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DayCreek Journal

September 21 , 2011

Garage / Workshop - Part I

For the past year or so, Jo and I have been debating the construction of a garage/workshop. It wasn't so much a debate as to whether we should build it or not, but rather what exactly the building would be? Cordwood? Strawbale? Conventional? What type of framing? What size would it be?

We knew we wanted it large enough to shelter two vehicles as well as the Bobcat and have room to spare for the lawn tractor and other small machines. It would also have a workshop and storage space as well.

After thinking things through, we came up with a building size of 48' wide by 32' deep. The two-car garage would be 24' by 32', with two lean-tos', each 12' x 32'. One lean-tos' would be home for the Bobcat and the other for my workshop. The center garage area would also have a partial loft for storage.

As far as the looks, I wanted the building to look like an older style barn. Something like this:

I deplore the look of metal pole shed buildings that have littered the countryside. They have no style at all, and when they attempt to be style-ish, they end up looking like crap (in my opinion of course). I do realize that it's the cheapest solution for storage and I do understand that especially with this economy, times are tough. But that still doesn't change my opinion of how they look and when all things are said and done, they are not really that much cheaper than other options available. I think most people just don't realize there are other options out there.

I must admit however that we do have a metal pole shed. It was the first building ever built on our property in order to store building materials for the house. It is tucked into the back corner of our property and at some point down the road, I would love to either take it down or convert the walls to cordwood. I really do not like the looks of it.

Now I could build this myself, but I'm not too keen on working on roofs and foundations. Plus, I'm a wee bit older than when I built the cordwood house. I figured that if I had someone build the outer shell of the building, I could do the rest. And thus began my quest to find a contractor.

I started calling local contractors during the month of May. I figured that I would be able to make a decision on a contractor by the end of June and maybe start construction some time in August. As it ended up, that was a pipe dream.

I called over a dozen contractors in the area, with eight actually making a visit to discuss my plans. Out of the eight, two produced quotes as they stated while the others either did not produce quotes at all or were over one month late.

If that wasn't disappointing enough, all but one contractor was steadfast on the style of building they could construct. Either they wanted to build a pole shed or stick frame structure. Although the pole shed builder could make the exterior look similar to what I wanted to build, the interior still would look like a pole shed with trusses instead of traditional rafters.

By the time August came around, I had pretty much given up on having a contractor build the garage/workshop and decided to build it myself. I hired our local neighborhood excavator to level out an area adjacent to the house and searched for contractor to pour a foundation.

This all went a lot faster than trying to find a building contractor. Within a few weeks, we were well on our way to at least getting a foundation in before winter.

As a side note, I needed to get a building permit and found it to almost be as easy as it was to get a permit for the house. The only caveat was having to attend a local township meeting to get the blessing of the township board. It certainly wasn't a big deal and I am thankful that we live in a rural area where permits can be obtained without months of paperwork approvals, etc.

While I was getting the foundation work done, I was busy researching where I could get some nice timbers for the frame. The Internet is a great resource for researching timber frame / post & beam kits. The downside was that most of the kit builders are located in Vermont or Maine.

As it stands today, I should have some nice 6 x 10's that were milled locally here in another week or two. Not only that, but I have found a local contractor that will build the frame for me...something that I was not looking forward to doing myself.

In the coming weeks, I will be reporting on the different phases of the construction of the building and reveal our final decision as to what wall-style we have chosen for the exterior.

—Alan Stankevitz