Build the perfect garage
Part one: Rob Hawkins builds his ultimate home workshop.
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).
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.