What should a shared man cave have?
February 20, 2013 12:42 PM   Subscribe

Inspired by this article I wonder how feasible it might be to start organizing a shared man cave for me and my suburban buddies. Most of us have no room to commandeer a room in our respective homes for such purposes. We get together 1-2 times per month to play poker and maybe 1-2 per month to watch a sporting event. Sometimes both at the same time. Since none of us are country club types (with country club money), this shared man cave idea might have some legs. Assuming a studio apt could be rented in a local apartment complex, what would you put in it? TV, cable, internet, bi-weekly cleaning, poker table all come to mind. What else? Also any logistical or legal considerations would be appreciated. Disclaimer: No need to banish the wives; they could use it for their get togethers, too. Just using the term "man cave" because it is familiar to most.
posted by teg4rvn to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (40 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
posted by primethyme at 12:43 PM on February 20, 2013 [5 favorites]

Definitely a nickname.
posted by sandmanwv at 12:48 PM on February 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

Pool table!
posted by zeri at 12:51 PM on February 20, 2013

Backgammon and video games. A leather couch with matching ottoman.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:52 PM on February 20, 2013

Dart board. Great soundproofing. Pool table. Quality surround sound. Grill cooktop on a gas stove.
posted by bfranklin at 12:53 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

A stripper pole of course.
posted by dfriedman at 12:55 PM on February 20, 2013

Gaming console.

Someone is going to have to rent the studio and be on the hook for the lease if the other 17 of you bail, so there is that.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:55 PM on February 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

Also any logistical or legal considerations would be appreciated.

Building-wide noise, occupancy, and parking restrictions would be a major factor, I'd imagine, even if your group is able to figure out lease and credit-check related hassles with a minimum of trouble.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 12:57 PM on February 20, 2013

As per the article, maid service.
posted by Flamingo at 12:58 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

In my suburban blue collar neighborhood, this is done in the garage complete with carpet, sofas, fridge, TVs, wet bar, and a pool table that winches up to the ceiling so one can pull the car back in after the party is over.

Monthly dues that cover beer and snax costs vs BYOB? Both have up and downsides.
A rota for resupply trips if you go without BYOB
Some kind of written agreement that covers responsibility for property-damaging party fouls

Also, you need a foosball table.
posted by jamaro at 1:00 PM on February 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

Love this idea! A bar. Dishwasher. Old school jukebox?

To DarlingBri's point above: Perhaps your group could form some kind of legal entity to sign the lease? So no one individual gets stuck with the consequences if anyone bails on the rent.
posted by deliciae at 1:01 PM on February 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Monthly dues in excess of the actual monthly operating costs split however many ways, so that there's a buffer when one or more people doesn't pay their dues.
posted by mollymayhem at 1:03 PM on February 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

AAAA!!!!! DUNGEONS AND DR*coughcoughcough* Sorry. Dungeons and Dragons shit. I would have a D&D pad with all the books, places to keep characters, personalized minis, all that shit. Hell to the yeah.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:25 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

if not maid service, then a seriously understood (probably written) agreement about when cleans what and when.
posted by tabubilgirl at 1:30 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

An acoustic guitar. A record player, speakers and headphones, and milk crates to hold vinyl. Beer fridge and wall-mounted bottle opener. At least two shot glasses, and two old-fashioned glasses.

And as per mrgood's man cave: Lysol disinfecting wipes, a plunger, and twenty year old music magazines in the bathroom.
posted by peagood at 1:31 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Probably also going to want to think about parking. And, something to facilitate the likelihood that somebody's going to need to crash the night occasionally.
posted by General Malaise at 1:33 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

About the pool table: unless it's a really big studio, you're not going to have room for this. A table needs a minimum of 5'-0" clear on all sides. That means if you put in a bar-sized table (which is smaller than a standard), you'll need 14'x18' of clear floor space.
posted by Specklet at 1:34 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Depending on your local laws you might put yourself on the wrong side of the law if you're both collecting dues and allowing gambling, even if you're not making a profit. You could decide you don't care about being strictly legal, but it would be good to know ahead of time.

How about a webcam setup (with password and shutter, natch) so you can quickly check if anyone's hanging out there without having to call/text around.
posted by ODiV at 1:39 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

Another thought might be to find an upscale apartment community. These typically have clubhouses or such and they can be rented. They'll have the big TV, the cable subscription, a pool table, a kitchen and furniture.

