Robin Jade Conde

PODCAST: New Garages (with Rob Thomas)

Bill sits with Rob Thomas of Sussel Garages to talk about garage works.

They discuss replacing and rebuilding garages, ideal sizes for multiple cars, trusses, heating, and cooling. They also discuss installing solar panels in garages and building accessory dwelling units. Rob mentions that they build around 150-200 garages in a year and discusses the timeline for completing one project.

They also talk about the challenges in building garages, costing, and the process of planning and designing them.

Rob can be reached at 651-587-4078 and


The following is a transcription from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it may be slightly incomplete or contain minor inaccuracies due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.

Bill Oelrich: Welcome everyone. You’re listening to Structure Talk. A Structure Tech presentation. My name is Bill Oelrich, alongside Tessa Murry and Reuben Saltzman. As always your three-legged stool coming to you from the Northland talking all things, houses, home inspections and anything else that’s rattling around in our brain. Well, on today’s episode we’re one leg. Tessa and Reuben are both out of the office this week and I’m filling in all by myself. But I’m really excited to be having a conversation with Rob Thomas from Sussel Garages and I am noticing new garages popping up all over in my neighborhood. I’m in St. Paul, kind of in the southwest corner of St. Paul and every time I go out for a walk with my dogs, it seems like I find three new lots that have had their garages demolished and a Sussel Garage sign sitting next to the what used to be garage. So I reached out to Rob at Sussel and I asked him to come on and just talk a little bit about what’s fueling this craze behind new garages. So Rob, thank you very much for giving us some time. We appreciate it. Why don’t you introduce yourself to the audience and kind of give some of the contact info in case anybody’s looking to upgrade their garage.

Rob Thomas: My contact info is 651-587-4078. That’s my cell phone. You can call that anytime or you can reach me @rthomas. That’s ‘’. And then we’ve been a well established company for over a hundred years. This is our niche in the market. This is what we like to do every day. I’ve been selling personally in St. Paul for the last four years. I was out in the Donut for quite the long time there and they called it the Donut, which is out to the 494 area outside the loop. But Dennis was our St. Paul sales rep for like the last 42 years. So kind of to talk about the longevity of how many years a lot of the employees have been with the company. Even our owners now, Pat and Mike Russell, they bought the company from their dad and so they’re about the same age as me, in their 50s and just, obviously knowledge is best. You never know everything, but the more you have, obviously the better we are as a team in the office trying to make sure we can supply you with enough information and product knowledge and stuff like that. So.

BO: Where does Sussel come from if the Russell Brothers own it?

RT: So Sussel’s a family owned company up until like the ’60s and they sold their rights off to individual family and they ended up merging with Lampert Lumber, where they were kind of merged there for like for a while. And then long story short, hard times back in the early ’80s that they decided to close the doors. We had our own lumber yard and everything. It’s just costs were so high for construction and interest rates were 18%. So they decided to retool the company. The employees actually bought the company out and spun it away from Lamperts and that’s who we are today. So basically Art Russell and Elf Wick and there was another owner in there and kind of slimmed up the structure and made it efficient and then that was kind of more recession proof than ever and that’s the biggest challenge of any company. You get too much overhead to just having that lumber yard and having a lot of overhead that just, it wasn’t working out back in the day, so.

BO: Well Lamperts still doing business. There’s plenty of shops out there so.

RT: If you get on our website it kind of explains the whole history of us and kind of where we’re at today. It’s allowed to be part of the team.

BO: Awesome. From what I can gather, you guys are one stop shop and does that include tearing down the old unit and then coming in doing the foundation building, wall siding, everything? Or are you guys only responsible for a part of that process?

RT: We like to do all of it if we could. I know there’s some homeowners that would like to do parts of the project themselves, which is fine with us. As long as we’re comfortable with what they’re doing, whether it’s electrical or they have some friend in the family that can do a roofing or siding or something like that, then we’re comfortable allowing them to do parts of the project. Otherwise we do like to control most of the work just so the project can try to get done in a timely manner. It’s up to the homeowners trusting us and making sure that we get the job done right. It’s a relationship because it goes both ways.

BO: Sure. And when you say timely, it seems like, is this a week long project, two weeks type of thing?

RT: Yeah. The best way to kind of describe it is in stages. Removal crews, we’ll give ’em a block of time to get there ’cause they’re going from job to job to job and… Well, like say Rich Stevens is a good example. He does a lot of our St Paul demolition jobs and we’ll give him like a three or four day window to get there and then he’ll get his job done and a couple days later we try to schedule the concrete crew out. And we give ’em a week block to get their stuff done, and then once the concrete gets poured, it sits there for a little bit ’cause it’s curing kind of the slowest stage, you know. So really within three weeks you only get your foundation stage, but once, once that happens, you’re at your framing stage, the lumber shows up, carpentry can happen in a day or two, and then after we get our inspections, there’s always inspections in there. So realistically can we build a garage in six weeks? It’s realistic, but just expect eight with weather delays and stuff like that. And because of COVID supply chains, I always try to tell customers up to 12 weeks just because you just don’t know the unforeseen. It depends what you describe as fully completed versus usable. I mean obviously you can use your garage once the framing and roofing is up and stuff like that. It’s just whether 100% done or not.

BO: Okay. So you were outside the Donut as you called it, and was that just brand new, never been there before garage where you were selling these types of things?

RT: There was a good mixture. A lot of them were attached garages. I would say a good, I would say a good six. Yeah. 30% of bids I did out in the Donuts were attached garages, like two car garages, I want a third stall. You know, we’re competing against like pole builders back out there, but there’s certain cities that don’t allow pole building. So they want these big massive garages. I mean, I built a garage that actually was in Minnetonka for a couple that was two horse stables in it. So [laughter], it was a pretty cool garage and had a deck and an office and it was a pretty cool project. And there’s one I did, there was a golf simulator involved. There’s kind of all different scenarios, what people would want. Man caves you can call ’em or shops or whatever you end up using it for. But St. Paul’s a little different niche. You got a garage that’s not functional, obviously you’re forced to do something sooner or later. Some people wait till the dire end. Drive by garage that I bid four years ago and they’re still there. I mean, nobody’s done anything with them because they’re leaning one side or the other. But I get it, there’s, everyone’s got a budget what people can afford. So, the people save for it and call me three, four years later and said we’re ready to go. Or sometimes they know what they want and then they’re probably signing a contract a week later so they all vary.

BO: Sure. Okay. In the city we see a lot of accessory dwelling units going up. This is kind of a buzzword I think around the real estate community. Are you guys adding a lot of these sorts of units on top of a garage? Or is that not really which…

RT: We do a lot of room and attic truss garages, which people could use them as a rec room, an office, stuff like that. You’re not supposed to be sleeping up there obviously, but people can use them for that reason. They finish them off as a however you wanna use it. But the ADUs, the accessory dwelling units, I actually met a gentleman this morning, and we talked about he wants one bid out. It’s a totally different market. It’s a totally different building codes, different criteria. So it really isn’t a garage, you’re building a small house. Once I start talking to them about the $200,000-$250,000 price ranges, a lot of people shy away from it. Or some people are like, “This is what I want, this is what I’m gonna get.” So we have never built one, I price one out ’cause I wanna know what they cost with our resources and that’s kind of the price tag I came up with.

RT: ‘Cause you have to have a controlled furnace, air conditioning unit upstairs that circulate the air upstairs that cannot be mixed with a dirtier downstairs in the garage. I mean, there’s a lot of different ways to heat and cool obviously those units. But in the square footage. What you’re limited and not just limited to, but we need to have level space up there. It has to be a totally different truss system. So we’re too busy doing what we do now and for us to take a coordinator and just have them run one of those jobs, it’s just… It’s not something we’re willing to do right now. We talk about it all the time, maybe we should get into it more ’cause it seems like more people ask about it, but at this time we’re probably not in that market.

