Creating room for the rig

By: Kath Heiman, Photography by: Kath Heiman

Scott and Kath Heiman tailor their home for the nomadic life.

 Creating Room For The Rig

We love our rigs, right? We give them fat rubber tyres to help them scramble around the rough stuff; we improve their suspension to give everyone a better ride; we fill them with electronic gadgetry to help them keep in touch wherever we are; we feed them constantly with good quality fuels; and we stack them with racks and bars to avoid unnecessary bumps and bruises.

So don’t our rigs also deserve to be tucked up in bed at night in a garage after a day playing in the outdoors to keep them secure from the weather and theft? Sure they do...

But it looks like the days of garaging larger vehicles are gone – at least so far as new real estate is concerned. The dimensions of a standard garage today vary from 95cm wide for a tiny single (I assume for motor-bikes) to 6m for a double garage. The average single garage is around 3m wide. When it comes to length, the standard is 6m. Meanwhile standard garage heights include 1.2m, 2.1m, 2.4m up to 3m ( 

So let’s have a look at these dimensions a bit more closely. 

I just took a tape measure to our HiLux (and her accessories): it’s 1.9m wide, 5.6m long and 2.1m high, accounting for the roof rack and awning.

So working with these measurements, when I drive into an average garage, I should expect the nose of our rig to nudge close to the rear wall of the parking bay leaving negligible space for storage. When I climb out of the rig, I should expect to hold the door partially open and slither from my seat so as to avoid clanging the door rim against bricks and mortar. And I should be careful before I propel our vehicle through any garage door. Unless it’s at least been manufactured to the optional ‘standard’ 2.4m height, I should expect to skim the paint off the roof rack and awning or be denied access altogether.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that we all have an inalienable right to own a garage.   But if we’re lucky enough to have one, it would nice to be able to get our 4WD into it if we want to. Better still if a double garage could house a small boat or camper.

Fat chance.

At our place, our garage has been a constant source of irritation. Unless we press the door to its very highest point, our entry is destined to be met by the uncomfortable crunch of a roller-door as it bends to comply with the unstoppable progress of a two tonne 4WD. And I’ve become an expert at pressing myself gently against the vehicle’s panels as I squeeze my way out of our rig’s den.

So a few months ago, we decided ‘enough’s enough’ – the garage has to go. Our building specs for a new one are simple. Make it long enough and wide enough to comfortably fit a HiLux, and tall enough to accommodate a LandCruiser 200 Series with a two inch lift and a roof rack (if we ever choose to buy one). Also, make enough room for some storage and a workbench.

So what are the dimensions of a garage that makes this possible? We’re aiming for a 3.1m wide door cavity extending to 3.5m inside so we can comfortably dismount the vehicle. The garage length will be over 10m to give adequate space for a workbench and to move around the rig when needed. Whilst the entry height will be 2.3m with a higher ceiling of 2.5m to take into account the garage door.

Are we indulging our rig by upgrading its bedroom? I don’t think so. A well maintained and secured 4WD will give us years of joy. And I know our HiLux will still be putting a smile on our face well after the memory of this building project fades.

Check out the full feature in issue #104 July 2016 of Camper Trailer Australia magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration.