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Old 02-07-2015, 07:03 PM   #1
Mech33
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Default Mech33s garage remodel with in-ground scissor lift in California

I owe virtually every one of the ideas realized in my remodeled garage to the GarageJournal community, so let me start by giving a big thanks to everyone on here! There are a LOT of pictures to scroll through to get to the end, so here's a quick spoiler of the finished outcome:


Now on to how we got there...

This all started a little over 2 years ago when I moved into a new (to me) house that had a detached 2-car garage. The garage was completely re-built like a tank back in 1989 after a big earthquake nearly leveled it, but was only 22’ x 22’ with an 8’ ceiling with a single 20A breaker feeding all of the circuits.

Here’s a pic from the day we moved in (don't ask me what that mannequin thing is about... that, the carpet, and the couch were all junk the previous owner left):



And this was my typical scene working on the car on a weekend afternoon:




But then I discovered GarageJournal, and my garage life would be forever changed! As soon as I came across one of the in-ground scissor lift threads, I knew that was something I wanted to put in my garage to make it easier to get the car up in the air while keeping it open without posts for regular use or parking. So I started sketching up some plans, and let’s just say things snowballed from there…

The 8’ ceiling would limit how high I could lift my small car (an Audi TT), but from some scale drawings I pieced together it looked like I could take the scissor lifts to their full 70” height if I could vault the ceilings and the garage door track to match the roof pitch:



So that was the basic plan when I started:
- vault the ceiling
- install an in-ground scissor lift
- wall-mount some reasonable cabinets

The build quickly feature creeped to include:
- installing a sink (needing water lines and draining run to the detached garage)
- completely re-wiring of the entire garage including a 4-wire run to a new 100A sub-panel to support electric car charging in the future
- LED lighting throughout (LED troffers, LED cans, LED under cabinet lights)
- polished and stained concrete floors
- in-ceiling speakers with wireless music streaming
- a wall-mounted computer that doubles as a TV
- compressed air drop from the ceiling
- custom stainless countertops
- a mini-split HVAC unit

Last edited by Mech33; 02-07-2015 at 07:10 PM.
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Old 02-07-2015, 07:03 PM   #2
Mech33
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Default Re: Mech33s garage remodel with in-ground scissor lift in California

So start, we removed the ceiling drywall and plywood to expose the structure:


Then the rest of the walls were removed, and the roof framing shored in prep for structural changes to support the vaulting:


A ridge beam was installed to support the roof:



I ordered the lifts early so that we could carefully measure them in advance of any concrete work:


Then the concrete work started with saw-cutting two outlines, as well as a route back to the corner for the lift controller:


Concrete removed showing the sand underneath:


Holes were dug to provide about 8 of solid concrete depth under each of the lift pockets, and a rebar structure was formed for support:


4 conduit was run between the lift pockets and the controller location, making pulling the hydraulic, air, and limit switch lines relatively easy:


Forms were built and high-strength concrete was poured:


The lift pockets turned out well, and would just require a little bit of depth fine-tuning later on:


With the new panel and wiring run, we insulated everything:


New drywall was installed everywhere, and we decided to wrap the the beam for a clean look:


I decided that a computer at the bench would be helpful for looking up install guides and other things, and it could double as a TV with streamed content. To keep the computer out of the way as much as possible, we designed a cubby hole recessed between the studs that would support the articulating wall-mount and power / network connections, enabling the computer (planned to be an iMac) to sit as flush as possible against the wall). We embedded a threaded aluminum plate to support the wall-mount attachment with minimal reduction in pocket depth:


Since a compressor was needed for the lifts safety mechanisms, we ran compressed air both to the lift controller area as well as a drop in the ceiling for a reel:


For primary lighting, we decided on a total of 8 *dimmable* LED troffers (they are pretty trick) that would mount flush with the drywall. Here you can see the troffer cutouts as well as the speaker cutouts in the ceiling:


A pile of troffers patiently waiting to go in:
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Old 02-07-2015, 07:04 PM   #3
Mech33
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Default Re: Mech33s garage remodel with in-ground scissor lift in California

To keep the garage a nice temperature year-round, we decided part way through the remodel to install a mini-split system. I quickly did some research and decided that the newer Fujitsu systems had the right combination of reliability / features / look, and had a local installer do the work (we had pre-run the wiring, so the unit was in start-to-finish in about 5 hours). This pushed us to quickly paint the walls (I chose a warm orange color that I had used in a previous garage) so we could get all the way under the mini-split unit prior to install:


Lights, speakers, and mini-split all installed:


With the walls painted, the computer mount and electrical connections went in:


Now on to the garage door! I wanted the garage door opener and tracks pushed as close to the ceiling as possible. This took some back and forth with the installer, but they eventually pushed it up acceptably high. We popped a small hole in the drywall to let the top of the LiftMaster 3800 go up into the ceiling slightly for maximum clearance:


The door sits just a couple inches below the ceiling at the end:


The flooring material was a tough decision. I had originally planned on going with a modern rectangular porcelain tile that would continue the pattern over the scissor lifts. But integrating the tile on top of the painted metal scissor lifts platform was getting a little complicated, and I was concerned about how the cut tile would look when the lifts were raised, and how durable the edges would be from damage. If I left the lift tops exposed and tiled the rest of the garage, I would have had to shim the lift pockets up higher to keep everything flush.

I was also a bit nervous about keeping the tile grout clean, plus the cost of the combination of nice quality modern style tile plus install labor was getting a little out of control. So I did some more research and decided to punt on the whole tile idea and went with polishing the existing concrete slab instead. This was actually surprisingly cheap (about $2950 out the door including staining and additional labor to do some rough polishing by hand on the stem walls), and looked great.

In prep for the polish, we decided to fill the expansion joints in the original slab. I realize these may move around or break up over time, and Im OK with that risk for now. We also did some final depth leveling of the lift pockets:


Then the polishing crew came and started doing their magic:


Lots of concrete dust!


Here you can see the visual difference between rough polishing of the original concrete slab vs. the new concrete that filled the expansion joints:


Heres how it looked after a couple of passes:


Then they applied a black stain to get a dark gray color. We chose this to help hide stains and varying concrete color:


A second coat was needed to get everything looking nice and uniform:


Heres how it looked up-close after staining (but before final finish polishing and burnishing):


Then they did their final fine polishing and burnishing steps with some harness:


I had asked them to cut the concrete down enough to show some of the aggregate when it was done, and it really turned out nicely:


Nice and shiny!
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Old 02-07-2015, 07:04 PM   #4
Mech33
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Default Re: Mech33s garage remodel with in-ground scissor lift in California

With the messy stuff now complete, it was on to installing the rest of the garage goodies. We had built a 1.5” thick plywood shelf reinforced into the wall framing to hold the air compressor, so we hooked that up next:


Then it was on to the lifts. Those are some heavy suckers! We rented an engine hoist to move them around. It was quite a game to maneuver them around the garage and into the right spots without falling in the lift holes.


Dropping the lifts in the holes was tricky because of the order of operations. Since the hydraulic lines were custom made to be just the right length, they wouldn’t reach from the controller to the lifts through the conduit without the lifts in the pocket. But if the lifts were in the pocket in the closed state, then we couldn’t access the hydraulic connections to connect everything up! So we had to raise the lifts before dropping them in the pockets, which meant we had t hook everything up outside of the pockets first just to raise them up.

So in prep for that, we moved the lifts right over the pockets so they’d take minimal movement to drop into the holes once raised:


We then hooked up all of the connections, filled the pump reservoir with hydraulic fluid, crossed our fingers, and gave it a test run. Success! They went up and down on the first try:


Then I dropped them down into the pockets:


We then mounted the lift controller right under the air compressor in the corner. Above the lift controller, the left switch turns on the lift power, and the right switch is lit when on and turns on the air compressor:


We had some custom hydraulic extensions made to get the line lengths just right:


Finally, the lifts were hooked up, synchronized and lowered to the floor for the first time!


