New garage

For years I have been pondering building another garage. My Jeep CJ-7 sets outside and is getting badly weathered. My girlfriend's car sets outside. I plan to get a diesel Jeep Liberty and I want a garage spot for it. Besides having the 'big garage' for general car stuff I would like to have another area for wood working/electronics/reloading.

I have drawn dozens and dozens of different ideas. I considered building a new big garage behind my current 'small garage'. I considered a parking garage next to my house, and everything in between. I debated pole barn vs. framed, building it myself vs. having it built, etc.

One reason I spent such a long time thinking about it instead of doing it was the BRAC process the military was going through. I didn't want to spend a bunch of money until I knew how things were going to turn out. After the BRAC process was over (and I wasn't affected) I moved ahead with planning.

I decided to build a 3-car parking garage between my house and small garage. This will serve my current parking needs. In the future I'll build another larger garage between my small garage and big garage that will hold my boat, Trans Am, truck, and trailer. This will leave the small garage open for a shop. It is 24'x30', has a concrete floor, loft storage, a 100-amp service, windows, is close to the house, and has a floor drain. It will make a nice shop.

I had previously been planning to build a shop in a new building next to my big garage. It would require pouring a concrete floor, running power, etc. One day it dawned on me that it would be easier to use my current small garage for a shop (for the reasons above) and just build another parking concrete floor or major power upgrades required. My parking garages will have gravel floors. My waterline takes a wayward route to get to my house. It runs past the south side of the small garage, turns north for about 50 feet, then turns west to get to my house. If I poured a concrete floor in either garage it would cover part of my waterline, and by Murphy's Law that's where it would one day break.

Now that I had a general idea of what I was going to do I needed to come up with a design for a 3-car garage that would fit in the space I had for it. I considered the 3 bays facing the road (west), the bays facing south, the bays in the gable end, the bays in the wall side, etc. All of these designs had more bad points than good. I needed to allow room to drive between between my two current garages, and I didn't want the new garage to extend too far westward. I considered an attached garage but that has its own set of problems.

I eventually settled on a 30'x36' garage with the gable ends facing east and west. There will be two 12' wide doors in the west gable end that will be used the most. There will be a third garage door (10' wide) in the south side towards the back. I'll put my CJ-7 in there and it won't be used as much. There will be a 14' opening in the east end to allow access to the small garage. There will be an entry door facing the front porch.

I sent a couple packets to builders just to see how much it would cost to have it built. My ankle is still sore from a torn ligament so it wouldn't bother me for someone else to build it. The general concensus was it would be about $5000 more than me doing it myself, so I decided to build the garage. I've built porches, lofts, and decks but never a whole structure. It'll be a learning experience. Over time I've purchased several pole building books from and studied them thoroughly. Two books I highly recommend are How To Build a Pole Building and the Post Frame Building Handbook.

Here is the area where the new garage will go. It has a nice packed gravel base and not much slope.

This view looking to the small garage is where the north wall will be. This will miss the concrete path and allow a 6' walkway between the garage and house. We dug up the bushes next to the house to allow for the walkway.

November 7, 2005

I staked out the outline for the new garage. I used the east wall as my reference since it butts against a present structure. It only took a couple tries to get the outline square. I used rebar to mark the corners. I took my time and tried to make it as perfect as possible. I used a 3' square, 4' level, and 5' straightedge (3-4-5 method) to check for 90 degree corners. This made it easier to visualize where the string needed to go than trying to measure and remeasure the string itself. I used a couple laser levels as well as a conventional level.

November 9

Tonight I marked the locations for the posts. Tomorrow I'm renting a Bobcat with a hydraulic auger.

November 10

I rented the Bobcat and got some of the holes dug. It took me all day to dig 14 of the 19 holes. The auger seemed pretty wimpy to me. I've used the one-man type and they would dig a hole in a couple minutes.

November 11

Today I took my new trailer and picked up laminated posts at Graber Post. I also ordered trusses.

A friend brought his tractor and an 18" auger over and drilled the remaining 5 holes in about 10 minutes. Comparing his auger to the one I rented made me realize the rental auger was a junker. I wrote a letter to the rental company.

November 12

Today I planned to clean out the post holes. However, three field/woods fires and a broken fire truck took up most of my day. I finished the holes late that night with help from my girlfriend and her dad.

November 13

We got up this morning and went to Menards to pick up most of the dimensional lumber I'll need along with Quikcrete, post pads, windows, and a few other things. When we got home we crashed on the couch and watched the remainder of the Nextel Cup race. As I sat there I could feel a fever coming on. That's not good...

November 14

I asked my girlfriend if she'd put the concrete pads in the holes as there was rain on the way. When I got home she said the pads wouldn't go into the 12" holes very well. I looked at them. They were stuck at various depths in the holes. What's up with that?

November 27

I've been sick most of the past two weeks so I've made very little progress on the garage. I used post hole diggers to lift the concrete pads out and I found what the problem was. The 12" concrete pads are octagonal and are actually 13" across the points. No wonder they didn't fit. We've had a few rains and the holes need cleaned out again so I guess I'll dig them wider for the pads. When my friend dug the remaining five holes he offered to run the 18" auger in the 12" holes. I should have took him up on the offer.

December 3

I got a late start today and only got 4 holes widened and the concrete pads set. I hope to finish the remaining 10 tomorrow. It sucks that it gets dark by 6 pm. When I get home from work it's dark.

I made a tool out of a 2x4 and a broom handle to make sure the pads would fit. If the tool would go to the bottom of the hole and spin around then I knew the pad would fit. Success is a pad in the hole.

December 4

I got 7 more holes widened and pads set today. That's hard work on an old, lazy engineer.

December 5

The trusses came today. I'm nowhere near ready for them, but they look nice. 30' long, no overhang, 4' on center. The bottom and top chords are both 2x4.

December 7

We're supposed to get snow tomorrow so I put the trusses on 2x4s and covered them up. While I was out there I noticed one of my concrete pads was missing. I investigated and found that my dad had widened one of the holes and put the pad in. He had also started widening another hole. Bless his heart. I was inspired to finish the hole he started and finish the last hole. It was a nice feeling to drop that last pad in the hole. Now I can start building!

Page 2 - Construction begins

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