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I'm buying a house...what should I look for in a workplace?

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Forum topic by BentheViking posted 10-20-2011 03:20 AM 1344 views 1 time favorited 36 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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BentheViking

1753 posts in 1286 days


10-20-2011 03:20 AM

So my wife and I are now settled in our temporary home until we are able to buy a house. Hopefully we will be all set within the next year, but we are starting the process now to better inform ourselves with everything. We have already looked at one and while I thought the spaces for a shop on the property were too small, she thought I was crazy to think I would take so much playspace from “our kids” (we were only married in April, and don’t plan on kids for another two years).

So what should I be looking for when considering potential spaces? Since I’m not a professional doing this for a living, I don’t need crazy amounts of space. My thought process is being able to run 4×8 sheets or 8 foot long pieces through a saw so I would need at least 16 or 20 feet long. What if it was 10 feet wide by 20 feet long? Would that be a crazy amount to want or no? Should it have its on access point if its in a basement? Would a hatch be suitable or should it be a door. Sheetrocked walls or bare studs? We have also talked about having a two car garage with one half being dedicated to a car park in the winter and one for a shop (not sure where bikes, mower, snowblower, etc. go). How much of a pain in the ass would it be to have to move everything around every time I want to use it? Or since I have the driveway would I be aided by having the extra space to set up everything and just put things in at the end of the day?

Big tools I would think I’d like to have is a table saw, miter saw, jointer (not sure how big), and a benchtop planer. Maybe other stuff, but that would be my first thoughts. Definitely have to have space for a workbench/assembly areas and plenty of storage areas for tools and things.

I would probably only have tools that run off 110v, so would not need to upgrade to 220, but I would possibly want to have an electrician make sure there is enough power to run multiple things at once without having to run out to the box to flip a breaker.

If we find our ideal home does not have enough space for me has anyone ever built a large shed (based on my guesses between 150 and 200 sq ft)? I have plenty of building skills so could do most of it myself, but what would the costs associated with doing this? If I went this route since I live in Connecticut I want things to be warm enough to work in the winter, so def some insulation and at least some space heaters?

I’m sorry if all of this sort of rambles on I just was hoping to get some info from all the expert LJ’s out there who have already done it. Any answers on this or anything else on the topic would be great. Thanks.

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson


36 replies so far

View chrisstef's profile

chrisstef

11341 posts in 1728 days


#1 posted 10-20-2011 03:35 AM

find one with a new roof, good mechanicals, good windows, and all the expensive stuff done all ready and youll be well on your way. The shop will be what you make of it, wherever you make it, and it will be yours. Good luck!

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

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BentheViking

1753 posts in 1286 days


#2 posted 10-20-2011 03:40 AM

Is that in terms of the house or the shop? Obviously with such a large purchase we’ll make sure the house itself is in proper order, a shop might not be as important since due to its small size any issues seem far less daunting to solve.

where in CT are you? we are looking in the waterbury/naugatuck area close to 84

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View ShaneA's profile

ShaneA

5411 posts in 1320 days


#3 posted 10-20-2011 03:41 AM

Space with access would be a priority. Need to get tools, materials, and projects in and out easily/safely. The ability to power the tools is also needed, but easier to manipulate after the fact compared to adding square footage. I would be looking to potentially barter your closet space for her garage space, if push came to shove. Happy hunting.

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BentheViking

1753 posts in 1286 days


#4 posted 10-20-2011 03:45 AM

tell her if i have a big enough shop i can do projects like build out closet systems?

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View NormG's profile

NormG

4393 posts in 1725 days


#5 posted 10-20-2011 03:48 AM

Yes, stay with the build out closet systems. I think that will work. I hope she is not reading this

-- Norman

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ShaneA

5411 posts in 1320 days


#6 posted 10-20-2011 03:50 AM

Yeah, or she can have the master BR closet (customized) all to herself. You can take one in another room. If it gets dicey, you could then trade away your stake in the masterbath as well. But only as a last resort. Its all about give and take.

View richgreer's profile

richgreer

4525 posts in 1796 days


#7 posted 10-20-2011 04:31 AM

My advice – - If you want all the standard woodworking tools and some room to store wood, 400 square feet is about the minimum.

There are advantages and disadvantages to separate build versus garage versus basement. I prefer basement because it is so much easier to heat and air condition. I recommend going all out on dust control. It is better to have a door to the basement as opposed to an open staircase. Even with a closed door to the basement, you may want to enclose your dust generating tools in an isolated area with a door that closes tight.

Be advised that air filtration systems and dust collectors can capture a large portion of the dust – but not 100%.

Dust and noise are the only real problems with the basement. The dust can be controlled pretty well, but not 100%. The noise is what it is. In my case, I am very grateful for a supportive wife.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View BentheViking's profile

BentheViking

1753 posts in 1286 days


#8 posted 10-20-2011 04:34 AM

rich are you saying that 400 sq ft is what i should be looking for at least?