Look, no visible lines!


With the lifts carefully centered in the pockets, it was time to bolt them down with concrete anchors:


Getting there… hmm what’s missing? Oh yeah, we need some cabinets and benches in there!

Last edited by Mech33; 02-07-2015 at 07:22 PM.
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Old 02-07-2015, 07:05 PM   #5
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Default Re: Mech33s garage remodel with in-ground scissor lift in California

I did some cabinet research and decided that the Saber cabinets were the best bang for the buck, and designed layouts for both sides of the garage with their silver color in mind. On the left side wed integrate a sink into a 2-door base cabinet, and on the right wed need a 5 cabinet-long counter:



We ordered the cabinets, and they arrived via freight delivery within just a couple days (the Saber headquarters was just a 4-5 hour drive away):


After a LOT of hand assembly of all of the cabinets (what a pain!), we started installing the upper cabinets:


We had to cut some holes in the base cabinet with the sink for the water and drain lines. The hole in the base was originally intended for routing water lines to foot pedals:


Left and right sides all hung above the stem wall! Lots of empty boxes and packing material.



Big cabinets were built too, but we decided not to hang them until the counters were installed. This would give some flexibility on maneuvering the counters in to place.


After hanging the upper cabinets, we completed the network and audio panel connections for the amplifier and router. All of the network lines run to various security cameras that get aggregated here:


Next we started working on under cabinet lights. I couldnt find anything perfect off the shelf, so we bought bare aluminum light bars with diffuse covers and bright LED light strips and cut them all to custom lengths.


We mounted the lights on thin metal strips on each end so that they could be easily angled slightly towards the back well. A dedicated mechanical power switch was added to the light strip that was above the computer so it would be switched off when using the computer, or left on when using the countertop in front:


Testing, testing! We hooked the power for these lights up to a motion-triggered switch, so they turn on whenever the garage door opens or someone walks in the garage. This is great for quickly walking in, grabbing something, and walking out without having to fiddle with any switches.


Audio amplifier, AirPort Express (for wireless audio streaming), router, and a subwoofer (to supplement the ceiling speakers) all tucked away nicely in the upper corner:


And air reel and power / light reel were both installed against the beam for easy access:
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Old 02-07-2015, 07:05 PM   #6
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Default Re: Mech33s garage remodel with in-ground scissor lift in California

I spent a while trying to figure out what to do for countertops, and went back and forth on butcher block vs. off-the-shelf stainless vs. custom stainless. In the end, I decided to go with custom stainless countertops in 16 gauge 304 stainless with 4” tall backsplashes on the wall sides, and an integrated stainless sink. I ordered them over the phone from across the country, so I was a bit nervous about how they’d turn out. But the company sent detailed CAD drawings prior to fabrication for my review and approval, and they showed up packaged extremely well without a single scratch on them. Every dimension I checked matched the drawings within 1/64”! Here they are immediately after unpacking:


Before dropping them in, we had to cut a hole for the sink in the base cabinet:


They fit!


Now to start hanging those larger cabinets:


For power over the countertops, I found some stainless Wiremold strips that were only about 3/4” tall that matched the countertops nicely. The wiring between adjacent strips was a tight fit!



Outlet strips installed and the stainless protective wrap removed on the shorter counter with the sink. I think it turned out really well!


With the outlet strips installed, we bolted up the computer next:


Then installed the faucet and a pumice soap dispenser over the 12" deep sink:


We couldn’t forget a garage vacuum:


Oops, but I did forget a good spot for a trash can! So after a little research, we decided to put a recessed combination trash can and paper towel dispenser into the wall that fit between the studs. Oops, there is some wiring in the way!


