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Hi guys we have been thinking about building a shop for a few years now and hopefully one of these years we will actually pull the trigger. I have read a few of the shop threads on hear and liked seeing and reading all the different ideas. I was wondering what is a must have in a new shop or a some mistakes that you have seen or done? A few questions in particular that i have is if a pit is worth it for working on highway tractors and vehicles? I would for sure want to be able to cover the pit and build it out of the way if it could be. Also what about an overhead crane, is that necessary in a farm shop? I would like to hear your ideas and even some if-money-was-no-object dreams. lol Thanks.
 

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I can safely say the number one mistake is building too small.

That's what is driving me to build a new shop. My last one was built (well started off as a shed/Quonset) in the mid 70s when 14' was tall enough. Well it had been dug out to 16', then had water issues, so it's back at 14'.

Overhead lift of some sort would be nice, but so far a smaller tractor and loader has worked for me.
 

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I would say powered openers, a separate air compressor room, build raised racks to hold totes of oil and def, and a real dinosaur fossil hanging from the ceiling as a conversation piece.
 

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I can safely say the number one mistake is building too small.
This bears repeating "the number one mistake is building too small." Regarding a pit, I'm not sure you can legally put a pit in a shop anymore. Best check into that before going ahead. While a gantry (or overhead crane of some sort) would have it's uses, especially if you do major engine work on large pieces of equipment, I would buy a picker truck long before investing in a stationary crane setup. There are some things that a crane could do that a picker can't but there are MANY things that a picker can do that a crane can't.
 

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Hot water pressure washer in a separate bay. Proper wall, not a curtain. You'll use it daily, even just for cleaning parts, and the rest of your shop will stay clean.

Overhead door in welding area for fumes/access. Exhaust fan.

In floor heat is the only way.

Storage up high is nice. Mount air compressors, hot water tanks etc overhead. Air and water Lines in walls is nice. Can't have too many plugs.

Jury is still out on overhead storage. We have mezzanine office/bathroom/lunch room above workbench. I'm glad I don't keep parts up there. Have shelves for the common used stuff, shipping container and old buildings for the once a year stuff like oil filters, combine parts. Easy to get when you need them but not in your way. Maybe just a separate parts room. Don't need 20ft high of parts, and not even necessarily heated. Cheaper ways to do it IMO.

Crane would be awesome.

Go 110ft long if you can, may have super Bs one day if you don't already, and could split them inside. 60ft wide is 3 machines, but tight.
 

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You can put a workpit in, but at least for commercial construction, it has to have an alarm system and sensors to detect harmful heavier-than-air gasses that could settle in there, along with a ventilation system. May not be worth the expense.

Gotta have at least one washbay with a drain, and floor sloped to it. I'll say for us, a curtain would be enough. The extra cost of a wall could be better spent elsewhere because we wouldn't use it every day, and the curtain gives you flexibility. Depends how big you are though and how much you'll use it. If you use an open drain style with grating (as opposed to U-drain with a narrow opening), make sure they use heavy grating that can be driven on.

Gotta have exhaust fans for the washbay, I'm a stickler for safety and air quality so I would try to find a cheap exhaust hood setup for welding too.

Infloor heat is great but pricey and I'm cheap, we might just lay lines under part of the floor and jimmy-rig a water heater to use on occasion, with radiant tubes to be the main source of heat. Need to see how the dollars shake out.

Some will put infloor heat lines in the outside slab and at the concrete where the overhead/bifold doors sit, I think that's a good idea but set up so you turn it on only when you need to.

Most won't insulate at the edge of the slab / outside face of gradebeam. New energy code takes care of that but farm buildings aren't required to conform to the energy code; I'd still get my builder to do it, or do it myself.

Here's a good one, a pit for changing oil. The setup I saw, he had a pit you drive over, pull the plug and let oil drain into the pit. There was a line to an above ground tank outside with a pump, so you turn a pump on and it sucks from the pit to the tank. Nice and clean. I think the pump was set up so you turn a couple valves and pump out of that tank as well.

Put some thought into orientation and which way the doors face in relation to prevailing winds. You don't want to be clearing snowdrifts in front of the main overhead/bifold door.

If you're building a heated shop but could use some more cold storage as well, it would be cost-effective to build one building that's part heated shop, part cold storage.

If money is no object, skip the pole sheds and stud framing, build a pre-engineered steel building.
 

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Best things we ever bought for our shop were a couple of forklifts, one an electric aisle type that always stays inside on the cement, and one that can run outside on gravel. Easy to store things up on racks now. Should have done that decades ago.
 

