Illustration: Tom Neal

For anyone who has read..... even a couple of my ongoing struggles to get a usable shop, you might have noticed a pattern of failure and despair. Err I mean it hasn’t gone well because my criteria are too tight and my budget too low.

This lead me to contacting the architect (everyone should have one or two of those) who helped out on the bathroom remodel and ask him what could be done with my current garage.

Background

My house is pretty old, having been built in 1918. We’re not sure when the garage was built but have little reason to believe it wasn’t around the same time. The garage is a two car garage with an attached 277 sq ft 1-bedroom apartment, which a friend of mine has been living in for a couple of years. (He loves it, which I literally do not understand. I have four rooms in my house that are larger than that apartment.) The garage bays are small but serviceable. The garage cannot be made larger as it is hemmed in on all sides.

Advertisement

The garage also has a “workshop” that was built onto the back of it at some point. The construction of the workshop is... weird. The floor of the workshop is 1ft lower than the garage, the ceiling is low, the roof is a different pitch and construction, the siding is crap and doesn’t make the house, and there was no electricity when I bought it. Oh and they saws-all’d through the exterior (load bearing) wall to make access. That said, everything that doesn’t suck is extremely overbuilt.

After it became apparent we were going to own more than the recommended number of cars, we removed the wall separating the workshop and the garage, carefully adding an actual header, and installed “platforms” for the cars to sit on. Essentially creating a poor man’s lift. This has served... fine... since 2015. not ideal, but fine.

Advertisement

The garage already has 240V (single phase) but only an 80A (60A?) service and no HVAC of any kind outside of the apartment. We have natural gas on-site, but not run to the garage.

The Plan B

Since the workshop is pretty jankity, we were speculating on the possibility of tearing it down, raising the roof line to match the garage, improving the pad to accommodate a lift, and.... sending it?

Advertisement

For a small sack of cash my architect drew up the plans and confirmed that, indeed, a lift would fit. By his WAG, he was thinking $20,000 to $25,000 to get it done, but admits that is, indeed, a wild-ass-guess based on the price of constructing a new garage.

So basically it’d be $25k to get a lift, improve the house a bit, and solve at least one of my two problems.

Advertisement

Illustration: Tom Neal

This does not, however, solve the problem of having additional car storage, though it does mitigate the need for said storage to be close. I could instead start considering “weekender” properties that are a little further out and have something to offer other than a place to store cars.

Advertisement

Still need to run the numbers to make sure this gives me enough height to run a decent lift. It should, but I doubt I’ll be able to stand under the car. Maybe just a sittin’ lift.

Are you going to do it?

Eventually, yes. I think it would add value to the house and make it super easy to sell. Having a lift might be a bit polarizing, but I think everyone secretly wishes they had one, even if just to change his own oil once and never again.

Advertisement

Pulling the trigger on either plan (Plan A being still to buy) would close the door on the other for a while. I can usually pull a rabbit out of my hat for the right property, but I’m really cautious about over-extending myself.