New workshop

This is not a drill. There will be a new workshop coming. I’m back into design mode, figuring out what it will be between two sizes – 12×12 or 12×16 (or maybe even 12×20). The reason why I’m not exactly sure what size it will be is that I have to justify a larger size than what I have now.

The reason, is the man.

In my residential district, I am allowed a structure of up to 144 gross square feet and 15 feet in height at a distance of five feet from any property line. My current shop meets these requirements. To move up just one foot in space requires the side setback to increase to 10 feet. Not too much of an issue there, but the rear setback increases to 30 feet. I just don’t think that’s possible on my property. In fact, my entire shop sits within that 30 feet setback by a good five feet.

I would have two options in building something while staying within the law: limit my building to 144 square feet, or apply for a variance. I’ve mentioned before that the simple act of applying comes with a $150 fee and nearly $900 in fees for an surveyor to draw up the application including diagrams. $1000, and I might not be approved. I will have to judge if the small increase in space would be worth a grand plus the increased material cost.

There is a third option, however, and one that at least on the surface seems appealing. I can build a new 12×12 space, build it to the maximum height to increase storage loft area, and have the option to build a smaller second building to replace the current one. There is no limit to the amount of outbuildings on the property.

Here’s how it would work: I would build a new, 12×12 workshop about fifteen feet closer to the side property line than I am now. This shop would be built the right way, level, with proper protection against insects, well insulated, with some measure of loft storage. I’d also have regular, well sealed doors. There would be at least one window, and that window could have air conditioner ability. The goal though would be for it to be so well insulated I might not need it. The old shop would remain for awhile until money and/or other situations allowed for it to be torn down and a smaller shop with a little deck to go in it’s place. This accessory shop would house my wood storage, lathe, and have room for garden equipment like the riding lawn mower. 8×8 would probably be plenty.

You’re probably wondering how much help this would be. Well, moving the scrap plywood out would be a nice little help on it’s own. I’d be able to save some money at times by buying additional sheets if I need to rent a truck. Moving the wall scraps out obviously frees up about 25 square feet of wall space. Moving the lathe out opens up quite a bit of layout options for the shop. Loft storage opens up the option of a true dust collector, plus storage for lesser used tools and storage. I could even store scrap up there while I tore the old shop down. I can’t overstate what the combination of all of these things, plus a more insulated, level space would do – it’s not a larger shop, but it really is. It’s a better shop. It’s a shop I could certainly live with. Having a deck or landing on a smaller shop even gives me a level space to set up the Centipede for sheet good use. Speaking of the Centipede, a smaller accessory shop also gives me room to store a sheet of foam to back up my cuts.

Now, I’m not sure I mentioned my ground solution. Digging footers isn’t really an option. What I’ll be doing is using preformed concrete deck piers to support the shop. The 2x8s will sit on them on the high side, and on the low side, they’ll be raised up by 4×4 posts. The piers will have 3/4″ crushed stone underneath in a small spot where I did down slightly and level. I think it should work.

All in all, that does seem like the way to go. For the next little bit I’m looking pretty hard at the 12×16 size and want to quantify that $1000+ difference. I’ll be taking my time figuring out which direction I want to go in. Watch this space, though, as I hope to make a final decision in about a month or so. Perhaps sooner.


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