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Project: Inner Workings MRO Workshop Construction


Inner Workings

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This project is ideally out of sequence, but practically arranged to allow for the best results.

Why is Project: Inner Workings out of ideal sequence? In a perfect world, I would have the finances to build the Workshop before attempting to do any needed repair work to the house before I move in or raise the Warehouse Storage Garage so that Project: Big Top (that's the project that constructs the Warehouse) will go easier with a place to work out of. Because my finances are so limited and I need a Storage Garage to hold my hobby stuff so that I can afford the property to build it on, it has to go up before any more of my as-of-now non-existent money can be spent on much else.

All that said, I do need the Workshop to perform MRO work to the house and the Car Lot Hobby Complex, and to construct the more elaborate Parking Garage and Wrench Works Service Garage. So, I can't put it off farther down the line in sequence than the third building on the Car Lot.

That's why I'm calling it Project: Inner Workings, it's where all the work behind the scenes will take place in my Hobby Complex so that I can succeed on my Car Projects.


When I initially developed the idea for the Car Lot Hobby Complex, I did so with a focus strictly on cost — that is, I created a plan that did it as cheaply as I could possibly imagine it. The problem I ran into with that design is that it wasn't going to achieve my real-world goals.

Being cheap just doesn't work for a car hobby.

That said, I'm not a fan of wasting money either — especially since I have precious little. However, I am a fan of leveraging money effectively to achieve needed value.

What that all means is that being cheap is a philosophy that wastes money by spending too little to achieve the desired goal — even if some result other than total failure is realized. Being extravagant means spending more money than is necessary to accomplish the results you're looking for — often by throwing money at a problem until it's solved. Appropriately leveraging money to achieve value means understanding the result, not changing the specific criteria that defines the result and using only the needed amount of money to properly attain that result exactly as established.

Upon revisiting the problems posed by the goals I envisioned for my hobby, I re-designed what a minimum viable Hobby Complex would need. Of course, the new design meant more money, but also a real chance for success.

In re-designing the complex, I discovered a very real need to have a building separate from the others to perform MRO functions out of for the complex — and my home. That adds considerable cost, but also dramatically reduces the impact the maintenance, repair, and operational functions will have on the progress of my Car Projects — mainly by keeping the work space, resources, and clutter associated with either the MRO functions or the Car Projects, separate.

Enter the MRO Workshop. Although smaller than I would like, my hope is that the Workshop will provide enough space to get the work done that I need to both build the more complicated buildings in the complex and keep the Car Lot running smoothly after it's constructed.

As mentioned above, Project: Inner Workings is how I'm going to get the Workshop built.


The MRO Workshop is the second and largest support building I'll be building for the Car Lot Hobby Complex. Its purpose is to be the hub of the necessary maintenance, repair, and operational inner workings of my hobby — as mentioned above, I'll also need it to build the more complex Garage and Wrench Works facilities.

I need to keep this building as inexpensive as possible and in order to do that, I've decided to use a pre-fab steel building from VersaTube which will help lower the costs and still match the other buildings in the complex. The building will be a 12'x20'x8' Summit Garage, which features a 2"x3" square steel tube frame and vertically oriented corrugated and painted sheet metal siding.

It will have a 9'x7' garage door and a 36"x80" side door — which I'll match to the other buildings in the Car Lot. Also, while the color palette for VersaTube's pre-fab buildings is more limited than their custom palette, I'll still be able to maintain the continuity of the complex — the building will be color-matched to the others and will accent the house, as well.

The structure is going to be anchored to a concrete slab foundation — whether that slab is one or two-part is up in the air at the moment. It's small enough that I may lay the foundation myself, which means that whatever way is easiest for me to do, is the way it will go. It will also feature walkway access to the side door and a driveway across the front.

The Workshop is going to be located close to the center of the buildings in the Hobby Complex, which will help keep it accessible for easy servicing of the other structures once they have been built, but will make it a bit more of a challenge for home repair since it will be a ways away from it — however, my priority is the complex.

At around 240 square feet, it's going to be cozy and will likely get tight as MRO projects pile up, but cost really is a primary concern here and the best way to keep that down is to keep the size down.


There are a lot of reasons beyond making the regular maintenance and repair work to my Hobby Complex easier. They include the following:

  • Getting the MRO work for the Hobby Complex and the house out of the way of my Car Projects by giving it its own space.
  • Improving the speed and efficiency of the MRO work by allowing me to keep from repeatedly setting up and breaking down during long term projects to fit the work on the project cars.
  • Improving the effectiveness of the MRO work by creating a space geared specifically toward it.
  • Not working outside in inclement weather in order to get MRO work complete.
  • Keep MRO-related work out of the house. It might sound nuts, but if you need to work in doors and there's no other place to do it, the house work would simply have to be done in the house and that would be messy and require extensive prep work.

