Hasbro SuperDork
10/9/19 3:50 p.m.

In the next year or so I'll be building a single car garage/shop attached to the house (build thread soon to follow) but in the meantime the shop/garage will be in a 10x20 storage unit. Fortunately the storage property is next to my house but it's still 300" from the back door. Lots of trudging back and forth. I also will use a 10x10 directly across from the 10x20 for overflow. The place stays mostly full so making a 10x30 out of two units isn't in the cards. The ceiling light sockets will have to suffice for power by stringing an extension chord.

I'm looking for insights that I may have missed so any suggestions would be appreciated.

There's 5' - 6' in the back for storage and a workbench. I have a ton of lumber to frame a temporary bench.


914Driver MegaDork
10/9/19 3:57 p.m.

Most of those places don't allow  wrenching, fire liability.

wae SuperDork
10/9/19 4:17 p.m.

My brother and I have a workshop that lived in 2 10x30 units for about a year.  Before that, I would do occasional wrenching (including an engine rebuild) in just the one 10x30.  It was really cramped, but that had a lot to do with the amount of equipment we were trying to cram in there.  While it worked okay, the problems we had were:

- No plumbing.  There was a portajohn at the other end of the lot, but that was strictly for emergencies.  No way to wash your hands either.

- Electric was limited.  No chance to bring in 240 power for under $1500.

- No climate control.  We don't have A/C at Toiletbird Industries now, but at least there's heat.  Not only is it uncomfortable to work in sub-freezing temps, there are a lot of chemicals that need to be kept warmer than that.  Also, the condensation on the floor was crazy when it got cold out.

- The Wall.  We only got about 15ish feet of the center wall removed which made it really hard to get around.  Sounds like you're stuck at 10' wide.  Doing anything that requires coming in from the side of the car a PITA.  Even tire changes are uncomfortable.

That said, some positives:

- Security was provided.  Cameras plus the gate meant we were pretty safe from theives or other miscreants.

- Free power.  We had a dedicated 20 amp 120 circuit (two, actually - one in each unit)

- Very cheap per sqft for small quantities of space.  The only better prices per sqft we could find needed more like 20,000 sqft.


The guy who owned the place was totally on board with what we were doing.  We wound up finding about 1400 sqft with heat and plumbing for about $160/mo more after about a year and we moved, but it wasn't the worst thing in the world.

_ HalfDork
10/9/19 4:39 p.m.

 How much would you pay for this unit? There are some car guys out there that would let you use their garage for this sort of thing in exchange for money. I know I would, but that’s also because I don’t currently need all the space in my shop. 

nutherjrfan UberDork
10/9/19 5:18 p.m.

along for the ride.  I'm contemplating a 10x20 that's about 40 mins from home.  Maybe add a 15x15 to store two cars that will need work too.

I've thought about framing the space - should be allowed I'm told.  I've also thought about a generator/sub-panel wiring set up.  Feel free to tell me that's stoopid as I genuinely have almost no knowledge on the subject.   (I'd love to hear the pitfalls/advice on this.)

All of those improvements are things I will have to learn how to do.

They did have a massive fire that wiped out dozens of units earlier this year supposedly - Yikes!

10 feet wide with framing and a bench along one side would definitely make wrenching less fun.  But 15 x15 doesn't work so well either when your cars are 14ft long.  They do have 12x32 units.  Four of them.  All spoken for.

Gotta widen the search I guess.  smiley

nutherjrfan UberDork
10/9/19 5:21 p.m.

In reply to _ :

I wish I knew where those guys were.  My budget would be $200-400 depending on size.  Even here in the city neighbors would rather see their detached garages sit full of crap invaded by wild animals and start to fall down rather than rent out.  

z31maniac MegaDork
10/9/19 5:24 p.m.
914Driver said:

Most of those places don't allow  wrenching, fire liability.


I suspect it's against the contract and if the smallest thing happens, they will be taking you to task.

buzzboy HalfDork
10/9/19 5:51 p.m.

I rent a 20x60 as garage space, shared side by side with another guy. 

Thankfully we have power, a single 4 plug outlet. It's fine for the limited work we do. 

We built a loft at one end for storage. We've got tall ceilings which make that possible. 

We're not supposed to weld or have flammible liquids. The groundskeeper told us to shut the door if we were planning to weld or change oil. 

_ HalfDork
10/9/19 6:12 p.m.
nutherjrfan said:

In reply to _ :

I wish I knew where those guys were.  My budget would be $200-400 depending on size.  Even here in the city neighbors would rather see their detached garages sit full of crap invaded by wild animals and start to fall down rather than rent out.  

Craigslist and Facebook.  Probably have to feel out each situation. Most of us car guys are pretty cool.  I would seriously let you rent my garage for 200 bucks a month, in the meantime, I would be using that money to purchase parts for my car. That way, when you move out, I would have parts and space to work on my car. Win, win, win 


NordicSaab Dork
10/9/19 6:40 p.m.

