There comes a time when everyone is starting that they outgrow their garage or they need to find that first garage to start business. Finding a workshop for fabrication or for use as contractor storage is a serious step in being a legitimate business.
The attached picture is a shop space leased out by a small contractor. Actually several small contractors have divided this space up. Let me give you a few tips on working out a situation for yourself like the one in the picture where everyone gets along and is happy.
First are your basic requirements…
#1) Find a space where you can be a long-term tenant but also where you can leave if it doesn’t suit you.
You will find very quickly that the space you rent will be filled with your “priceless” possessions. Moving them wouldn’t be an easy task especially if you were busy on a job. Find someone whom you trust to be around for a while. Hopefully the landlord asks for you to sign a long-term lease. This is a signal that the landlord has no interest in uprooting any time soon. However it’s also wise to tell the landlord you are a new business and that you would only like to sign a six month lease and go month to month after that. This way you can take off if things don’t work out.
#2 Find a space that is comfortable.
Don’t make the mistake of renting a garage with no restroom or coffee bar. Don’t rent a storage unit where you cannot spend time. This shop will be home and nest. You will spend long late night tinkering and many bored days waiting for a phone call. Having a restroom, sink and internet access is a must. If you think you will only be stopping by to work and can always run up the street for food or restroom you are only kidding yourself. Also security is going to be huge! Make sure you feel comfortable locking up your possessions there over night.
#3 Create a good lease agreement
Who pays for water or power? When can you come and go? Etc How is rent to be paid and is there a late penalty? Formalize everything and make sure it’s something both parties can stick too.
#4 It should probably be a commercial address
You may or may not know that many supply companies won’t deliver to a home address. A commercial address can save tons of time by allowing your suppliers to simply leave materials outside your rolling door during business hours.
How to find the space…
#1 The cheapest
Ask around. If you are really hard up I guarantee that there is a residential garage that someone is willing to rent in your area. Just make sure it meets the above criteria. These will be the cheapest because there is zero competition from other potential tenants.
#2 The best
The best method is from the picture above. This is a commercial condo strip of small warehouse units ranging in size from 2-5k square feet. I often notice that many of these people have tons of empty space that isn’t being advertised. Try asking looking around and asking people for some space for rent. This way you can get a commercial address, restroom and 220v power. But they may rent an area the size of 500 square feet which is really hard to find.
#3 When all else fails
Try Craigslist. Here you will find lots of spaces for rent but they will be asking retail prices and the sizes will be 1,000 square feet and up. This could break your budget or maybe its just right but its the open market and open market prices will be in effect.