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Veteran Contributor

Re: Shop? Or no shop? Help please

It is not solely the sideline business that are going to bank roll the shop. All of our operations are combined together. If we have a dry winter, the farm side makes up the difference. If we have a bad farm year, the side lines carry the purchase. The nice thing that we have going for us is the 1800 acres that we farm, all but 300 are ours bought and paid for or paying off. I personally have purchased land in the time back here on the farm, 40 acres was bought at $1000 an acre now valued at $3500. I do all of our repairs on the farm. That is from oil changes to major overhauls. I also do a lot of fabrication both for ourselves and for others in the area. So when you look at he big picture the shop is not just for the sidelines it is for the operation as a whole. The shop would be big enough to do two projects at a time and not a storage or catch all for the farm. Besides during the winter it would be full of snow equipment. I have no desire to pay for heating something that does not need to be. It is not planned to be a huge building 60X64X18 with the construction set up to expand in the future if needed. Here's one example I am faced with right now. We have a semi that the front main seal is out of. I can take it to a shop pay 80-100 an hour to have them fix it or do it myself. But as it sits right now I will have to wait till after planting to do the repair cause the rest of the equipment needs to be able to get in and out of our current building during planting. We store our seed in this building also so I can't have a truck tore down blocking the front half of the building. It has not become a issue of I want one it, but one of necessity. That is why I put the post up. Why did you build a shop was it out of necessity? Did you feel you may be positioning yourself in a way you felt maybe not the best for the opertaion?(I.E. future land purchases or equipment). I wrote a thank you on here a day ago to the people that have responded it also explains a little more about myself and my situation. Its on here just down a little further on the list.

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Re: Shop? Or no shop? Help please

A well designed shop makes repairs eaisier, nice conditions make you want to be timely with pm's so you avoid breakdowns. You can have items in better condition and do more with a better shop.  No need to break the bank- a good shop can be low cost too.  In the winter your snow machines start with warm oil and the wear and tear is drasticly reduced.


A MUST IS FLOOR HEAT--- at 50 degrees the shop will be so you can work in a shirt and heavy work you break a sweat.  also can use a wood furnace to heat water for the shop then, Put r-20 insulation under the floor and 30 in the walls and 50 in the ceiling. will pay back in a couple of years. Also if the side buisness is growing- you need the room and having better machines make you more reliable-- a must in the fire service, you can not afford a breakdown.


make sure you own the land under the shop and have access deeded to you now


nice to go out in 20 below weather and start the disel pickup up and it is allready at 50 degress. the saving of waer on the disels alone demand it.  My neighbor expanded his shop with floor heat, wonders how he did without it now. overhauls tractors and machinery over the winter so hes good to go when the weather breaks. you should too.

good luck 

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Re: Shop? Or no shop? Help please

A bigger heated shop would allow you to prepare your equipment before the season begins which results in greater efficency and more timely repairs which reduces down time which in turn saves time and money. Time is almost as good as money in this industry so I believe a new shop would be a wise investment. This of course is only my opinion. 

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Senior Advisor

Re: Shop? Or no shop? Help please

Only you know if it will cash flow or not. You mention that we own 1500 acres out to the 1800 we farm Who is we. You and your forty acres and your parents 1460 acres? Obviously, dad no longer wants to invest in a shop. He didn't build it for himself so he doubts the value of building it for you.


We don't know enough about you and your financial affairs. How much is your share of the income from the total acres and how much do you make from the sideline business. Are You repairing your equipment or dad's equipment? So most of us are ill prepared to offer you advice because we do not all the details.


My cousin has a wonderful shop and I am inclined to urge you to build. But he has help that is fully utilized in the shop and he has the ability to fabricate or fix anything. So they work their equipment and fix stuff for others and have their own equipment in tip top shape. I don't know that they hire any repair work done that isn't covered by warrantee. Also he fabricates stuff for corporations when they want something designed and built.