Lastly, it's important to mention the fact that — as already mentioned — it will allow me to construct the Garage and Wrench Works faster, easier, and likely to higher quality by giving myself a dedicated space to work in.


By now, this is an old refrain. The goals here are no different than the other Garage Projects I'm constructing for the Hobby Complex. First and foremost, the goal is to build the Workshop. Beyond that, here are the other three almost by rote:

  • The Workshop needs to be built as inexpensively as possible while still meeting my needs.
  • I need to achieve maximum functionality out of a very limited space, which will mean spending more in some areas than I'd like to improve flexibility and versatility.
  • My hobby still isn't building construction, it's my project cars. Worse yet, this isn't even a building meant to directly aid with my Car Projects, it's purpose is to support the buildings that do, so it's almost, but not quite, a sidetrack from getting to my hobby. That means that every day it's not up is a day I'm not able to enjoy doing what I love — not that I won't enjoy putting the Workshop up, it's integral to my plans, but it's still lost time on my passion.

So, there you have it.

I need to build the Workshop as quickly as possible, as inexpensively as possible, while still creating a high-quality structure that meets my needs — just like every other building on the Car Lot.


Project: Plotting and Scheming will address laying out the building location, preparing the site, and running the utilities to and from the Workshop. That helps to limit the scope of this project to the foundation, building structure, and the utilities contained within it.

That means that the driveway and walkway going to it are not a part of this project, either. Those will be part of a later project to finish the Hobby Complex. That also means access to this building will be a bit more rough and tumble than I would like while the rest of the Car Lot is being completed, but it's integral to the overall plan. I don't want the drive and walkways beaten up during construction and due to limited funds and need for the construction of the other buildings, can't afford to put them in before those buildings are up anyway. Plus, the drives and walkways are all interconnected to each other and the buildings, so laying them in when everything else is complete, just makes sense.

Another thing the scope for Project: Inner Workings doesn't include, is cutting any corners that will sacrifice the quality of the end product — especially functionality, appearance, fit, or finish. Since this is a simple, utilitarian structure to begin with, there isn't much to be gained financially from shorting anything and the only thing I would gain would be frustration that comes with using a poorly constructed facility after it's completed.


Three months.

That's what I'm giving myself for this project.

It's not just a random number, either.

Okay, it is a random number, but not just a random number.

I'm thinking the Junk Box is going to take me a month. I'm hoping the Warehouse is going to take me six months. This building is somewhere in between, both in size and complexity, so I'm choosing a somewhere-in-between-number.

How do you like them apples?

Really, it's a little more than twice the size of the Junk Box, but it has much of the complexity of the Warehouse, so I'm hoping this number is accurate.

Thankfully I'll have the experience of building the Junk Box MRO Shed when I get started on this building, so, that means I could probably pull off the foundation myself (obviously, not guaranteed); I could possibly manage the simple utilities for this building which include electricity, plumbing, and HVAC (but, I'm guessing contractors are likely); the structure will almost definitely be in my wheelhouse and the doors are a solid possibility (although, I may need help with the garage door).

Of course, I have no idea when I will start Project: Inner Workings since I don't even have the property to build it on, yet. So, I can't provide an estimated start or finish date.

All that said, here's the breakdown for the amount of time I plan to personally expend on this project based on my reasonable five-hour-a-day, two-day-a-week work schedule:

Per: Day Week Year Totals
Hours 5 10 120 120
Days 2 24 24
Weeks 12 12
Years 0


After doing some careful internet research, I've come up with a budget of $25,000 for Project: Inner Workings.

Is it accurate? Who knows.

Well, a contractor would probably know if I provided him or her with the particulars, but I haven't.

So, with my finger freshly licked and thrust into the air above my head, the breezes say $25,000.

Of course, since I haven't done the planning for this project — only the charter you see here — I don't have a properly scheduled budget based on phases of work, nor have I broken it down by building system. What I do have is a budget evenly spaced out over the 12 weeks estimated to complete the project.

Is it accurate? I doubt it.

Week: 1 2 3
Initial Financing $19,000 $0 $0
Scheduled Financing $500 $500 $500
Scheduled Cost -$2,083 -$2,083 -$2,083
TOTAL $17,417 $15,834 $14,251
4 5 6 7 8
$0 $0 $0 $0 $0
$500 $500 $500 $500 $500
-$2,083 -$2,083 -$2,083 -$2,083 -$2,083
$12,668 $11,085 $9,502 $7,919 $6,336
9 10 11 12 Totals
$0 $0 $0 $0 $19,000
$500 $500 $500 $500 $6,000
-$2,083 -$2,083 -$2,083 -$2,083 -$24,996
$4,753 $3,170 $1,587 $4


Nestled right in between the Warehouse and the Trailerport.

You know, in my Hobby Complex.

Which will be in my back yard.

My future back yard.

Okay, at this point, and at my current rate, it may just be my fantasy back yard.

Work Requirements

The requirements section looks identical to the one for the Warehouse Storage Garage and 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
  • Insulation 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
  • Plumbing rough-in
  • Tankless water heater installation
  • Utility sink and hose faucet installation
  • Ventilation fan installation
  • Heat pump installation
  • HVAC ducting installation


At this point in time, I can't assess the site, consult contractors, or do a detailed plan — I don't have the property necessary to get that ball in motion.

Nor do I have the funds to get the ball in motion — much less buy the property.

This is simply a preliminary peek at the major milestones necessary to complete Project: Inner Workings. They are probably in order, although I can't be certain without creating that detailed plan.

Assessment, Feasibility and Go/No Go

By the time I reach this stage of this project, I should know whether or not the Hobby Complex in its entirety is feasible. I'll have assessed the site, landscaped it, and laid out all of the structures on it.

Therefore, at this point, the thing which will determine project launch will be sufficient funding. If I have it, project launch will be a go and planning can commence.


Preliminary planning and budgeting for the project charter is already complete, but that isn't sufficient to manage a project with.

To manage Project: Inner Workings effectively, I'll need to engage contractors, get real-world costs, figure out time requirements, and sequence the work among other things. That's what the planning phase is for.

When I'm done, I'll have a fairly definitive idea of whether or not I can realistically complete the project with the resources I have and if I do, I will give myself the final go ahead to prepare for principle project work.

Preparation and Coordination

I don't foresee a great deal of coordination happening on this project.

That is, if I'm able to do it all by myself.

Even if I am able to do it all myself, I may need to consult with contractors to get an idea of how to handle specific areas of the construction and to check my work before an inspection to be sure I don't have any re-work that needs to be addressed before the inspector will sign off on it.

If I'm not able to handle every facet of this project, then all bets are off. There could be some fairly significant coordination needed, much like that of Project: Big Top for the Warehouse.

I'll know a lot more once I'm able to write up a detailed plan, so, we'll see.


If all goes according to my preliminary plan, I'll be pouring this foundation myself.

That said, this foundation is more than twice the size of the one for the Junk Box that I'll be handling for Project: Test Case. That may make it beyond my ability to manage all by my lonesome.

Although I would like to pour this as a monolithic piece, it may only be feasible to do it by myself if I do it as a two-part, T-footing foundation.

If I'm not able to handle it on my own, then I'll coordinate with the contractor, have them come out and lay it down so that I can get cracking on building the structure for the Workshop.

Building Structure Construction

By the time I get to this point in Project: Inner Workings, I'll have constructed both the Junk Box and the Warehouse, and will have a fairly strong grasp of what to expect.

As a bonus, the Warehouse Storage Garage is a lot larger than the MRO Workshop, so if I'm able to do that one, then the Workshop should be a walk in the park by comparison.

That said, I may still need to call in the help of a contractor to install the garage door, but this will also be the fourth garage door installed in a building for the Car Lot, and I may have a solid understanding of how to do it and not need any help. We'll see.

Utility Installation and Hook-Up

This is the third building to be constructed in my Hobby Complex. By now, I would like to think I'll have a solid understanding of how to do it. Even if I do need someone to install the utilities on the other two buildings, I may not for the Workshop.

Then again, even if I don't, I may not want to hassle with it because of the size. I'll withhold judgement until I complete Project: Big Top for the Warehouse, to see just exactly how I feel about the work and how quickly I want it done.

Regardless, this is likely a place where I need to consult with contractors to make sure everything is done right.

Close Out

At this point the principle project work will be complete and it will be time for me to correct any lingering issues, review the project and apply the successes and failures to the Garage Projects which will still be waiting for completion.


The MRO Workshop is important to my hobby, but it's also a bit of an expensive sidetrack. It won't allow me to get to work on my Car Projects, but it will allow me to build the buildings that will, maintain the Car Lot Hobby Complex when complete, and help to keep the MRO activities from interfering with the work on my cars.

Although not as small as one of the Boxes, its size does lend itself to the potential for me to do all or most of the work myself, which will help keep costs down — something that's very important, especially for a building that's only there to support my hobby.



Let me explain why.

First, I need money to buy the property.

Once the property is purchased, I'll need to complete Project: Plotting and Scheming for the Car Lot, Project: Test Case for the Junk Box, and Project: Big Top for the Warehouse. Oh, and I'll need to fund all three of those, before funding this project.

However, once all that is taken care of, progress will be made here.

It could be a while.

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