What is a car hobby without a space to work?
Well, it's a car hobby in which the hobbiest doesn't work on their car(s).
There's nothing wrong with that. In fact, I would go so far as to say there's something to be said for just enjoying the car as a car and leaving the dirty work to someone else. For me, though, while not nearly as important as driving and racing my cars, getting my hands dirty is still a big, important part of having a fulfilling hobby.
In order to get my hands dirty, I require a facility to do it in.
That's where Project: Wrench Works comes in.
The Service Garage is a 12'x20'x10' Frontier Garage from VersaTube. It's the least expensive, easiest to assemble, quality pre-fab steel building I've found.
As you already know from the biography page, the Service Garage is an idea, not as yet a physical reality, so what it will ultimately end up being is in flux, but as of now, this is the most achievable space I've researched.
After years of utilizing a makeshift workspace, I realized that both making sufficient progress on my Car Projects and having an enjoyable experience doing it requires a dedicated work shop.
Years ago, I lost funding and access to the makeshift workspace I used and my car hobby has been on hold ever since. The Service Garage is my way back to wrenching on my cars and returning them to the road. However, the size of the garage and the limitations that will place on what I can do within it makes this garage completely inadequate for my hobby's needs, but without adequate financing, I don't have any choice in the matter at this point.
Although larger than the space I had available to me before, it's barely big enough to park a car in, much less perform basic service work or a complete tear down — which is what I need to be able to do.
And so much more.
Ultimately, if this is all I can afford, I will find a way to make it work.
I don't yet have a space to put this garage because I don't yet have the property to put it on. That said, I have begun to plan what this property would need to look like in order to for me to build it.
This garage is part of a very small complex comprised of it, the Storage Garage, a privacy fence surrounding it, and the walkways and driveways needed to provide easy access to them.
I've tried a number of layouts and have found the most compact design I can put together, which would allow me to fit it on less than a half-acre parcel with a small 1000 square foot house featuring an attached single car parking garage and the Storage Garage with some comfortable spaces between the buildings and generous setbacks necessary for a number of municipalities.
The garage is the smallest 10-foot high garage sold as a standard kit by VersaTube, which will allow me to save the extra costs associated with one of their custom-designed buildings. As such, I will be limited to a small set of color choices for the building, unless I want to paint it — which costs more money that could be better spent in other areas of the project. I will do my best to choose a color combination that will look nice in the surrounding landscape and/or match the house and privacy fence.
The building, itself, is 12'x20'x10' garage as mentioned above, with horizontal, painted, corrugated sheet metal siding and a galvanized 2"x3" square steel tube frame.
The building will be anchored to a concrete slab foundation and it will be surrounded on two sides by a 6-foot wide apron that will function as both sidewalk and uncovered work area to help make up for the lack of space inside the garage.
The garage door will be a roll up steel 9'x8' multi-panel door and the walk door will be a 36"x80" pre-hung steel unit.
Amenities will be limited to basic electricity for the lighting and 120v and 240v plug-ins, and plumbing for the utility sink that will have to be located outside on the side apron due to space constraints.
- Space to perform basic maintenance — which will also help reduce the costs associated with owning any of the cars as an additional benefit.
- The joy and fulfillment I get from both the mundane and complex challenges of working on the cars.
- The ability to race again — it requires higher levels of prep and repair work to race a car than to drive one as a commuter and dealerships and repair shops aren't generally up to the task as a part of their regular service regimen.
- I'm so incredibly particular about all the work that goes into my cars.
Finally, I love my hobby and my hobby includes being the one to do all the work on my cars and I need a dedicated space to do that work in so that it can be as efficient, effective, and comfortable as possible given my financial constraints.
Outside of the straight forward goal of "build the Service Garage," there are several criteria that need to be met:
- It needs to be as inexpensive as I can build it and still meet my needs to the best of my ability.
- I need to gain the most functionality out of an inadequate space as I can, which will mean spending more in some areas to achieve greater versatility.
- My hobby isn't building garages, it's about my cars, so I want the Service Garage built as quickly as possible. While I'm still going to enjoy this project, every day it isn't completed is a day lost because I'm not able to work on my project cars.
All that means I need to build a garage as quickly as possible, as inexpensively as possible to achieve the results I need to achieve while making as many adjustments as needed to make a building that's too small work for my needs as best as I can.
In theory, if and/or when this building goes up, the complex should already be almost entirely finished, missing only this garage, its driveway and walkways.
The scope of this project is limited to the Service Garage. While many people that build a similar garage may be considering the driveway as part of this build, I consider that as part of a separate project to construct the complex surrounding it.
Two related projects that this one doesn't include are outfitting it with equipment and the final move-in. This project only relates to the actual build of the structure, its foundation, and the utilities that go to and are included in it.
