since it's impregnated into all of the porous surfaces, it will likely never go away.

So part of my theory is that some natural light in there might help to warm the interior faster than cold, damp, dark..  so between that and actually having natural light in there, that might help reduce the growth rate of nasties...

 

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yes, Hornetball's shop is AWESOME

I second the previous suggestion of insulation and ventilation

I live in a "barn-domium"

steel building with one end small garage (53 x 35) and the rest three bedroom, two bath house-inside-a-barn

spray foam it to death and use both gable vents and a ridge vent to get air thru the very top of it

foam adds a lot of rigidity and makes a huge difference in interior comfort

I combined foam everywhere with convention blown in stuff in all the walls (drywall inside)

my average electric bill (100% electric and aerobic septic and well) for 10 years is $135 a month, including two $10 meter charges not related to usage

 

 

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1 hour ago, nealb said:

yes, Hornetball's shop is AWESOME

I second the previous suggestion of insulation and ventilation

I live in a "barn-domium"

steel building with one end small garage (53 x 35) and the rest three bedroom, two bath house-inside-a-barn

spray foam it to death and use both gable vents and a ridge vent to get air thru the very top of it

foam adds a lot of rigidity and makes a huge difference in interior comfort

I combined foam everywhere with convention blown in stuff in all the walls (drywall inside)

my average electric bill (100% electric and aerobic septic and well) for 10 years is $135 a month, including two $10 meter charges not related to usage

 

 

Let's see some pics! Did you have the barn-dominium built? Or was it already existing? What area is it? That's something on my long term list to look..but I haven't found any good info on housing like this in DFW area.

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1 hour ago, BigMonkey73 said:

Let's see some pics! Did you have the barn-dominium built? Or was it already existing? What area is it? That's something on my long term list to look..but I haven't found any good info on housing like this in DFW area.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/npM4urEYaod7s7BM8

 

I had it built by a guy who is no longer in the area.  Talked to Mueller buildings but at the time they only sold metal and you were on your own for construction.  Now they have builders as part of a package.

 

The wife of an autocross buddy (who is a builder in DFW area) did the design.  Can give their info.

 

All welded construction.  Thicker choice of exterior panels.  Lantham super windows.  SEER 15. 

 

I’m 25 miles SW of MSR-C in a development where everyone has 20 acres.  Hydromulched yard with native flowers and grasses.  Mow 2X a year when everything goes to seed or is dead.

 

Property taxes are based on a barn.  I’m over 65 so frozen at $2270 per year for it all.

 

Pro is much cheaper to build than conventional, energy efficiency, no exterior maintenance.  Con is must find the right person to sell to.

 

The living area is stud walls with drywall and blown in insulation.  Exterior walls wind up being 7.5” thick.

 

Spray foam sealed it so much (including top of ceiling drywall and wall between living and garage) that had to do a commercial style AC that will introduce fresh air into the system.

 

Garage is split into a 3 car and 2 car with smaller heated/cooled by a thru the wall unit.  Room for at least 5 cars, especially if Miatas.  Only have 4 right now.

 

Garage ceiling is 11-3, house 10. 

 

Stained concrete floors, crown molding, granite kitchen.

 

400’ of concrete driveway down a steep hill.  Long view to the West.

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On 5/3/2019 at 1:32 PM, hornetball said:

As you may know, I built myself an 80 x 100 shop last year.  I kick myself everyday that I didn't do it years sooner.

...

Once you have a shop, you'll need to factor in that many more projects will begin appearing.  😉

 

 

...and how many more "friends" will began appearing...and how many more projects those "friends" have...

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18 minutes ago, nealb said:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/npM4urEYaod7s7BM8

 

I had it built by a guy who is no longer in the area.  Talked to Mueller buildings but at the time they only sold metal and you were on your own for construction.  Now they have builders as part of a package.

 

The wife of an autocross buddy (who is a builder in DFW area) did the design.  Can give their info.

 

All welded construction.  Thicker choice of exterior panels.  Lantham super windows.  SEER 15. 

 

I’m 25 miles SW of MSR-C in a development where everyone has 20 acres.  Hydromulched yard with native flowers and grasses.  Mow 2X a year when everything goes to seed or is dead.

 

Property taxes are based on a barn.  I’m over 65 so frozen at $2270 per year for it all.

 

Pro is much cheaper to build than conventional, energy efficiency, no exterior maintenance.  Con is must find the right person to sell to.

 

The living area is stud walls with drywall and blown in insulation.  Exterior walls wind up being 7.5” thick.

 

Spray foam sealed it so much (including top of ceiling drywall and wall between living and garage) that had to do a commercial style AC that will introduce fresh air into the system.

 

Garage is split into a 3 car and 2 car with smaller heated/cooled by a thru the wall unit.  Room for at least 5 cars, especially if Miatas.  Only have 4 right now.

 

Garage ceiling is 11-3, house 10. 

 

Stained concrete floors, crown molding, granite kitchen.

 

400’ of concrete driveway down a steep hill.  Long view to the West.

That sounds super close to what I want. So you're saying Mueller is someone I should get in touch with and they should be able to take care of all of it once I have the land? PM me any contacts you have please!

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Mueller is/ was only a metal building supplier when I looked at them.  they had a list of approved contractors who could assist with putting up the building.  but for the interior construction for the house part, you would have to look elsewhere.

that was the case a few years ago when I was looking at them at least.

I have toyed with this same idea several times because our current house is a bit cramped with toys..  I wanted a bigger garage/ shop than we currently have, and my wife liked the idea of getting out of our 'hood and the ridiculous HOA and 'beating the Joneses' mentality..  but then Harvey hit and cost me a chunk of change and we've completely redone the house.  will lose a bucket of money if we leave now, so it's not going to happen.

 

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I think Matt93SE is correct about how much Mueller will do.  Don't think their contractor will do the interior walls etc but ask them.  

I'd bet one of their approved metal contractor guys has someone else who would do the inside.

Or you could get a "normal" residential contractor who would sub out the metal building stuff and do all the rest.

One thing to note is my building has eaves and residential gutters because my wife insisted on that look rather than the normal metal building.  If you care about that it would likely be a special deal for Mueller.

I'll PM you my "normal" builder buddy who does high end stuff in Roanoak and surrounding areas and whose wife did the layout.

Talk to Mueller about whether they only have standard size buildings or will custom size something.

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Warning this site is addictive.  Check out garagejournal.com there is an entire section on build outs of big garages.

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