All Replies on Ballpark figures for building a woodworking shop from the ground up?

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View BTimmons's profile

Ballpark figures for building a woodworking shop from the ground up?

by BTimmons
posted 12-05-2012 10:53 PM

28 replies so far

View Don W's profile

Don W

18684 posts in 2530 days

#1 posted 12-05-2012 11:04 PM

Brian, if you go to a local lumber yard they should be able to give you a material list and price sheet for what you want. Figure its going to be about 20% low, because they really don’t know how to estimate.

Make sure its got everything you need. Then once you do that, call a few electricians and get some prices.

Then you won’t have to wonder what it’ll cost or if my prices in NY are different than yours in TX.

Edit, mine was about $40 a sq ft a couple years ago. Its bigger than yours, I’ve got a concrete floor, attic space, I did everything except some excavation, including electrical, its insulated, finished with plywood. I’m betting yours will be pretty close to that.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 2932 days

#2 posted 12-05-2012 11:08 PM

Kind of like asking how much is a new car? Do you want a Skoda or a Bentley Continental?

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2647 days

#3 posted 12-05-2012 11:30 PM


huh? granted I have 30×40 heated that I share with tractors and stuff…but 12×18?

sounds like 2 pre-fab yard barns laid end to end will work but you’ll want insulation and interior siding. concrete probably $6 sq foot poured and finished (it’s a local pricing thing so check). you probably don’t need heat. add a minimum of $700 for electrical/lighting (includes the run from your house main panel). And don’t forget permits…

View Mike's profile


406 posts in 2650 days

#4 posted 12-05-2012 11:37 PM

You might want to look into a pre-fab. The start around $8 – $9k. You would most likely need a crew for the foundation and the construction. Perhaps $14k at the top of the spectrum? This is a ball park figure.

-- look Ma! I still got all eleven of my fingers! - -

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1519 posts in 4088 days

#5 posted 12-05-2012 11:49 PM

I’d do two things: First, buy a copy of the latest RS Means Residential Construction Costs estimating book. Second, look at what pre-fab sheds are running in your area. As others have suggested, 12×18 is pretty small, depending on what finish quality you want and what your slab costs look like you might think about a metal pole-bar/carport type structure, which could cost you a few thousand bucks, on up.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2448 days

#6 posted 12-06-2012 12:10 AM

Yeah, the size is just an estimate on the smaller end. I may be able to widen it by a few feet and lengthen it by 8-10 feet.

My backyard is a good size, but it’s still a backyard in a residential neighborhood. Part of asking here is to figure out whether or not this idea is even worth it at all. I would be forced to use a lot of hand tools and minimize powered equipment to some extent. For instance, edge jointing could be on a router table or with a handplane, as opposed to dedicating floor space to a large powered jointer. For flattening wide boards I could use a planer with a sled to true up one side before sending the other side through, then move the planer (on a cart, probably) back against the wall. It may be a game of musical chairs with my equipment all the time. I just don’t know. This could all be a bad idea, which is why I’m asking for advice.

If it is worth it, the building type I’m thinking of is fairly minimal. Plywood over 2×4 framed walls, cheap insulation, probably a wood frame floor, that sort of thing.

-- Brian Timmons -

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2324 days

#7 posted 12-06-2012 12:21 AM

Check with your municipality to see what the zoning permits.

It cost me around $40K to build my 30×40 two-story shop/studio; but then, I did most of the work myself.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View JJohnston's profile


1622 posts in 3254 days

#8 posted 12-06-2012 12:23 AM

If it’s in a residential back yard, check your city ordinances before you do anything else. There will (probably) be several restrictions, and you’ll have to check each one independently. For example, the setback from the property lines. Get or draw a plan of what you have now (lot & house & everything else) and draw the setbacks on it. Your available space is what’s inside those lines. Then, there might be a total lot coverage restriction (“no more than 50 or 75%, or whatever, of the lot may be covered by structures”). There might be an absolute maximum size limit, or, like in my city, there may be tiers of outbuilding sizes where different levels of permitting are required (my little 7×8’ dust collector shack required only an application and a plan showing the location [and a fee, of course], but my big 10×20’ shed required a full-blown building permit and inspection).

Edit: beaten to the punch again.

