Getting equipment/materials into stand-alone shop

  • Advertise with us

« back to Focus on the Workspace forum

Forum topic by stevet47 posted 09-23-2021 05:31 PM 941 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View stevet47's profile


37 posts in 2507 days

09-23-2021 05:31 PM

I am in the process of designing a dedicated woodshop space. I’d love to put a 20×40’ addition onto our garage, but between the foundation, brickwork (so it matches), tying in the rooflines, etc it will be faar to costly. This leaves the solution of building a dedicated detached building on the back of our property. This will be far cheaper to construct, but the downside is that there will be no driveway access to the building. It will be approx. 140ft from the street to the shop, all over lawn. We’d like to do some landscaping and could perhaps install a gravel path for a portion of this, but nothing large enough to support vehicular travel. How do you all get equipment and materials/project to/from your dedicated backyard shop building?
The best I can figure it picking up a cheap lawn tractor and trailer, but I’m not sure the tractor could pull enough weight for this to be useful.

See the below photo. The red rectangles are the two proposed shop locations (not to scale, they would both be 20×40’). The blue line is the 140’ path to the detached shop.

19 replies so far

View therealSteveN's profile


8900 posts in 1821 days

#1 posted 09-23-2021 05:41 PM

Depends on your ground. The place before our present home had over 250 of paved drive, and the barn was another 200+ feet back from that. We had good solid undisturbed ground and just drove back over that. Cement trucks, delivery semi’s, and all manner of vehicle drove over the grass, for a few days it would be left with notable drive lines, then it just looked like grass again. We had always planned to continue the drive, but then saw it wasn’t an issue when heavy trucks traveled back even when it was wet, a few days later and you couldn’t tell it.

At our current place we cut in a drive to the barn, off the lane next door, but we still have driven semi’s and cement trucks all over the grounds getting stuff to wherever it was going. Same deal, left it’s mark for a few days, then just looked like grass. If it’s not a swamp you should be fine with occasional deliveries. If it is wet, don’t know what to tell you.

-- Think safe, be safe

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

7238 posts in 3740 days

#2 posted 09-23-2021 05:52 PM

I’ve pretty much did the same as SteveN, just drive across the yard. I have used a dolly to 2 wheel things to the shop, but that can be a PITA if the ground is rough (like mine). You might find the lawn tractor/trailer idea to be a good one. I used a small lawn tractor to move a small boa/trailer all over the place some years back. This was a 16’ aluminum boat with a 25 HP motor, so it had several hundred pounds to be moved. Even with a small tractor (36” mower, 12 HP) I was able to move it around handily.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View stevet47's profile


37 posts in 2507 days

#3 posted 09-23-2021 05:52 PM

The whole property has in-ground sprinklers, so driving while avoiding heads would be difficult, plus since it is irrigated, the ground is relatively soft (and there is a small hill adjacent to the house). I could likely mark the sprinkler heads and drive my mid-size truck down there on occasion (after putting a wider gate in the fence), but definitely no way to get a large delivery truck there.
This photo is taken from the proposed shop location.

View controlfreak's profile (online now)


2912 posts in 848 days

#4 posted 09-23-2021 06:47 PM

I have a ramp that leads to the lawn. No sprinklers but when I install them I will likely not have any in the landing zone. If it is real wet I can usually defer until dryer.

View bondogaposis's profile (online now)


6048 posts in 3598 days

#5 posted 09-23-2021 07:05 PM

If it was mine I’d have a driveway built to it. Besides the initial move in, you are always going to be wanting to move lumber and plywood in and finished projects out.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Ocelot's profile


3414 posts in 3885 days

#6 posted 09-23-2021 07:15 PM

.. and party guests can park on that drive instead of the street.

-- I intended to be a woodworker, but turned into a tool and lumber collector.

View JohnDon's profile


193 posts in 2416 days

#7 posted 09-23-2021 07:17 PM

Old school (very- as in pyramids): a bunch of ~ 16” long rollers (2” abs drain pipe, filled with Quikrete).

View squazo's profile


303 posts in 2892 days

#8 posted 09-23-2021 09:12 PM

you can drive on a gravel path, no problem. even if its just 2 strips of gravel . hell you can drive on the grass even. thats what I do

View Chenier's profile


55 posts in 954 days

#9 posted 09-24-2021 12:36 AM

If needed you can lay down a “portable” driveway of 1-inch plywood sheets to spread the load of the equipment passing over. We do this every few years to get dump trucks full of gravel into our property without disturbing the neighbor’s foundations.