The shop certainly pays its way but I could not make one cash flow with my limited ability. On the other hand, you probably can. but be sure that you are the main beneficiary of the investment and that is cash flows for you and not be a costly burden for you.


Actually if you fixing dad's equipment, he should be willing to pay something unless he is furnishing the equipment in the first place.


Good luck to you. It would be great to be young healthy and ambitious.

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Re: Shop? Or no shop? Help please

make sure you own the land under the shop and have access deeded to you now

Most crucial point...of course, banker ought not to touch it if you did not have the a fixture to the land, it would belong to the landowner anyway.  Have done some legal hairsplitting over appurtenances and improvements, and you do not want to wander into a legal gray area.   

I think that this is one of those where Dad has gotten by this long, and the "sideline" businesses are not deemed to be permanent enterprises, which may or may not turn out to be the case.  What is "nice to have" for one may be "unnecessary" for the other. 

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Re: Shop? Or no shop? Help please

My advice would be to build it if you can afford it, you will use if for the rest of your career, just like land.  I don't know what you farm - row crop or wheat but if you have a large airseeder go with a wide 30' plus door and 19' clearance so you can get it in and unfold it.  We have a nice shop, but it was built in 1973 when machinery was small and even though it is 40 x 50 with 14' ceiling, we cant get most things inside.  However we could not operate without it, I can't count the number of times we push or pull truck or tractor that wont start when its 10 or 20 below.  We can still work on combines over the winter and do alot in there but I am saving for the day (hopefullly within 3 years) when i can build a new one big enough to open 60' tillage equipment in side.

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Re: Shop? Or no shop? Help please

I am gonna say that shop size/space as related to equipment size is probably about like buying a new computer: obsolete as soon as you get it. 

What is "plenty big" now will be "too small" if you continue to grow/upgrade/greater mechanize to save on labor.  There is not a one of you (or your dads) who didn't think the present, teensy shop doors would be wide enough for any machine you ever dreamed of running when it was built. 

I know this, because I am sure you are all very intelligent men.  I am married to one who has often surprised himself by unwittingly creating such jams. 

We have watched the crop guys here go from the legal limit on what could travel the state highways, to as wide as you can figure out a way to fold it, drop the head and haul it behind, etc.  This is one of our major concerns as the state addresses a plan to run four-lane divided highways through us to the beach from Raleigh...what will fit through the resultant underpasses..not now, but someday??? 

Who knows?  I remember when four rows was humongous.  Several whole fields on this farm were abandoned as equipment got bigger and heavier.  You can tell by the size of the pines that have succeeded cropping on those parts of the place.  So, there are size limits, but it depends on a lot of factors.   

Every operation ends up with bottlenecks like the size of the shop door at any given time.  The trick is not so much in identifying the problem,  as in justifying the solution. 

Maybe, all that is needed in the original example is some reasonable renovations.   Cut a bigger hole in the shop's end, order some lambeams for a wider header, hang a bigger door, set a new heater in place, and make-do for a while.  Five to ten grand cashflows a lot faster than a hundred. 

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Frequent Contributor

Re: Shop? Or no shop? Help please

I could not agree with anyone more.


I also work a full time off farm job and up until a year ago my father did as well.


We feed cattle and currently have to run at least a skid loader and one tractor every single day.  Rain, cold or whatever.


We have had our shop for 3 years now and I haven't gelled up a tractor or skidloader since.  keeping the fuel in the tanks warm has real benefits.


With off farm work, I assume your time to do shop work is as limited as mine is.  By having a shop, you are able to work when you have time to do it, not when conditions are fit or when duct tape and baling wire finally gives out.


I don't know that I can say that my shop makes me any money.  But it sure saves me alot. 


And, fwiw, my wife will tell you I am much more pleasant to be around.......


My father is 65.  He wishes he could have had this shop his whole career.  I glad we were able to get it done while he can still use it and enjoy it.


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