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1519 posts in 4088 days

#9 posted 12-06-2012 12:40 AM

So I don’t have a total accounting, in some ways I don’t wanna know, but I’m pretty sure I came in under $20k for my workshop, 16'x20' external dimensions, with a living roof, climate control, and extra sound insulation. The electrical service is overkill, all the wires are at least 2 ga thicker than they need to be and there are sockets everywhere. The roof can support 120 lbs/sq.ft. in pretty severe earthquake conditions (In Texas you may be able to engineer for 10 lbs/sq.ft.). The walls use a drainage plane assembly that was derived from South Florida post-Hurricane Andrew code modifications. The foundation beams are half-again wider than my engineer said I could probably get away with because I wanted to be absolutely sure the city didn’t ask me to do a soils test so I did those calcs with the worst possible seismic assumptions.

Except for pouring the foundation, I did the work myself with help from my Dad and friends. So if you do the work yourself, you should be able to come in way cheaper than my extreme overkill.

Size-wise, it can be a little tight, I work with a Festool saw on rail system rather than a tablesaw, but I’ve got a number of projects working through it. Sure, I’d love a 30×50 pole barn, but other issues, like walkable distance from downtown, took precedence. If you’re already used to half a one-car garage, you already know what trade-offs you’ll have to make.

If you don’t care about insulation and your jurisdiction is cool with electrical service to it, I’d go see what steel carports are going for. You’d be surprised at how inexpensively you can put up something basic. Pulling numbers out of my butt, I’d bet you can get covered space for less than three thousand bucks.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View RonInOhio's profile


721 posts in 2827 days

#10 posted 12-06-2012 01:12 AM

The common number I see floating around is around $25 a sq. ft. roughly. For a 12×18 building that comes out to $5400. Ballpark number. Probably on the low end of the spectrum.

I see some other numbers in here that are ~ 25-30 % higher or more, but you are probably going to be shopping around for the builders and you are likely to get estimates that will fluctuate from high to low by that amount.

Other factors such as where you live and the number of contractors in your area would also factor in. As well as what type of foundation, insulated or not, electrical,cost of permits, etc.

View RussellAP's profile


3103 posts in 2249 days

#11 posted 12-06-2012 01:16 AM

Check with the city or township first. It may be too big if you live in a neighborhood.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View NormG's profile


5928 posts in 2966 days

#12 posted 12-06-2012 01:24 AM

Go for whatever, she will let you. Get several estimates for the different sizes and be very wishful

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View beebop's profile


3 posts in 1966 days

#13 posted 12-06-2012 01:29 AM

pre-fab might be the best way to go. with concrete foundation and floor it would be considered a permanent structure and may raise your property taxe`s if Texas has such a thing. here in Indiana a pre-fab would not have a tax issue. you also might consider upgrading your electric to 200 amp service if you do not already have it. remember what ever size building you choose it will never be big enough. Good luck and let us know how it`s going

View HorizontalMike's profile


7749 posts in 2877 days

#14 posted 12-06-2012 01:29 AM

I would not rule out pre-fab METAL buildings. I built my 24×30 in 2003 for roughly:
  • $4500 for the slab
  • <$7,000 for the building (kit parts)
  • ~$500—Wired it myself
  • $50 for professional electrician to do final hookup and sign-off

Total roughly $13,000 for 720sqft of space or just $18/sqft. Don’t know what restrictions you have, so things nay vary for you. I am rural, between Austin and San Antonio and have no building restrictions in my county.

10-4 on raising the value of your property taxes.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View RonInOhio's profile


721 posts in 2827 days

#15 posted 12-06-2012 01:39 AM

I just wanted to add that for a wood floor as you described, you can get away with a floating foundation . Less cost and red tape for sure, and probably less taxes.

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2448 days

#16 posted 12-06-2012 02:16 AM

Thanks for all the replies. There’s a lot of advice to consider.

-- Brian Timmons -

View Tom's profile


5 posts in 1962 days

#17 posted 12-06-2012 02:28 AM

You’ve gotten some great advice here, and I’ll add just a little bit to it. I’m about to build a 16×24 workshop. I’m getting a building installed from a big box lumber store (they’ll only sell this building installed) for about $6000. From there, I’m going to wire, insulate, heat, and add a bathroom. Then I’ll build shelving, benches, etc. Our plan is to do the whole thing for around $12,000, including excavation work and land prep. The plan is to have this building in place so we have a workshop (and a place for me to crash on weekends) when we build a house on the lot in a year or so.