There will be plenty of parking and it will be clean.

Just a thought.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:39 PM on February 20, 2013

Lease agreements also likely have something to say about how an apartment is used, so be sure to read all the fine print.
posted by primethyme at 1:42 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I my friends and I did this we would have a slot hockey game. We would put in a huge flat screen (maybe two), get the xBox, have cable and wifi and if there were a dishwasher, we would get glasses and plates.

Lots of toilet paper and a plunger make sense too.

I would collect dues quarterly with each person putting down a deposit of a quarters worth of dues. No webcam. You do not want the skirts checking in while you are sitting on the couch eating pizza and scratching your balls.

You could also have a regular kids night to hang out with their dads watching a sporting event once a month. It would be great bonding and would go a long way to giving the ladies a night off.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:47 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

Call it a clubhouse so the wives don't feel alienated.

Great speakers, a turntable and record collection.

Great lighting.

A patio/outdoor area for the summer.

Pull out couch, sleeping bags and pillows for crashing.

Hardwood or tile floors for the inevitable spilled drinks.

Several instruments - guitars, keyboard, harmonica.

A hammock.
posted by amaire at 1:47 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also any logistical or legal considerations would be appreciated.

Just saw this part. If you want to have poker games keep in mind that depending on your region it may be illegal to even have poker games for money. Yeah, ridiculous I know. In most places cops won't care unless you are: 1. Advertising the game in public somewhere, including someplace like on Craigslist. 2. Charging for the event. Depending on your region it may be legal to charge an admission fee to buy drinks but not to take a cut of the pot, OR it may be illegal to do both. 3. Spending high dollar limits. Even if 1 and 2 aren't happening, if you are spending big cash the cops may notice and show up, especially if you're making a lot of noise late at night. Big money means people are buying in for more than $1000 at a time, so you're probably fine.

If you have regular poker nights, more than one person should be appointed to run the buy-in and payout at the end of the night as well. Remember, when it comes to home games: Less Money, Less Problems.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:50 PM on February 20, 2013

Also any logistical or legal considerations would be appreciated.

I'm going to rain on your parade and say that I would not want to be a neighbor of this studio apartment you plan on renting. There will be lots of people coming and going, taking up parking spaces, and possible noise during the parties. While it may be a party cave for you and your friends, the apartments in rest of the building are other people's homes 24-7. All of those things I listed are things that other renters would notify a landlord or the police about, and you don't want THEM to rain on your parade, so I would just keep that kind of stuff in mind when you scout locations. You don't want to sign a lease and lose your deposit because you violated something in the rental contract.
posted by NoraCharles at 2:03 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

OP here--

@NoraCharles We're all middle-aged fuddy-duddys. It would be an embarrassingly quiet mancave. Most of our poker nights end at 9:30 because we're all so tired. In fact, my primary concern for this man cave is lack of use, thus making the expense not worth it.
posted by teg4rvn at 2:11 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would not want to be your neighbor, either, and I think that this is a terrible idea. Sorry. At the very least, avoid any commitment beyond a month to month lease. But if you were my neighbors, I'd be super pissed and rat you out to the landlord.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 2:30 PM on February 20, 2013

It rules out a pool table, but what if you could build one of those Tiny Houses in one of your yards?

FWIW as long as you didn't make much noise it would not bother me at all to be your neighbour.
posted by tel3path at 2:36 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

I think this is a great idea. If you pay attention to the rules, I don't see why there would be any problems with the landlord or neighbors. Assuming all activities are over relatively early, even if you were rowdy it wouldn't be terribly disruptive. I would encourage carpooling or walking to ensure you're not taking advantage of any parking shortages.

One thing to worry about is one of your "fuddy-duddy" friends taking undue advantage of the space. Not just showing up all the time, but crashing there over a weekend. Or worse, getting in a fight with the spouse, and living there. It's the sort of thing that the guy normally wouldn't even consider, but boy no one's even at the Bat Cave right now.....so who does it hurt?

Also, let's talk money. Rent, sure (plus the security deposit). But there's electric, water, sewer, internet, cable, and gas (depending on where you live, assuming that the location does not include utilities). It may not be a lot, depending on how often it gets used, but these are all going to have to have a human with a check on the other side.

