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Project: Auto House Parking Garage Construction


Auto House

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What is a garage to park your cars in?

It's a house for your cars — which is why I've named the project to build the Parking Garage, Project: Auto House.

Okay, so technically, this isn't a stand-alone building, it's attached to the house which makes it more or less a bedroom for the Cobalt SS/SC, but "Car Bedroom" sounded stupid.

This may actually be my most ambitious Garage Project — it's the only custom stick-built structure I'm constructing for my Hobby Complex. However, I can't let that stop me — the Garage is a must for my hobby plans to succeed.


No place that I know of has nice weather all the time — at least not my personal definition of nice. There's going to be blazing sun, rain, snow, or just plain unpleasant temperatures of some variety, whether hot or cold — no matter where I live. That makes having an attached garage a requirement for me.

However, that isn't all the Garage is intended for.

One of the two bays will also double as a space for maintenance and light repair work. Because the Wrench Works Service Garage has very limited space, when its being used for major repair work or projects, it will be unusable for things like oil changes and brake work that are needed on a regular basis. In order to resolve that dilemma, I'll have to use the Garage — even though I would prefer the attached garage be used strictly for parking regular-use vehicles.

As another side benefit, because I need it to go up long before I get to the Wrench Works, it will also allow me to get to cracking on some work for the cars — I just don't know what or how much. I really do need it for maintenance work — such as, for the Cobalt SS/SC.


The Garage is designed for a house that doesn't exist.

The reason for that is that I don't have a house, yet. I have, however, done a lot of research and it seems that the properties that will be most attainable for me, likely won't have a garage and will need one built.

Because I'm looking for an attached garage, this one will need to be both stick-built and custom-designed. That will make this Garage one of the most — if not the most — expensive to execute within the whole Hobby Complex.

As it's designed right now, I intend it to be 30' wide by 28' deep, with a 12' ceiling — which will provide room for a small, in-floor lift in the second, dual-purpose working/parking bay. It will also include a 15'x28' attached, fenced, and gated carport both for extra covered parking and as a place to wash and detail cars — another important part of regular maintenance. The second bay will run the entire 28' depth of the building for room to work, but the first bay — the one used exclusively for parking my daily driver — will be shortened by a small utility/storage closet which I intend to access from inside the house for house-related tools and supplies.

The garage doors as of right now are 11'x9' multi-panel roll-up steel doors. The one outside walk-door is approximately 36"x80" in size and constructed out of steel as well. The one door going into the house will be approximately that size, but likely made of hardwood — I don't have any firm plans at this point, it will depend on the house.

The Garage will be built on a concrete slab foundation, thick enough to support a small, shallow in-floor lift. No, I'm not talking one of those old hydraulic lifts, but an electrical, frame-contact, scissor lift. The reason it will be in-floor is that I'll need to use the space for parking as well as light repair work. Whether or not this will be built with a monolithic slab or two-part T-footing foundation is up in the air right now.

As for utilities, this thing will be furnished with both 120v and 240v power, robust lighting, water and sewer, HVAC, and compressed air.

Unlike the other buildings I'm constructing for the Hobby Complex, I intend to install the concrete driveway, patio, front stoop, and sidewalk as a part of the project to build the Parking Garage — which, of course, will increase the needed financial outlay for the project, dramatically. However, I don't want to drive freshly detailed cars over gravel and/or dirt — nor do I want to traipse through mud going from the house to the Garage should I need to outside.

Although not the most expensive, this Garage is the most opulent build I'm doing for my Hobby Complex — but only because it's attached to my house and I want it to be nice. We're not talking the Taj Mahal of garages, here, but the interior will be finished — likely just with paint and plain trim to match the rest of the house.

The fact that the Garage is designed for a non-existent home means the design will likely change to better match whatever house I end up with.


I need a place to park the Cobalt SS/SC and any other regular use vehicles I may need. However, the Garage is intended to solve more than that dilemma.

Here's a short list:

  • Keep the elements off both myself and the cars — to keep the cars in nicer condition and cleaner for a longer period time after washing. Keeping the elements off of me just makes me happier and more pleasant to be around — and allows me to get more work done.
  • Provide a place for basic maintenance and light repair work both before the Wrench Works is built and while it's being used for major repairs and long-term projects.
  • Provide a place for cleaning and detailing the cars — again, both before the Wrench Works is built and while it's being used for repairs and projects.
  • It keeps the neighbors from getting cranky seeing me out in front of the house wrenching on something on a regular basis. Even though I'm a big fan of tinkering on cars, someone who always has something torn apart in their driveway just makes the house and neighborhood look like shit, so I can appreciate the eyesore complaint even though I wouldn't actually raise a stink, myself, because I've been there before.

As an added bonus, having the Garage will also be more secure — both for the cars, and the tools and parts when they're lying about and I have to leave them alone for whatever reason.

Plus, having a lift is just safer than a jack and jack stands.

This Garage is a win all around.

Except the pocket book — the pocket book doesn't win.


I wish I had something new to write here, but the goals for Project: Auto House aren't much different than the goals for the other construction projects in the Car Lot Hobby Complex.

I need it done.

Here's other stuff that needs to be achieved in order for Project: Auto House to be a success:

  • I need to keep costs down, but it still needs to fulfill my requirements.
  • This space is limited. Although spacious for your average two-car garage, the Parking Garage isn't intended to be an average two-car garage. As mentioned above, the second bay needs to double as a work space for maintenance and light repair. That means needing to spend extra for the larger space, also for adding in the amenities needed for servicing a car, and making the Garage flexible enough to do it.
  • Because this thing is stick built, trimmed, and finished, it'll probably take longer than any other construction project — but hopefully not as long as I'm planning for site prep in Project: Plotting and Scheming. With that in mind, my hobby still isn't construction, it's my Car Projects and every moment spent building this addition to my house isn't better spent wrenching on or driving one my cars. So, I would like to see it done within the timeframe allotted in this charter.

There is a slight difference in the goals from the other buildings for Project: Auto House. I also need it to match the house in appearance, fit, and finish. While the other buildings are strictly utilitarian in nature (even if I do want them to look nice and match the house more or less), this one is a part of the house, so it needs to look the part in every detail.


The scope for Project: Auto House is less limited than the other buildings. That means both more relative work and cost. Like the other buildings, this project includes the foundation, building construction and installation of the utilities within it. However, it also includes the house patio, front stoop, walkway from the patio to the attached carport, and the driveway that runs to the street. In this case, the house and Garage are very much interconnected — both in looks and in function.

As I've already mentioned, I don't want to drive freshly detailed vehicles over a gravel or dirt driveway — and, yes, I like my cars detailed. If I didn't like nice cars I'd just drive beaters and not be a car enthusiast.

What the scope doesn't include are the site prep and utility services, which will be dealt with during Project: Plotting and Scheming for the Car Lot.

I've stated in every other building's project scope that I won't cut corners on fit, finish, functionality, or appearance, and that's even more important for this project. As I've already mentioned in this charter, it's important to me that the Garage match the house's appearance, fit, and finish because it's attached to the house and I don't want to look at an eyesore. This is the only building where compromising on those factors could gain me some real financial advantage, but I won't do it.

As I've already said, the Parking Garage will by no means be lavishly constructed, but it always rankles me when I see a garage built on a house and it was obvious that it was added on because the trim, proportions, fit and finish, or what-have-you are glaringly different. So, for me, money spent making certain it looks the part, is important.


Things take time — especially building things.

This building is wholly custom, so I'm expecting it to take more time than any of the others.

Here's my dilemma though:

I should probably hire a general contractor to do this. It'll get done faster and, more to the point, they have more knowledge and experience than I do.

I don't want to hire a contractor, I want to do it myself. I like to do things myself. I'm just built that way.

Regardless of which way I go, there will likely be contractors involved somewhere at some point, whether it be with the foundation, the structure, the utilities, or the patio, front stoop, drive or walk ways, I don't know exactly, but I don't imagine I'll be popping this whole thing up by myself.

I really, really want to, though.

Regardless, I'm setting aside about 9 months to do it. 39 weeks to be exact. That's not based on any real-world experience, I just don't want it to take any longer than that and it's three months longer than my largest pre-engineered buildings, so I hope that'll work.

Sadly, 39 weeks doesn't mean I can spend every week working. After the three month mark, I know I'll have a tough time rearranging things so that I can devote every week to Project: Auto House. To be realistic, I know I'm good for about 70% of that time. That gives me about 27 weeks of actual work on the building — what with holidays, work, and what-not getting in my way.

Here's how that time breaks down for me based on my available hours:

Per: Day Week Year Totals
Hours 5 10 270 270
Days 2 54 54
Weeks 27 27
Years 0



How's that for not burying the lead?