-- No matter where you go, there you are...

View Luke's profile


545 posts in 3257 days

#18 posted 12-06-2012 02:39 AM

In my area, Georgia, Atlanta I think I could rebuild my shop including electrical setup for about $5000 or maybe less. I have an 18×20’ above ground shed on 2×10’s with a plywood floor and faux wood laminate on top of that. 2×6” ceiling joists and metal roof. Keep in mind that I did Everything myself and it is not insulated or interior covered. Just studs and metal siding. It costs a little more to heat and cool but not so much that it breaks the bank. Also the ceilings are 8 feet at their tallest and they slope down on the sides. Also I have 220 and a separate box with a dedicated ground that I installed myself. I even dug the ditch and laid the pvc and ran the wires myself. The whole thing is sitting on 9- 6×6’ treated posts that are about 30 Inches underground and cemented in place. The perimeter is 2×12’s. I know that it wont last forever but if I can get 15-20 out of it I’m happy. Although I think it will last much longer. If I could go back in time I would have laid pipe next to the elec for water. It would be great to have a sink out there.

Also I’ll add that I didn’t get permits for ANYTHING!, I’ve built an out building a lot nicer than this before with permits and I just decided not to this time. It saved me a lot of headache and I can do it the way I want to. I can hear all the naysayers now screaming about how it might catch fire or fall over on me. To each his own. My choice, I’ll pay for it later if I’m wrong, which I believe I’m not….

-- LAS,

View Grandpa's profile


3259 posts in 2638 days

#19 posted 12-06-2012 03:06 AM

The hard numbers I have are these. In 2001 I added an 18’ x 28’ addition to my house. This is pier and beam, finished and insulated, wired etc. That is 504 sq ft finished and painted inside, brick on the outside. All the work was mine. I have about $21,000 in that give or take a couple of hundred. That included shingles on the roof and concrete for a foundation. I over built the foundation a bit. It is 2’ x 2’ with twice the recommended steel. We are on clay soil and it is tough to keep things from moving here (SW Oklahoma). The year before (2000) I had a turn key shop built (30×40). It has a concrete floor and footing (monolithic pour), welded steel tubing with steel ont he walls and roof. It has 2- 9’ wide x 8’tall overhead doors, and 1 – 8’wide x 7’ tall over head door. I also have a 3-0 steel man door. The metal skin is over fiberglass insulation that has a tough barier on the inside of the building. This cost me $12,000 with no electric or water. I added that myself. I bought some things on sale etc so I am not sure about the cost on that. The materials have gone up considerably. BTW the shop has 10 ft side walls. In 2010 I had a 21’ addition added to the original shop. This is 21’ x 30’. This is more what you are talking about and more recent. I had this built turn key. No insulation. Again this is metal with metal skin. It has 1 – 10×10 overhead door with 1 – 3-0 man door. This is basically a storage building on the end of my shop. I have my dust collector in there and my air compressor. I wired this when time permitted and the copper has really gone up. I used space out of the panel through the wall. I have 11 ft side walls on this area. The roof ties in on the same elevation and the floor is a ft lower. I paid $14,000 for this addition. Half the sq ft for the same money. That should give you some ideas and the cost should be close since we are not too far apart. Have you checked on one of those double wide carports. You can put it on a concrete footing and use what you want for floor. Just put the metal to the ground. Fix a little drop (1”) for the side metal to go below the floor to keep blowing rain out (if it ever rains again). I inspected a home with one of these and it was not bad. You could insulate with fiberglass or shoot on insulation after you are finished. I didn’t have to have permits because I am in a rural area with no restrictions except for utility easements. I will say that Luke is taking a risky step. I had a fellow take a carport down and move it 3 feet because he was onto my property. I know another guy that started digging a footing for a home and had to move the footing. Know what your requirements are and get the permits. Yes your property taxes will go up and up and up.

View redryder's profile


2393 posts in 3064 days

#20 posted 12-06-2012 07:28 AM

One things for sure, material prices are going UP. OSB at the box store just 3 years ago was $7.87 ea. Today it was $13.59. The purchasing manager states it is because home building is on the increase in this country and the manufacturers know it is time to recoup those 2008-20012 losses. Home improvement loans are still low. Refi’s etc. If the wife is on board then doing it sooner than later may be a wise financial decision especially since you are willing to swing your own hammer….........................

