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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys, this year if am hoping to go pro!! I want to ask you a few questions and pick your brains.

1. How much can I expect to pay for a smaller building (blockbuster size)? How about to rent that same building per month?

2. Who do I contact about getting permits and licenses? How about information regarding pathway size, distance to fire extinguishers, and egress?

3. What can I expect to pay in total buildout? Lumber, hardware, wiring, etc.

4. Anything else I could possibly need to know before making the leap.

I appreciate any and all information ahead of time. I'm just looking to get an idea of a few items here. Doing some research

Thanks
 

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Hey guys, this year if am hoping to go pro!! I want to ask you a few questions and pick your brains.

1. How much can I expect to pay for a smaller building (blockbuster size)? How about to rent that same building per month?
Varies FAR too widely by location to help you, I'm afraid. Check around locally.

2. Who do I contact about getting permits and licenses? How about information regarding pathway size, distance to fire extinguishers, and egress?
You're going to want to talk to your insurance first, see how much you're going to need there. Then the county offices about the other licenses. The fire marshall is generally the one to do the inspections, but this can vary, your county offices will know who to contact. While I could give you info about Utah code, it might not be the same in Nebraska. Best just go to the source and ask these questions directly.

3. What can I expect to pay in total buildout? Lumber, hardware, wiring, etc.
Again, it varies wildly buy location and situation. How many sq ft, how many walls, what kind of props need power, and how much, etc.

You're likely going to need a blueprint to turn in to the inspector prior to building, so factor that in, it's often better to hire that out if you don't know/aren't trained to do a professional job of that part. The blueprint will also give you a good starting place to get an idea just how much of everything you're going to need.
 

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1st off get your self to Transworld, the holly grail of Halloween Shows, I've never gone, but there are a lot of you-tube videos from HF members and others.
2nd check out other sites, there is a very good pro forum, that some HF members are also members of, should also be a great resource.. Search both here and other sites, "going pro" a lot of opinions about going pro are out there.
3rd from what the pro's say, you are right on the verge of not having enough time for 2015, get moving!
 

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I think unorthodox covered the basics, but just a couple of ad ons.
I ran a pro haunt in California and i'm sure the safety codes here are a lot more strict here then Nebraska.

1) Try not rent to a building and look localy to see if you can't operate on open land, and FYI if it doesn't have a roof, it doesn't count as a structure.

2) Insurence.....Insurence.......Insurence.....Many people make this mistake and don't think about insurence for events, but yes you do need it.

3) Lumber, and building materials will cost a lot but, if you make deals with local small lumber hards or hardware store's in exchange for ad space at you haunt you might be able to pick material up at a huge discount (provided you plan to build it yourself).

4) try your best not to hire a contractor, they get expensive on special items stuff like sets.

5) Make sure you get all required permits and have the county code inspector walk through before you open you doors. If there's any problems you can fix them (the county code fines are very expensive$$$)

Last, what ever you plan on spending on your haunt, be prepared to spend 3 times as much, and don't do it if you can't afford to lose the money, this is a hard business to break into full time and alot of the pro's are 1 hit wonders because they often lose money because the newer ones aren't as well advertised as the big dogs.

Good Luck, i hope everything works out for you.
 

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What Hump?
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If you can get to Baton Rouge next weekend, Leonard Pickel (Google him) is presenting an all-day course on "How to start your first haunted attraction- without losing an arm and a leg" at HauntCon.
There is a registration fee for the convention, a fee for the course, and you'll have to get yourself there.
Like any business, it takes a bunch of money to start up.
 

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First, GO BIG RED!!

Here's an email from a friend who is getting out of the Pro Haunt. The stuff in orange are my changes:

After much thought and a career change that no longer leaves me the time to run a professional haunt, I have decided to sell my haunt. Most of you know what my haunt consists of. Over five hundred walls that bolt together and have a trough for cables and electrical on the top. Coffins, the Last Ride, large tesla coil, fog machines, strobes, led light bars, video and audio equipment...you could equip a rock band with the amps, speakers and mixers I have, security video monitor system, complete graveyard with large crypt, 2 eight foot grim reapers, hidden door in bookcase wall, many antiques, freezer wall door, 3/8 inch cable-hundreds of feet of it, medical equipment, 24' claustrobic tunnel with fans, pneumatic train scene with horn and garage door opener, pneumatic coffin slides, complete mad scientist room, asylum paraphernalia, costumes, masks, autopsy body, and so much more. Sale price is fifty thousand. If you want walls, they are ten dollars each. These are heavy duty built with 2x4's sheathed in 1/2 inch particle board. If I have forgotten anything important please feel free to add to my posting. Here's the financials. I took out a business loan of fifty thousand, and liquidated my 401(k) for an initial investment of $100,000. Each year I reinvested much of the profit back into the haunt by buying additional equipment. As you know, my haunthas a good name in our state as a professional haunt. It's Facebook page has over 2,000 likes. You also get all intellectual property include in the domain name, which is a .com. Hard to come by nowadays. I will help the buyer negotiate a lease with the name of the Mall if you would like to use that again. I will help you the first year with my experience...no labor though


He put this haunt together in the basement garage of a local mall. Since he had to setup/tear down every year, I assume that you would need storage for everything too if you had a temp haunt. I know several people who run pro haunts and a dependable crew is the most difficult thing. Additionally, you have to get by the fire marshal. They had a big money haunt go up a locally a couple of years ago that lost their first Halloween because they couldn't get up to code in time... Once you go pro, it's no longer a hobby, it is a job and your friends become employees and you're more involved with management than building props and haunting. While we have a few pro haunts that have been around a while, I know of at least three people personally that went pro and shutdown a couple of years later for a variety of reasons, one was health, another lost their location, and the third changed careers.
 