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

1733 posts in 1643 days


#9 posted 10-21-2011 12:08 AM

I have 250 square feet in my shop and this leaves room for ZERO wood storage. I make small cigar box sized items and sell them so my shop is just big enough for me. IF I were to use any plywood sheets I would need twice that size (500 Sq Ft) plus wood storage space.

-- In God We Trust

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BentheViking

1753 posts in 1286 days


#10 posted 10-21-2011 03:48 AM

jim what types of big tools that you have that take up so much room? i was thinking 200 sq ft would be enough space if configured correctly…

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View ShaneA's profile

ShaneA

5411 posts in 1320 days


#11 posted 10-21-2011 03:59 AM

Table saw and bench will eat up a lot of room, you will need infeed/outfeed area. Like mentioned, if you are beneath 250 ft. Space can become a real premium. Wood storage , or machine access will be hard to come by. Not impossible, you will just need to maximize all aspects of the area, floors, walls and overhead. Grizzly’s website has a nice shop planning program you can play with. That maybe helpful when you know the deminsions.

View richgreer's profile

richgreer

4525 posts in 1796 days


#12 posted 10-21-2011 04:24 AM

In my shop, I have the following stationary tools and other space taking items: Bench top planer on its own stand, bench top mortising machine on its own state, table saw, dust collector, miter saw, lathe, jointer, 18” band saw, grinder (for sharpening), drill press, router table, stationary belt sander, drum sander, work bench and a second work surface (used primarily to storage). I probably have about 100 square feet dedicated to wood storage. The rest of my tools fit in my 392 square foot shop with little room to spare.

I do not like the idea of moving tools around on mobile bases, but I do have mobile bases on my jointer and drum sander and I move them as needed. I would never put my table saw or band saw on a mobile base (both weight over 400 pounds).

I may have more tools than you think you need. For example, many woodworkers do not have a lathe, grinder, mortising machine or drum sander. Without those tools I would have more breathing space. Many woodworkers get by less wood storage space also.

My point is that about 400 square feet is probably the minimum for someone who has a relatively complete set of tools as I do and has room for some wood storage.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

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BentheViking

1753 posts in 1286 days


#13 posted 10-21-2011 04:50 AM

In a perfect world here is what I would think 10×20 shop with bench/storage on one side of the long wall that is maybe 2 feet deep. that leaves me another 8×20 for other stuff…maybe rolling TS (probably contractors at first then someday a hybrid), planer and joiner on rolling stands, miter saw w/ some sort of fencing system on the other side. Above these I could hang lumber storage racks. This would allow me to have 6’ by 20’ across the middle of the room, though it still may be difficult to cut a plywood sheet on the TS…may have to do this on a circular saw and sawhorses? But what if its only a 14×14 (196 sqft instead of 200), but assuming 2 walls are killed with storage/benches I only would have usable space of 12×12 which leaves me 144 sqft instead of 120 sqft of usable space, although i wouldn’t be able to rip 8 foot pieces on the TS. Now if I have usable space immediately outside the shop I can use it whenever its not inclement weather. clearly the exact layout really doesn’t matter until I have am actually considering a place, but i just need to start thinking about things

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View Bearpie's profile

Bearpie

2591 posts in 1740 days


#14 posted 10-21-2011 05:02 AM

In my case, I live in Fla, I have a separate building for my shop and I would not have it any other way. The noise, dust and wood odors are completely separate from the house and cannot contaminate the living spaces unless I bring it in on my clothes. My shop is AIR conditioned and has a HEAT strip built into the air conditioner for the cold days that we do have and my back surely appreciates that! my shop is 480 sq ft with an attic, would I want it bigger? Of course, but this size is far far better than the 240 sq ft I started out with, 12’ x 20’ and I doubled it this spring! You, being in Ct, I can see it being a problem to heat in the long cold winter to stay warm so it might be better to have a “walk out basement” and be sure to go overboard on the air filtration, it is worth it’s weight in gold! Good luck!

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

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BentheViking

1753 posts in 1286 days


#15 posted 10-21-2011 05:20 AM

Do you mean air filtration as something different than dust collection? Someday I may do more, but at least to start it will probably be just a shop vac hooked up to the tools

and I have yet to even thing about finishing…i’d love to be able to do spray finishes someday, but my immediate considerations are much more towards tooling areas than finishing

and in terms of projects i plan on doing crafts and smaller furniture, end tables, benches, maybe up to a coffee table, but not armoires and kitchen table sets. On the same hand the wife loves to get things on the cheap and remake them for us, so doing work on a kitchen table or armoire could be in the future….ahhhh too much to think about

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

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