Well, there’s good news and bad news. The bad news, as you might surmise from the title, is that something bad has happened. Indeed it has. I’ll start instead with the good news: this is not the end of the website, nor my woodworking.
I noticed a couple of weeks ago that the plywood on the house side of the shop was starting to peel up. I looked at it a bit more closely and thought the floor joists were going. After a bit of panic that day, I went back out and discovered that it was just the plywood, fortunately. However, it did start to get my thoughts going again toward a new shop.
I thought out a good plan: a 16×24 shop, with hopes to build it in the next five years. Once I figured the shop would survive, I was comfortable with this. But then I realized that I would have to do something to fix the now huge holes in the side of the shop. I’d have to replace at least three exterior panels. Plus the window that I’ve been meaning to upgrade. And the two to three OSB panels left to replace inside. None of which would fix the level, make it warmer, or replace the rotted wood.
So, the idea would be to build a 12×16 shop in the near-term, and work toward the 16×24. Unfortunately I had a look around on our county zoning webpage today. Long story short, I cannot build a larger shop on this property. It was a bitter pill to swallow, to be sure. However, I knew almost immediately what the alternative had to be – to rebuild the 144 Workshop.
On first blush, it doesn’t seem like much worth. I would be spending a not small amount to rebuild my shop to the exact dimensions. Probably a couple of thousand dollars to have the exact same space again. However I would gain a few things: I would prep the space better than the previous owner did, so I could guarantee the shop would actually be level this time. Because I’d be using a better base, and ensuring PT wood, I shouldn’t have any rot or ant issues. I could build the attic area a little steeper to get more storage, and I could better insulate the space.
The key to the plan is, that I wouldn’t tear down this shop.
Not yet, anyway. The current shop would remain as storage. I would have room for house storage, yard storage and of course wood and plywood storage. That would be a help in and of itself, leaving the walls of the new shop open to store more. At some point, I think it would be nice to build a deck in front of the entrance, and then replace in place the old shop with another 12×12 space. I would end up with a new shop my size, and part of another. Both would be fairly insulated, and much nicer to deal with in the summer and winter. The deck would be there for family use, and for me to use on nice enough days for assembly, finishing, or whatever. I think I would pre-wire the new shop for power, but it depends on how much extra doing that would be. I couldn’t run power from the house yet, but the new shop would meet code as best as I could manage. In the meantime, I’d make due with the current power setup – extension cords and power strips.
So, what does all this mean? I’m planning on starting on the site prep in the next couple of weeks, whenever the weather starts to even out a bit (low in the teens tonight). It will all be manual labor for the first bit, so no cost in case it doesn’t seem to work out. I’m planning on digging down a bit on a high point about twenty feet away from the current shop. I’ll use what I dig up to raise up the lower side, toward the house. I think I’ll have to utilize a very short retaining wall of about two bricks high to keep the soil from eroding. I’ll hand tamp down the dirt, fill with course rock and be ready for skids. At least, that’s the plan right now.
As for the planned projects I had just written about, a lot will still continue. Since I’m not planning on finishing the two interior walls, the miter saw stand is on indefinite hold – it will work well in the new shop. The workbench cabinet, the lathe drawers, the clamp rack…anything of that sort that can be transferred over to the new shop is still worth accomplishing. I suppose it is worth at least temporarily closing up the holes in the side of the shop, but it will be with scrap for right now. Not the most attractive thing, but free. I need to put what I can into building the new shop.
It wasn’t the news I wanted to get today, but I can work with it. I’ve already designed the walls and subfloor of the shop so I know what my material list is. Next up I will be working on the trusses and roof next week. Once I have a complete list, I can start submitting it and get an estimate of how much this will cost. At that point I can decide if I will build it myself or order a kit. I know I can get a kit for about $3k, and if the material list greatly exceeds that, I’ll just buy.