Building a new shop on commercial land
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  1. #1
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    Default Building a new shop on commercial land

    A couple months back, I inquired about moving my shop from a leased commercial property to a home property while moving to a new state. Lots of good feedback there. During that time, I was second in line on a unicorn of a property with a shop already, and for awhile, it looked like the first buyer was going to fall through. Ultimately, they got their stuff together, so I wasn't able to buy that one. The great plus to that property was buy the house, shop comes free. The flipside to that is building a shop behind a house we buy is the shop adds no value to the appraisal.

    In looking since, I've found nothing that really seems like a good candidate for building a shop on, so I've started looking at buying commercial again, of which there's pretty much nothing available (a couple possible candidates I saw last spring have long sold). But, I have found a couple vacant commercial lots available, and I think the numbers make sense, so I'm starting to go down that road.


    I'm looking at a 1 acre lot. On a side road off the main East West road through town. Just a 1/4 mile long road with a turnaround at the end, clearly originally planned to be a commercial neighborhood. Currently has 1 business at the corner of the main road, 1 past that, and the one I'm looking at would be third, land past that is still vacant.

    Lot is currently in the county, unzoned, but the business at the corner is in the city, zoned, however the entire street has city utilities (allegedly including 3 ph). Truck access seems adequate. From what I can tell, county unzoned gives me a fair bit of leeway in construction (in regards to aesthetics, still have to meet codes/wind ratings), which the city would have to grandfather in if it's annexed. I haven't seen the lot in person yet, but there isn't a whole lot to see. It's a level lot that has been cleared once, although it's got years worth of undergrowth/scrub brush that's regrown. Does already have a driveway culvert.


    My plan would be to build a 40x60 metal shop. 14' side walls. Two 12x12' doors (insulated, I'm sick of the roll up style), more or less next to each other on one side. 2 standard 3-0 man doors. Slab suitable for 4k capacity forklift. Only interior buildout would need to be a 12 x 16 or 10 x 20 office in one corner, and a small bathroom (both with mezzanine above). Insulated, with the intent of future AC. Other than the office, interior finishing just needs to be steel sheet attached to the inside of the purlins.

    I don't mind taking on some of the interior detail stuff (building the office/bathroom, sheeting the walls, etc), but would plan to hire out the rest in one go, if possible. I don't really have the time or knowledge to GC it.

    Long term would include an additional 40 x 60 built onto the back (making it 40x120 total). Back half would be a second office/warehouse unit, to lease to another business, but would also allow possible expansion of my unit if that ever was required.



    I've started getting the requisite paperwork to a local lender, to get that ball rolling, to make sure the numbers look workable. I've also been chasing down utility hookup costs. I currently have a good figure for sewer hookup. I have a number for power, but I'm pretty sure it's wrong (I'll be tickled pink if it's right), but their priority is rebuilding from the recent hurricane, so getting back to me is pretty low down the list. Apparently, water is going to be from the power co, so I'll have to wait on that, too.


    I plan to go eyeball the property soon. What sort of things should I be looking for?

    When I start looking for a building manufacturer/builder, what or who should I look at? I've heard enough horror stories about fly by night building manufacturers - not interested in going down that road. I've seen recommendations for Butler buildings, Valco-Pruden buildings, etc. Who else should I look at?


    What other questions should I be asking before signing on the dotted line for a piece of commercial land?

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    If you go with a metal building, sounds like you are, make sure they give you "center frames" at at least the end you want to expand later. These are the main frames that are in the center of buildings. The cheap way to do these bldgs is to not use a center frame on the ends and use metal studs of other cheap secondary framing to hold up the roof. Not usually a problem since the wall is there anyway but still cheesy. Be sure to let them know of future expansion plans, that end frame can be prepped to accept the next bay when the time comes.

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    Make sure it has a clean bill of health from the EPA.
    I don't have details, But I have heard horror stories of peoples plans being stopped dead in their tracks due to "environmental" issues.
    After! they bought the property. Then they were sitting on dirt they couldn't sell, or build.
    Don't know how it happens. But, I know it does.

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    I went through an identical situation over the last couple years looking for an industrial building and after finding no suitable options I opted to buy land and build.
    If you have concerns regarding potential environmental issues with the lot the first step is getting a phase one environmental assessment. A firm will go through all the available data on record about prior land use to determine if there was anything that could have created potential contamination. Assuming it checks out there probably wouldn't be a need for a phase two which is more expensive and involves actual soil tests.
    Don't make assumptions about any zoning or utility hookups...get a definitive answer from the planning/zoning department.
    The first area I was looking to build was in Georgia and after an exhaustive search for a legit metal building supplier I found a small local company I was going to use called Metalcon based in Sylvania, GA. I can't vouch for their work because my land deal fell through, but I didn't get the impression they were blowing smoke up my ass. I would also contact local supply yards for recommendations on both metal building erectors and suppliers.

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    I would keep in mind the possibility that you may want to walk away some day for some reason. Business fails, place gets too busy or becomes the wrong kind of neighborhood, retirement, etc.

