It didn’t take long to decide that the idea of a basement shop was problematic for a variety of reasons. Several alternatives were considered, but ultimately I designed and built a 24×36 building to house the shop. One priority was to be able to efficiently heat the shop against the Minnesota winters, so I opted to use ICF (insulated concrete form) construction with radiant floor heat. The 6 inches of reinforced concrete in the floor and walls provides for a good deal of thermal mass and a small electric boiler keeps the shop very comfortable. The resulting shop has about 515 sq. ft. working area, of which 265 is underneath a traveling crane; another 220 is provided for storage, mechanical, and small bathroom. A loft adds another 445 sq. ft.
The combination of windows, white floor & walls, and lots of lighting provide very good conditions for a variety of work. An area of challenge however is ventilation. The original exhaust fan was sufficient for welding but the addition of a small gas forge required a much larger fan. Blacksmith work in a tightly sealed environment is just plain silly: exhaust and makeup air are critical safety factors. Everything is a compromise with space not the least of it, but all things considered I am quite pleased with how the shop is shaping up.