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Where is your shop?
Old 08-18-2016, 04:47 AM   #1
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Where is your shop?

So I am wrestling with the "shop" problem. I have always had a garage/shop. I am a do-er. I make things, I fix things, I build small boats.

When we retire, NOTHING about owning a house makes sense to me. We plan to travel, and maybe be somewhere else for 2-3 months a year pretty regularly. A condo or townhouse, maintained by an HOA is a perfect solution -------------- except not having a shop.

We have lived in a downsized townhouse here for the last 4 years, and not having a garage/shop has been insanely difficult for me (I was testing my ability). It's like I'm missing my left arm.

I know there are condos/townhouses with garages, but I find it hard to believe the other owners would find it acceptable for me to be running a table saw or router in there at odd hours (I certainly wouldn't like it). Those available with garages also limit the overall choices pretty severely.

I also know you can rent a place or set up a storage unit to be a shop, but the convenience factor comes into play pretty quickly - getting a cup of coffee or lunch, going to the bathroom, retrieving something you forgot, etc.

Anyone else been through this? Am I stuck with home ownership? Is that the only way out? Any condo/townhouse owners found a workable solution?

Help!
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Old 08-18-2016, 05:25 AM   #2
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My shop is in a detached 2 car garage on the same property as our house. But I understand your dilemma. I'm planning for eventual downsizing and the workshop issue is throwing a wrench into the whole thing. I'm planning for 400-500 square feet of shop space similar to what I have now.

I have discovered 3 solutions so far.

1. Downsize to a small single family home with a small shop outbuilding on site.

2. Downsize to a small single family home with enough room in the garage for a small shop. I'm looking for a garage that has one extra deep bay and use the back part for my shop. This would probably be around 200 sf of shop space.

3. Downsize to a condo/townhome and buy or rent an offsite shop space. The spaces for sale that I've found are too big and too $. The convenience factor is key - it has to be about 10 minutes from residence.

4. Downsize to a condo/townhome and set up a minimal shop in the garage. I like woodturning and could set up a minimal shop with only a table saw, mini lathe and assorted hand tools. This is not ideal, but would keep me busy in a small space.

We have an Arizona snowbird condo where we spend 3-4 months a year for the past 2 years. I have no shop there and it bugs me. The garage is too small to fit any tools, so I go the winters shop-free. If we downsize to Arizona, we would need a different place - I'll probably go with the minimal shop in the garage option.

You have similar options. You just need to figure out if you can downsize your shop needs to fit into what is available, or find a shop space (onsite or offsite) that suits your needs.
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Old 08-18-2016, 05:35 AM   #3
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I can imagine many places like this are springing up across the country for those that cannot do their woodworking at home:
Build Member's Workshop
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Old 08-18-2016, 05:40 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by FIREmenow View Post
So I am wrestling with the "shop" problem. I have always had a garage/shop. I am a do-er. I make things, I fix things, I build small boats.

When we retire, NOTHING about owning a house makes sense to me. We plan to travel, and maybe be somewhere else for 2-3 months a year pretty regularly. A condo or townhouse, maintained by an HOA is a perfect solution -------------- except not having a shop.

We have lived in a downsized townhouse here for the last 4 years, and not having a garage/shop has been insanely difficult for me (I was testing my ability). It's like I'm missing my left arm.

I know there are condos/townhouses with garages, but I find it hard to believe the other owners would find it acceptable for me to be running a table saw or router in there at odd hours (I certainly wouldn't like it). Those available with garages also limit the overall choices pretty severely.

I also know you can rent a place or set up a storage unit to be a shop, but the convenience factor comes into play pretty quickly - getting a cup of coffee or lunch, going to the bathroom, retrieving something you forgot, etc.

Anyone else been through this? Am I stuck with home ownership? Is that the only way out? Any condo/townhouse owners found a workable solution?

Help!
Sounds like you have thought of every way to get back into the house. cup of coffee being an issue. Get a thermos. Forget things... you'll learn. Sorry... there are some compromises.

After my terse response above, check out Columbus Idea Foundry. Become a member and get trained on the equipment you want to use (yes you may know it all... but this is a process). Then you can reserve time on the the equipment you want to use. So you rent time on some equipment you might not want to own anyway. The place does the maintenance of the tools, but does not play nanny... you still have to clean up after yourself.

Another choice.. find a friend that has the tools, or several friends that want to set up a shared shop.

Condos and hours of use for equipment, you could put in a sound proof room to shield you neighbors from your noise. That would be a nice project.