BO: I was just thinking of my lot and if I was to look at doing something like that and when you think of a accessory dwelling unit, obviously plumbing’s a big part of it. I have no idea how you’d connect plumbing to the main at my house without… It’d be incredibly invasive to try to keep that all up.

RT: They want you to go to the street. So you’d have to trench a new sewer line through the yard to the street, ballpark $30,000. Just figure something like that’s gonna cost you. I mean they can augur it, they can bore it to the street so they don’t have to do a massive trench. We’ve done water lines to garages and that’s not… It’s a challenge, but just, it’s a price tag. It’s what somebody wants to spend. It’s like $6,000 usually or $7,000 to run a water line, which is crazy. But they gotta trench it six feet down so it’s gonna be frost protected and it’s always a challenge getting back there. But it’s pretty rare we do over water line. It’s once… I did one this year, but it’s every once in a while.

BO: Gotcha. Are more people looking to replace and rebuild simply because they need more tech or they want more tech or is it just the fact that that one car garage that was built for the very small vehicle that they maybe had in the ’50s or something just doesn’t usable? It’s not functional anymore.

RT: It’s been crazy markets. So every different scenario is different. We tore down a perfectly functional Sussel Garage last year that was two cars and they wanted a three cars. So we tore down a garage that was nothing wrong, but they wanted a three car with a room above. That’s what they wanted. They wanted that room, an office or whatever they want to use it for. And they looked at selling, they couldn’t find anything they wanted. So obviously they were content where they were at. They liked their neighborhood so it made sense to them for investing another $80,000 and getting what they want. A three car garage with a room above. And then there’s people that are just content, just have an extra space to put storage in or shop or something like that. I would say half the time it’s because a need, not a want, but the other half is a want, not a need. So I want this versus I need this kind of thing. And it’s just, some get damaged by fire, some get damaged by arson, or stuff like that will come in for… They didn’t need a garage or want a garage but just kind of happened.

BO: Sure. If you’re ballparking a square foot, a footprint for a three car garage, what does that look like to get three full vehicles in? Is that 32 ft by 36 ft or what typically…

RT: I always stress to go at 22 foot depth just because if you put a car in there, it’s 17 feet long on the… Like a large SUV, a midsize SUV is like 16-17 feet long. So if you have a 20 foot depth garage it’ll fit, but it’s kind of tight. So 22 ft depth is nice to have, 20 ft will work. But then, and if you think about it, each stall can house a car and it’s 10 feet wide. So like a 20 foot wide two car garage works, it’s tight. But even like a 30 foot wide garage for a three stall, it works but it’s tight. I always stress to do like a 32 ft or even a 34 ft because most of your lots in St. Paul are 40 ft, so you can go up to a 34 ft and fit it comfortably. I stress, once you figure your pricing in garages, the larger the footprint, the less per square foot it costs because you have fixed costs and they’re permitting surveys. I don’t know, I guess whatever the job is, it’s just you have set fees and then as this garage get larger, you just look at it, you’re just paying a little more for building materials, labor and such not, and the price actually happens to go down slightly every time you add two feet. So that’s why I always stress. You just make sure you build it what you need and want or don’t second guess yourself and wish you would’ve built a little bigger.

BO: Yeah, that makes total sense. Okay. On a… Let’s say a 32 foot wide garage, I’m just trying to think of this 40 foot lot you describe in the city, which way are you putting your trusses? Are they draining? Would the eaves be on the 22 foot depth, excuse me? Or would you put it on the longer one?

RT: Yeah, it actually just based on the garage. I flipped the trusses, I gave the customer an option. We’re doing one long truss 30 feet wide or we could flip it around and have the truss… We could reverse truss it so it’s going the other way. And it’s really comes down to, I mean, cost is one thing. It does cost a little different. If you do the reverse truss, you just have to add a gutter so in case you gonna have some water run off, you gotta deal with. But you’re paying for less for siding, shingles and stuff like that. And the truss itself. So it does cost a little less to re-reverse it, but you should put a gutter on there for drainage reasons. But some people want that bigger footprint maybe for solar or something like that. So, but it’s comparable in cost. And also the roof pitch too, that’s a big variable as well. I mean the deeper the roof, once again you’re paying more for shingles and siding and then obviously the truss.

BO: Okay. Are most people opting to put some sort of attic truss into these buildings because you can’t get this space at a second time around?

RT: Yeah, we built more room and attic truss the past couple years since the pandemic started just because it costs less to do a room in a garage versus adding a room to a house, if you look at that cost. And if you’re not worried about a bathroom, we can deal without a bathroom, then it works for most people. So, yeah, I mean just you’re adding more square footage, your rec room, kids play room, man cave, however you wanna call it, whether somebody wants to spend it $70,000 to $80,000 price tag, it’s, or they just want a simple garage where it’s in the 40s.

BO: Okay. Well that, that’s a good ballpark then, because that was one of my questions is what are… What should somebody expect? So on the low end, $40,000 and that feels like a very small garage to something with a few more features pushing into the $80,000, $90,000.

RT: Yeah, everything matters as far as what you’re putting into the garage. Let’s say you go vinyl siding, no windows or use less expensive windows like to use a term for it ’cause the windows we use are they’re not the box door brand type, but they’re more of a, a mid grade vinyl window. Whereas garage doors all that stuff we, we don’t like to skimp on products so we’ll spend a little more money on product and then product lasts longer. But when it comes to designing a garage. Let’s say somebody wants Hardie siding or LP versus vinyl, you’re gonna bring the price tag up a few thousand bucks here and there just for the materials being used. Or if you just try to keep the price as cheap as possible, like people want use the word cheap. I don’t like to use cheap but less expensive I like to use. But how you bring it down to a low 40s maybe on a decent two car garage with the small apron or something like that with electrical. But there’s so many moving parts far as these garage pricings as far as… Like room and attic truss first thing to identify is if you’re gonna heat and cool it, let’s use better windows, let’s use better garage doors or higher instantly garage doors and stuff like that.

BO: When it comes to heating are you seeing that people put heat in most of their garages now? ‘Cause that feels like a significant upgrade in price?

RT: Yeah, there’s a lot of different ways to heat and cool the garage. Mini splits are getting more and more popular because they’re becoming more and more efficient. Gas heaters was probably something we pushed a lot more back in the day, but the mini split has come a long ways. The mini split can heat and cool and control the moisture in the garage as well. And then cost wise they’re pretty comparable to putting a gas unit in with a gas line. And then the thing is… What I like about the mini split, you look at what it cost to run all the time versus running a gas out there all the time, it’s more efficient. And I’ve been putting more of mini splits in garages than ever. Gas lines and gas heaters. But if you just wanna go in there, flip the switch, it heats up really fast. But if you’re gonna run it all the time, it’s gonna consume your energy bill quite a bit more. So if it’s 10 below out they tend not to keep it at room temperature.

RT: What happens they don’t quit running but they actually start heating themselves. And once the unit gets heated itself, then it’ll start heating the actual garage. And then you’ll see a lot of mini splits installed in St. Paul, Minneapolis in the older houses they don’t own duct work and people love ’em. Everyone I talked to that’s installed ’em in their houses they love ’em. They said their energy bills have gone down so it kind of speaks for itself.

BO: I would not have thought mini split in garage, it just [laughter] didn’t make sense to me. But that’s why we have these conversations because it, it’s a good education.

RT: Yeah.

BO: Okay solar. Everybody seems to be putting solar panels on top of their house or on top of their garage. Is this mostly driven to charge EVs or are people using the garage roof to use solar to, to run their house as well or?

RT: Your garage technically does not use a lot of power. I would consider charging your… Or running it to your house first than anything or a lot of times in the St Paul houses you only have a hundred AMP service. So unless you had a room addition or an home improvement project that you have a 200 AMP, it’s hard to pull that off the house and have an EV charging station. So a lot of times we end up having two separate meters or as… I met a gentleman today, we were trying to figure out his scenario where we might make the garage the main power source. Get rid of the meter service on the house and then back feed the garage to the house. So and then put solar on the garage and then put it into the meter and then the meter… And then that would feed the house. So it’s kind of how you set it up. There’s so many different ways to set up. I always explain the options and what’s the best case scenario, but I would put the house as number one for solar and the garage would be secondary just because you don’t, you don’t consume a lot ’cause it’s just lights and outlets. If you’re running a mini split you know your energy bill’s gonna get up there.

RT: It’s, I figure, a couple hundred dollars a month possibly if you’re running it all the time. But once again it depends where the power’s coming from. Maybe the solar company can adjust it a certain way. They put so many panels on the garage, they feed the garage and they can put so many solar panels on the house and then feeds the house or something like that. From my understanding, the solar companies they have a meter read where if you’re not using all the power that you get credit back or something like that regard.

BO: Correct. Yep, when you design a garage with solar, you guys are doing all of that prep work and that design work, right?

RT: Yeah and so what happened is our, our garage program that we price garages for I actually draw garages the garages and I send an estimate out. It shows the roof, the pitch, the sizes all that stuff. So the customer, future customer potential prospect they can take that drawing send it to the solar company, “Hey, I’m getting this garage price, so what do you think? Should we get a higher pitch roof?” And then I can also do drawings on a site plan where and they can get on the GIS site too and look at what a garage location’s gonna be. They can see what sun’s gonna be exposed. So together we can come up with a better scenario for the customer if they want an 8-12 pitch versus a six or they want… It depends like right now I’m working with one that we’re their yard’s mostly open, but I send ’em two scenarios with the two truss designs and sent it off to… And he’s gonna send it off to All Energy Solar and then ask them about it and see which rough designs would be best for them.

RT: So those are the guys are the experts and as far as that and I just all I can do is basically give ’em scenarios and then they can kind of calculate and let them know what their energy bill kickback is gonna be.

BO: Okay, okay. It sounds like you’re… The relationship’s there to expedite the process for planning at least. And from a solar perspective is an 8:12 kind of ideal or greater?

RT: I got different feedbacks. 8:12 is good, 6:12 is minimal, 10:12 is optimal. So it’s really, it’ll work. I’ve seen ’em put on 4:12 pitches where the garage, your existing, they just throw ’em on there. Obviously they’re gathering sun no matter what, but as the sun gets lower as the years the winter months come, they’re not gonna get as much. So the higher pitch roof obviously is better during the winter months but I always say at least go a six. But a lot of times we’re actually doing eight twelves for the solar design.

BO: Does that adding two inches to a slope of a rough?

RT: No, not that extreme. Let’s say if I go from a 6 to 12 on a two car you’re looking at about $400. If you go to a… And let’s say it’s just vinyl siding or something easier price out, then you go to a 6:12, it’s another $600. Then you go to a 7:12 you’re probably another $800. So the higher the pitch it actually goes higher and higher and higher in cost.

BO: I see gotcha. What other tech are people putting in garages that the average person wouldn’t really have on their radar?

RT: I got a feeling next year is gonna be a huge jump for EV technology, just ’cause people are, whether they have electric car now or not, and the solar thing. I guarantee that’s gonna be a big push next year because a lot of people are gonna be looking at these energy rebates incentives to put solar in their house and garages. So the thought process is get it ready and then when you are… You have the structure ready to play. It’s a lot less money doing up front than trying to do it later. A good example is, I’m tearing down a garage right now, he had a 100 AMP service sub-panel put in for his EV charger car. Well, we’re tearing that garage down and he spent $3,000 to have that installed. For us to go up from a 20 AMP basic service on a garage to a 100 AMP service, it’s a $1,400 upcharge. So in other words, it’s half the cost to do it now versus later.

BO: Sure. I’m kind of in that space right now. We have vehicles that are gas users and probably more than I should be, just because of what they are, but they’re old and I’m like, well, do I move over to an EV but when I move over to an EV, I’ve got this old garage and I need to put up a power source in there, and just… I’ve got all these variables coming through and so I enjoy this conversation. From a planning perspective, do you guys ever run into issues with the city, and this impervious equation that people have to deal with, if somebody wants to go with a bigger garage, should they ever kind of limit you because of it?

RT: Pretty rare. It’s really rare where we have an issue. Most lots are alley, I would say probably 80% of the garages we build are alley access, and then you get to use half the alley as a mathematical formula. If 35% of the rear lot coverage, which if you do the math, right? It’s 40 foot wide lot plus the depth, then you get to use half the alley, which is usually six or eight feet. And then most of the houses are probably 40 feet, set back from the alley or more. Unless somebody did a room addition, there’s a couple… Or actually there was one last year I take that back that they did a room addition, and we could not get a garage in there. So we ended up just doing a parking pad for the gentleman, but it just wouldn’t fit, just because the room addition bumped out so far. But there’s a 1,200 square footprint that we can use for combined structures, and I’m only allowed to do a 8,000 square footprint, on a floating slab foundation. What that means is it’d have to be frost protected, which would cost a lot more money if I went to a 1,200 square foot garage, but it’s rare we do something that large in St. Paul. 700 square feet or maybe a max of 800. So it seems like nobody really asks for something bigger than that.

BO: Okay. Well that makes sense ’cause you do like to have a little grass around too. I mean if you have pets or whatever, they need a place to do their business. Okay. I see a lot of these garages right up on the property line, and I know there’s some fire issues or fire protection issues that go into that. What does that look like from a planning perspective? Do you guys have to put non combustible material up the walls, around the soffits and up the slope of the roof? How do you factor that?

BO: Yeah, so it’s a double firewall, so on the walls that are within five feet, which it’s common that they’re three feet away. So we have to do a fire rock gypsum material on the outside and a fire rock gypsum material on the inside. So that’s… And it’s weather resistant and that’s what we use. And then as far as the eave, if the eave is at a certain distance away, sometimes we get too close, we have to fire rock the eave as well, because sometimes we’ll do a variance or a maintenance easement or something like that, so we can get closer to that property line. And if that eave is intrusive, that gets fire protected as well.

RT: Okay. Well I guess you can use plywood that is fire rated to do that, the roof deck, is that what you end up using for that, in that case?

BO: The roof deck is not an issue, it is only the walls themselves. Yeah.

RT: Oh.

BO: Well, the roof decking can be just OSB or plywood.

BO: Gotcha. Well that makes it easy then. Okay. From a process perspective, is everybody stopping at your desk and saying, “Rob, can you help me plan this out?” Or do you guys just have a catalog and you’re like, pick A through D and we’ll put this lot?

BO: I would get a lead either through our website or a phone call or something like that. So I would be setting up the meetings. And then I just start from the foundation to work our way up. So talk about how big the garage you’re looking to build, how many vehicles, how much storage you want, where’s locations, and I start with that. And then we start talking about options as far as building materials wise. So really it comes down to… Every garage, there’s not one garage out of a 100 this year I sold in St. Paul is the same. So everyone was different. It’s just how it is. And I’d rather custom fit it for the particular individual, whether it’s just they’re gonna be there a year or two, versus some people are gonna live there until they can’t live there anymore. So I just… That’s the questions we have to ask, how long will you live there? Do you think you’re gonna outgrow it? Do you think you’re gonna need more space in the future or is this too big? Stuff like that.

BO: I should have known that it wasn’t just cookie cutter, because yeah the city is kind of lot and block and there’s predictable sizes, but everybody’s lives are different and everybody’s vehicle needs are different, and kids and animals and storage. It’s all different. How many are you gonna do this year in Minneapolis and St. Paul? Let’s just… If you could narrow that down.

RT: Paul sells out on the suburbs, I think he sold 40, at least 40, maybe 50. And between Mike and I think Mike sold 120 in Minneapolis, I think I sold 115 in St. Paul.

BO: Holy cow.

RT: So we’re probably pushing 280, 290, somewhere in there this year.

BO: Is that an incredible year for you guys, or is that a typical year?

RT: We average 250, probably 240. So we’re a little above our usual threshold. And it’s not so much the volume, it’s the kind of garages we build. More custom, obviously gonna take more time for the crews to work on and us to plan and work get done. So if I do these big room attics with two dormers, we’re talking 12 weeks, we’re tied up on a project like that, and then trying to finish and my coordinator can only handle so many jobs at once. How many big jobs do you really want and kind of build. It just, you have your limits, so the manpower, how much resources do you have? Can you get these built in a timely manner too? So maybe next year we can handle a few more, maybe we can’t, but that’s our comfort level. Probably anywhere from 260 to 280, right there. We designated one crew this year just to do a room attics, so Tony was… He was our guy all year, so he just stuck with them and then it’s just a matter of… If he kept up with those then we could have sold more, but there’s just one of those things, there’s only so many he can do.

BO: Sure. Any sense of value, are you adding $1 for $1 spent to the value of your home, or do you think it’s even… Is there a better return on that investment in your opinion?

RT: Yeah, that’s a good conversation to have, ’cause it really comes down to… As talking to most realtors, it seems like it’s a seven year return on investment on a garage built. So let’s say you spend $45,000, did you need a garage for one, or did you have a garage there? So obviously if you sell your house and you have a certain square footage in bathrooms compared to another house that has a same square footage in bathrooms, who’s gonna have the higher property value? Today’s market, it’s just so overinflated, obviously with the market gets back to where it’s more competitive. Maybe the person that did build a two car garage that’s really attractive and nice looking, and the other person that doesn’t have anything to offer, their house will probably sell for more. But realistically, I would say it’s a 5-7 year in this market where you actually get all your money back.

BO: Okay.

RT: You sell your house, just kind of, you spent that 40 grand before you get that 40 grand back with the inflation of the houses and stuff like that. That’s kind of a good rule of thumb.

BO: Outstanding. I’m assuming most garages now people, if they’re running electricity to them and doing all this work, they’re also running internet service out there or?

RT: Yeah, I think the new technology these days you shouldn’t have to, ’cause there’s booster boxes. Actually I was at my parent’s place up north, I actually wifi’d the entire yard. [laughter] So there’s little boxes, I can’t remember the name of them, but I bought them and I put one unit in the garage ’cause I want to have cameras up there for them. Because my parents wanted to share to make sure everything’s alright. So I put the booster boxes in the garages and you have wifi in the entire yard, so those systems work pretty well. You shouldn’t have to run the high speed, but there’s a couple then that were actually running an extra conduit in the ground. Let’s say if they do wanna run their own high speed, they have the conduit there, and they can tap into it. So that’s a least expensive option to do it. We’d rather have the homeowners take care of that on their own, but we’ll have it set up for them with conduit, if we’re trenching wire from the garage to the house so that’s not a problem.

BO: Okay. That makes sense. I need you to come up to my place up north and do that same thing because… [chuckle] In fact, I was driving home today coming to this conversation and we’ve got Starlink on the cabin, which is unbelievable. It’s fast, but my garage it’s 150 feet from my cabin and we don’t have any service there, so I can’t put a camera on the driveway, so to speak, but I’m sure you could hook me up.

RT: On here I’m looking on the internet now, but my cousin’s a tech guru, so he’s the one that turned me onto them, and I’m pretty happy.

BO: I like that idea. I like that idea. I’m sure people are sick of me talking about my cabin and my… These are first world problems, trust me, and I’m well aware of it, so… But Rob, I appreciate you kind of filling us in. I didn’t realize there was so much to choose from and it sounds like this is a 90 minute conversation through a planning perspective to really get in the ballpark of what’s the best for each individual person.

RT: Everyone varies. There’s people I spent probably 40 hours with, and before they signed a contract and I like to get your contract signed with as much detail and making sure that we don’t make changes after the fact because it runs a lot smoother if we don’t make changes. So I like to try to review everything, make sure everything’s correct, but changes do happen. But like you say, everyone’s different. There’s some people I’ll spend 40 hours with. There’s some people I’ll spend maybe half hour and they’ll sign up with us. So it really varies. I would say the average is probably an hour or two, and there’s some people three years from now will sign up with us after the fact and we’ll make multiple changes and stuff like that. So it all varies. It really does.

BO: Bottom line is one call to you through the planning process, you’ll handle all the permitting. You’ll coordinate all the workmen who are coming in from the demo to the foundation, and just even working alongside a solar installer to make sure that you’ve got this thing teed up properly so their people can come in and knock it out as quickly as possible.

BO: Yeah, and that’s what works good for our company, what I give them a lot of credit because, for me I’m just a sales rep, which is nice because I can focus on one item and one task and that once it leaves my hands, once it’s a sale, I’m in charge of writing up all the work orders whether it’s the foundation, framing, electrical, all that stuff I write up and then I turn it into office, it’s all, it’s electronic and then we actually share that with the customers because we want them to review it and like one right now, I gotta go over today I gotta make a bunch of changes ’cause it was different, what we discussed. That’s fine, we’ll make the changes. But before we start production, we’re making sure we got the door in the right location, we got the window on the right location. But then once it goes into production we do have project managers and they run the jobs. They’re the ones scheduling the permits. They’re the ones that’s ordering materials. They’re the ones scheduling the crew. And I try to go visit [laughter] Guilty, but I don’t, I should do it more often, but it depends how busy I’m. If I’m not busy, I do like stopping by and saying hi, and…

BO: I hope everybody who’s considering, a new garage will certainly give you a call, and we’ll see if we can break that 150, maybe get into 200 range for next year. The city seems to have an endless supply of just old, awful garages where I’m amazed that they’re still standing. And yet when my neighbor tore their garage down, I was amazed. Two-thirds of that structure was demoed and the roof was still hanging there. The old materials were pretty good, but they all have their useful life. So Rob, I really appreciate you spending some time with us today and kind of giving us a global perspective of what it looks like to do a project like this. And for everybody who’s listening, we’ll host Rob’s contact information to the podcast in the notes, and we’ll make sure that hopefully you get a bunch of calls following this recording, so.

RT: Yeah, I hope so.

BO: Thank you, Rob. Appreciate your time.

RT: All right, thank you.

BO: Thanks everybody for listening. You’ve been listening to Structure Talk, a Structure Tech presentation. My name is Bill Oelrich, alongside Tessa Murry and Reuben Saltzman, who promised to be back at some point in the future. Thanks for listening.


BO: Hi everybody. Bill here again with Structure Talk. We really wanna thank you for listening to this podcast. It’s been a ton of fun for us to put this presentation together. And if you could, we would love it if you would go to any of the podcast platforms where you find structure talk and leave us a rating and subscribe to the show. You can also subscribe to our blog at ‘’, and of course, you can listen to this show on the internet at ‘’. Thanks again for listening. We appreciate the support, and if you have any suggestions for show topics, please email them to ‘’. Thanks for listening.