I've finally had it with my home office and shop situation. I don't mind so much that that I have to run back and forth between my inside office and the dirtier, colder separated garage. What has really gotten to me is the RUST! My current shop is the separated exterior garage, composed mostly of old cinder block walls. Here, you can see the shop on the left of this rendering; also note the epic steel power mast that was recently installed:
These old cinder block walls weep during rain storms, making the interior a little too humid for my liking. This messes up wood, and has started to rust the cast iron surfaces of my planer, drill press, mill, and other tools. This is ridiculous and has to stop! I am a hardened soldier in the battle against corrosion. I long for the days of gas burners and wood stoves, dry cracked fingertips and rust-free cast iron glistening with thick grease and oil!
Shop Concept Plans
Alright to this end, the near term plan is to connect the garage to the house, unify the middle courtyard, and build a single structure that is well insulated and suited to become a cohesive workshop. Here is how I envision it going down:
First, we would demo 3 of the 4 garage walls and rotten old roof. The rear of the garage has a strange corner door, which should become a normal door. At the same time, we would also demo two new window holes in the neighboring cinder wall. These windows match the size and spacing of the existing kitchen windows (the single story area on the back of the row house that leads to the courtyard). After demo, it would look like this:
The next step would be to pour a concrete pad that would unify the surface of the existing garage. This would contain, embedded in it, the plumbing pipes for a bathroom and likely, gas and electrical runs for streamlining the install. This step might also include building better footings for the walls. Note that the pad height is a little higher than the kitchen exit, so this would involve casting a little stair into the end. After the pad pour, it might look like this:
With the pad poured, we would move onto framing up the structure. This would involve building two exterior walls and a small exterior connecting wall on the neighboring side of the courtyard. These walls would include an additional six window openings. These windows are all the same size and spacing as the kitchen windows for consistency. They will also start at 7 feet up, so they don't block internal wall/shelf space, and outsiders can't easily peer in.
The garage door opening will be 9' square with the intention of putting in a self-built double wood door. I may even build these doors in two halves so that during nice weather, I could open up a large portion of the shop. I don't want to limit wall space, so unless a specific project calls for the opening, it will usually be a closed wall.
Other framing builds up the area over the kitchen to a uniform height, and adds walls in front of the existing masonry. This way, I can include the much needed vapor barrier and insulation. The plan for the interior cladding are panels of veneer plywood. This will provide a clean, woody aesthetic allowing for universal screw placement for hanging of things; and it's also not drywall, which I detest.
As much as possible, I want the shop open and sparsely laid out, with everything movable on casters and subdued. However, there are two small rooms that make sense to have. One is the mini bathroom with a slop sink. I may even make this a wet bathroom with a shower wand and floor drain. This is the small squarish room to the top right of the picture below. The second room, containing the blue object in the picture below, would be specifically insulated and vented to hold the air compressor and a dust collector. These two items are both rather loud and make sense to be enclosed. The air compressor hides behind the dust collector, which would be accessible for cleaning behind a door near the stairs. The compressor isn't really accessible without removing components of the dust collector, but this should only be required once a year or so for maintenance.
Finally, half of the existing kitchen exit is framed in to change the kitchen layout and provide for a pocket door to access the shop. Here is a concept of the frame:
The frame would be built to support a robust roof of open beams. This is being designed to eventually support an upper courtyard and rear office room, and so needs to be stronger than just a roof. Here is the roof framed up:
Finally, we would cover the roof frame, and the exterior with stucco to unify it with the existing structure:
There are some tricky challenges ahead to get this structure integrated with the existing house and strange courtyard layout, but I'm looking forward to taking them on.