-- mike...............

View Boxguy's profile


2615 posts in 2230 days

#21 posted 12-06-2012 10:09 AM

BT, perhaps the problem is you want instant gratification. I took 20 years working by myself to complete my shop. Working every summer I ran out of time or money and quit for the year. But that way I could work out of cash flow and look for deals and sales on material for the next step for nine months. You’d be amazed how much stuff you find when you know what you are looking for before you look. All my wood came from a church that was torn down about 10 miles away.

I don’t recommend 20 years, but you might consider 4 or 5 and enjoy the process. Work in stages. Build and roof a part, store materials inside, and do the next step, but have a definite plan for the whole thing.

-- Big Al in IN

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 2932 days

#22 posted 12-06-2012 10:52 AM

I understand your concerns over noise in a residential area – there are acoustic insulation products you might consider using in the construction. From what I’ve seen they work very well.

View skeemer's profile


95 posts in 2327 days

#23 posted 12-06-2012 12:12 PM

Concrete on sandy soil is just fine. In fact sandy material (as long as it’s not clean sand like sandbox or beach sand) is very good foundation material. As long as it is compacted properly it will provide a solid foundation and good drainage.

If you have any friends in the construction industry (particularly highway/bridge construction) they could help you out with the foundation.

View jackthelab's profile


313 posts in 2656 days

#24 posted 12-06-2012 12:46 PM


Couple of related thoughts -

Can you add a shed style addition to your current garage? That would cut costs and you would have at least one wall in place and some reasonable options for minor storage in the established garage. Cut a door in the existing garage for access. Then everything is located close together and you don’t have to run back and forth between the two buildings. Also electrical and other work if it exists in the current garage would be easier and cheaper to do if you are just moving it to an attached space on the other side of the garage.

I am currently finishing my workshop. It is 26’X52’. It has taken me almost 6 years to finish as I didn’t want to borrow any money or go into debt over it. My friends would laugh at me for an empty shed but my wife and I agree to this approach and it was worth it.

Start with what you can afford to do. If we all had unlimited money, we would do a huge two story workshop but just the idea of having a dedicated area – no matter how big – is well worth the effort. Zoning regulations are important so that would be the first thing to check out. There are always way to save money on the project – doing it yourself or getting things on sale. Plan the size so that you use full sizes of plywood or OSB so that you don’t end up with partial sheets that you had to cut off to cover that last two feet of sheeting. Keep your eyes open for deals. The slatwall that I have in the garage came out of dumpster – couldn’t afford it without the option of dumpster diving.

Good luck with your plans and keep us up to date.

-- Dave in Minnesota - If it ain't broke, improve it!

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4901 posts in 3923 days

#25 posted 12-06-2012 03:00 PM

Just a chime in from my experience….
Make the shop as close to square as possible. Long and narrow can be problematic. Square make it easier to work in a circle (which we all do in some form).


View MrRon's profile


4710 posts in 3206 days

#26 posted 12-12-2012 11:30 PM

Based on what it cost for me to build a 1200 sf shop with 10’ ceiling, manufactured trusses, 200 amp service, lighting fixtures, insulation, metal roof and concrete slab 10 years ago, the cost was roughly $6000. It also has full A/C and heat that I retrofitted from a unit I took from the house when I upgraded the house. I’m sure the cost would be quite a bit more today. I did all the work myself, except for the slab.

View MJCD's profile


538 posts in 2334 days

#27 posted 12-13-2012 01:16 AM


I had the opportunity to rent a Skoda for a year, in Finland: a step-up from wooden crates on 4 casters; but well-below the VW it was trying to be.

-- Lead By Example; Make a Difference

View Woodmaster1's profile


918 posts in 2550 days

#28 posted 12-13-2012 02:12 AM

I built 30×33 garage with a 10/12 pitch, bathroom ,200amp service loft with a 20’ dormer on one side , full bath in the loft. The cost was 35,000 for everything. I wired it myself and hired everything else out. I use a 18×30 area for the shop and the rest for my wife to park her van. Works fine but would like more for the shop.

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