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Scatterbrains makes a point that I've heard a lot from people who've gone pro:

It's no longer a hobby.
If you are passionate about Halloween and haunting, you may be disappointed that, when you go pro, you end up spending more time working ON your haunted house business that you get to spend working IN your haunted house.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Awesome info guys!! Keep it coming. As far as Transworld goes, I'm really trying to get my ducks in a row to get down there. Only about 6 hours away for me. Finding a hotel seems to be the hard part here.

Another question I had come up. As far as establishing myself as a "business" what do you recommend I do as far as name? I'm certain that "my scary haunt" isn't appropriate. Should I have a separate entity that covers all that? Ie: "Rich Christensen Productions." Also I am Omaha Metro Haunters on Facebook and Twitter, is that my name?

Thanks for all the five star info, like I said keep peppering me. I am noting all of this.
 

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Form an LLC for liability purposes (and business/tax purposes). That way, your personal assets are separate from your business assets if the business gets sued. You can name it whatever you like (with a few legal restrictions that you'll be made aware of when you go through the incorporation process).

Your haunted attraction name will probably be separate from you company/LLC name. Make sure your chosen haunt name is portable; not tied to one location.

My haunt name is an example of how NOT to do it. I've built up a very good following, locally, while using the name "Fright in Falcon".
What happens if I decide to go pro, and the only venue/location I can find is outside of Falcon, Colorado? The name won't make sense anywhere else, and If I change the name, how will my following know that this is the same haunt?

Best of luck. I love to see success stories.
 

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I find that I am very disappointed in the overall quality of the "Pro Haunts" in my area. The only thing I can recommend is "if it looks store bought", it doesn't look professional. If I can buy it at at a seasonal Halloween Store I don't think it belongs in a pro haunt 97% of the time.

I think our passion for Halloween, and the pride in our own personal displays often leaves us feeling as if we are good enough to create and have long term success as professionals but I think many of us overestimate what we do. Just because TOT's say we are the best house in the neighborhood it doesn't make us necessarily worthy of going pro.

Be confident you have what it takes and do it right if you proceed. Please don't go pro if you think a Gemmy Stirring witch is a good prop for a pro haunt.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Form an LLC for liability purposes (and business/tax purposes). That way, your personal assets are separate from your business assets if the business gets sued. You can name it whatever you like (with a few legal restrictions that you'll be made aware of when you go through the incorporation process).

Your haunted attraction name will probably be separate from you company/LLC name. Make sure your chosen haunt name is portable; not tied to one location.

My haunt name is an example of how NOT to do it. I've built up a very good following, locally, while using the name "Fright in Falcon".
What happens if I decide to go pro, and the only venue/location I can find is outside of Falcon, Colorado? The name won't make sense anywhere else, and If I change the name, how will my following know that this is the same haunt?

Best of luck. I love to see success stories.
Great tidbits here. Here's what my idea was: Start the business as "RC productions" or whatever. My haunt is probably going to be inLincoln, NE, the capital city. I like the name Star City Terror (please don't steal my name). Every year ideally I can have a new theme and name it like this: Star City Terror: Asylum, Manor, Carnival. Whatever. The idea is that as I grow I can change locations anywhere in Lincoln and still be Star City Terror
 

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I went pro this last season so I just did all of this. If you are willing to work on your haunt 40 to 60 hours a week until October you will be able to open this year.
You can only get answers to code and fire marshall questions from the city/county and the FM for your district. On the state fire marshalls website there is a down load as to the standard requirements. (I'm in Nebraska too)
You also need to speak to a lawyer asap. To establish an LLC, get waiver/consent forms for actors drawn up etc.
I agree with doto, once I moved from home haunter to pro haunter, many of my props were no longer up to the standard people expect from a pro haunt. If people are paying they expect to really get scared, my dancing pirate didn't cut it. :)
One last thought, if you love to be in costume and can't imagine not doing that, don't go pro. You can't manage dozens of actors, several thousand square feet, and hundreds of customers while being a character in costume. Someone told me that 2 years ago and it gave me pause but I knew I loved this stuff! :)
I hope this helps, and GO BIG RED!!
Jan/Grey Lady
 

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Found the fire marshal pdf. http://www.sfm.ne.gov/publications/pdf/hauntedHouse.pdf
I remembered something really important that you mentioned in your 1st post, in Nebraska, you don't need fire extinguishers as you are required to have a professionally installed sprinkler system and fire alarm system. This is true of most states.
If I can be of any help let me know,
Jan
 

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We are in Holdrege, south central, near Kearney.
Grey House Haunts, Is the name and we opened this past October. I have never worked so hard in my life but I have also never had anything so rewarding, it's wicked fun!!
I am truly willing to help if I can, we're too far apart to be competitors! :)
Jan
 

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Scary Visions and the Hauntworld forums have a lot of great advice for pro haunters. Even though some of the information is out of date, I recommend picking up the revised edition of How to Operate a Financially Successful Haunted House by Philip Morris and Dennis Phillips. It has a lot of great tips that I've yet to see anywhere else online. You can also find some information about getting free advertising from using royalty free music here.
 
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