    For that reason, I'd bump the building up 2' feet at least. 16' sidewalls with 14' x 14' doors. I wouldn't put up a commercial building with a door I couldn't drive a semi-truck in.

    Good luck with all the approvals. I'd ask other people or contractors who have build buildings about hassles they had when getting things built.

    Since you're not building the shop on your home place, just consider the possibility that someone else may own the property one day.

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    Build as high as code allows So you can rise your forklift mast without hitting the roof
    Also to make space for a mezzanine of sufficient hight
    I have 6 mtr and love it
    Do not cheap out on isolation It pays back
    Perhaps ad outriggers for a overhead crane but at least make the foundation and construction suitable for a 2 or 3 ton crane

    Peter

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    I started building a wood 36x72x16. got half of it up and stopped for reasons out of my control. Gave me time to evaluate what the hell I was doing and get a feel for how the building was going to work. I found when I started laying everything out that 36' wide just kinda sucked no matter how I sliced it. I regrouped, changed plans and built a 66' wide steel building 60 feet long with 20' to the ceiling over the top of my half built wood building. Really made a difference in how useful all the space was.

    I guess my point is, sure 40x60 might sound good now, but if you need more room 40x120 is not ideal. Build more square. Everything lays out better. Easier to leave open areas between stuff and get a forklift around inside.

    For a steel building 60 foot is no problem for trusses. Run the trusses that way so if/when you add on it really counts for something. If you can build 60x60 that would be a real good size to start with.

    Driveway is another big consideration. Before you have city planning up your ass put the biggest damn loop in you can with a 40' wide entry at the road. a 60' radius is enough to turn a semi and 53' trailer around if it's 20 feet wide.

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    Have the steel up sized for a crane, as well as the foundation...Phil

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    My shop is 48x120. I did not build it, so didn't get a say in the size. While it does what I need it to, I wish it was wider as Garwood says. By the time I have pallet racking up, and my machines etc, it gets pretty tight in there with the forklift moving 4x8 and 5x10ft bundles of material. I also play with cars and trucks and with a couple of them in there the width just goes to nothing.

    I got into mine cheap and will live with it forever, but starting from scratch I agree with going wider.
    I also agree with tall enough to get a semi in, leaves options for unloading/loading in the dry shop etc.

    Oh, see if there is an economic development person in the county/city. They should have a good list of things to consider for that specific site. I would also stop and talk to the neighbor business that is already there and see what they have had struggled with and also to see if they are a good neighbor or not, if they are jerks, it could make life hard for you in the long run.

    Another thing, find out what internet service is available. It was only this year that I could get anything but DSL at my shop. Not a problem for me, but for some it might be.

    Contact material suppliers and see if they deliver to that town, you might be in the middle of a dead spot and only have one supplier or have a hard time getting steel etc delivered, be nice to know before hand.

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    Let's not get too hung up on the building size and cranes. My current shop is a 30x60, and while it has pretty much everything in an awkward spot, which has forced a less than ideal interior layout (roll up door location sucks, office door location sucks, mezzanine stairwell location sucks, etc), square footage hasn't been a concern. I've been here 8 years without an issue, and the only reason I'm leaving is the landlord is selling it.

    That said, in the time I've been here, I have often pondered how to better lay the same square footage out, and have come to the conclusion that instead of 30x60" with a door on the end, I'd be better suited with a 36x50 with doors on the side. Hence 40x60 seems like the logical upgrade. I work alone, so there's only 1 person's worth of work paying for the place, and I plan on air conditioning the shop, so there's only 1 guy's worth of work paying for that as well, so I don't really want to go bigger for the sake of bigger. Coincidentally, county building permit would require certified engineered drawings of plumbing/electric/HVAC if I hit 2500 sq feet - smaller than that only requires engineered drawings of the structure.

    As for cranes, I primarily make components out of sub 1/8" aluminum sheet, with finished item weights of 3 - 60 pounds. I currently do have a ratchet strap thrown over a beam with a small chainfall hanging on it, and while that is handy once in awhile, most everything I need to do is best done with a forklift anyway.


    Regarding the building itself, things I know I need more info on:

    -Insulated bay doors - I'm assuming this would be a more conventional multi section flat panel door - the standard roll around a drum doors I have now are great for radiating heat into the space in the summer, and letting the wind through in the winter. Also, 12' wide is a must - never again dealing with a 10'.

    -Building insulation - What options do I have here? Is spray foam the best way to go? Coastal Alabama, so AC is going to be more of a concern than wintertime heating.

    -Any reason NOT to go with LED lights? Looks like they've gotten cheap enough to be a no brainer.




    I've been doing a little more reading on environmental. Seems to be some debate on whether a Phase 1 is needed for vacant land, but probably better safe than sorry.


    Good call on the internet. Called one private company, and it is offered to that address, but at only at 3 mbps. Still waiting on a call back from the local EMC to make sure their faster internet is available at that address.

    I verified with one of my two primary metal suppliers that they service that area - 2 trucks a week, no big deal there. The other most used company has a location in Mobile, 45 minutes away, so daily delivery route shouldn't be a problem. Mobile has quite a few of the metal suppliers I recognize from here, so that's a non issue. Looks like McMaster will still be a 1 day transit time, so I'd say the most important thing is covered.


