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Big Top

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A big top; that's what this building is like, and like raising the big top in a circus, the rest of my hobby depends on it.

Project: Big Top is how I'm going to build the Warehouse.


The Warehouse Storage Garage is planned to be a 40'x40'x12' Summit Garage from VersaTube. Like the building for the Service Garage, it's the least expensive, easiest to assemble, quality pre-fab steel building I've found.

I've already laid out the entire facility and it's going to be a tight fit. Of course, neither the building nor the property to put it on exist, so my layout is entirely digital, but I've done this enough to be fairly confident in my assessment. Which means when this building goes up, it will already limit my hobby — but it's adequate for my needs, and even though its well beyond my means at this point, it's the smallest, least expensive building I can erect that will do the job, so I'll have to find a way.

That is, if I can ever afford to buy the property.

One of the most significant things my hobby is lacking is the space necessary for me to engage with it. In order to get that space, I need to be able to buy a place with enough land to allow me to build a garage to work on the cars in, but, in order to afford the property, I need to be able move all the pieces of my hobby on to that property.

Therefore, this building must be built to house all the cars, parts, equipment, etc., before I can move forward with the Service Garage.

Now you see the importance of the Warehouse to my hobby and why it's like raising the Big Top in a circus.


The current plan for the Storage Garage is to build it as part of a very small complex which includes it, the Service Garage, an MRO Workshop, an RV Cover, a series of three storage sheds, a privacy fence, and the drive and walkways necessary to provide easy access.

Since I don't yet have the property to put it on, I've tinkered heavily with layouts to find the most compact design that I can comfortably build this complex with. That design includes an 1100 square foot house with an attached two-car parking garage and single carport, that if properly shaped and located on the property, would allow me to put the entire complex on just shy of three-quarters of an acre.

The building, itself, is the least expensive, standard kit VersaTube sells in a size that would allow me to fit everything I need to inside of it. Because the kit is standard, it limits my color choices, but, that fits my priorities for this project: which is as low a cost as possible — without sacrificing the quality of the end result, obviously.

Like the Service Garage, this building features vertical, corrugated, painted sheet metal siding and a 2"x4" square steel tube frame. And while they have a number of similarities, this one is 600 square feet larger — which means more cost.

The Storage Garage will also be anchored to a concrete slab foundation and will have just one sidewalk to the walk door on the side of the building and the driveway across the front to the garage doors.

This building features two 16'x10' garage door openings, so I'll be utilizing two multi-panel, roll-up, steel doors. The walk door will just be a pre-hung steel unit, identical to the one in the Service Garage.

The Warehouse will need to have some amenities to be functional in the form of electricity for 120v and 240v outlets; minimal lighting necessary to make it easy to move around in and find parts and such; plumbing for a sink to wash-up in; hose faucets on the outside of the building for utility purposes; some form of HVAC to keep extreme temperatures at bay so as to keep the vehicles and the more delicate items stored with them from deteriorating or being ruined. Even though it has many of the utilities necessary to be a workspace, it's not intended to be used for any kind of work, what-so-ever.


As mentioned above and on the profile page for this building, the Storage Garage is absolutely necessary to move forward with my hobby. Beyond that, there are other reasons for it:

  • It will be both pleasant and convenient to consolidate all my hobby stuff into one location.
  • Save money — as expensive as this endeavor is shaping up to be, it's still, ultimately, lower cost than my current arrangement when spread out over enough time. And since I won't be giving up on my project cars, I will reach that point.

Outside of the need for this facility so that I can continue with my Car Projects, I'll finally have my stuff close to my work. That's something I didn't have with my makeshift arrangement before. And let me tell you, you want to talk about losing time trying to find stuff, try adding drive time to it — many times, multiple trips.


The most obvious goal is build the Storage Garage. However, there are other objectives that need to be met in order to achieve a successful build. The goals for this garage are virtually identical to those of the Service Garage:

  • 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 a limited 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 Warehouse 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.

What it boils down to is that I need to build this garage as quickly and inexpensively as possible to achieve the results I need to attain while making as many adjustments as needed to make a building that's got limited space work for my needs as best as I can.


The scope of this project stops at the building itself. It doesn't include the privacy fence, utility services, driveways or walkways that provide access to it. Those are a part of another project to construct the Hobby Complex. This project also doesn't include outfitting the building with equipment or moving the project cars and the rest of my hobby paraphernalia into it.

What this project includes are the building structure, its foundation and the utilities that are a part of it.

Just like the Service Garage, I won't throw up an eyesore or something that's unusable. Nor will I sacrifice the quality of the fit and finish. These kinds of things are marginal cost savers and really only serve to lower my satisfaction with the final outcome — and since that poor quality will be a permanent part of the building, I simply won't abide that kind of corner cutting.


