View Full Version : Home buying advice

Rob Williams
03-07-2012, 03:52 PM
Hi fellow craftwebbers,
I currently own a condo and after checking into the T&C’s of my contract, they frown on me setting up a glass blowing studio in my 2nd floor laundry room. pfft. So I’m now in the market for a new house and land. I don’t want to rent any commercial space. I want a place to live that I can setup a small, private studio with a 100# to 175# tank (electric), 1 or two GH’s and an annealer. I’m looking for advice on what to look for and avoid when picking out a house/land with plans for a private studio.
Advice on topics related to a studio in house such as restrictive HOA’s, fire codes, gas access, electrical connections, property restrictions, garage vs. pole barn, annoying neighbors, ect. I live in Indianapolis and am looking for property in the surrounding area. Once I get the requirements down for my studio, I’ll start looking for property that matches the criteria. Anyone bought a house with the purpose of building a studio on the property? Help!


Mark Rosenbaum
03-07-2012, 04:22 PM
don't forget insurance

Pete VanderLaan
03-07-2012, 04:33 PM
don't forget what the fire department will and won't allow. Don't forget zoning. Home occupancies are often legal outside of city limits if they use less than 50% of the residential space. Check with your fuel supplier as to what they might do on deliveries and a tank if you need it. There's lots more.

Tom Clifton
03-07-2012, 05:07 PM
Get a >>GOOD<< real estate agent and tell them what you need & let them do the leg work. Getting a good agent is mostly about getting referrals from friends/family/business acquaintances that have had positive experiences.

It is easy to get a bad/lazy agent. This is like hiring employees. Do lots of interviews. Check their references... May also look for somebody with commercial background that also does residential as they might have a better feel for what the city inspectors will and will not do as you are sort of 'light industrial'...

Rollin Karg
03-07-2012, 05:10 PM
If you can find a place to live, work, and sell your art, you would be in the A+ spot. This won't be easy to find, but not impossible either. You sure will find it easier in the small towns. Glassblowers have a certain romance to people that don't know us well, so you might be able to sneak up on some small town and get them to waive some restrictions.

Lawrence Ruskin
03-07-2012, 05:27 PM
some municipalities think it's just dandy for artists to set up in the local area.I am selling my place soon and have already talked to the people that run the island on which I'm going to settle.

The nice lady told me to come to the office with the list of the properties I'm interested in and she would go over it for me and let me know if it's zoned for a free standing glass studio.

She would check with hydro and see if I would have enough juice.

You could move to Canada and buy my house and studio.

$960,000 for the house $20,000 for the studio.

Temperate climate,

Good neighbors.

Wall to wall ocean view...

A good medical system, tra la.

Josh Bernbaum
03-07-2012, 05:44 PM
I agree that zoning will be key. It seems to vary town to town and is something you'll need to look into at the town offices of any place you may be interested in.

Tom Clifton
03-07-2012, 09:19 PM
some municipalities think it's just dandy for artists to set up in the local area.

That pretty well describes Paducah, KY The city subsidzes artists that want to open shop. They found that hosting the Quilt show really pays, and have a district downtown that used to be vacant store fronts & is being turned into an year round arts community. A couple of my kids peers have just moved down there.

Franklin Sankar
03-08-2012, 06:17 AM
Lawrence you want to buy an island?
You never know how lucky you are until you hear the things others cant get away with.

Dave Hilty
03-08-2012, 07:17 AM
Don't know your preference for rural vs city but our property is zoned to allow home biz as its 5 acre minimum. So the first requirement is home biz permitted. If you can get a larger lot you have the added benefit of locating the studio away from neighbors so the combustion blower noise doesn't offend and your general activity around the studio is less likely to draw attention.
The price for natural gas has to be less than propane in the Indi area so natural gas is a basic requirement.
You definitely don,t want to locate the studio in or near your home. Lots of very basic reasons. It would void your homeowners ins. It's a real safety issue to properly exhaust the batch dust, powder dust. I've seen guys put a small studio into a detached garage, not ideal but at least it's isolated from the home.
If you can find a place with an outbuilding that suits your startup studio size that will save having to build a structure.

Pete VanderLaan
03-08-2012, 07:27 AM
Another thing is Sewer system. I have had several studios in rural areas and I really wish they had been on commercial sewage. Septic systems and glass shops don't really get along all that well.

Dave is right about Nat Gas versus propane. The long term costs will really be significant. Your transformer on the pole is also critical. I have seen way too many studios where power was insufficient, not just at the site, but on the lines leading up to it. When the power company wants $50K to extend decent AMPS to you, you're going to cry.

I also think 3 phase is way overrated and causes as many headaches as it is believed to solve. The industrial midwest is plagued with dirty 3 phase problems and the power company will simply say "The lights are on".

Robert Gary Parkes
03-08-2012, 11:25 AM
Gee guess I am in the "A-spot"
I am in a small farming town "Port Kells" attached near to one of the largest cities in B.C.
on 5 acres with a cement brick out-building 45'x95' metal roof
big enough for my Studio, Gallery and all the toys and junk that come with running a farm.
Cows and Chickens included..
I suggest you try for a small piece of land in a rural area.
Its a great life style, everyone has access to you,
unlike and island, don't get me wrong ..island life is good,
but limits your paying visitors to those who seek the time to get to you..

Thomas Chapman
03-08-2012, 12:02 PM
Townships are good, villages probably as well. My street has had, over the years, home-operated businesses galore. Some w/more visible impact than others. Electricians with their trucks, bootleg daycare, motorcycle repair. A landscaper did get bounced due to the oversized vehicles.
20 years ago my insurance agent took a picture of my furnace and glory, just wanted to make sure no cardboard boxes against the exhaust hood, et cetera. I was "good to go", although cramped on 1/2 acre.

Tom Fuhrman
03-08-2012, 12:16 PM
My last studio I built in a county with no zoning or building codes and way out in a rural area, but on a state Highway. It worked well, but when I was ready to sell a couple of years ago, marketability of the property was not very high. Pick a place you intend to stay for quite a while to make sure you have time to reap the rewards of your investment.
I personally enjoyed my own septic and well. We had them installed when we built the place so we knew exactly what we had. You might try to find somewhere that frequent power outages don't happen often. Rural areas are notorious for brief periods of power failure. Even a second or two can screw up a controller if it's not set properly and mess up your annealing cycle or your electric furnace.

Barb Sanderson
03-08-2012, 09:39 PM
Also if you are going electric it's good to try and find out how reliable the electric feed is.... ie how often do neighbors lose power and for how long? I am so lucky to have my place next to Boeing Field and any outages are fixed asap. Makes for less headaches all around....

Lawrence Ruskin
03-09-2012, 08:24 AM
if you are going to go electric in a place that has spotty electrical service you might want to invest your crucible.
A place where there is a lot of tourist traffic is good.
Usually it's beautiful to attract them and there would plenty of your fellow artists for company.
Start out small, stay small, and keep your overhead as low as possible.
Around here the people that stuck to those principals are doing well.
The folks that went big and flashy are now working for somebody else...
at minimum wage.

Rob Williams
03-09-2012, 08:53 AM
Big thanks to everyone for this much appreciated expert advice! It's my first home also, so I have a lot of learning to do.

Thanks again,


Pete VanderLaan
03-09-2012, 10:33 AM
Then budget in a boatload of handtools . You'll need every one.

Jordan Kube
03-09-2012, 01:37 PM
Did you move Barb? ;)