Whether to Locate Furniture Shop in the Basement

Cheap heat and convenience are up sides, but insurance could be a worry. April 20, 2011

I am debating whether to move my shop from my 600 sq ft outbuilding to my 800 sq ft basement.

- Basement is larger by about 200 sq ft.
- Only have to heat/cool one building (will save money).
- Heating system in current shop is toast.
- Basement has separate ground level entrance - no stairs.

Any thoughts?

Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
From contributor J:
Are there wife and kids upstairs? That would be one consideration. Another is dust. If you've got forced air, it has a way of getting everywhere. That said, the price is right. Sounds like access isn't a problem. If you think it will work, I'd go for it. 800 square feet is small, but it's way better than 600.

From contributor S:
How easy is it to get sheet goods into the basement, and lumber? How about getting finished products out of the basement? Do you have easy access from your yard to your back door, and a straight run down the stairs? Going up and down stairs is never easy no matter what you do.

From contributor O:
You will need to check with your insurance company. They may drop you, or refuse to pay out if the shop causes a fire. Also if the house burns, the shop burns, and vice versa. Either way you are out of a house and a livelihood and possibly no insurance money to rebuild. These are the reasons I have always kept my shop separate from my house. I also know people that have lost everything under these conditions.

From contributor R:
I own the house next door to where I live and work out of the basement. A kerosene heater is all I need in the winter and it stays cool in the summer. That is the good part. The bad part for me is the moisture in a basement, especially in the summertime.

From contributor X:
Why can't you have the best of both worlds and use both to fulfill your future needs? Assembly vs. cutting area or storage and spraying vs. assembly/cutting. Clean area vs. dusty area. Saves time. Have rollable carts.

From contributor A:
I have always had my shop in the basement of my house. Yes, the dust and noise is a concern. But having the temp right all the time and the availability to walk downstairs even if for just a second has always made it worth it. I have wired in an on-off switch that controls the whole basement that is not accessible to little ones. This has kept me feeling safer when I am not there.

From contributor P:
I have two separate buildings on my property that I use for my business. One is unheated and holds all my lumber. The other is heated and I work out of it. I rebuilt the building I work out of. When I purchased the property, the building was in disrepair and I told my insurance broker that soon it would be a shop and I would need insurance. His response was "no problem, just call me." Well, when I transitioned into self employment and began working out of it, I called him. The insurance company said they would not write a policy to cover a home based woodworking shop and now that they know what I do there, they will not renew my policy. I had just renewed it about a month prior to all this but I was told that I could be dropped anytime because I was now viewed as a liability.

Whether you have insurance or not is your choice, but be careful. I would use the house basement as storage or stick a piece of equipment down there you do not use often. If you put lumber in there, run a dehumidifier. From my experience with insurance, I suspect those that work out of the basement do so without insurance companies knowing, but I could be wrong.