Plus furnishing. Excess stuff is a great idea; Jimmy's upgrading his sofa, so it's perfect for the clubhouse. But what about the TV? Does contributing stuff reduce the amount of money they pay per quarter? And what happens in a year, when you guys decide to disband? Go back to the contributor, or sold and money split?

Again, I think it's a great idea, but see about getting as much detail down in writing as you can. Solving problems before they become problems will do a lot towards your enjoyment of the place.
posted by China Grover at 2:44 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

What about a commercial space? I was part of a writer's group that rented a small storefront.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 2:51 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

I can personally attest that a lot of Masonic lodges (which are family friendly but only admit men as members) have these kinds of facilities (big TVs, couches, poker tables, pool tables) just sitting there gathering dust because people have fallen out of the habit of socializing. I would love to see a bunch of guys who are already friends join my lodge and actually use the place, rather than showing up for a meeting once or twice a month then going home. In my neck of the woods a lot of buildings get used maybe a couple of times a month and that's it.

Cost of membership varies from region to region and lodge to lodge, but it's probably quite a bit less than you'd expect. In many places annual dues are still less than you might pay monthly for a share of an apartment; dues have not kept up with inflation very well since the 1950's.

Caveats: There's a lot more to the Masons than hanging out and shooting pool at the lodge - the social aspect is a huge and important part of the fraternity, but it probably wouldn't go over well if you walked into a lodge and said "I want to join so I can use your pool table!" Mainstream lodges also have a totally vague but core requirement of belief in a supreme being, which may or may not be compatible with you or your friends. (That being said, it is not a religious institution.) Apart from the Masons there are the Elks, Moose, etc... I believe the Elks and Moose are co-ed, but it's worth poking around in your community to see what kinds of clubs there are.

Anyway, it was the first thing I thought of when I read your question, because it drives me crazy to see these buildings that used to be such social hubs going to waste. Feel free to memail me if the idea gets some gears turning but seems totally weird.
posted by usonian at 2:58 PM on February 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

1) pinball machine

2) second pinball machine

Also, you should replace any bumper pool table with a pinball machine.
posted by Room 641-A at 3:10 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

I don't care how fuddy-duddy-quiet you are, if there is someone living below the man-cave, you need rugs and soundproofing!!!

I have a petite woman living above me. Her (beautiful) shoes are incredibly noisy, and even without them, man, she can tromp!

Also, my across-the-hall neighbor is at this moment reminding me just how noisy coming and going is, due to the locks. Multiply this by several guys, and I would not be happy.
posted by jgirl at 3:24 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

1) pinball machine

This is a great way to make your neighbors hate you! What other loud stuff would you like in this prospective mancave? A slot machine, maybe?

Look, if you want a place to party (even if you're a bunch of old fuddy-duddies), do what people have done since forever and rent a cabin far away from other people. But if one of my neighbors had 4+ parties a month, I'd hate them. People clomping up and down the stairs, weird smells, guests taking up parking . . .

I am a young person who lives in a city on a busy street. I am used to noise. I am used to neighbors blasting music while they work on their cars in the afternoon. I can handle barking dogs, etc. But if you have more than one party per month and you're not living in a student ghetto, you are an asshole neighbor. And I would call the landlord to complain.

Also, my across-the-hall neighbor is at this moment reminding me just how noisy coming and going is, due to the locks. Multiply this by several guys, and I would not be happy.

OMG yes. Times a million.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 3:30 PM on February 20, 2013

usonian, the bit about the Masons was well-stated, but it kinda bummed me out a little, because I get the feeling those days are dimming. Am I wrong in the impression that the memberships of lodges have kind of calcified into rich old white Christian men's groups? I would love to be wrong, mind you. I'd love to enjoy, like my grandfather did, a lodge and clubhouse and a fraternal order of good-natured dudes to hang out with...
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:35 PM on February 20, 2013

I suggest doing what thousands of high school and college kids have done before you: arrange to rent a studio or suite with a mini kitchen at a hotel. You can invite a bunch of people over, there's room service, you don't have to clean up that much, no issues with parking, etc. They typically have a large screen TV and enough seating for 10 people or so. No risk with anyone holding the bag for a long term lease.
posted by HeyAllie at 3:36 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

You know it'd probably be cheaper to make friends with a nightclub or bar owner and just rent the space out as an event space or private party a couple times a month rather than maintaining it full time, especially if you'd be winding it down by 10 or so. It's actually not that expensive as long as you avoid the major holidays/occasions and trendy clubs.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 4:51 PM on February 20, 2013

Rather than a residential space, it might make sense to look at a small commercial space, like an office space over a store. The store will be closed at night, so noise and comings and goings won't be a problem.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 6:51 PM on February 20, 2013

I don't think this is a good idea because money complicates things. You risk damaging friendships when you enter a situation where you all owe each other money.

