By Chris Stoltzfus
I’ll be honest, I enjoy the city where space is limited and a PORTABLE GARAGE in the backyard is not something everyone has room for. You see, I grew up on a farm in rural Amish Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and still have some of that in me. You know how it is, “you can take the boy out of the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the boy!”
Well, that's me. I live in the city and love it, but the farm is still in there somewhere and keeps popping out occasionally!
The Farm in the City Boy
When we moved to our corner property of less than 1/3 of an acre in Lancaster City, I started dreaming of having a tractor of my own (That's me and my brother playing with our John Deere Tractors when we were young).
When it snowed a lot on the farm, we loved it. Winter time blizzards that made roads impassable were the best of times.
You can take the boy out of the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the boy!
Big snowstorms meant getting out in the John Deere tractor and opening a path through huge drifts of snow for the ambulance and fire personnel even in the most inclement weather. It meant pulling out stuck 18 wheeler milk trucks and plowing lanes through the fields so the driver could rescue the neighbor's milk from the drain!
But that was a long ago and now I was living in the city wishing for a major snowstorm. Then one day we heard it. A big snowstorm was coming to Lancaster City.
I was excited!
Turns out that 30 inches of snow when you have the equipment to deal with it, is one thing. But enduring that much snow in the city with a shovel and broom is quite another!
It was an absolute nightmare and how I wished for my Dad’s tractors and loaders to dig myself and my neighbors out of the mess!
First a Tractor, then a Portable Garage
I did end up getting a small John Deere tractor for the next big snowstorm that came to Lancaster. It was fun pushing snow in the neighborhood and making parking in the city a little less challenging after the snowstorm.
Turns out, that with a tractor comes the need for a place to store it as well! A portable garage for tractor storage was now on my shopping list!
My background in Building Portable Garages
I also remembered having visited my brother-in-law in West Virginia and watching their oldest son as he was busy crafting his own cider press in the basement of their house! (We just visited recently again and were drinking some delicious apple cider from his homemade press). It inspired me to create a space where my growing sons could tinker around with woodworking as I did when I was young.
Not only did I grow up on a farm, but I also grew up with a small woodworking shop above our cow stable. It was not unusual for me or my brothers to be sanding lumber to build a pony cart, crafting a wooden shelf for decoration or creating a display case for a mug collection.
When I was around 10 to 12 years of age we began building storage sheds and portable garages that were delivered all over PA, NJ, NY, DE, MD, and a few other states (that’s me and my younger brother Johnny below). So, woodworking was also in my blood and I wanted a place where my sons could learn to tinker and build things like daddy and the cousins as they grew older.
Finding the right Portable Car Garage
Well, I happened to have some good connections at Sheds Unlimited, but I’ll wait to disclose that until a bit later :). For now, I’ll just say I had connections and so decided to figure out what it might cost to have a one car portable garage delivered to my backyard.
I could have built it myself but knew that it would take many hours and might not save me that much money anyway. By this time, I was running my own business and enjoying it a lot!
Since you’re already on the Sheds Unlimited website, you know (or will soon know) that Sheds Unlimited builds some beautiful portable garages! And since I was putting a garage in my backyard where I hope to live for the next 20 years (I told my wife we’re going to retire here :), I wanted something that looked really nice.
I wanted a building that added beauty AND usefulness to our backyard
A Portable Garage SHOULD be Beautiful!
I wanted a building that added beauty AND usefulness to our backyard. God created beauty for all of us to enjoy and it seems that if we are created in his image, we ought to reflect that in some way!
What I really wanted, was to install a permanent Modern Two-Story Building in the backyard that could have served as a getaway, storage space, office and all. But that was way out of my budget. I had to think realistically! For a while, I considered a two-story modular garage from Sheds Unlimited but even that was above my pay scale!
Starting with a Premier Portable Garage
So, I started with a Premier Single Car Garage that you can find here.
Now I must admit, they are beautiful garages!
I remember when we… oops… I guess I almost gave it away…
Ok, I’ll admit it, I used to work at Sheds Unlimited :) I worked there for a LONG TIME actually!
What I was saying is that when I worked there, and we started building the Premier Garages, they were a hit very quickly. It was Gideon King who first invented the idea of a Premier line of garden sheds and garages and they turned out amazing!
Not only do these portable one car garages give you lots of windows, but they are also high and roomy on the inside. You can’t help but love them. Add a shed dormer to the side of your Premier Portable Garage and they look really snazzy!
But, the bottom line is still the bottom line!
But, the bottom line is still the bottom line!
Finding My Budget for a One Car Garage
I soon found out that the Premier Garage was out of range for our budget. I know, you’d think that since I worked at Sheds Unlimited in the past they would give me a really good deal! They actually did give me a deal, but not enough to make it work.
We had just purchased our home in Lancaster City and were working hard to pay off the loan (I hate living in personal debt) so I knew we could not do the Premier Garage.
Next up, was the Classic Portable Garage. This single garage comes with fewer options but still looks quite classy (hence the name) and I knew it could be customized for our needs. A few things I really wanted on my portable garage were:
- Plenty of windows. I wanted to be able to work inside the garage with lots of light. The Classic Garage only came with two windows, so I added four more.
- Insulated Floor: Since I was building a workshop space inside my portable garage, I wanted to be able to insulate it in the future. So, I asked my brother… ok… Yes, the owner of Sheds Unlimited is my brother! I guess I do have some connections with the company! But anyway, I asked my brother to add an insulated floor since it would be too difficult to insulate after it is in place. (Honestly, when my brother gave me the quote for the garage, he gave me a “bother discount”)
- Tech-Shield Sheathing was a must. If you haven’t found out, Tech Shield Sheathing is an amazing roof sheathing that deflects heat from the roof of your garage. Garages with this product could be 20 to 30 degree cooler than one without!