I still have my basement shop in a single family house. So I have not addressed your issue. I agree the house and half acre yard can be less desirable when you want to be mobile. Still deciding what to do with that. But we still have one aging parent that is in the mix and taking significant cycles.
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Old 08-18-2016, 06:52 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by FIREmenow View Post
I know there are condos/townhouses with garages, but I find it hard to believe the other owners would find it acceptable for me to be running a table saw or router in there at odd hours (I certainly wouldn't like it). Those available with garages also limit the overall choices pretty severely.
Our condo has an attached two-car garage, and it's big enough that I can store all my tools against the wall and in cabinets with enough room for the cars.

When I want to do some serious work, I simply back my car out into the driveway and move the tools into that space. If I need even more room, DW's car goes out there too.

I have occasionally used power tools in there late in the evening, but the arrangement is such that no neighbors can really hear it. When I'm done, the tools go back and the space is cleaned up so the cars can return.

In rare instances, my car has to stay out of the garage overnight, but so what?

Where I live, this sort of condo is becoming more common, so maybe you'll find one.
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Old 08-18-2016, 07:04 AM   #6
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This is a great question!

We have a great detached garage/shop with our single family home. We will both retire shortly. We are considering moving to another town about an hour from here.

One thought is to rent out the house while retaining access to the shop. It would not be close enough for major projects but we would at least have the storage for our boat and tools.

Thinking more creatively, we might purchase a small commercial building near our new residence. We could carve out the space we need and rent out the rest of the building.

Or, depending on zoning, we might build a shop on a separate property that could be converted to a dwelling sometime in the future. It could look like a dwelling on the outside and be wide open on the inside.

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Old 08-18-2016, 07:09 AM   #7
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My grand-dad had a "shop" in his basement, (It's now my shop in our basement).

I didn't know people still called them "shops".

When he died, I wrote this and thought I'd share:

In Your Shop

Little collars from little dogs
Screws and bolts and countless cogs
Hammers and wrenches hung up on nails
...and labeled and marked should memory fail.

Saws and files and boxes and cutters
Straps and sheeting and all sort of clutter
Locks and hinges from long lost doors
...and two of each of “who knows what for!”

These things you could not throw away
They hold your spirit still today
You’re in the things you wrapped with care
...and in the things no longer there

I stand in what you called your “shop”
Sometimes I stand right there and stop
And watch you, close my eyes until
...I even hear you breathing. Still.
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Old 08-18-2016, 07:41 AM   #8
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Thanks for the comments/suggestions (except the one to "suck it up") Some things to consider.

Quote:
Originally Posted by marko View Post
In Your Shop

Little collars from little dogs
Screws and bolts and countless cogs
Hammers and wrenches hung up on nails
...and labeled and marked should memory fail.

Saws and files and boxes and cutters
Straps and sheeting and all sort of clutter
Locks and hinges from long lost doors
...and two of each of “who knows what for!”

These things you could not throw away
They hold your spirit still today
You’re in the things you wrapped with care
...and in the things no longer there

I stand in what you called your “shop”
Sometimes I stand right there and stop
And watch you, close my eyes until
...I even hear you breathing. Still.
That is just awesome.
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Old 08-18-2016, 08:00 AM   #9
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We carry our shop with us on the back section of our homebuilt RV. Possibly you could do something like this if your new place has parking? Buy a 8 by 16 cargo trailer and use it as a portable shop?
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Old 08-18-2016, 08:17 AM   #10
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The 55 plus community where my grandma lives has a large shared workshop with all the tools included.
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Old 08-18-2016, 08:17 AM   #11
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My grand-dad had a "shop" in his basement, (It's now my shop in our basement). ...........
There is definitely an emotional attachment to workshops and the things we save there. I "inherited" the shop remains from both my FIL and great uncle - mostly nuts and bolts and specialty fasteners. To this day, I'll be looking through their old collection and find exactly what I was looking for.
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Old 08-18-2016, 08:18 AM   #12
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The 55 plus community where my grandma lives has a large shared workshop with all the tools included.
Oooooh! Now you're talkin'!
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Old 08-18-2016, 09:05 AM   #13
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My woodworking shop occupies our attached 2-car garage. It's 600 sqft with 9-foot ceilings. No car has ever been parked in there, as the machines are too big to move. We have another 500 sqft detached storage building that houses the zero-turn and other outside equipment. We are planning to downsize at some point and the shop is definitely part of our planning. I'd like a little more space, including an area to safely spray finishes. And DW wants to park in an attached garage again. We don't have the 2-3 month travel plans like OP; longest would be 3-4 weeks. Our tentative plan is to find a small house on about 1 acre with an existing shop building.
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Old 08-18-2016, 09:05 AM   #14
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The 55 plus community where my grandma lives has a large shared workshop with all the tools included.
So does the one where my parents live. I don't know how common that is or if you're ready for that kind of community, but it may be an option.
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Thanks, Marco
Old 08-18-2016, 09:05 AM   #15
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Thanks, Marco

