Here at 924S944.com, we have been leasing space in Orange City for a couple of years. Over the summer we made the decision to come home and build a shop on our 2.5 acres in DeLand, and on August 10 the concrete slab was poured. Putting up the 40×60 metal building was the easy part. From there a series of decisions had to be made that were just as important as the decision to build the building. Here I will share those decisions and explain why, as well as the importance of the order of completing various tasks.
A naked metal building is a very hot place in summer in Florida – and Spring, Fall and most of Winter. Insulation is a must-have, and it must be done before anything else is done inside. We had spray-foam insulation installed from the slab to the peak of the roof at a cost of $5,000. One bonus – it keeps out bugs. It also dulls the sound of the afternoon thundershowers on the roof.
Foam insulation has a tendency to flack and “snow” inside the building. Therefore, we covered the inside walls with 4×8 sheets of 7/16 OSB. It is inexpensive, durable, and you can nail things to it. Since the building has twelve foot side walls, we went up twelve feet. That presented a problem, though – the steel uprights are on five foot centers, not four. So we screwed 1×4 furring strips horizontally into the steel, then screwed the OSB into them to form the inside wall facing. Finally, two coats of KILZ in white went on with a sprayer. Twenty gallons of KILZ for two coats. Bright white paint is highly reflective, and it provides a nice finish without the expense of a top coat.
Electric and Lighting
You can never have too much light. We already had six warehouse compact florescent lights from the other place, and since it is so big, we went with ten more LED warehouse lights. The LEDs are really bright and really light the place up. But to get the lights to light, we needed electricity.
One obstacle was that the shop would be located on the other side of the house from the house electrical panel. We spent a lot of time looking over alternatives, then came up with the idea of running the power feed through the attic of the house, then down and underground to the building. It worked perfectly. And while we had a ditch in the ground, we covered the electrical conduit with a little dirt and then put in a water line to also feed the building with water service. And before we poured the concrete apron out front, we put in a water line across the front of the building with a hose bib on the front corner and between the two bay doors. Since the utility sink and other water appliances were going in on the far side, we ran the line all the way across and around the corner to the far side…pre-planning. Oh, yea – and a buried CAT6 line to run internet out there for computer access as well as streaming our favorite car shows and live racing.
Putting in the wiring for the lights was the first electric priority, since you cannot do much in the dark. We also ran a line of outlets along the wall next to the breaker box for things like fans, tool chargers and a radio.
From there we ran circuits for the compressor (220v), the office, outside lighting, and additional lines of outlets. A couple of drop-down extension cords were attached to the rafters near where the lifts were going to be.
The use of one of those drive-around lift platforms made these tasks much easier. Rental is about $500 a month, but worth it in speed, safety and efficiency.
One of the conditions that was attached to this build was that I would move my office from the spare bedroom, freeing it up as a guest room. Ms. 924S944.com teaches healthcare topics for several universities at home, so our house is a one-bedroom, two bath, two office affair – having a guest room back for our favorite relatives seemed like the thing to do. So we framed a 14’x14′ room inside the building with OSB outside walls and doubled OSB on top so that the remaining 5-7′ on top could be used for storage. We found two used 3’x5′ windows on Craigslist for $25 each and installed them in the corner looking out on the shop – and installed them sideways. Instead of the windows opening up and down, they open sideways like a sliding window. We also bought a free-standing air conditioner for the office. Too cool. (See what I did there?)
The building has two large rollup doors – one 12′ and one 16′, with one walk door and no windows. We installed a 9,000 pound two-post Rotary lift in front of the sixteen foot door, then moved our four-post from the old place to its location in front of the twelve foot door. The four-post is a drive-on lift that can be placed on wheels and moved around, specifically to move it outside for pressure washing the undersides of cars. We get parts cars that have been sitting in the wild for a time, and things live there that we don’t want in the shop.
Storage for parts is found in one corner, benches across the back, cleaning tanks and bead blasters on the right side next to the office. While we are still moving, it should all fit together in an effective and efficient manner.
“Over the Top”
We are big fans of taking advantage of opportunities as they are presented, and this project is no exception. A utility sink is a must-have in any shop, with come counter space and maybe a cabinet or shelf. Well, it so happens that we are renovating a condo unit that we bought as a rental, and that renovation included some interesting things…1) a full-size refrigerator with an ice maker, 2) an old-but-still-working water heater, 3) a functional-but-dated set of kitchen cabinets complete with granite countertops, and 4) a washer and dryer. Yea, hot water on demand, full ‘fridge with ice, washer and dryer for nasty t-shirts and rags, and granite. And yes, it is all installed and waiting for us to finish the plumbing. Oh, and we found a double utility sink at Home Depot online, and it looks like it will work well.
Lifts and Equipment
About thirty years ago I built a shop/garage at another house and made a huge mistake – eight foot walls. Putting in a lift was impossible, so working on jack stands was the order of the day. This building has two lifts and thirteen feet of overhead clearance, and that is the bare minimum. Get fifteen feet if you can.
An inexpensive bead blaster will help a lot with parts cleaning and prep. A drill press and a small press will also come in handy, as will lots of open space with rolling carts and tables. When stuff is on wheels, it is much easier and quicker to reconfigure your workspace for the particular job is presented. Having rolling storage that you can use for one particular job as you remove, bag and tag the parts is also nice. Plastic cabinets that hold fluids, special tools and supplies also makes things easier and reduces the “I know I have this” search time.
We bought this property specifically so that we could build this building – fourteen years ago. Well, being patient has worked out. We will be posting more photos, and we are anticipating a “grand opening” of some sort in January. Look for the announcements.
A well planned shop project has its own rewards. Plan well, but don’t be afraid to make changes on the fly.
Oh, yea – over the winter we will put in air conditioning for the whole building. We are getting too damn old to work in the heat and humidity.
Kevin Duffy is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Daytona State College in Florida and a dedicated car guy. He divides his time between teaching criminal justice topics in the online environment and working on/driving cars, particularly Porsches. Kevin is one of the principals in InspiringLifeOver50.com.