- Ridge Vent: Even though I had Tech-Shield Sheathing, I still thought some extra ventilation would be a good idea for my up-and-coming portable garage. And since I’ve personally built garages and sheds in the past, I knew ridge vent was a cheap addition that adds some really good ventilation.
- Ramp: If you buy a portable one car garage, it sits above ground level about 8 inches. Sheds Unlimited provides a really solid ramp to make it easy to get the car, tractor or lawn equipment in and out easily.
Deciding on a Portable Garage
I finally settled on the Classic One Car Garage and chose colors to match my other tiny shed office where I launched my marketing company. Back then I decided to build my own tiny backyard office to launch my marketing company and work from my backyard.
I guess I’ll let you in on another detail!
I am the marketing guy for Sheds Unlimited...
Yes, I’m writing this story as a customer AND a marketing guy :) So you can’t say I’m a totally unbiased voice here!
Come to think of it, I really do have connections at Sheds Unlimited. I’ve worked there, the owner is my brother, and I am their marketing guy! Not-to-mention, I actually ran the company for about 10 years while my brother was off working in an orphanage/farm in Romania.
He returned speaking really good Romanian. Then I went off to the Middle East and studied Arabic! Which means that between he and I, we speak four languages. English, Romanian, Arabic, and Pennsylvania Dutch.
By the Way (BTW as they say today)
Have you seen the history of Sheds Unlimited? My dad started it, but the fun part of the story is that my brothers built dog boxes and delivered them with a pony and home-made cart (one of the projects I talked about earlier) to a local shed builder! This is my two older brothers and youngest sister delivering dog boxes they built before they had driver’s license (don’t ask about child labor :) We grew up on a farm and hard work was, and if you’d ask my wife, continues to be in our blood!
I think I lost my train of thought…
I was talking about important additions that I added to our Portable Car Garage. Yes, I finally settled on the customized Classic garage from Sheds Unlimited with the “bother discount.” Honestly, when I was looking just now to prove it, I searched in my inbox for “bother discount” and found the estimate from my brother!
Fact is, my brother nor I ever went through high school! We thought it was more fun to work so I guess we missed some of the grammar lessons we should have had!
Getting the Garage in Place
Anyway, I settled on a 10’x30’ Portable One Car Garage and had to wait for weeks to get it built. Something to keep in mind is the long wait that Sheds Unlimited might have during their busy season. If I recall correctly, I had to wait close to eight weeks to get my portable garage delivered to my backyard.
Making Sure the Garage is Big Enough
Sometimes I wish I had gone with a 12’x30’ garage as it would have given me more space to park things inside. But at the time I was thinking I wanted to keep the backyard open. I guess they say hindsight is better than foresight.
Which reminds me of another very important point that you SHOULD NOT miss!
Buy a bigger garage than you think you need
Buy a bigger portable garage than you think you need
Really, I’m not saying this as the marketing guy! I’m saying this from personal experience. I really do wish my garage was two feet wider and four feet longer. Those extra feet would make a big difference (Maybe this is just human nature!). I do suppose that even if it was two feet wider I’d still have to keep it organized.
But think of this, adding two feet is MUCH easier if it’s done before the portable garage is delivered. If I want to add two feet to my garage now, it would take a lot of time and a lot of money!
If I had just asked my bother… sorry… I mean my brother, to make the one car garage a few feet larger in each direction from the start, the extra cost would have been minimal.
Preparing the Pad for a One Car Garage
Every portable garage needs a really good stone pad to sit on. It’s just the way it needs to be. You’re going to be parking heavy stuff inside and a solid and level pad is very important.
On this point, I’m going to tell you to do as I say, not as I do! For a 10x30 one car garage, Sheds Unlimited would recommend a 4 to 6-inch bed of stone with pressure treated 6x6s around the perimeter. See how to build a stone pad here.
But I went cheap and had my dad bring in a load of stone on a dump truck but never bothered to put down the 6x6 perimeter. It was a nightmare getting the stone in place with that huge dump truck! But, after ruining my blueberry plants and running over some of my hedges, we got the load of stones in place and leveled out the pad for my 10x30 portable garage!
After getting the stone pad in, we managed to maneuver the garage into the backyard with a Mule (not an animal) and a skilled Dad (Watch the Sheds Unlimited Delivery Method Here). My dad used to be the delivery man at Sheds Unlimited so getting the garage in place was not too big of a deal.
Would I do it Again?
Of course, I have to say yes! I’m Steve’s brother and their marketing guy!
But no really, I love the portable garage. Even though I didn’t want to spend the money on the Premier Portable Garage, what I have in the backyard is really nice. We love it (for sure when we take the time to keep it organized!).
It’s been a great portable garage for tractor storage and several times I’ve built things with my son. Here we decided to build a doll stroller for his sister for a homemade birthday gift.
I really do hope for many more years of creating with my two growing sons and allowing them to flap their wings with woodworking tools and much more.
Recently, I added a grape arbor to the side of the garage (this might invalidate the warranty), since I love fresh concord grapes in the summer season.
And sad to say, the neighborhood boys decided the glass in the overhead doors was a good place to practice their stone throwing skills! I guess the warranty doesn’t cover the fact that all of the windows got busted out! Not sure if I want to show you around my messy garage, but I did take some really nice interior photos with a 360 camera. You can see inside here.
Occasionally, Chad begs me to go to the garage and build him something. Once, it was a star. A few times he wanted a rubber band gun and who knows what it will be next…
A cider press? How about a cup of hot apple cider right now? (it’s cold outside!).