Detached Workshop Garage Design

The Miura project continues to be in a "hold pattern" due to our move from CA to AZ. The bad news part of the move is that there is less garage space at our new home than I had prior. The good news is that we have plenty of land space and no harsh regulations preventing the construction of a "dream workshop detached garage". The main constraint I will have is on the funding side as I don't want to blow all my "recreation funds" on the garage and not have enough left over for the Miura and other car projects.

From a high level, I'm thinking about something like a 50 foot by 30 foot structure with 14 foot walls and a decently pitched roof. I want plenty of height inside for hoist use and a mezzanine in a portion of the structure for storage. The main purpose of the structure will be a workshop. It's not intended to be used for finished vehicle storage and display. I'll have other garage space under the house for finished/running vehicle parking. I want multiple work areas that can be specialized for assembly, fabrication, welding, machining, and maintenance. So far, I've only identified a location on the property and am about to embark on the building permit process. So the type of input that will be most helpful at this stage is the big picture stuff that needs to be included with the set of plans needed for initial permitting.

So my question out to you guys that have had the opportunity to work or experience a workshop/garage of this type, what insights and/or opinions do you have about what you liked in the workshop design/features and what you did not like? For example:
  • Should a toilet and sink type restroom be included?
  • Is a pit in the floor worth the time/expense or is that likely to consume floor space that could be better utilized otherwise?
  • How many doors and what size doors? How important is it to place doors to accommodate drive-thru for things like trailers?
  • Is it useful to build in a small counter top area for organizing paper work, accessing a computer, etc? If so, should it be walled in like a little office or just open to the structures interior?
  • Am I thinking too big or too small on the structure footprint? Home building cars is my hobby but it is just a hobby and I don't intend to run a business at home. I want to "right size" the workshop such that a couple of years down the road I don't feel like I've under or over built the workshop. I do have some large tools/machines like a mill, lathe, power hammer, English wheel, engine hoist, bead roller, Magnabend break, welder, etc. My tool/machine wish list includes a 4 post hoist, Pullmax, box/pan break, and stomp shear. Of those, I consider the hoist the highest priority and the others not as important to obtain.
  • Do the structural materials make a difference in workshop use? Does a stick built or block built or metal building make a difference? I am located in north/central Arizona at 5,100 feet elevation where average winter daytime temperatures are in the 50's and summer temperatures in the low 90's. Winter nighttime temps can be in the teens and it does snow here. Last week we had 8 inches of snow but that melted off in a few days.
So please share your input on workshop design choices and wishes.

Brian Kissel

Staff member
Lifetime Supporter
Hi Joel. Just a couple thoughts. Having been on fire twice in a pit over the past 50 years, I would NEVER use one again. Plus they are a waste of space in my opinion. Following Scott’s excellent build, I followed his suggestion and purchased this flush mount unit. It will be great, because when you are not using it, the floor space is useable.

Mine arrived 2 days before my surgery, so it will be around June before I get it installed.

I most certainly would recommend a restroom with a sink.
A small office space is great to keep the computer clean from cutting oil fumes, welding fumes and just general crap in the air. I would also include in the shop some kind of information board so when you need to remember to order something, just put it on the board. Or to jot down dimensions or ideas.
I have a buddy that lives in Chandler. He lived in Michigan until 1988. When he built his garage in Chandler he went with a steel building. He has regretted it ever since. He said if he does it again, he would definitely go stick built, with good insulation and nice ceiling fans. I am working on a 48’ by 44’ addition to my shop. But I only have 12’ side walls. I have 2 seven foot ceiling fans and they cool nicely.
I would put in 12. X. 14 garage doors for your drive throughs and maybe a 10. X. 10 in front of the lift.

There’s so much to plan for when building a new shop, but these are just a few of my thoughts. Howard Jones has a good write up about his shop, as does Scott Swartz.