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I agree with the above comments on forklifts. We built a loft in our shop years ago with the intention of storing filters, oil totes, air compressor, etc. A loft is a good idea, but we don't use it properly... Oil totes are extinct (in my opinion) with the rolling 55 gal caddies that are powered by your aircompressor. If you have dry cold storage your filters don't need to be heated.



This may sound dumb, but here are my top three "cheap" things that are missed most of the time.

1) good lights. Definitely over do it with the lights. I would probably pack the ceiling with LED "fluorescent" style light fixtures if I was to do it over again.

2) shelving. Helps things stay organized from day 1

3) Rolling workbenches.
 

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I would venture a guess that 80% would not need an overheard crane, theres a very small amount that could justify the cost. As for a pit, you can get those portable lifts that can lift a semi 6ft in the air safely and then you can wheel them into the corner when your done, once you have a pit that area isn't much good for anything else. I would second that building too small and too low are common mistakes.

My top things would be:
- 18ft high door preferable would be 20ft
- Ventilation, weather it be truck/tractor exhaust or welding/grinding fumes
- Break/coffee room, doesn't have to be huge but it nice to be able to sit down away from the noise and work or meet salespeople/agronomists without having to go to the house.
- Insulation, if your climate is cold (like Canada) go all out on insulation you can go with bat walls and then but foam board between strapping to get even more
- Windows & lights, windows are free light and makes for a nicer workplace, lots of lights because you'll be glad you did
- Small door for pickups/quads/snowmobiles, keeps your larger doors closed and heat savings.
- Build it bigger!

 

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You will run out of money before you get all the features you want. So make real sure you get the features you need, and make it so you can add the features you want.


Make it tall enough and wide enough, with a good floor. Its relatively easy to add to the length of a building, needing more width or height means starting over.


Remember you are not trying to build the shop you need today. You have to build the shop you think you will need in 10 years.
 

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- Insulation, if your climate is cold (like Canada) go all out on insulation you can go with bat walls and then but foam board between strapping to get even more
- Windows & lights, windows are free light and makes for a nicer workplace, lots of lights because you'll be glad you did
- Small door for pickups/quads/snowmobiles, keeps your larger doors closed and heat savings.
I heard spray foam is nice. Never tried it though.

If you use a 4 wheeler alot, go with a big walk-in door. I seen it on successful farming and tried it, it works great.
 

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A parts room with a small garage door so you can move pallets in and out is a must for me all your clutter is confined to that room
 

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I'd put a concrete or reinforced steel "safe room" attached to the office area for storing vitals, monitors, GPS equipment and crap like that. Protected from fire and natural disasters
 

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I heard spray foam is nice. Never tried it though.

If you use a 4 wheeler alot, go with a big walk-in door. I seen it on successful farming and tried it, it works great.
Spray foam is nice but $$$$$

I have a large walk in door on a parts room and I'm not a fan for wheeled vehicles, constantly driving over the doorstop is a pain, doesn't work at all with sleds.
 

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Jason how do you get your sleds in and out of the shop without wrecking the concrete? It seems like the little caster wheels always fall off and it is hard to make the two wheel over centring lift work.
 

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I heard spray foam is nice. Never tried it though.

If you use a 4 wheeler alot, go with a big walk-in door. I seen it on successful farming and tried it, it works great.
Spray foam is nice but $$$$$

I have a large walk in door on a parts room and I'm not a fan for wheeled vehicles, constantly driving over the doorstop is a pain, doesn't work at all with sleds.
I guess I made it flush with the floor...

Mine are on a tip able flat bed as they are a little hard on the floor...
 

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Our shop (too small and too low like everyone else's!!!!) was built out of a lowered barn roof.... Dad has a couple overhead chain winches, I think running on the old hay lift track. sure are handy to have, especially if doing many welding projects / fabrication. But they get used all the time.


Have been playing with idea of building a bigger shop at some point but from what I can gather any sort of over head basically needs to be on its own frame to meet code (or else the frame of the building made out of steel engineered for the structure to withstand weight being put on it.......) (unless you happen to be in a municipality that doesn't have a building inspector). I'm thinking that if building to code a used forklift likely way cheaper than all the additions needed for a crane.


A parts room would be awesome, and if I was laying out a shop I would make sure to have room for a tire repair machine and a hose crimper. Im sure it would take some time to figure out what fittings to have on hand but I swear close to half of our down time is running to town for hydraulic hose and tire repairs....
 

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Jason how do you get your sleds in and out of the shop without wrecking the concrete? It seems like the little caster wheels always fall off and it is hard to make the two wheel over centring lift work.
Once you get a few hundred miles on carbides I find they don’t actually cut concrete anymore (not mine anyways). They make scratches but if you run your finger over they aren’t actually grooves. I do have a couple of these dollies tho and they work great, drive on and off them.
 

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