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  1. #1
    Super Member Iplayfarmer's Avatar
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    Default Need Opinions on A Small Work Space

    There's a root cellar on my place that I've never really used. The roof has finally degraded to the point where I either need to replace the roof, or cut down the cinder block walls and fill it in. For reference, the root cellar is attached to my small detached garage (22' X 20'), and the garage is my only workshop space. Half the cellar (41") is below grade and the other half is above grade with dirt piled up against most of it.

    I'm thinking about adding stairs from the garage into the root cellar for a storage area and maybe also adding a second floor above it to be additional workshop space. I'm pretty good at scrounging, and I can probably get materials cheap (Craigs List, Freecycle, etc.) I'd do all of the labor myself. The trade off is my time and effort to build vs. the potential benefit of having an extra little bit of work space.

    Is it worth it?

    I'll add a reply to discuss pros and cons as I see them, but for now here are the plan details:

    The current cellar is about 8 1/2' square, and the roof is 6' high. The walls are in great shape. I'd add another course of cinder block to raise the cellar roof, and I'd add an entrance direct from the garage with a half flight of stairs going down and a half flight going up. The top floor would be about a 10' square minus whatever floor I'd lose to stairs. I figure I'd have about 70 square feet plus some counter space over the stairs. Another option is to cantilever the joists as much as I can and gain some more floor space.

    I've attached a few sketches to give a visual of what I'm planning. The first is a view from the garage side. The second is a view from the opposite side with the walls and roof hidden to see the inside.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Need Opinions on A Small Work Space-root-cellar-west.jpg   Need Opinions on A Small Work Space-root-cellar-east.jpg  
    Last edited by Iplayfarmer; 10-30-2009 at 01:31 AM. Reason: grammar
    From now on I will only buy cars that are a silver/grey color. Then I can make all body repairs with Duct Tape.

  2. #2
    Super Member mjncad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need Opinions on A Small Work Space

    That looks like it could be used for chemical storage to me, or other small item storage.

    Remember, that current cellar is about the size of an office cubicle, and having spent more years than I care to think about in one, you won't have a lot of room for much other than storage, especially when you factor in access stairs.

    Or how about using the root cellar as a place for a large vertical air compressor? Of course there is the hassle of getting it down there; but that is not insurmountable. If it wouldn't be a nuisance to get full dust barrels out of there, I'd suggest putting a tall cyclone style dust collector in there.
    Paraphrasing Douglas Adams - So long and thanks for all the bacon.

  3. #3
    Super Member Iplayfarmer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need Opinions on A Small Work Space

    Here are some of the potential uses I've thought about followed by some pros and cons as I see them. I'm very eager to see responses regarding uses for such a small area.

    Uses
    Workshop for small projects
    Paint booth
    Office (place to browse TBN)
    Additional storage

    Pros:

    The walls of the existing cellar are in great shape. It would be a shame to tear them down, and converting the cellar to storage is about the only way I'll use it.

    I like the idea of the root cellar for storage. It doesn't freeze, and so I could store my paints, adhesives, etc. there and not have to bring them inside.

    I like the idea of having any extra storage at all. My garage/shop is very small, and space is at a premium. 16 extra feet of wall space for storage will be NICE.

    With the upper floor being so small it would be easy to heat.

    A separate workshop area would provide a place to do secondary projects (i.e. carburetor cleaning) without having to trip over a primary project (i.e. backhoe build)

    Cons:

    If I do fill the space in, it will make getting in and out of the pasture easier. (The root cellar is in front of the gate)

    The upstairs area will be very small. I'll be limited on the size of project I can do there.

    Building the extra storage/workspace may delay ever getting a real shop.


    Also, I'd like to hear ideas on what to add while I'm putting in the space anyway. I'm already planning to run lots of power outlets and a few air drops if I build it. What else?
    From now on I will only buy cars that are a silver/grey color. Then I can make all body repairs with Duct Tape.

  4. #4
    Super Member dave1949's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need Opinions on A Small Work Space

    It's nice to have fairly cool, stable temperature storage area for all sorts of sprays, paints, caulk tubes, keeping plants dormant, etc. That would be a bonus I think. For the same reasons, it would make a good wine cellar

    How is the humidity? A root cellar would normally have fairly high humidity. Maybe paper products, wood, etc. would get musty in the lower portion.
    Dave.
    "Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end ..."

  5. #5
    Elite Member
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    Default Re: Need Opinions on A Small Work Space

    Well if you build the doors on either side of the shed so they swing open, you could still work on large projects the ends would just hang out.
    I would love a root cellar on my property, Its one of the projects i will be eventually making. Its great to have in a what if sense.
    Could you use the foundation and then build off on the sides to make it larger?
    think of the foundation as a square, and then put a rectangle on top or will it mess with your gate?

