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Legal requirements


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I’ve built myself a small workshop at the bottom of my garden where I have a gas forge and anvil, I only started 6 months ago so I’m doing small stuff. I’ve just received a letter from the local council saying someone has complained about this, stating this is a commercial building and commercial activities are being done. I’m just after a little advise regarding having a gas bottle and forge in a shed. Is this allowed ? It’s just a hobby and I’m no way selling anything I make.

thanks

stuart. 

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Welcome aboard. If you have not done so please go to the thread titled "READ THIS FIRST" and read it. It will give tips on the do's and dont's of the forum. 

Another thing that is encouraged is to put your general location in your header. Nothing specific. There are smiths here from all over the world and many may be close to you and willing to help. Another is for questions just like yours. The laws where i live will very from where others live. What my locality says is legal is different than what yours may be. 

Without knowing where you are or what the local laws are my best advice is to brush up on local laws and ordnances then go to the council and show that it is not a commercial operation. You may also want to brush up on building codes and show that it is all within the local codes. 

You may also want to let the neighbors know they are welcome to come and visit so they can see what you are doing and maybe even want to learn themselves. When they see it for themselves it may eliminate any worries they have over your activities. 

Anyway again welcome aboard, have fun and stay safe. 

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Does the regulation in your area permit one to purse an artistic activity?

You are [or learning to become] an artist blacksmith. You explore your art for art's sake. It is not watercolour, grant them that, but it is an artistic pursuit. Your building is a studio, not a "commercial building".

I would also check if you would be allowed to sell watercolours you would paint in that studio…

Good luck.

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I'm going to assume that you are in the UK since you refer to the "council" rather than the city or county which would be the local jurisdiction in the US.  I agree with the previous advice but you should look at the council's definition of "commercial activity" first.  It could be the common dictionary definition of doing something for profit in which case you could set up a blast furnace if you were just doing it for fun or your own use.  However, the definition might actually set out specific activities as "commercial" without regard to profit making.

You should always refer to yourself as a metal craftsman/hobbiest rather than a blacksmith and call your activity metal crafting rather than blacksmithing.  This sounds more benign.

Also, talk to your neighbors and cultivate them.  No complaints usually means no enforcement.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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Good grief!

Nothing like a nosy neighbor to make mountains out of mole hills,

it doesn’t sound like your running 5 power hammers 15 hrs a day in a full production shop, 

Saying someone is commercial because they have an anvil and a little propane forge in a shed is like saying 

hey that guy has a bbq grill on a patio he must be running a restaurant! 

or hey that guy owns a car he must be running a taxi service!

 :rolleyes:

 

 

 

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Don't assume the worst about the neighbor, they may be over reacting because of abuses in the past. By all means, you are an "Artist" rather than a blacksmith. Blacksmithing is just one technique you're learning. 

If it does turn out to be a kill joy neighbor with nothing better to do than run the neighborhood from behind the kitchen blinds and becomes a recurring complainant then you might consider filing against him/er for "Abuse of Process." No law enforcement or government agency likes being used as a weapon.

Just remember to try the friendly route first.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Yes try the friendly route first! :)

if that don’t work then build a ballista :angry:

lol, sorry don’t actually do that, 

if it was me I’d call down to who ever the local code enforcement person is an just ask how to properly store a propane bottle in a residential area, 

Next I’d make sure I’m complying with that code,

then I would politely invite anyone from the council to come visit my workshop to see that it is most definitely not a commercial operation, and that I was in full legal compliance with city code, after that they will probably just ignore any further complaints as a waste of time to look into, 

Now if all that still don’t work…. —}->…. Lol,

 

 

 

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I have had law enforcement and fire squad "forge buddies"  work with me at my hobby smithy;  makes a bit difference when someone   says they are going to call the authorities and the other person at the forge says "Yes, what seems to be the issue?"

When I lived in the city I actually had someone call the Fire Department on me multiple times; by sheer luck every time they wedged the fire truck down the narrow alleyway to my backyard I was using my smoker to cook food---an allowed use of fire in that City.  (I was told that the person who kept calling it in was told that there would be a US$1200 fine for filing a false alarm if it happened again...)

Of course I've been running my forge at a dead loss; not even breaking even.

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I can emphasize Frosty's comment about law enforcement and other agencies not wanting to be a club to hit a neighbor over the head.  Back in my County Attorney  days we often ran into this.  There were some folk who had a reputation of not playing well with others whose complaints about others did not have a lot of credibility.  I recall several who complained about a neighbor's junk and trash who were told that if we sent out an inspector that they couldn't help noticing how much similar accumulation was on the complaining party's property.  That often resulted in the withdrawal of the complaint. 

Also, we maintained very strict confidentiality about who filed a complaint to prevent retribution.  Very often, when we contacted someone about a problem the first thing they would say would be to ask, "Who complained?"  Sometimes, if pressed, we would say that it was a county employee driving past.

This is only my experience but I suspect it is pretty universal.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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I’m out in the middle of no where myself, around here I could build a two acre facility five stories tall with flashing light towers and nobody’s gonna notice or care why or what I’m doing in it, 

the only time the county commissioners, employees or law enforcement comes out here is when they want something fixed, 

 

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Thomas: That story always reminds me of the unpleasant neighbor that used to live down the hill from us. We raised pygmy goats and owned a livestock guardian dog when they moved in. LGDs regularly make the rounds and bark to announce they're on the job. The unpleasant one tended to get shrill and nasty, had a dirt work outfit clear about 40' across the line and we never did get all that land back. 

She was constantly calling complaining about Buran barking when he was usually talking to their dog Hershey. One night she calls and I pickup/hangup and she tries again at 3am and leaves a threatening message on the answering machine. Two days later Hershey and Buran are bouncing around barking and having a good old time at the doe pen fence. I walk out call him ad good dog he is he comes right to me, I load him in the car and take him home. 

When I get home the unpleasant neighbor's police officer husband is parked next to the barn and shouting for Hershey. I pulled up and told him I'd put Hershey in their yard, it's all good he hadn't bothered nor frightened the goats even. It's all good, he's a good boy. Officer (call him Dan) was falling all over himself apologizing and I reassured him it was all good, no harm no foul. 

He couldn't stop stuttering, he knew full well what a PITA his wife was etc. etc. I invited him in and let him listen to the answering machine tape. Not only did his wife threaten to have our dogs put down like there was a chance of that she opened the message claiming to be law enforcement. She drove a van for corrections. I suggested Officer Dan explain just how long she'd be employed by corrections if I played that for the director. Heck impersonating law enforcement is a felony.

She didn't call us again.

We DID however get a visit by animal control about a week later regarding a complaint that we were neglecting and abusing our livestock and dogs. The officer was very apologetic but they must investigate written complaints. One of many in fact. Well, not only were we cleared. Buran was a free feeder, we always kept food in his bucket and there were water buckets hanging from almost every fence. He had a barn full of fresh straw, little goats to protect and love on, LGD heaven. 

Also our latest rescue dog Abby was the poster child at the animal shelter for what a rescue dog can be. Abby was a born therapy dog and earned her service dog certificate in record time.

Not only did we not get in trouble, the PITA down the hill got ticketed and fined for filing false claims and abuse of process. It ran to something like $2,500 with the promise of jail time for further offenses.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Just another example that some people don't play well with others.  You often see them in rural areas as "end of the roaders."  Those are folks who gradually move to more and more remote places because they get along so poorly with other folk.  They often end up in states like AK, WY, or MT.

I used to occasionally encounter them in my geologist days in pretty remote areas.  They were often armed and it was wise to be carrying too, just to keep the interaction civilized.  I never had any kind of violent interaction but there was always a sense that was not that far below the surface.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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  • 2 weeks later...

We had that problem with folk moving to the country and expecting city level services and response times.  I was involved with coming up with a version of "The Code of the West" which told folk things like school bus routes got plowed first, slow moving farm machinery is often on county roads, emergency response times are much slower, and agriculture operations sometimes come with an odor, sometimes pretty strong.  We made sure that everyone coming into the county offices got one and we sent a copy out with everyone's property tax notice.

A friend, who was County Attorney in one of the Colorado mountain counties, told me about the woman who called the county and was hot because her road had not been plowed.  When asked what she expected when she bought property a mile past the sign that said "County winter maintenance ends here" she said that she thought the county would plow the road once she had built her place.  It's not just teens who feel entitled.

There is a legal concept that you can't complain if you "move to the nuisance."