Of the Car Lot construction projects, this one is likely the second most expensive. In case you're curious, the project to complete the Hobby Complex, may be more.

Regardless, this is a big chunk to bite off.

A fully finished, properly designed garage — even one that is in no-way opulent — isn't cheap. Especially one that needs utilities and such to support automotive service work.

Like the other project charters, I haven't done enough planning to know how that money will need to be spent over the life of the project, so I've broken down the scheduled budget by week. It's not going to be accurate, but I don't know how inaccurate it is at this point. That will require detailed project planning.

Week: 1 2 3
Initial Financing $96,500 $0 $0
Scheduled Financing $500 $500 $500
Scheduled Cost -$4,074 -$4,074 -$4,074
TOTAL $92,926 $89,352 $85,778
4 5 6 7 8
$0 $0 $0 $0 $0
$500 $500 $500 $500 $500
-$4,074 -$4,074 -$4,074 -$4,074 -$4,074
$82,204 $78,630 $75,056 $71,482 $67,908
9 10 11 12 13
$0 $0 $0 $0 $0
$500 $500 $500 $500 $500
-$4,074 -$4,074 -$4,074 -$4,074 -$4,074
$64,334 $60,760 $57,186 $53,612 $50,038
14 15 16 17 18
$0 $0 $0 $0 $0
$500 $500 $500 $500 $500
-$4,074 -$4,074 -$4,074 -$4,074 -$4,074
$46,464 $42,890 $39,316 $35,742 $32,168
19 20 21 22 23
$0 $0 $0 $0 $0
$500 $500 $500 $500 $500
-$4,074 -$4,074 -$4,074 -$4,074 -$4,074
$28,594 $25,020 $21,446 $17,872 $14,298
24 25 26 27 Totals
$0 $0 $0 $0 $101,500
$500 $500 $500 $500 $13,500
-$4,074 -$4,074 -$4,074 -$4,074 -$109,998
$10,724 $7,150 $3,576 $2


Obviously, because the Garage is attached to my future house, it's on my future property.

Work Requirements

The requirements for Project: Auto House are very similar to most of the other buildings, except for the design of the Garage and the partial disassembly of the house in preparation for its construction.



  • Foundation design
  • Site prep and excavation
  • Form construction and teardown
  • Concrete pouring and screeding


  • Siding, sheeting, and insulation removal from outer wall of house
  • Attic fan removal from outer wall of house
  • Walk door installation in outer wall of house
  • Frame construction
  • Sheeting and siding installation
  • Insulation installation
  • Sheet rock installation
  • Trim Installation
  • Roofing 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
  • Compressed air plumbing installation


I haven't spoken to any contractors, drawn up a detailed plan, and as I've already mentioned, I don't have the house or the site on which to build the Garage. However, to my best understanding, these phases are in the correct sequence.

I'll know more once I've purchased the property in the future and I'm able to start on the Garage Projects.

Assessment, Feasibility and Go/No Go

Completing Project: Plotting and Scheming for the Hobby Complex will provide me most of the assessment information I'll need to decide its feasibility — but not all.

I'll still need to make sure everything is in place and that the site where I'm going to construct the Garage remains ready — that is, nothing has changed with the site or deteriorated in the interim between completing Project: Plotting and Scheming and the beginning of Project: Auto House. I'll also need to make sure the finances are in place to cover this project and that I have the other resources necessary to complete it.

If the feasibility checks out, then I'll give the go ahead and actual project planning can commence.


Planning for the Garage build will likely be the most complicated of all the projects for constructing the Hobby Complex. Because of the need to coordinate with contractors, create a custom design for a stick-built addition, keep the construction from impacting the rest of the house as much as possible, and the level of detail and finish quality of the result, planning will need to be very meticulous, have a great deal of breadth and depth, and have numerous contingencies to deal with greater potential for problems from the custom construction of the building.

If the final plan doesn't show any glaring problems and all of the resources are lined up to successfully execute Project: Auto House, giving the final go ahead for the principle project work will just be a formality.

Preparation and Coordination

The preparation and coordination for this project is going to be either more or less complicated than the other buildings on the Car Lot.


If I have a contractor build this for me, I don't have a lot of prep work or coordination to do. That'll be handled by the general contractor.

If I do this myself, then preparation and coordination are likely going to be a lot more challenging because I'll have to get lots of different materials on site and coordinate with many contractors and/or advisors. Possibly more contractors and/or advisors than I will have to with the other buildings because it's being stick-built. I just don't know at this point.

