You will also need to check the slope of the interior shop floor. Take some small marbles and place them on the floor to see which way the floor slopes. This is important since you will be using lots of water. The water needs to be able to run in a location where it can be easily collected and recycled or disposed of. While slope is important, it is not critical to building selection. Drains and/or dams can be constructed to help move the water to its desired location. If this is the case, you need to make sure it is cleared with the landlord.
The building should have adequate water volume. Your saw will be using water at a rate of about 5 gal. a minute. Check to make sure there is enough water volume to the building.
A very important feature to look for in your building is the size of the overhead doors. The doors should be at the very least 12 ft. high. If the doors are smaller than 12 ft., then it will be extremely labor intensive trying to move full slabs in and out of the building. This can be a very time-consuming chore and will eat into your productivity. If youíre building your own facility, I would plan on 16-ft. high overhead doors.
BUILDING POWER REQUIREMENTS
The building must have three-phase power with an electrical service of at least 200 amps. This is very important since most of the large equipment, including your saw, router, air compressor and other equipment, all work on three-phase power.
If the landlord is not sure there is three-phase power, have an electrician check it out before you sign a lease. I have had realtors and landlords tell someone a building had three-phase power and it did not.
I would make sure this is put in the lease. If the building does not have three-phase power, then you may have to have the power company run it to the building. This can be very, very expensive. And if the building does not have existing three-phase power, I would look somewhere else. Donít even consider not having three-phase power. Equipment that runs on single-phase power is available, but this equipment is underpowered and will easily burn out with the rigors of stone fabrication.
Choosing the proper building can be a very trying chore, but it is extremely important for the smooth operation and growth of your business. In looking at a building image it in full production. Where will your saw be placed? Where will you store your finished product? A stone fabrication facility should flow like an assembly line.
Frederick M. Hueston is an internationally known consultant and the founder of Stone Forensics (stoneforensics.com). In addition to serving as the chief technical director for stone and tile pros (stoneandtilepros.com), Hueston hosts a radio show about stone and tile at thestoneandtileshow.com.