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View Full Version : "Pro" Home Haunt?



Front Yard Fright
12-25-2008, 08:59 PM
Just wondering if any of you know of any home haunts that are "pro" and charge admission. I'm wondering if I could pull something like that off for my 09 season... Do any of you know what that would all include? Obviously insurance would become an issue, but would I have to talk to the city zoning official and stuff like that considering it's in my yard/garage?

stonegate
12-25-2008, 10:30 PM
Visit http://www.municode.com/Resources/OnlineLibrary.asp and see if your city's code is posted on line.

I would start with the city code first and if you can't find something specific, then contact your city secretary and explain your plan---they should direct you to who you would need to speak with in regards to requirements/permits and such.

Greg Chrise
12-25-2008, 11:49 PM
The word pro is still a grey area. It is more than charging to make a possible profit or to recover investment, it is also having registered locally and state wide, call it a license or a permit or a certificate having to do with sales tax collection per ticket and payment of same.

If you failed to get a permit, any fines are probably 5 times what you would have collected in sales tax and twice as much as the fee to register to begin with.

And if you look at the formation of any business, or operation or proprietorship, even a home business, the state requests or mandates you have an office where the records are kept with an entrance seperate from your private home and property. So that these records could be reviewed or seized for some reason. So this lends to zoning issues, only so many officials budgeted to operate a known zoning quotient.

Different states might require a business license, some amount of bonding in case the taxes collected or any other financial issue or responsibility is of question. And certain trades demand insurance, federal employment numbers and so on.

Now on the down low, if you were to for 6 nights out of the year invite 100 personal friends over, this might be a ruckus, an insight to create a disturbance or what ever rule one might want to make up or impose. You could charge everyone $10 a head for standing on your property and as long as it doesn't spill out onto the public streets or impeed access or where traffic would be allowed.

Everyone claims to be a tax payer and have property rights. They get on the phone and demand what ever from their city officials. Are you really contributing to the fund that makes their salaries? That would be sales tax, property tax classified to the specific type of zoning that matches a request.

A rural setting might still just be on the outskirts of town but, would not have the arguement as a tight residential neighbor hood where there is only 20 feet between each house.

I have traveled to advertised haunts held in a pole barn behind Grandpa's mobile home. I'm sure they must have spent loads on insurance and forming an LLC and that is why it was all black plastic, clear plastic and cardboard caves. At the time I was there they were in their 4th year and saw 4,000 people each year at $8 a pop. I'm sure they paid sales tax and had all the proper certificates. They must have. I'm sure I was just too entertained to see the sprinkler heads, the fire extinquishers, the heat detectors and apparently the amusement level wiring harness must have been "behind the scenes"

I'll bet there was a fire truck full of water and personel at the ready behind that building where I couldn't see it. I'm sure they passed a building inspection and toured the fire marshal through.

Oh God, maybe it wasn't really their grandpa? Maybe they were transcient hobos that come in seasonally and threaten to take grandpa's social security check? Off season you can have a crack house as long as it isn't the place you make the drugs and leave the doors front rear and side wide open so the sherriff can chase through any fugatives that might think they can hold up there.

Or you can try to fight the system and get part through the process where you give all the city officials your money and then they tell you, you can't do that. You can petition city hall to allow a zoning waiver for so many days or what ever rules your local area wants to make up.

It doesn't matter how pro you get there is always one more tax entity to satisfy. At some point you won't please everyone. At some point, so many people come and you are in the wrong somehow. So, everyone wanting to do the right thing gets into a facility that is properly insurable, can be approached for records keeping review and it is in the normal flow of paying the local officials to serve your building or facility.

Is your "city" incorporated or annexed to the services of a county or other city? When some official looking vehicle arrives, is it customary in your region to shoot over their heads and yell at them to get off of your property? Do they say they are sorry and leave when you do that? (West Virgnia has some wild towns)

was your father a lion taimer and your mother with the high wire act? Did they bring monkeys home for the winter? Do you have Tattoos? Can you play an instrument sufficient enough to put down a hat and feed yourself? Have you ever cleaned up Elephant poop? Does the family visit grandma by jumping on a freight train? Are you waiting for relatives to be released from prison?

Do you drive a pick up truck that has a bumper sticker that says "Outlaw"? Do you own a clown nose?