Why lots of different materials?

The other buildings are VersaTube kits and will arrive with most of the needed materials in a bundle. Super cool. This will require framing materials, fastening materials, sheeting materials, insulation, roofing, siding, and various supplies — none of which are bundled nice and neat for me.

Basically, it'll be like going grocery shopping instead of picking up a meal deal at a fast food restaurant.

So, this stage will take more time than it will on the other projects. I hope so, anyway — I don't want to see what will have to happen for this stage to take longer with one of the others.


Just based on the fact that this addition is good-sized, means the foundation will likely fall under the purview of a contractor, who has both the experience and the team necessary to get it done.

However, this will be my fourth building, and though unlikely, it is possible I'll have learned a thing or two and may be able to get the job done myself.

If I can, I will.

Whether this is a two-part T-footing foundation or a monolithic slab is up in the air at the moment, but I do know the pad portion will need to be high-strength and thicker than normal to accommodate the in-floor lift.

Why an in-floor lift? I need it to be flush with the floor level so the bay can be used for parking as well. This is the Parking Garage, after all.

Building Structure Construction

This is where I likely begin engaging with the principle project work in earnest. That is, if I don't have a general contractor building it for me. If I do, then I'll just poke my head out the door and check in on a regular basis to see how the construction is proceeding. If I don't, this will be the most complex building for me to construct on the Car Lot.

At this point, I will have never built a stick-built building. I will, however, have built three VersaTube buildings. Based on my research, while there are quite a few dissimilarities, there are also quite a few similarities, and those similarities may be enough for me to chug along — even if I don't have the skill and experience necessary to move at a professional's pace.

Regardless, based on the aforementioned research, I don't foresee a lot to throw me off — especially if I check in with an advisor of some sort to make sure I'm dotting my Is and crossing my Ts.

Utility Installation and Hook-Up

As I've already mentioned repeatedly, the Garage is far and away the most complicated of the buildings in the Hobby Complex — and that's especially true where the utilities are concerned.

That isn't to say the systems are anything different from the rest, only their potential implementation. Going through the walls of a stick-built building, rather than being installed over the framework of a metal building are different animals.

This may be one place where I just call in the big guns and leave it to them. Of course, as you may already know, I kinda like to get my fingers in the pie, so, we'll see.

I've studied utility installation in stick-built buildings, I just haven't done it yet. I know that I will very likely need someone to check out my work before it goes to inspection, so there's little chance I won't be coordinating with someone for this phase — and I will almost assuredly need someone to hook up the utilities to their services.

Close Out

The principle project work for Auto House is done at this point. The only things I have left to do are tie up loose ends, review the learned lessons and apply that knowledge to future Garage Projects.

Although stick-built, I have no doubt I will pick up something from the project that I won't learn doing the other buildings and with the Wrench Works on the way, I'll have an opportunity to apply the automotive service building knowledge I've gained here.


The Parking Garage is the most complicated building I'll be constructing for my Hobby Complex. Unlike the rest of the buildings, it's a custom stick-built design attached to my future house, which means the level of craftsmanship needs to meet the same quality as my home. That makes Project: Auto House, the most ambitious Garage Project of them all — and there will be ten needed to finish the Car Lot Hobby Complex.

To add complication to it, the Garage needs to be flexible to allow me to use it for both parking and automotive maintenance and light repair work. With only two bays, that means one of them needs to pull double duty while not negatively impacting either function. That requires greater design complexity, more time spent building it, and more cost — but that's what happens when you don't have the finances available to create an ideal scenario.

In addition to the Garage itself, it will also include a fenced-in carport for covered overflow parking and automotive cleaning and detailing — an important part of regular maintenance and repair. Unlike the other building projects, Project: Auto House will include work to the house which may mean installing a patio, a front stoop, a sidewalk to access the new building from the outside of the house, and a driveway all the way to the street — because, I like clean cars.


There's this rock and roll song from 1956 titled "Ain't Got No Home."

It's by a little-known artist named Clarence "Frogman" Henry.

Like Frogman, I ain't got no home.

Nor do I have the land on which said home would reside.

My pocketbook is also bereft of the funds necessary to buy said land and home.

That's right, I've got bupkis.

And bupkis doesn't pay for Garage Projects.

I really wish it did. I have so much bupkis, if it were money, I could build any Hobby Complex I could imagine.

When I have more than bupkis and the Garage Projects can commence, this is where progress updates for Project: Auto House will be posted.

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