Your Garage – A Fire Risk?

How big a fire risk is your garage?

Well in my garage there are the following fuel sources

  • 50 Litres of Petrol. (in the car fuel tank)
  • A litre of white spirit.
  • A litre turps substitute.
  • 2 x 5kg gas bottles.
  • Several tins of half used gloss and enamel paint.
  • Large box of scrap wood.
  • Various cardboard boxes.

As far as ignition sources go there is

  • Electrical Sparks from 240 volt power tools
  • Sparks from angle grinder
  • Car electrical system

And I don’t even have a welder or brazing torch!

If a fire started, and was undiscovered, how long would it take to spread to the rest of the house?………………….Not very long if you have got a standard internal door and one layer of standard plasterboard on the walls and ceiling. (In the UK if there is a room above a garage the standard is two layers of plasterboard with off set joints between sheets)

It could well be worth upgrading the specification for your new house to improve the fire resistance of garage walls, ceilings and doors! Perhaps you might also consider fitting a sprinkler point.

At least I have a fire extinguisher …. do you?

For Similar posts look in the Design Category


Electrical Planning – Garage

In my current garage I had three double power points installed. . . . which I thought was plenty.

With the amount of power needs on my workbench, including battery chargers I had to fix this power board to the wall.

What We Had Installed

I asked for double outlets at:

  • The corner close to where my beer fridge is, about 1m from the floor level.
  • Behind the shelves where my power tools are stored about 1m from the floor as a recharging station.
  • A low mounted point on the wall where my workbench is located.

What I Would Do Differently

  • Rather than the low point located behind the workbench I would have put two double points, one at either end of the workbench. They would be set above the height of the bench, say about 1200 from the floor.
  • Have task lighting above the workbench.
  • A single point on the ceiling, which would have made wiring the garage door opener in a lot easier. (We had that installed a couple of years after the build.)
  • An extra double 1m from the floor on the opposite side of the garage to the workbench near the main door. To run the pressure washer when cleaning the car on the drive. It’s also where I store my compressor.

Other Thoughts

  1. Some people might suggest having a 15 Amp point installed so that I could run a heavy-duty welder.
  2. I have seen some garages where people have a complete kitchen in the garage for things like making big batches of tomato sauce. If you had thought of this perhaps you should be looking at the kitchen post
  3. Why not run a television aerial to the garage so you can keep an eye on the cricket when working on a project.
  4. Have a hallway light switch in the garage so that as you go through the connecting door you can switch the hall light on.


For similar posts see Electrical

More Electrical Planning including 24 pages of Check Lists in the

‘Selection / Pre-Start Guide’


How Much Garage Do You Need

The trend these days seems to be for double garages……… but how many of them have two cars in them. . . . My guess would be about 10% and quite a few never have a car in them at all.

Some are just a home for junk that really should go to the tip.

Some are a workshop with bench, fixed power tools and shelves of tools.

I have seen a few ‘Man Caves’ with pool table and a bar.

Others are a storage place for bikes and barbies.

My double garage can still get one car in but the remainder is a combination of most of the above.

With narrower blocks a problem can be the garage dominates the rest of the house.

When you come to sell not many will want a house that looks more like an industrial lock up storage than a home, like This House.


Typical internal garage dimensions are:

  • Single garages – 3.5 metres (wide) by 6 metres (long) with a door around 2.5m wide.
  • Double garages – 6 metres (wide) by 6 metres (long) with a door around 5m wide.

These garages should fit anything up to a large 4WD, which are around 5.5m long by 1.9m wide.even with a bull bar on the front and tow bar behind.

Alternative Layouts

In the past I have had a single carport for parking the car with a separate garage/workshop at the back as my shed, which seemed to work well.

Another option may be to have a garage and a half!  This could be either:

  • 9 m long by 3.5 m wide with the back half being the store room/shed.


  • 6m long by 5m wide with shelves and/or a workbench along one or both side walls. This would work better if you wanted a large door through to the back garden.

Not enough room? . . . perhaps an underground/basement garage is the way to go. (see this link to find out more: Underground Garage)

Other Considerations

Once you have chosen the size here are some links to other aspects of garage planning:

Choosing a House? . . . An  E-book is available for only $4 to help plan your new house


Garage – Planning a Workshop

I was walking home the other day and saw this amazingly equipped workshop which made me feel quite jealous!

We can’t all have separate workshops so here are some thoughts about planning a workshop in your new house garage.

Solid Workbench

Your workbench,needs to be constructed to withstand the rigors and pounding you’ll put it through.

The legs should be sturdy and the top should be durable as I mainly work with wood I lite a timber top so it doesn’t damage my project.

