Makerspace Survey Results

By evan on Mar 18, 2016

I put together a survey and sent it to the HMS mailing list, reddit, linkedin, etc.

As of writing there are 81 responses, one of which is an obvious troll. The raw data is available here 

TL;DR: a space will never work for *everyone* but it can work for a lot of people.

Some key points:

  • Tech is far more popular than fine arts
  • 70% want there to be about 1000sqft, 80% want 1500sqft. The other 20% want more.
  • Dartmouth requires less people (~40) than Halifax or Burnside do to be sustainable (~53)
  • 70% of respondents have a car
  • 83% of respondents are over 22 years old (most students are <22)
  • There’s a clear willingness to pay extra for perks (like a locker)
  • People are interested in drop-in fees, like a gym
  • 9-5 Monday to Friday is not entirely necessary (and thus creates opportunities for shared space with business)
  • 20% of respondents want studio space, but want it at unsustainable rates.

The Actual Space

The first few questions were designed to find out what people wanted to use a space for, and how much space they think is needed. There’s a reason I didn’t specifically tie size to location, which I’ll get back to in a bit. What people think is needed and what is actually needed are two entirely different things. The former I can find out with a survey. The latter depends what people want to use it for.

Planned use
72% of 81 respondents want 3D printing and/or CNC. We’ll call that ‘Automated Making’ for lack of a better phrase.
65% want Soldering and Electronics.
58% want woodworking
44% Welding / Metalworking

on the other end of the scale,
17% want fine art and textiles,
8% want ‘other’, which a few included sewing.

How Often?
38% would use a space weekly,
33% biweekly,
23% monthly.

Just a few would use it daily.

Time of day
90.1% want access on the weekend during the day,
81.5% want access through the week in the evenings.

Compare that with
34.6% who want access 9-5 Monday to Friday.

This implies a business partnership or colocation could work.

Studio Space
One question that a board member had me add was ‘would you pay for studio space?’

21% of the 43 people that responded said yes. Of those, about half said what they would pay and for what, and answers varied wildly, but were around $0.50 to $1 per square foot (or about 5-10% of actual commercial rents)


50% of respondents would pay $10 a month for a locker;
16% would pay $20;
8.6% would expect one to be included.

43.2% of respondents would pay $25/month
33.3% would pay $50/month
6.2% would pay $100/month

Many of the write-in responses were $10/visit. Based on these numbers, and on the use numbers, tiered access is feasible. I would say modelling it after gym memberships isn’t a horrible idea.

Assuming people were charged exactly that; we can consider the average base income per person to be $41.90.


These questions were added early on and didn’t capture the first few respondents.

81.4% of respondents were male, 17.4% female, 1.4% were other.

Their age ranges are
15% 16-22,
55% 22-35,
28% 35-65%
0% 65+

This is entirely unsurprising as most of the 22-35 crowd are (statistically) living in apartments and have no space to work on projects or hobbies.

Only 10% of respondents have children that would participate. Of those, 7.5% are in elementary school.

50% of respondents have a university degree.
25% have a college or trades diploma
19.7% have some post secondary.



74% of respondents have a car.
18% of respondents rely on the bus.

The location was asked in the way ‘where are you willing to go?’

81% would travel to the peninsula
58% would travel to Dartmouth
53% would travel to Burnside.
49% would travel to Clayton Park
46% would travel to Bayers Lake

Sackville, Spryfield, and Cole Harbour are all around 20%.

It definitely seems to follow commute patterns, and is clustered. If someone will go to Cole harbour they’ll almost always go to Dartmouth, and if someone will go to Bayers lake they’ll almost always go to Clayton Park. People without cars generally choose the peninsula and Dartmouth. Nobody without a car chose Burnside.

Looking at only those who rely on transit, 65% are willing to go to Dartmouth.

I will admit, the data does show a measurable preference for the peninsula. Now the question is, is it feasible?

I’ll look at the numbers to break even on gross space costs here, suffice to say that’s only part of the story and doesn’t include internet, insurance, power, etc. This chart makes many assumptions but is a good starting point. It’s based on the number of people who *want* a makerspace, if 100 want one, and 19 of those wouldn’t go to halifax, I’m weighting the results by that percentage. As before, the average revenue per person was $41.90.

In short, it’s the bare minimum threshold at each size to have a viable makerspace.

500sqft / 5% 750sqft / 29% 1000sqft / 69% 1500sqft / 80% 2000sqft / 100%
Peninsula (~$22) 81% 916 / 27 people  1375 / 41 people  1833 / 54 people  2750 / 81 people  3666 / 108 people
Dartmouth (~$15) 58%  625 / 25 people  937 / 30 people  1250 / 41 people  1875 / 62 people  2500 / 82 people
Burnside (~$14) 53%  583 / 26 people  875 / 40 people  1167 / 52 people  1750 / 79 people  2333 / 105 people


Interestingly enough, even after weighting for ‘who would go there’, Dartmouth is feasible with less numbers.

Now, no one wanted a 500sqft or a 750sqft makerspace. Based on the intended usage; 1000sqft is probably fine and more is better as it grows.

Based on these numbers, the same space would need 80% as many people to be sustainable in Dartmouth as it would on the peninsula or Burnside. Realistically, many of those that are willing to travel to Burnside are probably also willing to go to north end Dartmouth, especially along windmill and near the new bridge. To be fair, Halifax Peninsula is more desirable, but only really once we’re over about 80 paying members and only if a perfect spot were to come up, with parking for the 75% with cars, and substantial floor space.



The other part of this survey was about retail sales, looking at what people would be willing to spend on components / as markup.

Having quality parts nearby was more important than price, and in fact people are willing to accept a reasonable markup from as high as 100% on smaller items to 25% on more expensive items. There is definitely an opportunity for a space to derive revenue from component and supplies sales. 94% of people were willing to go pick up parts, be it at a makerspace or elsewhere. More people buy things locally than order overseas, and nearly as much as ordering domestically. 23% of people do mail order purchases.

A question that *should* have been asked, “how much do you generally spend on components and raw materials each month” unfortunately wasn’t, so I can’t derive an estimated revenue.

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