Monday, March 30, 2009

The Great Garage Remodel: Part One

I am out of town this week and away from internet or email so I won't be around to answer any comments or visit your blogs. Eventually when I get back, I'll get caught up as I always do. Until then, here is a part one of a series on my garage remodeling project.

The big delimma when I started this project was what to do with the stuff in the garage while I worked on it. As you can see, there is a lot of it and it was very dirty which made putting it in the house a non-option. Putting it outside was also not an option because I planned on working on it over a period of weeks and stuff outside tends to disappear. I could move the cars outside and did so during this entire project so I ultimately decided to move things into the center of the garage and work on the edges. Unfortunately the center of the garage could only hold so much so I had to work on only one wall at a time which opened up another question. Which one?

If I did the north wall first (the middle picture in the panorama), I would lose access to the use of my workbench, crowded as it was, what receptacles I had to run some necessary power tools and storage place for said tools. The east wall (right two pictures) really just needed a coat of paint and some time spent into organizing things better so I wanted to save that to last in case I ran out of time. The west wall (left two pictures) was the obvious point to start but was farthest away from the incoming power on the east wall (more on that later) which meant that I had to wire it up on faith that everything worked when I finally completed the circuit. That was the route I went with for better or worse.

After moving out the cars and moving everything from the west wall towards the east wall of the garage, I got started stripping down the wall to the studs. As you can see in the picture, a previous owner had used leftover chunks of fiberboard to cover the wall and it doesn't stand up well to moisture which Iowa has a lot of during the summer in the form of humidity. I also had to strip it off due to several bizarre electrical things that a previous owner had done that probably violated a dozen different codes. The most stupid one was discovered when I tried to diagnose why my garage door opener periodically lost power. I traced the line from where it plugged into a receptacle box, across the rafters to where it disappeared through the upper sill plate and into the cavity behind the particle board scraps on the west wall. Since there was no outlet or switch in the vicinity, it was a mystery as to where it was getting power. So I had made a couple exploratory holes in the wall until I discovered that the end of the wire was attached to a regular plug that had been plugged into another receptacle boarded over behind the wall. Over time, it had worked itself out to where it was sometimes coming lose due to the vibrations of the garage door. That was one problem I had seen and who knows how many more were hidden so I stripped it down to the studs.

One of the reasons for this project besides better organization was to rewire it completely. The original garage circuit was on a 15 amp circuit along with all the lights and outlets in our great room. When I went to use one of my favorite tools, a power miter saw which requires 15 starting amps, I had to make sure everything was off or not in use to do so. This wasn't very convenient. So I put a new 20 amp circuit and strung a new line of 12/2 brommex under my house to the garage with the intention of putting all the garage recepticles on this new circuit and leaving the lights with the great room circuit. My light switch for the garage was five feet away from the door where the original door had been before the great room addition which wasn't very handy so I wanted to move it right next to the current door where it belongs. I had spent many nights diagramming circuits to figure out what was going on and still had no idea in certain areas so I wanted to clean all that up and route wires in a straightforth manner. So with all that in mind, I went to the store to buy some wire, electrical supplies and some wood. A year ago for my basement remodeling project, I had bought 100 feet of copper wire for around $120. This year with the economy in the dumps, I was able to get a 250-foot roll for $36. Also OSB plywood during the housing bubble had been upwards of $10 per sheet. Now I was able to pick it up for less than $5. A bad economy is certainly good for a remodeling project.


The Real Mother Hen said...

Great, when are you going to start working on mine? :)
On a serious note, your garage looked so clean and tidy even before the makeover! Man, I think you'll faint when you see mine. I don't have stuff, but my husband has plenty. You can barely walk around our garage! Maybe I should send him to you, so you can train him on how to organize stuff, and most importantly, how to clean up! ha :)

Murf said...

TC and I would have had all this sorted out if we had made it there in time. Maybe for your next home project....

Beau said...

I need you for a couple of days... electric wiring is definitely not my thing. I like to think our garage is in a continual state of renewal!

TC said...

I second what Murf said...

I like the panorama. A nice touch.

Have a safe trip!

sage said...

Nice photo, but your garage is too clean! I hope what you say about low prices hold. I've got a lot riding on a big construction project in a down economy! Enjoy your trip.

Ed Abbey said...

Mother Hen - After doing one garage, it will cost you to do a second, plus travel, room and board.

Murf - Remodeling the bathroom or garden is next.

Beau - I'm self taught in the art of wiring. I can only do simple things like outlets and lights.

TC - I wish I had some stitching software to get an actual panorama.

Sage - As you know, we have a similar big construction project going on down here though I am not involved as much as you are. Hope it is going well.