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7 Most Common Questions and Concerns When Building a Shop

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.


1. How do I know if a wood frame shop is right for me?


As soon as you start researching shop materials you will come across three basic options:


  • Steel quonset style

  • Steel frame

  • Wood frame


Quonsets are a great option for DIY-ers. Their prefabricated design makes it a simple matter of assembling the parts that get shipped to your property. It can take a week of solid work to assemble or as long as a few months of weekend building.


Traditional steel frame shops work well for industrial applications. The durable metal framing members are low-maintenance and long-lasting.


Wood frame shops work well as storage for ATVs, and tools, or as mechanic’s shops. Wood walls offer a place to hang cabinets and are easily modified with shelves, tool boxes, and workbenches. Wood frames are also easier to modify later.


If you want to bump out a side wall or add a lean-to, wood frames are easier to work with than steel and Quonset. Don’t have the budget for a mezzanine when you start out? Wood frames allow you to build the initial structure, then save for remodeling later. You can even extend the building with relative ease.


2. What’s the price difference between a wood shop and a steel shop?


After accounting for pouring the concrete foundations and floor, materials, and labor the price is virtually the same. The only way to possibly save on one over the other is if you have the skills to assemble it yourself. Saving in labor is the only way to differentiate.


3. How long does it take to build a shop?


Size is the biggest factor. For instance, a 1,500 - 2,400 ft2 will take anywhere from 30-45 days to get built. Weather conditions and location can play a factor. That timeframe is from grading the soil to completion.


Design and permitting can add time to the front end and is highly variable. When you account for that, our experience is that it takes around 6-8 months from committing to build the shop to completion.


4. How thick should my shop floor be?


A standard shop floor is 6” thick. That thickness can handle large work trucks and tractors.


Heavier, more industrial equipment could require an 8” thick floor.



5. What is the standard overhead door size?


There is no true “standard” overhead door size. For home and small-farm use, most people opt for a 12’ wide by 8’ or 10’ tall door.


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


For a little extra breathing room, 16’ by 16’ or larger is an option as well.


6. Can I insulate my shop later?


One advantage of a wood-framed shop is that you can install an insulation and interior lining package after getting the shop built. Installing insulation at the time of construction is much easier than waiting until down the road. But, if budget is an issue, you can always insulate later.



7. What should I finish the interior of my shop with?


There are three main options:


  • Drywall

  • Plywood

  • Metal cladding


Each has its advantages.


Metal cladding is bright, reflective, and easy to clean.


Plywood is versatile in that you can fasten shelving and cabinetry directly to it. Mounting and hanging are a snap.


Drywall is standard in older shops. Because it’s easier to damage and repair, it’s not used as much as plywood and metal.


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