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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There are some interesting twists to western "fence out" laws.  Most were written in the 19th century and the issue was livestock damaging crops.  So, the statutes put the burden on the farmers to fence out livestock to protect their crops rather than placing the liability on ranchers to keep control of their animals which was the English common law duty.  However, over the years and as situations have changed the courts have had to deal with situations other than just crop damage.  For example, in Colorado in about 1960, there was a case where someone's horse got out, traveled about a mile, and ended up kicking a neighbor boy who lost an eye.  The Colorado Supreme Court said the fence out statute only covered property damage and the horse owner was liable for the personal injury to the boy.

The moral is that a person having to deal with roaming animals needs to look up the actual statute and the cases construing it.  In Thomas' case, the NM statute may only refer to "livestock" and not to domestic pets. Or not.  And the county may or may not have regulations or ordinances regarding dogs at large which may only apply in residential areas and not rural areas.

And, of course, the statutes only deal with legal liability and who can sue who for what.  In practical life it may be easier to build a stout fence or wall rather than deal with a difficult, hostile, and maybe dangerous neighbor and the legal system.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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Not to mention that it is a "Livestock Guard Dog"  and they have way too much livestock on their lot...  OTOH he's offered to mill a set of dies for my 25# LG for the cost of the bit; so I'm trying to work out something that will work for both of us.

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Thomas, your county may or may not have animal density requirements which restrict the number of animals a person may have per acre.  OTOH you seem to have a semi-cordial relationship with him which you probably do not want to disturb, even if he is out of compliance with county land use regs.

GNM

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On 1/8/2022 at 6:44 PM, ThomasPowers said:

I have had law enforcement and fire squad "forge buddies"  work with me at my hobby smithy;  makes a bit difference when someone   says they are going to call the authorities and the other person at the forge says "Yes, what seems to be the issue?"

Coincidentally when I stopped by my local fire department to ask about the rules before setting up my smithy and to find out if I could forge in the local park. I discovered that the LT. is also a blacksmith. I've been to his shop and vice versa. 

Luckily I found out that my forge is basically considered to be no different than a barbecue grill and has the same regulations regarding it's operation.  The only thing that I had to worry about was noise. 

Pnut

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

I had a similar problem, the work I was doing and my shed were totally illegal as it was heavy industrial and the shed size, luckily the government changed the place I live in from residential to rural and then changed the rules on sheds that you didn't need a bulding permit, 

I am sure if its just a hobby there would be not much they could do?

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On 1/22/2022 at 6:54 PM, George N. M. said:

We had that problem with folk moving to the country and expecting city level services and response times.

There is a legal concept that you can't complain if you "move to the nuisance."

At one of my former residences, we lived well out in the county which was also a county including a large metro area.  We were some 20 miles from that metro and the nearest house to us was about 5 miles away.  There was also a shooting range and gun shop about that same distance away, nestled in the forest.  We could not hear a shot fired anytime.  Fast forward some 20+ years and that whole part of the county was solid subdivisions of homes, many of which completely surrounded the shooting range.  Every now and again, you would read about a lawsuit being filed against the owner of the shooting range for a myriad of "offenses".  Not one was successful.  On the flip side, many home builders were also sued for not disclosing to prospective buyers of the proximity of the shooting range!  Now, some 57 years later, the range is still open.

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One of the commoner problems we had to address was people wanting to build fairly near feed lots and dairies.  They are not too intrusive in the winter but in the summer the odor, flies, and dust can be pretty offensive.  We always required an new or expanded animal operation to have measures in place to mitigate the problems but we also had a set back distance (.25 or .5 mile) where you couldn't build a house except with permission of the county.  One of the main things we required for such a permit was an acknowledgement, in writing and recorded, that the owner knew there was a pre-existing animal operation nearby.  Sometimes we required the notice to be put in the deed to put any subsequent owner on notice.  My county commissioners were pretty protective of agriculture operations being protected from new comers. 

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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All this neighbor trouble makes me very happy to have the neighbors I have. When I started my blacksmith hobby my next door neighbor kept asking what equipment he could buy for me. It sure makes it easy when you work with your neighbors and treat them like family   

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Over the last year there has been an influx of city slickers movin out here in my area and there has been quite a few times these people have had a hard time “adjusting” to the way of life here and how things work lol,

I’ve had a few new comer’s bring machines by the shop expecting that I will be able to get to it same day!

And they get very disappointed when I point to the 50-60 machines in line ahead of them, 

also I push repairs for the rural fire departments, schools, county and city utilities departments ahead of residential repairs,

as I for one kinda like to know the fire departments water pumps are working! 
Lol

 

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