If you are working with metals a steel top may be better.

Light and Power

Once you have got a location for the workbench you can plan the light and power.

I would aim to have a double power point at each end of the bench about 1.00m to 1.200m above the floor.

A point close to the floor for a Shop Vac is also useful to help keep the workshop clean and extract power tool dust. (For other garage power points see this link: Electrical Planning)

Some task lighting above the bench is also recommended.

Tool Storage

Your main investment if you are serious about DIY are the tools.

To protect that investment I would recommend a large tool box, preferably on wheels to make it easy to take your tool if you need to do work away from the garage.

For the tools that you use most often in the workshop a pegboard is useful for quick access.

Alternatively  you could hang items on the walls of your garage.


Plain concrete garage floors can work as a workshop surface, but can be dusty and over time they stain.

A floor paint such as an epoxy paint is easier to clean and looks better.

For a softer surface in front of the workbench a  rubber floor mats is great for easing strain on your legs and feet.

Comfortable Temperature

Garage spaces are not usually insulated, and garage doors on most homes have very poor insulation.

That means you may be hot and sweaty in the summer, and freezing cold in  winter.

If you are planning to spend a lot of time in the garage I would recommend you consider insulating your garage ceiling and door.

You should also consider a heater and a fan.


Have I left out any must-haves for your garage/workshop? . . . Let me know in the comments.

Underground Garage

Basement, or underground garages are becoming more popular.

Its one way of getting a bigger house on a smaller inner suburban block.

Before you make a decision to go for this solution its worth thinking about the cost, and the risk.


They aren’t a cheap solution for a few reasons:

  • There is a lot of additional excavation with all excavated soil needing to be removed. Expect to pay over$100/cubic m
  • Supporting adjacent properties during excavation. You are probably going to be excavating below the foundation level of your neighbours, so its not just digging a big hole. Specialised techniques to do this safely will add to the cost
  • Not only are the basement floor and walls going to be strong they are going to have to be waterproof.
  • As the garage floor is probably going to be below the Storm Water Drains you will need a  pumping to keep the garage dry.


The drainage company I work for has had to pump out several flooded basement garages over the past few years. The reasons for this are:

  • Even in Melbourne a heavy storm can easily result in over 25mm/hour.
  • For a driveway like the one in the photo above with a total area of around 100 m2 that means about 2500/hour litres flowing into the garage.
  • With that sort of rain you might also get water coming off the street, or the garden.
  • If the pump blocks, or there is a power cut  the water can quickly build up.

Haven’t got room for a ramp? . . . Check out a different idea at this link: Spot the Garage!


Have you ever had problems with an underground garage?



Spot the Garage

Can you see the garage?

Not just one, but two!

Perhaps this second photo helps

This is a device called a Cardok which I hear is coming to Australia.

Its quite expensive at around $60,000 each, but probably cheaper than having a basement garage with ramp.  It also would probably be easier to fit in a tight city block.

NB I have not been paid to promote this product I included it because it seems an interesting idea.

For more unusual houses go to What the………………….?


Garage Door – Win

Do you want a conventional garage door?


Want to impress the neighbors with your new yellow Lamborghini?


Perhaps you want another type of car?


or Do you feel the need? THE NEED FOR SPEED!!!!!!

It might be you are a fan of Top Gun and want a TomCat in your garage!


If so one of these garage stickers could be for you.


There are a huge range of designs at Style-Your


Prices start at around $200 including shipping to Australia

For more Unusual Houses and Fails see What the………………….?


Garage Doors

Originally garages doors were hinged doors, then tilt and lift doors came in. More recently the main choice for garage doors is between roller doors or sectional panels.

Roller Doors

Fairly common as its the most used door in commercial applications.

Has the advantage in that its a fairly compact unit although it does need a bit more height to fit the roll over the opening.

Normally fairly draught proof but very hard to insulate.

Sectional Panel Doors

I think these look a bit more classy than roller doors, after all you want to look more like a house than a commercial garage.

They are available in a wide range of styles.

If you don’t have windows in the garage it might be worth having a door with windows to bring a bit of extra light in.

They can be quite easily insulated if your garage is your workshop (or man cave) but are harder to draft proof.

One disadvantage is that the door takes up a lot of ceiling space which restricts where you can put ceiling light.


Last time we built I didn’t bother about a remote opener but after a couple of years I was served with the ultimatum ” Remote opening or else” My wife said afterwards well worth the money!”


For more posts on garages see: Garage Electrics and How much garage do you need?

More on doors including 24 pages of Check Lists for your new house choices in the‘Selection / Pre-Start Guide’