Regards Brian

Jim Albright

Joel, I put up a steel detached 30x30 10ft high at the walls with a medium pitch clear span roof 23 years ago from Heritage and am very pleased with the product. I upgraded to 150mph wind load rating and opted for full insulation as well. Managed to get it completed in 3 months of evening/weekends. Steel has many advantages over wood for a workshop application, and mine has been absolutely maintenance free to date. With out running any heat, the slab keeps it above freezing, but a ductless HVAC keeps it comfortable year round.


I'm guessing that you may be in Prescott. Your size may be a bit large- don't forget you will probably be putting in heating and air conditioning and running either will cost $$. Our shop is built right next to our house and they look enough alike that deliverymen frequently get confused as to where to go. The closer to your house- and the more comfortable the working conditions, the more time you will spend there.

We built our shop with a mezzanine where my wife's exercise equipment, sewing room, yoga space and TV is located. The ground floor is the shop, with a workbench, tool storage drawer cabinet, storage racks on casters, a desk with a computer and a stereo system. The Klipsch La Scala stereo speakers are mounted on perches on one wall. Also on the first floor is a guest suite with a full bathroom, shower, and tub. There is a gas furnace and air conditioning. Access to the shop is through a walk-in door facing the house and through a sliding door into the shop floor from a concrete parking apron area. There are doors to the rear patio from the shop and from the guest room. The deck is accessed from the sewing area through a sliding door.

The 2-story design with a mezzanine gives you an area where the ceiling is high enough for a lift. Our building is framed (with an exterior stucco which matches the house) on a concrete pad. I'll include a few pictures that show the sliding door and the general layout. I like the small "factory-like" windows, they allow more light inside and add to the overhead fluorescent lighting.

Block construction is fine but you will need to fir-out the interior for insulation. Whatever you decide on, I'm sure you will enjoy it.


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Howard Jones

1 Bathroom with a small sink
2 12-foot ceiling ( this height will allow you to do 3)
3 place cross beam in the ceiling so that you can hang a chain hoist. 12 feet is high enough to raise an engine out of the car with the car on the ground. Make the ceiling system structure strong enough to safely support a 1000 pound lift ( that's a gearbox attached to the engine as a unit.)
4 decide how many cars are going to be in the shop at one time. You do not want to be forced to push out an incomplete car so that you can work on the other one.
5 plan one sidewall to line up machine equipment(s) and welding bench and install correct power outlets. Add additional overhead light above that wall.
6, refrigerator with small writing desk with internet outlet for laptop on other sidewall.
7. roll-up doors are much better than traditional garage swing-up doors. They do not block overhead lighting.
8. Use led lights and lots of them. The kind that looks like florescence kind. I have 8 4-foot 4 bulbs each fixture on my ceiling in a 45X35 shop. I should have added one more string down the middle.
9. solid built 8 foot X 36" wood top bench on the back wall with shelves constructed to receive those plastic top-opening boxes for storage I have one with three shelves 8 foot long and 8 feet high 24" deep. I can stack 24 of those plastic-style crates on it. I have placed my roll aways on the back wall also.
10. Solid-built heavy all-steel welding bench that also serves as a vice mount. Mine is 4 ft X 3ft and 36 inches tall. Perfect for me to weld standing if I need to and I have a stool cut to height to weld also.
11. Air compressor: If you have one that is loud and you wish it wasn't then build a closet for it in one of the back corners. Vent with bathroom fan on the closet roof when the compressor is on to cool the compressor.


If you need to size for two cars then I would do it about 35 feet wide and 30 feet deep. Two bays side by side and a side wall extra wide to accomade the man entrance door all the way on one end beside the roll up doors. This will allow you to use 5 feet on all walls for stuff and still park two mustang size cars in there side by side. The extra room in front and back is so you can take off the front and rear clip or hoods and trunks, sit them on the ground and they are still not in the way. 3 cars? add 10 feet to width and another door

Hang the chain hoist from the roof in the place that will lift the engine out straight up with a mid-engined car backed up against one of the roll-up doors. Why? Now you can simply push the car forward out from under the engine hanging on the hoist. Front engined car? Back it in the same spot and again push it back. Now lower the engine and place it on an engine stand and roll away. This beats those friggin engine tripod hoists every time and you will not need help to pull an engine ever again.