If you buy the plywood, you can add the appropriate amount of space to your shop to store it between uses.

View stevet47's profile


37 posts in 2507 days

#10 posted 09-24-2021 01:31 AM

Thanks for the tips. If I ever need to get big equipment down there (for the shop construction etc) I’ll definitely used plywood, but it sounds like for the more regular stuff like wood and completed projects a tractor with a trailer is probably my best bet. My wife (and maybe the city) isn’t going to okay a driveway.

View CaptainKlutz's profile


4906 posts in 2741 days

#11 posted 09-24-2021 10:06 AM

Am sure my ideas/ assumptions will offend someone, but still want to offer a different viewpoint than posted above.

IMHO – You have two problems that don’t need same solution.

1) Construction:
There will be grass and maybe even sprinkler head damage – Get over it.
Turn off, or unhook the sprinklers in side of house. Enjoy your reduced lawn mowing for awhile.
Come in from drawn entrance across the grass. Use plywood to prevent deep ruts and don’t care about that side of lawn for couple months.
BTW – Many concrete trucks will not drive across irrigated grass, or will only deliver small loads; so might end up hiring a very expensive long reach pump truck – unless you dry out the lawn long prior to construction and sign a waiver allowing them to damage the ground.

Looking at the latest picture, and some history of similar residential zoning challenges; my guess is SWMBO does want a new driveway in front of house, and only other approved permanent path to new building would be drive parallel to neighbors that connects to your current driveway. Sooo….

2) General access for tools and supplies:
Ask neighbor if you use his driveway for 1-2 trips a month to your new work shop. Maybe offer to make them some stuff?
Change your shop plans to use main side door and not end door as main entrance. Put construction supplies on side of slab during building (there will an area with grass damage). Re-landscape your back yard for 2 strip gravel path on your property that ends next to side of new building. Yes, what looks like a spruce tree has to go. Put in a long fence gate towards end of neighbors drive, to enable angled entry into your yard. The area where the construction materials were staged, can be used as side awning with concrete deck for protecting the garden equipment that does not belong in wood shop. :)

BTW – Did you check your local building code or plot plan for required set back distances? Might find the permanent structure can not be tucked into back corner. Many fancy neighborhoods want buildings 25+ft from property line?

As someone once old me:
Where there is a will to succeed and an open mind; anything is possible. ;)

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, Doom, despair, agony on me… - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View Aj2's profile


4073 posts in 3045 days

#12 posted 09-24-2021 01:51 PM

I would think the path will be obvious after the building is built. Contractors are know to leave their mark. :)
Good Luck

-- Aj

View stevet47's profile


37 posts in 2507 days

#13 posted 09-25-2021 01:37 AM

Thanks all.
To answer a couple questions, I will obviously check with the city regarding setback, but according to the city website setback is only 5’ since it is between properties and not a road.
Also, this will likely be a self-build, so I should be able to control damage to the site pretty well. Most likely the only thing I’ll be hiring out is the concrete slab, and for that I think the truck could back down my neighbors driveway and swing the shoot over into my yard. The crew would need to use a concrete buggy for the last 50’. It should be about 5 yards of concrete, so that should be totally manageable for a crew.

View BurlyBob's profile


9344 posts in 3512 days

#14 posted 09-25-2021 01:45 AM

Steve, go bigger you got the room. I’ve never heard of anyone complain that they built their shop to big. Looking at your lot go 30×40.

View stevet47's profile


37 posts in 2507 days

#15 posted 09-25-2021 03:03 AM

Steve, go bigger you got the room. I ve never heard of anyone complain that they built their shop to big. Looking at your lot go 30×40.

- BurlyBob

Yup, I’m already headed down that path…. now I’m thinking 30×40 with a ~20×10’ cut out of the footprint on 1 40’ side, so total interior square footage would be 1,000sqft. I could just do 30×40’ but I think adding the porch will make this look more like a ‘guest house’ or something, and not just a big garage in the backyard which will make me feel better about it, but will certainly make the wife feel better about it too. The bonus is the extra sqft I get from doing the partial porch over just a 20×40.
I dont need to go too big, I had a pretty useable 24×24 shop in the past, so 800-1000sqft should serve me well.

showing 1 through 15 of 19 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics