Garage Conversion Part 1: The Idea

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Early in 2019 I finally got around to starting work on the garage to convert it into a game room and workshop (a.k.a. ‘mancave’). I quite often have buildy-things on the go and I love retrogaming and wanted to get a few old 80s arcade machines. I was stuffing everything into my office upstairs but it got to the point where it was so stuffed full and messy that I couldn’t find anything. I needed more space. I had grand plans for a home arcade and workshop and after getting the ‘OK’ from the missus, I made a start.

mancave before outside view
mancave before inside view


The garage is roughy 5m long by 3m wide, and a little over 3m high. The plan was to split this up into two rooms with a stud partition wall.

It needed lots of work if I was going to be able to make 2 rooms out of it…

  1. The big up-and-over automatic garage door was rubbish. You can see it powered here by a floating extension reel. It didn’t open or close properly, and the framework and motor took up half the garage. If a stud-wall was going in, this had to go.
  2. The electrics were shot. There was a tiny consumer unit on the back wall, cables everywhere, crap lighting, and hardly any plug sockets.
  3. It had a big lop-sided mezzanine shelf over the garage door with supporting beams that ran most of the way along each side wall. I liked the idea of a mezzanine storage shelf in my workshop, but this existing one had to go.
  4. There were lots of old fixtures, shelves, nails, screws, you name it, along the walls that would all have to be removed.
  5. The steps at the back door were crumbling away and would need replacing.
  6. The render on the walls would need patching up all over the place and it would need painting.
  7. It had damp issues.
  8. I’d be running loud power tools in here, probably at night. It is directly below the girls’ bedroom and it wasn’t sound-proofed.

I made a basic plan in sketchup and drew on some bits to give me an idea of what I wanted…

mancave plan


The front of the garage was to be a 3x2m workshop, and the back would be the 3x3m gameroom/arcade…

mancave gameroom plan

I worked out that over time I could comfortably get a maximum of 8 arcade cabs in if I arrange them carefully. My ideal list would be: –

  • Sega Out Run
  • Williams Defender
  • Atari Asteroids Cabaret
  • Electrocoin Midi Jamma cab (for horizontal games)
  • Electrocoin Midi Jamma cab (for vertical games)
  • Reproduction Atari Star Wars (not paying £5k+ for an original!)
  • Reproduction Williams Robotron Mini (not paying £4k+ for an original!)
  • A multi-vector Mame cab
  • My rotating CP+monitor Mame cab

OK… I just counted.. that’s 9. 😀 Well I’m sure the good wife won’t mind one of the smaller ones in the lounge, will she?!

First job would be to get rid of the up-and-over door and replace it with something nicer and more suitable. See you in Part 2.

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