Lastly, even if I could, I'm not going to throw up an eyesore or something I can't see to work in, lacks access to power, or has marginal doors, fit and finish — not even to save a few dollars, which is all that would gain me at best. So, I won't allow any corners to be cut to save money that would further impact either the functionality or appearance beyond what is inherent in the design.
How does two days sound?
Yeah, not very realistic to me either.
At this point, although I've been doing lots of research, I've never built a garage before. By the time I get around to this, I should have completed the Storage Garage, so at least I will have a practical idea of what I'm doing.
Outside of working with a few contractors for some of the work I'm not able to do myself, most of this will be handled by me, and the work is far more simple than building a car, if not physically larger. So, I'm giving myself half a year. What does that mean? Well, it doesn't mean six months of working on it every day for eight hours. It means I'll have about five real working hours per day, approximately two days a week. I also know that I won't be able to work on it every week and will probably be limited to about 18 weeks to get it done, which gives me about 180 hours to put this thing together.
I guess we'll see, and I'll probably update this section as I learn more and/or get a more practical idea when I complete the Storage Garage.
Regardless of any other uneducated guesstimates on my part, I know I don't have a place to build the Service Garage, nor a start date, so I have no idea when this project should begin or end.
Below is a table summarizing my planned personal hours spent working on the project:
My piggy bank is currently full of cobwebs, so there's no money for this project at the moment, but I have done some careful, but very crude internet research into costs and it looks like it may fit within $32,000, all said and done. So that's my preliminary budget for this project.
Based on that budgeted amount I've put together a preliminary scheduled budget, evenly divided for the timeframe described above — but not budgeted for build areas or types of work:
The location for this project is in my backyard.
The problem is, I don't yet have a backyard.
Regardless, when it happens, that's where it'll be.
For the requirements section, I've broken down the work necessary by building section.
- Foundation design
- Site prep and excavation
- Form construction and teardown
- Concrete pouring and screeding
- Frame construction
- Sheet metal fitting and installation
- Garage door installation
- Walk door installation
- Electrical service hook-up
- Electrical panel installation
- Electrical rough-in
- Lighting and electrical outlet installation
- Septic hook-up
- Water hook-up
- Tankless water heater installation
- Utility sink and hose faucet installation
- Ventilation fan installation
This is a preliminary look at the major milestones needed to complete this project. They are in sequence as best as I can tell without assessing the site, consulting the contractors, and sitting down to do a detailed plan.
Assessment, Feasibility and Go/No Go
Before I can do anything but daydream, perform preliminary research and put together some unverified rough costs, I need to assess the condition of the site where the Service Garage will be built — which requires I obtain the site. Once obtained and evaluated, I can move on to exploring whether or not the project is truly feasible given the work needed.
Sadly, since I don't have a site for building the Service Garage, nor the finances necessary to buy a home with the land necessary to do it, this project can't go any further than the preliminary phase, described here on the Project: Wrench Works page.
The last part of this milestone is project launch. If a careful exploration of feasibility doesn't turn up any red flags with the site, itself (which doesn't include my ability to achieve the project results — I won't have a firm idea of my ability to complete this project until I reach the planning phase of the first building to be built: the Storage Garage), then I will prepare for project launch.
This is where I nail down definitive costs, the amount of time required to get the work done that the project needs, and time the sequence of events. I will also be engaging the contractors I'll need for the work I'm not able to do myself.
Preparation and Coordination
I need to get resources on location that I'll require to execute this project as well as coordinate with the contractors so that I can get this project fired off in correct sequence with minimal lost time.
Utility Service Installation
Before any other work occurs on this project, I need to get any trenching work done for utility runs and run those utilities to the Service Garage. By and large, I'm expecting most or all of this to be done by contractors, but we'll see how this shakes out.
Once the utilities have been run, I'll have the concrete contractor come out and get the foundation laid.
Building Structure Construction
This is the point in time when I plan to begin fully engaging with the work. Based on what I know about assembling a VersaTube kit, I don't think this will pose a lot of trouble for me.
The only place I foresee a challenge is in the garage door installation — which I may call in a contractor for.
Utility Installation and Hook-Up
The only utilities going into this structure are electrical, plumbing, and ventilation. Most of which seem to be within my wheelhouse. I may bring in someone to consult with me on the work I do so that I can get it past any necessary inspections, but this is a pretty simple facility, so I don't think I'll need any contractors save for hooking up the utilities when finished, and possibly installing the electrical panel. We'll see.
With the work all done, I'll be tying up any loose ends and reviewing any lessons I've learned for potential future projects.
Then, that's it, the Service Garage should be done and ready for me to complete the complex by laying the driveway and walkways in. Once all that's taken care of, I'll move in a few tools, some equipment and such so that I can finally begin working on my Car Projects.
Project: Wrench Works has a number of goals it needs to achieve in order for it to be successful, however, the most important goal is getting it built so that — after more than a decade — I can get back to my Car Projects and get them on the road so that I can enjoy them in the way I gain the most fulfillment: on the open road and on the race track.
It's in the works.