But to answer your question, here are some possible scenarios that you should probably plan for with your idea:

- John decides five months in that he can't afford his rent share anymore. Do all the remaining guys split his cost? This is awkward. Do you just stop hanging out with John altogether? What if you all agree that John can still come to the man cave anyway to save the friendship, but no longer has to pay? That could cause resentment from the other guys who budgeted better.

- Does everyone pay a flat fee? If there is a big difference in income levels between men, will the richer guys pay more?

- Since you are sharing with the ladies, is the fee per person or per household? The single men and women in the social circle might feel a little ripped off.

- Frank was sick last week and is on vacation next week. Hey, since he didn't hang out with the guys all month, can he get a break this time?

- Greg meets a great guy at work and invites him to play poker in the man cave this weekend. You all get along swimmingly. Okay, now who gets to have the awkward conversation of "time to pay up" (and when is this conversation appropriate)?

- Utilities. They have to be in somebody's name and affecting somebody's credit. That person has to be trusted to check the bill each month, alert everyone of the current month's balance in a timely manner, collect money, and pay the bill on time. I don't know, some people can't even handle their own bills, let alone extra for a hang out zone. And what is Frank send his check late? Does the utility guy have to cover his share upfront? Does he get any kind of discount on his fee for doing all this work? And what if utility guy has a hectic month with work and the baby and his wife and doesn't have time to do all this crap?

- You check your email tomorrow morning and Lisa sent everyone in "the club" an email saying her folks will be in town this weekend, and oh you don't mind if they stay in OUR spot because all the hotels will be booked, right? Thanks, guys! (If this situation isn't okay, how is it handled? Do you take a vote via email? What if Frank replies to all "Yeah, sounds fine!" without talking it over with the group? Now what?)

I can come up with some more logistics scenarios if you are really interested. My point is, this set-up has "BIG OL' MESS" written all over it. So many things can go wrong. And those things all involve money. People can get really nasty when money is involved.
posted by daisies at 7:14 PM on February 20, 2013 [4 favorites]

An acquaintance did something similar in a more focused way. He had a detacted single car garage he wasn't really using so he furnished it with a fridge, a couple tables, carpet, some assorted chairs and garbage cans/recycling bins (both of the latter are a must have in a group man cave). He would then rent it out on a nightly/daily basis to wargamers and role players. Single family home in an older neighbourhood. His house was on a corner lot so even though there would be half a dozen cars there at times we all parked either in the alley or on the side street so we were never taking up street parking in front of anyone's house.

This kind of arrangement would work well though I don't know if you could recover your costs. People would just need to pay a cover every time they used the space and one person could be responsible for paying the rent and utilities.

Also I'll second trying to find space in a commercial or light industrial location. Many of these places are deserted in the evenings meaning lots of parking and no hassle. My current employer has an office in a light industrial area and on those occasions when we get together after work for a beer there isn't ever a problem with making as much noise as we want (because a: no one is around and b: even if they were hey it's an industiral park) or parking 20+ vehicles even overnight. Also cleaning isn't much of a problem. The floor is concrete and we take out the trash as needed. Empties usually get donated to whomever's kid is having a bottle drive.
posted by Mitheral at 7:28 PM on February 20, 2013

I don't want to sidetrack too much here, but I think it's more or less on topic, insofar as it informs concerns a person looking for a surrogate mancave might have:
Am I wrong in the impression that the memberships of lodges have kind of calcified into rich old white Christian men's groups? I would love to be wrong, mind you. I'd love to enjoy, like my grandfather did, a lodge and clubhouse and a fraternal order of good-natured dudes to hang out with...
Long story short: it really depends on a given local lodge. In general, very few baby boomers joined these groups, which kind of left the older generation holding the bag, and led to the current assumption that they're for old people. I'll bow out with these links: Freemasons in Midst of Popularity, Membership Boom (L.A. Times) and How the Boston rock scene grew up, got real jobs, and became — Freemasons? (Boston Phoenix).
posted by usonian at 8:49 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

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