Other stuff

1. I added windows up on the three back walls but not on the front wall with the doors in it. I placed them up high and above head height. They are 2ftX3ft and allow enough light in the summer to roll up the doors and work with the lights out a lot of the time.

2. AC and or Heat? I live in south Texas and it gets hot for about 4-5 months a year and cold for about 1 month a year. Summer highs are around 100f +- 2-5 degrees most of the time. Winter mid-day lows can be well below 50F and into the low 40s offen. But again that only for about 4-6 weeks tops (winter). If you can take really cold days off then you don't need heat. I only loose about 15-20 days a year to "too Fing cold" so I didn't install heat. I run the AC maybe 30 -40 days a year and then only the few hours during the day when it gets above 80F in the shop. Most summer days I can get what I want to do done before 1-2 pm and not need to run the AC. So If you want to work out there a lot and not take days off to weather then add AC and or heat. I use a nice big shop fan a lot even when it's hot up to about 90F. My bones like hot weather but not cold so there's that.


My shop is insulated to the same standard as my home. The ceiling and southwest-facing walls are foamed and the walls are fiberglass matted to a High standard. Insulation is a very good value and it just keeps on giving. Like lighting, you really can't overdo it. The building stick type/stucco/metal roof and slab concrete floor. I crossed 8 rafters with two 2X10's to form a cross beam to hang my chain hoist from. Interior walls are sheetrocked. All interior walls and ceiling surfaces are painted white.


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Howard's suggestions are good ones. I mounted my vertical air compressor outside on a small concrete pad to get rid of the noise. I plumbed pipe around in the walls with stubs for plugging in an air hose. Ditto for 220V for welder, etc. Seal concrete floor with an epoxy primer and coat with Sherwin-Williams industrial polyurethane in a light color. I used bright yellow.
All good ideas. I wish I had that much floor space available. I don’t, so have an Architect drawing up some plans at the moment for a two story workshop and studio in the back yard at the moment. I will add some details in a couple of weeks when I get them back.
Thanks for the great ideas/feedback so far! Yes, I'm now located in Prescott, AZ (just updated my profile to show that). We got a couple of inches of snow overnight, so the heating/cooling aspect is a very relevant topic. It does make me think I don't really want to "over size" the building.

Please keep the information and pictures coming.

Bill Kearley

One thing to have in mind Joel, no mater how big you build it won't be big enough. Mine is 30x60 with a 12x30 mezzanine for a coffee/bs area and memorabilia display.
I like my 4 post hoist with a bridge jack, 14'8" walls, 24ft overhead door, room for 3 wide for winter storage. In hind sight a bathroom would have been nice but not a big deal. If I had to do it again I would go 40x60, work area at the far end and 2 16 ft doors that would allow you to take out what ever car you want at the time and still have wall space for bench and machine work. That's just a start

Brian Kissel

Staff member
Lifetime Supporter
I agree with Bill. A 50. X. 30 certainly isn’t oversized especially with the amount of machinery you have. And your machinery wish list adds to it. I also have a “compressor room “ that is insulated and isolated so I don’t have to listen to it.

Regards Brian
The compressor room was on my list.
i also have the speakers in the sealing listed
I have also got power power points in the sealing on my wish list as well. This will allow either a dust extractor/filter to be fitted up there, fans, extension leads or the like.
Hi Joel

If you have not found it already, you can see lots of discussion about building etc here

