Learn The Ins and Outs Of Indoors and Vertical Aquaponics! Part 8, The Last Part!
For parts 1 through 7 click these links:
Vertical Aquaponics, Part 8:
The CAD plans and commentary for a 9,500 square foot underground aquaponics farm with 18,000 square feet of trough area:
This is a big farm; if you’re going to build something this size, expect to spend between $1.8 and $2.7 million, depending on where you’re located in the USA, and who does the construction for you. The costs in the spreadsheet are for building the farm inside a leased space; if you’re also planning on buying an existing building, or buying land and constructing a building, it’s going to cost you that much more. But this farm can also bring in from $1-1.4 million gross income per year, if you do everything right. We charged a serious fee for designing this farm; so you’re getting an incredible value to be able to download the plans for free.
Things that aren’t immediately obvious from looking at the CAD plans:
1. “Economy Of Scale”: what this means is that if you build an indoor farm half the size of the one in the plans, it WON’T cost half as much. It’s more likely to cost 75% of the indoor farm that’s twice as big. It’s easy to understand why if you look at this example: building a car. A car has a certain number of parts, each of a certain complexity. But if you build a working car that’s half size, it STILL has exactly the same number of parts, each of the same complexity. The only difference is that they’re half as big; they still take the same amount of time to machine and assemble, which are your biggest costs! If you build a car one-quarter the size of a real one, the same applies; only now the parts are so small that this car might actually cost MORE to build, and now people REALLY won’t fit in it, which is the whole reason for a car in the first place, isn’t it?
The same applies to a farm: you still need troughs, fish tanks, pumps, sprouting tables, employee locker and break area, mop sink, processing area, fork lift, water heater, walkin refrigerator, office area, and so on. You have just as many “things”, and it will take nearly the same time to design, run the plans past the City Building Department, and build. Only you’ll spend a LOT more per square foot of grow area and per pound of vegetables the thing will put out, and you will be working harder for less money. And isn’t that the whole reason for having an indoor farm in the first place; to make a profit?
2. How big is your local market? This 9,500 square foot example produces an average of 300,000 pounds of vegetables per year. Can you sell that much in the area immediately around the farm, or transport it via refrigerated truck economically to a location where you can sell it?
3. Do you want to run this yourself, and train all your workers? I hope so, because there simply isn’t an existing labor pool of experienced aquaponics workers, especially not experienced indoor farm MANAGERS! You’ll 99% likely have to do this yourself. And you’ll find that trying to be an absentee indoor aquaponic farm owner is a sure recipe for financial disaster!
4. So you’ve answered Yes to #3: next you need to ask yourself how long you want to do this for. It will take 7-8 years at normal rates of amortization (paying off the loan or financing) to be in the clear on this farm. Maybe you’re making a profit at the end of year one, and you want to sell your valuable business. Who do you sell it to? Seriously! Aquaponics, and especially indoor aquaponics, is so NEW that it may be difficult to find someone to buy it. Such a person needs to understand the business, AND have the money to buy it. Such a person may be hard to find, or even impossible!