One of the great things about VersaTube structures, is their ease of assembly — and that ease really helps to reduce construction time.

The sad thing about this project is that it won't have some sort of magical pre-engineered foundation to just drop in place. So, that will take normal construction time — and contractors to handle the things that are either beyond my skill or resources.

Unlike the Service Garage, where I will have the experience of building this structure first, this will be my first time building a large VersaTube building. Although building construction is much less technically precise than building a car, I expect some teething issues.

Like the Service Garage, I'll probably update this section as I get a better idea of what kind of timeframe I'll need to construct this building — especially once I complete the Junk Box.

There is one area of scheduling this building that I have a complete understanding of and is absolutely set in stone: I have no bloody idea when I'll be able to get started building it because I don't have the property to build it on.

Although the building is larger than the Service Garage, it has a distinct advantage and that is having a simpler utility set-up, which includes less robust plumbing, power, and lighting systems. With that being said, I'm going to set aside the same amount of time to build this structure as the Service Garage. That is 18 weeks over six months, made up of 36 working days. At 5 hours of actual working time a day. Here are the personal hours I plan to spend on the project:

Per: Day Week Year Totals
Hours 5 10 180 180
Days 2 36 36
Weeks 18 18
Years 0


I have no money, so this project is currently unfunded, but with some exploratory internet research, I've come up with a rough cost of $76,000 to build the Warehouse.

I'm basing my initial budget on that cost estimate and put together a scheduled budget evenly divided by the timeframe above — I don't yet have a more detailed, useful scheduled budget based on the phases of work planned:

Week: 1 2 3
Initial Financing $67,000 $0 $0
Scheduled Financing $500 $500 $500
Scheduled Cost -$4,222 -$4,222 -$4,222
TOTAL $63,278 $59,556 $55,834
4 5 6 7 8
$0 $0 $0 $0 $0
$500 $500 $500 $500 $500
-$4,222 -$4,222 -$4,222 -$4,222 -$4,222
$52,112 $48,390 $44,668 $40,946 $37,224
9 10 11 12 13
$0 $0 $0 $0 $0
$500 $500 $500 $500 $500
-$4,222 -$4,222 -$4,222 -$4,222 -$4,222
$33,502 $29,780 $26,058 $22,336 $18,614
14 15 16 17 18
$0 $0 $0 $0 $0
$500 $500 $500 $500 $500
-$4,222 -$4,222 -$4,222 -$4,222 -$4,222
$14,892 $11,170 $7,448 $3,726 $4


The backyard of a property that I don't yet own.

Work Requirements

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
  • 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


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

First, I need to assess the site I'll be building the Warehouse on. Once I get the lay of the land, I'll have a better idea of just how feasible this project is.

If the site assessment doesn't reveal any issues then I'll move forward with the project launch, which will allow me to get into detailed planning and get a much clearer idea of the practical feasibility of this project.


To write up the charter for the Big Top project, I've done some preliminary planning and budgeting, but nothing in any great detail. That's what the planning stage is for: engaging contractors, nailing down costs, working out time requirements and sequencing work that needs to take place, etc.

Preparation and Coordination

With the challenges working with the quantities and sizes of the materials needed for this project, as well as the need to coordinate with an as-yet-undetermined number of contractors, this stage handles that. In order to prepare, I'll need to get the necessary parts, materials, and supplies to start this project and coordinate the contractors so it can move along as smoothly and quickly as possible.


Once everything has been prepared and coordinated, I'll have the concrete contractor come out and lay the foundation.

Building Structure Construction

Like the later Service Garage project, this is where I begin participating in the principle project work in earnest. This will also be my first time constructing a large VersaTube kit, but I've already done some significant research into the process and I'll have built a smaller VersaTube building for the Junk Box, so there doesn't appear to be anything I can't do and I'll already have a solid idea of the hidden pitfalls, so I should have a handle on what to expect.

Also, just like in the rest of the projects, I may need to enlist the help of a contractor to install the garage doors, but we'll see.

Utility Installation and Hook-Up

There are a number of utilities in this structure: electrical, lighting, plumbing, and HVAC. However, from what I can tell, none of it should be unusual, so other than the size of the building, the installation should be pretty simple. Although I don't think I'll need a contractor, I may bring in someone to consult on the work I'm doing, just to make sure it passes code without too much re-work.

Close Out

Once the principle work is completed, I'll tie up any loose ends and review the project for any lessons I can glean to apply to the following Garage Projects.


There are a number of goals for this project, but its most important aspect isn't a goal at all, rather the ability to get my cars and junk stored in one place. Although limited in space for expansion, I can get everything I own into this 40'x40' building, which will allow me to move forward with my hobby.


This is it, so far.

There's more on the way...at some point.

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