So we had to re-route the wire through some boxes. We painted them and they hid nicely:


Here’s the dispenser all installed. It makes grabbing a hand towel quick and easy without a roll to deal with. For heavy-duty stuff, we have separate Wypalls.


And with that, it was finally “done” (for now)! I took some finished pics at night:






The last thing still TBD is a vise location. I’m very hesitant to cut into the stainless counter to mount a specific vise bolt pattern, so I am debating between attaching an intermediate aluminum plate to the stainless with an adhesive that can be cut with a wire later if needed, or doing something like a hitch mount under the counter in the stool area or hanging off of the wall. Any advice welcome!

I hope this write-up can help someone else with their garage ideas just like all the help I received for mine.

Last edited by Mech33; 02-08-2015 at 11:21 PM.
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Old 02-07-2015, 08:26 PM   #7
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Default Re: Mech33s garage remodel with in-ground scissor lift in California

Fantastic job! How well do you like the scissor lift? It was thinking of the same system. I like how they do not take up open floor space while not in use.
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Old 02-07-2015, 08:53 PM   #8
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Default Re: Mech33s garage remodel with in-ground scissor lift in California

Incredible!! Very well thought out and I love the floor. That is exactly how I wanted mine originally but I heard polishing was very expensive and went another route.
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Old 02-07-2015, 08:55 PM   #9
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Default Re: Mech33s garage remodel with in-ground scissor lift in California

Great work man. I really think this was well thought out and many details turned out great. I just had one question. How is the lighting when the garage door is open at night? It cuts half of the ceiling lights right?
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Old 02-07-2015, 08:58 PM   #10
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Default Re: Mech33s garage remodel with in-ground scissor lift in California

Wow great shop!
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Old 02-07-2015, 09:33 PM   #11
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Default Re: Mech33s garage remodel with in-ground scissor lift in California

It's the best ever. Honestly, you have my dream garage. The recessed garbage can, sink, lift, lights, cabinets, everything. It's just perfect. I wish you would have started this thread back at the beginning so I could have followed it from the start. Just fantastic.
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Old 02-07-2015, 09:59 PM   #12
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Default Re: Mech33s garage remodel with in-ground scissor lift in California

Fantastic work well done.
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Old 02-07-2015, 10:18 PM   #13
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Default Re: Mech33s garage remodel with in-ground scissor lift in California

That garage is gorgeous! Well planned, great color, user friendly..Kudos!
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Old 02-07-2015, 10:33 PM   #14
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Default Re: Mech33s garage remodel with in-ground scissor lift in California

Simply awesome! A lot of great planning!
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Old 02-07-2015, 11:22 PM   #15
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Default Re: Mech33s garage remodel with in-ground scissor lift in California

So much useable space in that garage. Its nice when everything has a place and is organized. Well done
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Old 02-08-2015, 12:20 AM   #16
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Default Re: Mech33s garage remodel with in-ground scissor lift in California

Hot damn, that is a really nice shop. Very clean, very well thought out. I am more than a bit envious of that space. And with the reference to the '89 event, you might very well be fairly close to me.

Excuse me while I go burn my shop down so I can start over.
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Old 02-08-2015, 12:40 AM   #17
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Default Re: Mech33s garage remodel with in-ground scissor lift in California

Literally speechless right now. Dream garage hands down! Gave me lots of ideas for my next garage too!
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Old 02-08-2015, 06:23 AM   #18
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Default Re: Mech33s garage remodel with in-ground scissor lift in California

The perfect home garage!
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Old 02-08-2015, 07:16 AM   #19
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Default Re: Mech33s garage remodel with in-ground scissor lift in California

This is one awesome garage and thanks for posting. Many great ideas, job well done....
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Old 02-08-2015, 07:49 AM   #20
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Default Re: Mech33s garage remodel with in-ground scissor lift in California

Stellar! My mental budget tells me that you need a helluva project car now!


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