That poem really touched me, Marko. My late dad had all his tools in a walk in closet in their condo. When my mom died last year, I looked at all the tools, many of which I grew up with, and decided that technology had passed a lot of them.
For example, he had some Yankee screwdrivers, but I use a small cordless drill.
We told the condo handyman he could have all of them, so at least the tools were passed on.
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Old 08-18-2016, 09:32 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by FIREmenow View Post
When we retire, NOTHING about owning a house makes sense to me. We plan to travel, and maybe be somewhere else for 2-3 months a year pretty regularly. A condo or townhouse, maintained by an HOA is a perfect solution -------------- except not having a shop.
SOLUTION 1: Maybe you could live in a SFH with lots of workshop space right there in your garage or out building, and get a house sitter when you are gone.

This type of thread makes me feel so glad that I don't have the "travel bug".
________________________________________

SOLUTION 2: BTW, here's another solution. I have a huge, oversized detached two car garage with workshop, storage rooms, bathroom, electricity, and so on, in my back yard. I don't use it except for my car. The prior owner of my home didn't either, and for over a decade she rented it out to a racing car enthusiast who needed a lot of workshop space. Maybe you could rent something like that.

It already has a bathroom, plus it has a twenty foot work bench with oversized rugged cabinets above and below. Maybe you could put a coffee pot and one of those half sized dorm room refrigerators at the end of the work bench. This is not an insurmountable problem if you can find the right garage to rent.
________________________________________

I am neither a guy nor a travel enthusiast, nor do I have the slightest need for a workshop. However if I was in your situation I think I'd go for Solution 1, above. I'd just stay in a SFH and get a house sitter or someone to watch over the house occasionally, as needed.
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Old 08-18-2016, 09:56 AM   #17
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There is definitely an emotional attachment to workshops and the things we save there. I "inherited" the shop remains from both my FIL and great uncle - most nuts and bolts and specialty fasteners. To this day, I'll be looking through their old collection and find exactly what I was looking for.
You mean like this? The old man had screws, nails, bolts etc etc etc all in old Skippy jars nailed to the ceiling. Like you, I still use this stuff when I'm in a jam. 30 years later!

20160818_115146.jpg
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Old 08-18-2016, 10:09 AM   #18
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We've been having that discussion lately too. I have several hobbies that include welding, drilling sandblasting etc. And have need for vehicle(s) storage. I'd also like to have a separate space for woodworking. We are looking to downsize but need the space for my hobbies. Not to mention DW would love to have a long arm quilting machine to complement her sewing m/c, and her embroidery m/c. The long arm needs a space at least 16-20 ft. in one dimension.

We think we need a pole barn with a 1 br attached living quarters.

Seriously, a small house with a dry basement and a separate 600+sq ft out-building that was heated & A/C'd would be ideal. Maybe with space for a 4 post lift. (DS is renting just such a place right now.) A separate location to rent workspace would be OK too. We've looked at farm country with barns etc., but it is too far away from civilization as we know it. Not to mention, poor internet connectivity. I need my internet
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Old 08-18-2016, 11:17 AM   #19
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Well you know where my shop is because you have been in it! ;-)

I do think about this often as I think about (eventually) downsizing. People who know me (us) know it isn't about having a shop, it is about having the capability to fix things in our realm (and sometimes outside of it) as I know it is for the OP as well. Sure, I'll probably downsize but I'll probably always have at least one vintage car... and a shop of some sort. But I'll probably also never live in an apartment or condo, I need my space and privacy. I could make an 800sf house work in the right location, with basement shop work.
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Old 08-18-2016, 11:57 AM   #20
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Mine is out on the front porch. A couple of sawhorses spanned by a quarter sheet of plywood. With a "wood catcher" so I can push wood through the saw w/o worry of falling over the back.



The saw hangs on the wall in the garage when not in use. I cut wood in the garage once and never again, the sawdust never goes away. Out on the porch the wind takes most of it the rest and be blown away with the leaf blower.
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