Build the per­fect garage

Part one: Rob Hawkins builds his ul­ti­mate home work­shop.

Car Mechanics (UK) - - Contents -

I’ve lived in the same semi-de­tached house in Leeds for 20 years and coped with a draughty 18x10ft con­crete garage to work on my own cars and projects for CM. How­ever, I’ve al­ways needed more space and have wasted hours with trol­ley jacks and ramps, wish­ing I could have an in­spec­tion pit and a few ex­tra feet in length. Many of my cars sim­ply don’t fit inside my cur­rent garage be­cause there’s a bench at the back, so any­thing longer than four me­tres is too much. Even my Audi A3 only just fits in, but there’s no chance of open­ing the boot.

In early 2017, I started cost­ing up the price of hav­ing a new garage built. I de­cided to keep within the lim­its of build­ing reg­u­la­tions and plan­ning per­mis­sion, stick­ing to a max­i­mum height of 2.5 me­tres be­cause the garage is next to my neigh­bour’s bound­ary, and not ex­ceed­ing 50% of the to­tal area of land around the house (an­other three me­tres on the end was still within the limit of build­ing regs at 30 square me­tres of in­ter­nal space).

Size mat­ters

My wish list for the spec­i­fi­ca­tion of the garage soon grew. I wanted an in­spec­tion pit and a tall enough door and in­te­rior to be able to fit my six-foot-high VW Trans­porter bay-win­dow camper. And I wanted to fit a few clear roof pan­els to help in­crease light­ing for photography. All of the pre­fab­ri­cated garage spe­cial­ists I spoke to couldn’t ac­com­mo­date all of these re­quire­ments. In some cases, they sim­ply couldn’t help with clear roof pan­els, but ev­ery­thing else was OK.

At one point, I was won­der­ing whether it was go­ing to be eas­ier to de­sign and build my own garage from a tim­ber or steel frame. My brother is an ar­chi­tect and he en­cour­aged me to look into this, but ad­vised me to com­mis­sion a struc­tural en­gi­neer to ap­prove the de­sign. I even pro­vi­sion­ally booked a friend, who’s a plas­terer, to help. Then I stum­bled across a lo­cal garage man­u­fac­turer in Bat­ley, West York­shire. They couldn’t see any prob­lems with my spec-list and the fi­nal price came in much cheaper than any­one else. Plus, they could re­move my old garage with its as­bestos roof, al­though they could only build a stan­dard base, not an in­spec­tion pit.

The dilemma of the in­spec­tion pit was eas­ily fixed when I found a lo­cal builder who is keen on cars and mo­tor­sport. He knew ex­actly what I needed and quoted a good price. In to­tal for the garage, a new base and in­spec­tion pit, I would have change from £7000. Some of the pre­vi­ous quotes I’d re­ceived were for £7000 without any men­tion of a base or pit.

With a planned start­ing date at the end of sum­mer 2017, I booked the builder and garage man­u­fac­turer well in ad­vance, then started emp­ty­ing the old garage and shed, both of which would be de­mol­ished.

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