  6. #6
    Super Member Iplayfarmer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need Opinions on A Small Work Space

    Quote Originally Posted by dave1949 View Post
    It's nice to have fairly cool, stable temperature storage area for all sorts of sprays, paints, caulk tubes, keeping plants dormant, etc. That would be a bonus I think. For the same reasons, it would make a good wine cellar

    How is the humidity? A root cellar would normally have fairly high humidity. Maybe paper products, wood, etc. would get musty in the lower portion.
    Dave.
    The humidity is comparatively high, but I'm in an arid climate. I'd be selective about what went down there. I think wood would be okay, but no cardboard, etc. I'm thinking of leaving a small portion of the floor (under the stairs) dirt in case we do want to store some carrots or potatoes in there someday.

    I've wondered if it would be a good place to cure green wood to keep it from splitting.

    Quote Originally Posted by forgeblast View Post
    Well if you build the doors on either side of the shed so they swing open, you could still work on large projects the ends would just hang out.
    Help me understand... Are you saying I should add multiple doors so that I can open them when I have a bigger project?

    Keep in mind that the floor of the second story will be about 3 feet off the ground.

    I would love a root cellar on my property, Its one of the projects i will be eventually making. Its great to have in a what if sense.
    Could you use the foundation and then build off on the sides to make it larger?
    think of the foundation as a square, and then put a rectangle on top or will it mess with your gate?
    I just lately started wondering about doing just that. I'm exploring what the implications would be of cantilevering the foor out beyond the foundation. Does anyone know how far I can cantilever with 6" floor joists on 16" centers. The floor would have to support a single story wall and roof.
    From now on I will only buy cars that are a silver/grey color. Then I can make all body repairs with Duct Tape.

  7. #7
    Elite Member
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    Default Re: Need Opinions on A Small Work Space

    Yes if you have two doors across from each other you can still put long things in your workspace and be able to work on them. I have my chop saw next to my door so if i need to cut a long piece of something i just hang it out the door and have a sawhorse there to support it.
    3' off the ground you could take a 2x8 4' long and cut it diagonally which would give you a ramp. just add decking and you would be good to go.

    thinking about the canterleveing what about like a pole barn, pouring some tubes (of cement with metal fastners) that will allow you to attach the Joists which would have the floor all supported on each end.

  8. #8
    Elite Member
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    Default Re: Need Opinions on A Small Work Space

    I know you said space is tight but can you put the stairs in the garage to bring you up to the 'second floor'? Then use a 'trap door' to access the root cellar. This would give you the full floor space in the addition.

    Otherwise I would look to going with the design you have but look at expanding it as already mentioned.

  9. #9
    Super Member Iplayfarmer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need Opinions on A Small Work Space

    Quote Originally Posted by charlz View Post
    I know you said space is tight but can you put the stairs in the garage to bring you up to the 'second floor'? Then use a 'trap door' to access the root cellar. This would give you the full floor space in the addition.

    Otherwise I would look to going with the design you have but look at expanding it as already mentioned.
    I think I'd rather give up the cellar space than garage space. The trap door idea is getting somewhere. One idea I had was to make the stair rail such that it folds down accross the stairs to make more space. The other idea is to put the stairs up the outside.
    From now on I will only buy cars that are a silver/grey color. Then I can make all body repairs with Duct Tape.

  10. #10
    Super Member Iplayfarmer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need Opinions on A Small Work Space

    I'm officially obsessed with this idea now. I've redrawn the plans no less than 5 times now. Each time the plan gets a little better.

    I found out that I can cantilever my floor a distance equivalent to the depth of the joist. That gives me another foot.

    I also decided that the door from the garage wasn't going to work where I had it drawn due to headspace issues, so the door and stairs are now drawn outside the root cellar. That gives me the space that the stairs were going to take up.

    I'm toying more with Forgeblast's idea of putting in a second door opposite the existing one to accomodate longer projects when needed. I'm thinking about making the other door a narrow roll-up door. It will depend on what I can find on the used market. I'm also thinking about extending the roof out the back of the structure far enough that I can have a covered parking place for a tractor or implements.

    Right now I'm searching for information on how far I can extent the lookout rafters on the roof. I'd like to extend the roof three feet to cover the door from the garage and the stairs, but I don't know if I can go out that far. Any help would be appreciated.
    From now on I will only buy cars that are a silver/grey color. Then I can make all body repairs with Duct Tape.

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