Build a shop question

I am interested in building a woodworking shop and naturally I would like to get the most for my investment. I have space and am thinking of a free standing building. Are there any websites that address low cost owner built buildings that might be of help? Maybe you have built one yourself, what is your advise? Do it yourself or have it built? Your comments? GCS
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Well naturally if you can build it yourself you're going to save a pile of cash that you could in turn invest in equipment for the new shop. I built my own but thats what I do in addition to cabinetmaking. Im a general contractor and had some free time a few years ago so I built a 1000 sq ft workshop. Thought it would be plenty since Im basically a one man operation but guess what....TOO SMALL!! I dont think there is any such thing as a shop TOO big!! Check out some of the ads in the back of magazines like "Wood" and "Fine Woodworking". There are always ads for metal buildings that seem pretty reasonable at first glance however I have not researched them at any depth.
Jim

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James D Kountz wrote:

Neither have I, but they sure go up easy. The guy across the street dozed the vacant lot that had been there for decades and built a gigantic steel industrial building on the site. Right across the street from my house; how lovely.
It's ugly to look at, but it sure was interesting to watch. The thing is maybe 200' long, 100' deep and 25' tall. Once the slab was poured and the many truckloads of parts delivered, one guy with an off-road forklift and a front-end loader built the whole damn thing in a couple of weeks.
I think a shop-sized building of the same general design is definitely within the reach of the average homeowner. It's just a question of time and money. Helps if you have an off-road forklift and a front-end loader too I guess. :)
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I built mine and would do it again if I ever move. You can see it here http://mywebpages.comcast.net/fkozerski/shop.htm
Good luck.
Frank
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On 28 Oct 2003 14:48:09 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (RESPITE95) wrote:

A separate building will cost a lot more, but the plus is that this will keep dust/noise out of the house. I built my shop in the walkout basement--it has an electrical subpanel, windows, high ceiling, heating/cooling. Ideally, a separate free-standing building is great for finishing--less dust, no oil/paint fumes in the house. Take a look at "The Workshop Book" by Landis. Think about what you will be building. Bigger is usually better, but not always. It is amazing how different a woodshop can be!
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RESPITE95 wrote:

Hi, my names Mark and this is my first post in rec.woodworking (nice group you have here).
I'm with James, I don't think there's any such thing as a shop that's too big (until it comes time to heat it). I built a 24x56, roughly 1300 square feet of floor. About 100 square feet bigger than the house. It's not enough. But then my organizational skills need working on. ;[
There are definitely savings in doing it yourself. "Yourself" is a tricky term , because there are times your going to need help. Got Kids? How about a handy wife? I had neither (Wife, love her lots, but she is 4'11" and has no mechanical aptitude.) I found $10 to $15 an hour got me the warm bodies I needed when needed.
Site Preparation: If your going to put in a floor (I think that's a given) you have to remove the top soil. Humus does not support a floor. In my case I built on land that was an orchard 100 years ago. Talk about beautiful soil ..... couldn't build on it though. Small dozers can be rented for around $200 a day. You can use it to cut in your drive also. About the drive: Make sure you put in a good base.
Power: I was lucky, there is a transformer 80 feet from the corner of my building. I had looked into running power from the house but that would have been 125 to 200 feet of buried cable (depending where it exited the house) , I forget what NEC states but I believe an out building powered from another structure calls for a 100 amp service. I'm not entirely sure of my memory on this as when I tallied up how much the buryable cable was going to cost I was into the price range of putting in a separate 200 amp service. The down side is I have to pay two base fees (the cost of nothing) and the shop electricity costs 25% more than the residential power. The upside is, 200 amp GE copper buss load center. There is no worry about running out of power. I built the service myself thus saving a bunch of money.
Attached vs detached: As you have probably gathered my shop is detached. It's about 125+ feet from the back door. I feel bad about the wife having to walk that far in the snow to get to her car, she doesn't feel bad at all because she has a place to park it out of the elements.
What's been written about detached, keeping shop pollution in the shop, and house pollution in the house, is very true. My shop is mostly for wrench work, gets pretty stinky. One thing I didn't see mentioned was the effect an attached garage has on the home owners insurance. IIRC detached is much lower.
Another factor is the difficulties tying a new structure to an old structure. I wouldn't want to try it without an experienced carpenter.
Heating: Here's where my friends and I got into a bit of a row. They kept trying to get me to install a wood burner. Granted a wood burner would be cheaper to use (woods plentiful here) but there is no way to extinguish it NOW. Something happens where a bunch of fumes get into the air and I could be a fireball. I opted for a used oil furnace (can't wait to get it installed). Because an oil burner is forced induction I can pull combustion air from outside reducing the explosion / fire hazard. Plus it can be disabled by a breaker or switch.
Stay away from unvented heaters/ heaters that put exhaust back into the workspace. IE: Torpedo or catalyst heaters, K1, LPG or natural gas. 1) These put phenomenal amounts of moisture into the air. You would be begging to rust up your tools. What's more important though is 2) what's in the air gets burnt and put back into the air you breath. Lots of the materials we use make fumes that aren't healthy in the first place, heat or burn them changing the compounds into God knows what and your playing a game of roulette.
Structure: Build as big as you can. That's a given. Go for 10 foot ceilings. You'll be happy with a 8 foot ceiling 99% of the time but that 1% is a killer. Specially if you've drywalled the ceiling. Try flipping a full sheet of plywood in the house, that will give you an idea.
Electrical, part II: Before you finish the inside of the shop (I.E.: Drywall) make sure you wire in more outlets than you'll ever need (NEC is a good guide, but put more). Also wire in several 220 outlets. Don't forget to wire the ceiling for lights and ceiling fans. Lighting, isn't that a subject. Just like you can't build a shop that's too big you can't have too much lighting. Better to disable a light than to wish you had more.
Geez, I think I've written enough.
Water, I forgot about water. Gotta have it if only for safety.
No matter which way you go, either building it yourself of having it built for you, start researching your local codes. Keep in mind, codes are a minimum. Learning about everything that needed done drove me batty but it was worth every lost hair (I'm now bald).
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I built a 30x40 shop last winter and spent a considerable amount of time comparing the cost of the various options. The mail-order steel buildings are fairly cheap but you still have to do the concrete work and erection on the side (including foundation engineering certification if your building dept. requires it). In the end, I found that it was actually cheaper (and much easier) to just have a local builder build a pole-barn for me. From the outside, it looks just like an all-steel building but it's wood-framed inside. I did all the electrical myself and was really glad it was wood- framed. It would have really been a pain in an all-steel building.
Lance
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