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Space Planning

Bench Racing

by Ryan King

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One of the more difficult aspects of building a structure is figuring out how much space is needed.

As an example, the working space in the old Classics and Performance garage measured about 10'x21' and much of the perimeter was lined with a foot or two of junk that wasn't mine. Working in that kind of space — even on a car as small as the LX or the Cobalt SS/SC is nearly impossible. There just isn't enough room to get around the vehicle to access the areas I need to access.

What that taught me is that having the right space is critical to the success of a car hobby. Just having the desire to do the work — even the know-how — and just any old space isn't good enough. And having done enough driveway work, I also know that the usefulness of the space is just as critical as the amount, to the quality of the outcome.

I don't do hack work. I don't do git 'r done work. I want to execute at the level of the original factory build quality — if not higher — both functionally and aesthetically every single time I do anything to any of my cars. I've already tried the approach of doing compromised work to get a repair done in an inadequate timeframe, in a space wholly deficient for the task, without the right tools for the job. No matter how much expertise I brought to the table, the results were always subpar.

I know lots of people aren't just satisfied with, but take a great deal of pride in bailing wire and duct tape repairs; but I've never been one and I'll never be. I've learned the hard way that you can't have nice things if you don't treat them well and while I'm not someone who cares for luxurious or expensive things, I do like things well taken care of — just like my Grandfather did — which is why I still have his '67 El Camino.

Consequently, understanding what kind of space you need in a structure — and what kind of structure — means understanding what kinds of work you're doing and the results you're looking for out of that work, then working backwards through the processes you need to get those results to understand what kind of space it's going to take to meet those goals. The more clear, detailed, and precise the understanding, the better the structure will meet the needs of those goals.

While the whole space planning process isn't quite that simple, the basic concept is.

As far as I'm concerned, everyone is free to spend their money, time, and life in any way they see fit, but for me, the school of hard knocks has taught me to take a careful, detailed approach to make life fulfilling — which, for me, means having the right space to do the work I want to do, to the level I want to do it to.

My only real obstacle at this point is figuring out how to afford it.


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