I did my entire challenge build out of one of those one year.  I... would... never... do... it... again...

irish44j MegaDork
10/9/19 6:54 p.m.
nutherjrfan said:

In reply to _ :

I wish I knew where those guys were.  My budget would be $200-400 depending on size.  Even here in the city neighbors would rather see their detached garages sit full of crap invaded by wild animals and start to fall down rather than rent out.  

are you looking for a place to wrench, or a place to stash a car until then?

I have a large 10x20 garage-like shed out back with currently no project car in it (it had an e30 in it previously). No power or lights or anything so not very good for actually working on cars,and to access it I have to move my trailer (so not convenient for in-and-out)., but if you need someplace to stash a normal/small car for a while, hit me up. 

nutherjrfan UberDork
10/9/19 7:20 p.m.

In reply to irish44j :

Wrench.  Thank you for the offer. I'll keep it in mind.  I'm resigned to the storage unit in Waldorf or heading up to the Cumberland Valley or somewhere south in Va. for a good 300sq ft place or heck even a little larger.  I'll just have to wrap my head around a possible 1-2hr drive each way any given Sunday. 


Also mentioned above FB.  Hadn't thought about the MarketPlace.  CL is kinda useful but I gotta travel to where the listings are.

York Pa seems decent hunting ground but it is closer to heavier snowfall come winter. 



AnthonyGS Dork
10/9/19 7:23 p.m.

I had a storage unit when we were between houses and a guy had an SN95 and wrenched on it in one.  Another guy ran a small woodshop out of another.  It didn't seem so great to me.

dropstep UltraDork
10/9/19 8:24 p.m.

My dad tryed it for a while when we first relocated too Ohio and hated it. He ended up renting a garage behind an old man's house instead. I'd certainly check local adds before a storage unit. 

10/9/19 8:37 p.m.

I built my first race car in a 10X20 that also stored all my excess stuff.  Two plug outlet and a light fixture.  But electricity was free so I ran my little heater all winter.  Maybe the best thing to be said about it is I sure appreciate my garage now.  :-)

A friend found a hangar at the local airport for his wrenching space.  It was big, affordable, with power, and they were OK with working on stuff.




MadScientistMatt PowerDork
10/10/19 7:12 a.m.

15 posts, and no jokes about Vasilley Chernobyl?

The only serious thing I have to add is to watch for water leaking under the walls. Some storage unit walls aren't well protected at the bottom.

Hasbro SuperDork
10/11/19 12:00 p.m.

Ahh, I left out a key bit of information; I own the storage biz. This gives me a lot of free reign. I would have to be very conscientious re. flammables. I REALLY don't want to do this. Spending 20 or 80 hrs. developing, only to dismantle shortly thereafter. I was hoping to open a 10x10 and a 10x20 to each other but the place stays pretty much full. My car garage is a year off from completion, haven't even started it. Maybe I'll just do the  basics, not go into the motor,etc. A 20 year old Boxster with 153,000 miles will need a good bit of refreshing everywhere. That should easily kill my first year's budget of $2400 anyway. And kudos to the Brits that work out of much smaller garages.

I'll go ahead and start a garage build here, get my butt moving on that. I need feedback re. measurements for a single car garage.

Thanks, everyone.

Paul_VR6 Dork
10/11/19 12:41 p.m.

I did a motor swap in a Mk3 Jetta in one and I would almost rather do it outside under a canopy.

10/11/19 1:03 p.m.

I built several cars for people in storage facilities. There are a lot of HOAs here that have very restrictive rules which force people to use storage facilities.  There's a lot of storage places here and they range from not allowing anything but storage to some that allow running businesses or full on hobby shops with 4 post lifts compressors etc.  Due to the bright sun here I use a canopy a lot when the car needs to go out to open doors and what not. Once you get used to the nuances of working at storage facilities it's not bad. Very few distractions because rarely anyone else around at most of them.

Durty New Reader
10/11/19 1:35 p.m.

In reply to Hasbro :

For measurements of your single car garage I recommend as big as possible. If you're doing work in there make it double the space since cars take up 2x the space disassembled as they do fully put together. 


Looking forward to the garage build.

Hasbro SuperDork
10/11/19 1:49 p.m.
allen_m New Reader
10/11/19 11:12 p.m.

Just saw a unit that was used as a shop, all the stuff you would have in a home garage. The units have one 110v outlet and lights, I'm guessing they live in an apartment so it works for them.  Many years ago my now ex-wife had stuff in storage and one of those units were being used as a shop, his power was from a generator that sat outside and was on a leash, door  open or closed! so there are ways of doing it.

Hasbro SuperDork
10/29/19 3:21 p.m.

Update; my hard drive died last week so finally catching up. The storage biz slows down a few percentage points during the winter but not this time. I've moved the Boxster to four different units trying to accommodate new tenants so any shelving etc. is out. I've crammed all of the removed parts and the car into a 10x20. Until the garage gets built the Boxster will just get basic projects and refurbishing. First world problems.

pirate HalfDork
10/29/19 5:02 p.m.

Not wrenching but my brother set up his hobby woodworking shop plus used some of the place for storage after he got a divorce and got settled into another house. He did have to manage electricity use and make sure only one machine was running at a time. He made it all work. Also kept a low profile working mostly on weeknights when not many people were around and made sure to to keep things cleaned up.

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