Yes, I found that website/forum a couple of days ago and started a thread there. I've had great feedback both here and there. I mentioned the Miura project on the Garage Journal site and had so much interest, I had to post a link back to GT40s build thread.
My shop is about 40x60. If I was doing it again, I would do spray foam insulation instead of batting. The extra efficiency will offset the higher initial cost fairly quickly.
All of my concrete sections have a slight grade for allowing water to drain, I'd do flat area(s) if you plan for a lift, etc. Also make sure you do your concrete appropriately if there's ever going to be a 2-post lift in the future.
Figure out the largest thing that will ever go in there for the overhead door size.
I wired for speakers to each corner but never used them. Found out that a bluetooth soundbar sounds plenty good enough, easy to turn it on, sync to phone, and listen.
15 years ago I used a lot of air tools. Now, not so much with DeWalt 20v series. I didn't run air lines.
I'd get the floor epoxy sealed if I was doing it again.
We added a smallish entry room on the front of the building, gives it some character instead of a plain rectangle, wife stores garden stuff in there.
We're currently looking to do another building for basketball/volleyball. Not a good time to be building!! $$$
2 12-foot ceiling ( this height will allow you to do 3)
3 place cross beam in the ceiling so that you can hang a chain hoist. 12 feet is high enough to raise an engine out of the car with the car on the ground. Make the ceiling system structure strong enough to safely support a 1000 pound lift ( that's a gearbox attached to the engine as a unit.)

On the topic of chain hoists, I like the idea a lot, but I'm guessing to get the most out of it requires some forethought and perhaps some engineering.

Howard: it sounds like your current setup has the chain hoist mounted to a fixed location on the ceiling. Have you considered installing an "I" beam and adding a trolley mount? Or is that complicating things more than your use of it?

My friend that built the transaxle for the Miura has his shop outfitted with a trolley setup. He was able to lift an engine out of my pickup, hoist it up and over the chassis sitting on the attached trailer, and then set the engine down on a workbench located deeper into the shop. All that happened in the matter of minutes. I didn't think much about it at the time but if I were to do that with a typical engine hoist, it would have been real hassle and taken a lot more time. We then were able to lift the engine and transaxle off the workbench as a unit and fit it into the chassis that was still sitting on the trailer without moving the chassis or trailer. That's when it became very obvious to me the value of the chain hoist and trolley combination setup.

Does anyone else use a chain hoist on a trolley in their shop? If so, have you found your use of it worth the extra time and expense for the beam and trolley installation?


Chain hoists work great for heavy lifts but they work in only two dimensions- up & down and in the direction of the trolley beam. There is much to be said for a cheap engine hoist; it works in three dimensions since it lifts in the "Z" axis and it has casters that can be pushed in the "X and Y" direction. My El Cheapo Harbor Freight engine hoist lifted my engine and transaxle assembly in and out of my car easily. The engine is a Donovan aluminum block V8, KEP adapter, & Porsche G50 transaxle.


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Howard Jones

About the floor. When the contractor pours the concrete MAKE SURE he knows you need an absolutely FLAT floor. Everything you do in a shop starts with the floor. The one thing you really need a flat floor for is doing your own alignments. This is a big deal if it's wrong and a HUGE pain in the ass if it's not. My old floor in California wasn't flat and I had to establish the horizontal of the car to the nonhorizontal floor with shims under the tires before starting the alignment process and then constantly redo it every time I moved the car. Friggin added hours to the process.

Tell him you want to check the forms for yourself before the concrete goes down and build in time to do that and correct any variance before the concrete truck shows up. And it will make your machine equipment set easier also.

I'm not kidding about this.

Chain hoist: I find it easier to move the car back and forth on roll around under the tires. I like the CH 's because they can be fine-tuned as far as varying the height of the load down to a 1/8" or less. Adding an I Beam would only add cost and not really add anything to the capability that I need. I need to be able to remove the engine and gearbox as a unit and place them on a work table to separate them etc. That same table serves as a welding and layout table also. By the way, you can use the same chain hoist to lift machine equip out of a truck bed.

If you keep the load down to 1000 pounds or less then a simple modification to the ceiling rafters with a couple of 2X10 cross beams will be fine. I tied mine into the rafters with 2X2X1/8" angle iron In both directions on each of the eight 2X4 rafters. The lifting point is hung from the cross bear with a U strap made of 4" X1/8" steel flat strap bent to form a U and dropped over the beam with the two ends hanging down through the ceiling. Then a 3/4 inch cross bolt is used to hang the chain hoist hook on. Works great. 1 ton CH's cost about 70 bucks so this is a good inexpensive solution.

By the way, I did my CH install after the garage was done and I was moved in. That way I was pretty sure where in the shop I wanted to lift engines out. A little planned and I could have done it while the garage was being built.