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7 Most Common Questions and Concerns When Building a Shop

Updated: Aug 7, 2023

If you are considering building a shop you probably have questions. After all, it’s a big investment. This article will address the concerns we hear most often.

Future Steel quonset style building
DIY Quonset Kit

1. Choosing the Right Frame: Wood, Steel, or Quonset?

When you delve into the world of shop building materials, you'll encounter three primary options: steel Quonset style, steel frame, and wood frame. Quonsets are ideal for DIY enthusiasts due to their prefabricated design, while traditional steel frame shops are perfect for industrial applications due to their durability and low maintenance. Wood frame shops, on the other hand, are versatile, offering easy modification and expansion possibilities. They are excellent for storing ATVs, tools, or serving as mechanic’s shops.

Horse Barn During Construction
Horse Barn During Construction

2. Wood Shop vs. Steel Shop: Which is More Cost-Effective?

When you factor in the costs of concrete foundations, materials, and labor, the price difference between a wood shop and a steel shop is negligible. The only potential for savings lies in the labor costs, provided you have the skills to assemble the shop yourself.

construction worker levels a 6x6 pressure treated post for a post and beam building

3. Timeframe for Building a Shop: What to Expect?

The size of your shop is the primary determinant of the construction timeline. A shop measuring between 1,500 - 2,400 ft² typically takes 30-45 days to build, with weather conditions and location being other influencing factors. Including design and permitting, the entire process from commitment to completion usually spans around 6-8 months.

4. Determining the Ideal Shop Floor Thickness

A standard shop floor is 6” thick, capable of handling large work trucks and tractors. However, if you plan to use heavier, more industrial equipment, an 8” thick floor might be necessary.

40'x60' shop with high-end wood accents and glass overhead door
40'x60' Wood Frame Shop

5. Selecting the Right Door Size: From Small Farms to Airplane Hangars

Choosing the correct overhead door size is a crucial aspect of your shop design, and there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution. The size you need largely depends on the intended use of your shop.

For home and small-farm use, most people opt for a 12’ wide by 8’ or 10’ tall door. This size is sufficient for regular vehicles and small machinery.

However, if you're designing for more agricultural or commercial uses, you may need to go higher and wider. Tractors, semi-trucks, logging trucks, and combines typically require a 14’ high by 14’ wide door. Road legal height is 13’-6”, so a 14’ door gives most commercial rigs room to squeeze in.

For those planning to use the shop as an airplane hangar, the door size will need to be significantly larger to accommodate the wingspan and height of the aircraft. In this case, you might need a door that's at least 40’ wide, depending on the size of your aircraft. The height will also need to be greater, often around 14’ to 20’.

interior of a small storage building

6. Insulating Your Shop: Now or Later?

While a wood-framed shop allows you to install insulation and interior lining after construction, it's easier and more convenient to do so during the construction phase. However, if budget constraints exist, insulation can be added later.

7. Choosing the Right Interior Finish

Your main options for interior finishes are drywall, plywood, and metal cladding. Metal cladding is bright, reflective, and easy to clean. Plywood is versatile, allowing for easy mounting and hanging. Drywall, though standard in older shops, is less preferred due to its susceptibility to damage.

In conclusion, building a shop is a significant undertaking that requires careful planning and decision-making. By addressing these common questions and concerns, we hope to make your shop building journey a little less daunting. Remember, the key to a successful shop build lies in understanding your specific needs and planning accordingly.

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