    I need to go down and look at the property soon. Aside from talking with neighbors, and getting a feel for the neighborhood, I'm not really sure what I need to be looking for regarding the land itself beyond what I can ascertain from Google streetview and satellite views. Any tips there? Do I need a buyer's realtor?

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    Your bank will do it, but you might check the FEMA floodzone maps online to be sure it is above both 100 and 500 year floodplains before paying their initial processing fees.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rabler View Post
    Your bank will do it, but you might check the FEMA floodzone maps online to be sure it is above both 100 and 500 year floodplains before paying their initial processing fees.
    Best I can tell, it's in zone X, which appears to be above the 500 year flood, so we should be good there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fish On View Post
    Regarding the building itself, things I know I need more info on:

    -Insulated bay doors - I'm assuming this would be a more conventional multi section flat panel door - the standard roll around a drum doors I have now are great for radiating heat into the space in the summer, and letting the wind through in the winter. Also, 12' wide is a must - never again dealing with a 10'.

    -Building insulation - What options do I have here? Is spray foam the best way to go? Coastal Alabama, so AC is going to be more of a concern than wintertime heating.
    Take a good look at "Insulated Metal Panels" for your walls and roof. They take care of outer panel, insulation and liner panel (inside panel) all in one. These can be almost any tickness to get you needed R-value.
    When you add the cost of outer panels, insulation, liner panel and installation for all 3 the cost is probably about even. If you add in studs with the normal skin and insulation it will be cheaper.

    Here is a company I am using:
    All Weather Insulated Panels | Innovative. Adaptable. Energy-Efficient.

    You can make sliding doors and use the insulated panels for them also. Or hinged doors or tilt up doors, those are nice in rain or sun if working out front of the door, it makes a nice awning.

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    Just a thought along the lines of what others have said...This might seem odd, but instead of 40x60, perhaps 60x40 would be better? If you made it 60' wide, then if you wanted to add-on, it would be adding to the 40' dim as the trusses run the 60' span. Yes it would probably be a bit more expense up front for the longer trusses, but it could give you a lot of additional flexibility down the road. if you doubled the footprint later it would be 60x80 instead of 40x120, which falls into the thinking that "more square-ish" is better. Same square feet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dstig View Post
    Just a thought along the lines of what others have said...This might seem odd, but instead of 40x60, perhaps 60x40 would be better?
    It might be better. I'll have to see how it lays on the lot - lot is long and narrow.

    Initially, which is probably the bigger concern, the extra cost of the trusses would probably somewhat wash out with needing less parking lot (just in front of building, rather than also down one side). I'll have to look into what it would do to the later rental units - no issue if I have a single 2400 ft rental, may make things awkward if I split it into 2 1200s, but I guess nothing would stop me from making the addition 60x60, to end up with 2 1800 sq foot rental units.

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    I haven't seen this mentioned so I'll throw it out here.
    Septic or sewer on this lot?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Booze Daily View Post
    I haven't seen this mentioned so I'll throw it out here.
    Septic or sewer on this lot?
    Sewer is on the lot. It's a pressurized line, so I'll need a pump on my end, but I do have a handle on the cost for that, plus the hookup fee. To be thorough, I may still research septic possibilities as well, but at least I know what my not to exceed cost is.

    Just got a call back for water hookup cost. Still waiting on the important one - power.

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    If it is raw land, the bet is good that it is clean. Next town over a company bought land from a farm owner to build their building.

    Seems he was letting someone dump drums on his back forty for years for beer money.....

    Do be cautious

    As to the wall height, for years I would have not thought of it, till the rigger moving a pair of VMCs into my space and the going got a little tight. He zipped the 8k pound VMC 8 feet in the air and spun it around and plopped it down.

    Nice to have a 16 foot ceiling

    AS I get older, I think more in terms of 'what next'

    Consider building in stalls of convenient size, so as 50 morphs into 80 you can become a landlord

    FOr now it can be useful, one of my old shops was comprised of 3 separate bays, and the last one was christened 'The Evil Room'
    Big loud saw, tumbler etc in there. Same would go for welders or painting or????
    so for now you can partition your space, later you can rent if you chose to, or just organize your junk

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fish On View Post
    Sewer is on the lot. It's a pressurized line, so I'll need a pump on my end, but I do have a handle on the cost for that, plus the hookup fee. To be thorough, I may still research septic possibilities as well, but at least I know what my not to exceed cost is.

    Just got a call back for water hookup cost. Still waiting on the important one - power.
    The only reason I mentioned it is because in my county the septic has to be a mound system. There has to be 2 mound sites. One that actually gets used and a back-up for when the first one is no longer good. Placement of the mounds could pose a problem for your building location.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Booze Daily View Post
    The only reason I mentioned it is because in my county the septic has to be a mound system. There has to be 2 mound sites. One that actually gets used and a back-up for when the first one is no longer good. Placement of the mounds could pose a problem for your building location.
    Everything has to be a mound? You guys have ground water 18 inches under or something

    weird

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