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Thread: Hobbiest, Non-Commercial, Leased Shop Space

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
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    Hobbiest, Non-Commercial, Leased Shop Space

    I retired March 2020. Sixty-one years old and in good health (as far as I know). We moved to Northwest Arkansas. Nice house, but no good woodworking shop space. I'm considering leasing an existing 1500 sqft building for my hobbyest, non-commercial, woodworking shop. Lease building is within walking distance of our house (1 mile). Seems like a good option as I can move in ASAP versus, at best, one year, $50k, and a BUNCH of hassle, to build a shop.

    Without getting into the lease versus build math, does anyone have an opinion and/or advise about leasing a woodworking shop? Ample electrical power and threat of theft are on my list of concerns. Climate control would be nice, but the lack thereof would not be a deal breaker for me. Access to toilet/sink would be a must-have.

    Thank you in advance for any comments / suggestions.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
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    Fairbanks AK
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    375
    Just an idea while waiting for the thread to get moved. Would it make sense to lease for one or two years and build a shed type structure at your home future owners might use as a garage or convert to an efficiency apartment?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
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    New Jersey
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    If you are leasing the space it should come with a bathroom, generally is code. As for heat and AC generally most places will just have heat, unless there is finished office space. You could do your own security system, so not a big deal. You may need to carry certain levels of insurance as a requirement of the lease. I doubt electric would be an issue, but the unit may be 3 phase. With all that said, I have thought about this myself, but eventually the math as a hobby shop doesn't make sense, but I don't have an idea of rents in your area. I like the idea of a short term lease while you build a shop at the house if possible.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    South Coastal Massachusetts
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    Insure your tools, carry an "umbrella" policy to protect
    your home from lawsuits.

    Is the electric panel beefy enough?

    Can you park at the shop?

    Sounds ideal.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    I suspect that even though you are a hobbyist, you're going to have to treat the leased space like it's a business for insurance purposes. It does sound like a viable solution if the numbers work for you if everything else is acceptable. GIven economic conditions, there may actually be some pretty good opportunities to lease commercial space and even negotiate the cost a little.

    Electrical may or may not be an issue, depending on what the space has been used for previously. If changes need to be made, you need to ascertain whether or not that has to be done through the landlord or not and/or if the landlord has requirements/policies for space improvements like that. Same for HVAC. And an alarm system, preferably with video. And yea, since it's away from your home, access to at least a half-bath is kinda important. You may want/need communication access to the space, too, since the aforementioned security system will kinda need it if it supports video. (regular alarm call-out can use cellular on most modern systems, but that's not a good bet for video)
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    San Francisco, CA
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    When Iíve looked for rental shop space, fire sprinklers have been a key issue. One landlord told me his insurance company would not let him rent for woodworking unless he put in fire sprinklers. It turns out that installing sprinklers is very expensive.

  7. #7
    I would build at home. There is no reason, other than weather, that you can't have a complete shell up in 90 days, or less. Look at Morton type buildings. They are a combination of wood and metal buildings. Very quickly assembled. Here at State Fair, for years they put a 30 X 40 up in a week. Because it was meant for animals, it didn't have a concrete floor, which could be poured after building is erected.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Wrenn View Post
    I would build at home. There is no reason, other than weather, that you can't have a complete shell up in 90 days, or less...
    This. There is just nothing greater than having your shop a few steps away from your home. To say nothing about throwing the rental money away instead of investing in your own property.
    "Anything seems possible when you don't know what you're doing."

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    Okotoks AB
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    I would certainly make building the shop at home a first priority & not throw away any money on renting. I can't see why it would take a year to get one built. I acted as general contractor on our current home (2800 sq ft on 2 levels & attached garage) & it took 6 months from breaking ground to move in. And I am not a builder and am not terribly organized. A real contractor should have no problem building you an insulated, drywalled shell in a couple of months.

  10. #10
    I rented a studio for a hand tool shop in a converted warehouse. As a hobbyist I could not get insurance. I tried a lot of agencies and companies and got a flat no way. The rate in a commercial space is based on the gross sales not on value of equipment. I was surprised but that was the way it was from all places I could get an answer.

  11. #11
    I was in the same boat. Around here, closer in to Atlanta finding a small space was difficult. Everything was 4000 sf or more. Finally found a 1100 sf industrial space semi close. It's smaller than the basement place I had but will work. Around here all of the people renting spaces require $1,000,000 general liability insurance. It was about $40 a month if paid in advance for a year. Every space I looked at required a minimum 3 year lease. Some, like others posted, would not allow woodworking. Pretty happy so far, only been a month. Had to upgrade the electrical service and add LED lighting, so some upfront costs but so far, so good. Also around here they all have to have a basic bathroom if built after about 1968. When talking to others around the country it was obvious that a lot of things differ according to the locale and local codes and trends.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Location
    northern va
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    8
    the "hassle" in building a shop is the set-up which happens in both in building ground-up or leasing a space. An existing space won't have the lighting and electrical hook-ups correct or the storage where you want. At least with building new, you can minimize through planning. I'd be concerned about noise. If it is your own property, you can work late into the night.

    Think about the future. five years down the road if they sell the place, then you are out of luck. If you build, then five years down the road, you have been in your shop for four years.

  13. #13
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    As an aside, the Sept/Oct 1980, #24, issue of Fine Woodworking has a cover story about setting up small shops. Quite a few 4" jointers and 12" portable planners, and no or very little dust collection. Times have changed.

  14. #14
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    Apr 2013
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray Newman View Post
    As an aside, the Sept/Oct 1980, #24, issue of Fine Woodworking has a cover story about setting up small shops. Quite a few 4" jointers and 12" portable planners, and no or very little dust collection. Times have changed.
    Boy, isn't that the truth.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    My initial shop in about 1997 was a one-car garage (that never had a car in it...I'm still in wonderment that I could actually build anything furniture like in there given the space, but I managed to create Professor Dr. SWMBO's cherry desk that's still in use today.
    -------

    Relative to the OP's question, after multiple days thinking about, I still feel that this is going to be a difficult thing for the reasons I originally stated. And to be clear, It's something I've given thought to myself because there's a chance that we may downsize in a year and if we move into town, adequate shop space "on property" may be tough. I do currently have the official business that I can leverage because I do have commercial liability that I can add other coverages to, but I don't have long term plans for the business and don't support myself with it. Going pure hobby gets in the way of a rental and keeping the business running is expensive. But maybe things are more attainable in Arkansas than here in SE PA.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

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