Having a home shop in a garage is fine if you only use it once in a while. The
problem is that I have to share the place with four cars, my tool collection, and
all our other junk. I'm thinking that my best option is to build a "shed" in the
back yard and migrate my shop to it. I live in Sacramento, CA, and the city
code is difficult for amateurs like myself to interpret . As I understand it, one
needs a permit for any structure over 150 square feet regardless of the
purpose. Last year, I built an enclosure to my patio with the help of a neighbor
was a retired contractor who took care of all the bothersome details. He's
now, and I wish I had spent more time learning about his trade.
What I plan to do is build a basic 20' x 20' structure along the lines of a
shed and add electricity later when it's time to start using it as an
honest-to-goodness shop. I have all of the tools and equipment neccessary for
shed project, so my only expenses would be for the materials, plans, and
for my helpers. For now, it would just serve as storage for car parts and
big hand tool collection, garden tools, and a bunch of power tools I inherited
ago. I mostly copy shaker furniture with hand tools and give away to family and
friends, but it's a pain in the ass to use the garage (my current shop) for this.
I know that local codes vary, but I have some general questions I hope someone
1) Is a four inch thick slab foundation adequate for this and likely to be
2) Am I correct in assuming I can build a plain box (16" OC studs) with a truss
roof, sliding doors and call it good for now?
3) I have calculated the cost of the lumber based on Home Depot prices. The shed
would be constructed of 2x4 studs with no interior finishing and 3/4" exterior
sheathing. The roof would be trusses sheathed in OSB and covered in shingles. I
to have two (single) sliding doors on north and east sides, and maybe a couple of
plexiglass windows. Is there any reason why this wouldn't be appropriate?
4) Would adding electricity to the shed (converting it to a shop) a year from now
have any affect on the permit that I built the shop on? In other words, is a shed
divergently different than workshop?
5) Many codes have a 36" min distance to lot line for residences. The city's
gives no clue on this rule for storage sheds, but I'm assuming it holds for any
structure. Am I correct or is there a general exclusion for non-occupied
6) I intend to make the trusses myself. Does anyone have any experience with the
engineered wood beams and trusses? It's possible to buy pre-built trusses here
about the same as it would cost to buy the retail lumber, but it's hardly a deal
7) The proposed location of the fundation is 103 feet from the street. Can the
concrete be pumped to the form without the truck mauling my lawn?
8) In this type of structure, does the poured foundation have to be inspected
the walls go up?
If anyone lives nearby, might I request your assistance in planning this?
Best regards to all,
I've had good luck with the truss manufacturers in my area. Why do you
think they will suck. Trusses tend to be a large cost/time savings for
> 7) The proposed location of the fundation is 103 feet from the
street. > Can the concrete be pumped to the form without the truck
In my area (Minnesota) a pumper truck runs $400 and $10 extra per yard.
Hope some of that is usefull.
As a word of experience, design it to look like your house or at least
A house; the next owners can use it for mother-in-law, guest, whatever
and then it becomes a plus. Also, it will attract less objections than
another storage/garage,etc. building. For what it is worth, 20 X 20 is
ridiculously small in your case. It is ALWAYS cheaper to build it
larger now than later. I would also look at the Keystone blocks as a
possibility for the exterior if you could pour concrete in them with
On Thu, 4 Sep 2003 11:04:48 -0700, "-linux_lad" <john at linuxlad dot
Should. Everything is screwy in Kalifornia though.
Design to look as a little house or something attractive.
Hard to say w/o seeing doors. Forget the plexiglass windows, They will
break down quickly in UV rays. I learned the hard way.
Be careful with your wording; that may/will influence your permit. A
workshop denotes sales, employees, taxes, extra permits for business,
dangerous chemicals, fire ratings and so forth. Call it something else
like a small addition. If it LOOKS like a house, everyone will ASSUME
it IS a house. Until you turn your planer on at 2:00 in the morning.
Put in a standard 200 amp panel.
Ask the inspector. Again, remember you will not live forever and you
owe the next owner some flexability. It will KILL the price of a house
if he can't use it.
BUY your trusses. A crane and 2 men will put them on in one day
easily. It is amazing. The wierd thing is it was cheaper to buy them
than make them. Go figure.
Easily. We pumped a tennis court 120' one time. Just went right over 2
other courts. I thought it was a real deal (thinking how it would be
to use a bunch of wheelbarrows).
Ask your inspector. May be BEFORE and AFTER.
Sure. I live in Arkansas but for a retainer fee, plane fees, meals,
etc, I willl be glad to assist.
Assuming you include appropriate footings then this should be fine. The
size and depth of footings necessary will vary by location, but should
extend below the frost line. Your local building inspector can tell you
specifically what is called for in your locale, usually they will give
you all of the info with nothing more than a phone call.
It would seem that way to me
Probably not.. I would take the time to shop your materials to some local
lumber yards though. You'll likely find better prices and almost
certainly better service. You'll also probably find some people who are
familiar with the local building codes, although you'll still be best off
just asking the local inspector.
Depends on your town. Most towns will require a seperate electrical
permit. Others will allow you to use the same one.
Depends on your town, but in most the rule is, if the building is on a
permanent foundation it is subject to the setback requirements. If it is
not, like it's built on blocks then the setback is often waived.
In many towns (mine is one of them) they also define shed and garage
differently, with the main difference being the permanent foundation.
I've not done this myself but at least one of the benefits of using the
trusses is time savings. If you're going to spend the time why not just
frame the roof, that way you'll have more available loft space.
Depends on your building codes, but I'd say almost for sure.
The only 2 things I can add are this.
I would recommend that you go talk to the local building inspector. Tell him
your a homeowner and do not know the process. When I did this they were
helpfull and gave me very different information then I got from the zoning
inspector. The building inspectors decision is final so talk to him upfront
and save yourself a headache.
About pumping concrete, Yes you can do that. It was my experience that if
you don't need to move a lot of concrete it's hard to get the people who own
the truck to call you back. I found a wonderful device called a concrete
buggy at the local nations rent. It's a motorized bucket for lack of a
better term. You stand on the back and drive it where you want it and then
the hydralics tilt the bucket and dump the concrete exactly where you want
it. It hauls 1/2 yard at a time. It will wear on the yard some but not
nearly like the truck will and in my case it traveled around the septic
system much easier. The tracks that I made didn't even require me to do
anything to repair them. I did my work in the fall and after the spring
rains were done they were gone. It cost me something like $200 for a 24 hr
rental so it was definitely cheaper then a pumper.
"-linux_lad" <john at linuxlad dot org> wrote in message
"-linux_lad" <john at linuxlad dot org> wrote in message
ok, I'll take a stab at this. I'm not an inspector or expert, but
I've done a fair amount of this. As you've noted, local codes vary,
and I'm all the way across the country (MD).
It sounds like you plan to get permits. Smart idea. I'd hate to
build a 400 sq.ft. building only to have to tear it down because a
neighbor decided to call it in, an inspector happened to be in the
neighhborhood and noticed the construction, or I happened to violate
an easement I was unaware of and the holder of the easement wanted to
enforce it. The permit review process will check all this for you,
except the ornery neighbor part, and once you've got the permits their
opinion doesn't matter anyway (if you need a variance, you'll have to
suck up for a while!). I'll offer one horror story ... Near me,
someone added a nice all-brick, very large extension to their home.
Didn't bother with permits. Unfortunately, they were in the electric
utility's easement (overhead power lines - there's a hint to check
easements before building...). Long story short, home addition gone.
Don't know. Couple things to consider. I think you're confusing slab
with foundation. In my area, small outbuildings, like shed <150
sq.ft., can be built on a floating foundation (there's an engineering
term but I forget it at the moment). This is what I used. The
perimeter is 8" thick with a couple rebar in the bottom, the the slab
is 4" thick. Mesh to tie everything together. The foundation
"floats" in the sense if there is frost heave the whole slab moves -
building may not be quite plumb, but it doesn't get torn to pieces
since it is sitting on a flat, albeit potentially tilted slab of
concrete. I can't imagine a 20x20 slab can handle those stresses
without bending or cracking, which will do wonders for the building on
top of it. On the other hand, I don't know that frost is an issue in
You may have to pour a true foundation. Since you're talking normal
construction that'd go around the perimeter just like your house.
The slab is poured separately. If you have to go this way (and maybe
even with the floating foundation for >150 sq ft) you'll have a footer
inspection after it's dug and rebar'd, and again after they're poured.
Probably. If you're planning on it being a shop, you might want to go
ahead and lay conduit and DC into the slab now. Also think about
where the electrical service will enter.
This is a personal preference. Personally, I'm envious ;-)
You'll need to pull another set of permits, sounds like you'd need an
electrical and building permit (here we have to get a building permit
in addition to electrical or plumbing, even if you're not touching
the structure). If you're thinking of a sink or toilet, plumbing too.
You might be able to pull these up front, around here homeowners can
pull permits and keep them open quite a while, it's like $10 a year to
renew. So worth talking to permits and planning to see what is the
least painful approach.
That's almost certainly a local ordinance. Around here outbuildings
have a minimum 6-foot setback. You need to check Covenants and
easements too, they can be more restrictive. Usually the planning &
permit department will check easements (ask) but Covenants (e.g., if
you're in a Homeowners Association) are your problem.
Well ... it's your shed, but if it were me and I were going to go
with trusses, I'd have them made. This is a case where
"mass-produced" is probably better than home-made. In addition, if
you are doing the truss design, you may have to have a licensed
architect or professional engineer sign off on your plans. That will
probably not be the case if you order them from a supply company.
Shouldn't be a problem if your lot is "normal". I seemed to recall a
pump truck added a hefty fee (like $800, but it's been 10 yrs). You
might be willing to deal with some grass getting mauled ...
Ask the inspector. Assuming it's like here, they'll want to inspect
BEFORE you pour the footers, they want to make sure they're big/deep
enough. If they are below grade, I believe they'll inspect after the
footers are poured but before you've built up to grade (either with
cinder blocks or poured). If the footers come all the way up to
grade, e.g., if you have no frost line, then they may not care if you
build the walls as long as they can inspect the footers after the
fact. Around here you only have to give 24 hr notice for inspections
so it's not, for homeowners anyway, a big deal to hold off a day for
the footer inspections. Remember, keep the inspectors happy, a
pisssed off inspector can make life miserable so I hear. I have
always found them very reasonable if it is clear you are just trying
to do the job right. I have also had them ignore a minor,
non-safety-issue, Code violation if it's obvious that overall it's
high quality work, but I was ignorant of some obscure portion of the
I'd be happy to help, but need first class tickets ;-)
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