It's all up to you man, this is America.

Was that haunt I went to worth $8? I think it was somehow. How much it is going to be tolerated is entirely based on everyone attending being satisfied. Even if you risked the possibliity of serious injury or death by attending this event, was it fun. Was there an overlying sense of real bizarre humor and wit. I'll bet they used the money to make sure grandpa's property taxes got paid and so in a way, yes it was paying righteously for a resource being used. That make it a worthy cause.

The first parties we did we just for such a reason, to pay the property taxes on a commercial location for the host of the party. There is no reason your offerings can't have a similar goal. Just because you charge money doesn't instantly make you somehow any more liable than you already were.

Still, the location limits you to being a community event, a party, a gathering to help out a charity. It isn't in some forms any different than the functions of a po haunt except for the kind of property it is located on. Obviusly with limited facilities you aren't going to see 30,000 customers and rake in half a mill. Everything is relative to how low key your event really is. How truely satisfying it is to all involved. Usually it has to do with not being greedy and be willing to get recouped over many years rather than one last stand for retirement money.

This haunt I visited I will protect their identity but, they never needed to have the approval of some haunt industry to do this. To some degree there are many many halloween events out there matched by desperation are doing lots of the similar outlaw stuff. Property owners do what they have to do. I doubt they ever asked some actor from some Northern state what are the 28 things you have to do to be a proper haunt citizen. What could all be taken away from me? They just do it and have fun. Somehow it never seems to end up as a headline.

But, now here comes the next 28 posts that will say how I have an utter disregard for everything sacred, healthy and all about dental care. I will now put on my clown nose and watch the screen whip by.

UnDeRTaKer313
12-26-2008, 09:21 AM
well
proffesional to me dosent mean you charge admission or have your own building. It is what it is, you are professional if you handle your hanunt and represent your haunt in a professional business matter.

So there are my two cents.
you loose me on the codes and stuff. we ran into too many problem with our home haunt last year with the city. but only because we had a complaint from a neighbor who hates the world.. long story

and jim im not going to complain about what you said cause i dont have time to read that novel haaha

elowther
12-26-2008, 11:31 AM
I believe Castle Blood could be considered a pro home haunt just because it is held at his private residence.

http://www.castleblood.com/

SSP
12-27-2008, 02:47 PM
You can be professional in your craft, in your design, in the quality itself, but as far as opening a "professional" attraction... what Greg and stonegate said. To me, a professional haunt means commercial, which means it can't be at your place of residence for many reasons.

However, many industry professionals have the skill to create "pro" scares and props, set them up at their home and create a quality attraction (but can never go commercial). I know of a few people who are not running a pro attraction, but I'd rather visit their place than some of these "pro" haunts out there.

What is a haunted house anyway? Why do you do it? Are you doing it for the love of the scare, to give back to your community, or are you trying to start a business? I think most of the people in this industry can say that this is not the best choice for a lucrative business venture. The thrill and wonder of a large scale attraction is unbeatable, but when one person rests all that responsibility on his/her shoulders, the financial gain does not match the physical and mental strain to keep such an event above water.

If your home haunt is getting strained and all you want is some sort of return on your investments, there is nothing illegal and no harm with a donation box. (I think)

If you have something good, don't kill yourself... either try and get a bunch of people you trust on board with you to make the sacrifices necessary to go pro or become the best kept secret in your area. As more time passes I am losing more and more faith in this industry, every story I've heard about pro haunts has been one of sorrow and sacrifice...

scareshack
12-27-2008, 03:03 PM
You can be professional in your craft, in your design, in the quality itself, but as far as opening a "professional" attraction... what Greg and stonegate said. To me, a professional haunt means commercial, which means it can't be at your place of residence for many reasons.

However, many industry professionals have the skill to create "pro" scares and props, set them up at their home and create a quality attraction (but can never go commercial). I know of a few people who are not running a pro attraction, but I'd rather visit their place than some of these "pro" haunts out there.

What is a haunted house anyway? Why do you do it? Are you doing it for the love of the scare, to give back to your community, or are you trying to start a business? I think most of the people in this industry can say that this is not the best choice for a lucrative business venture. The thrill and wonder of a large scale attraction is unbeatable, but when one person rests all that responsibility on his/her shoulders, the financial gain does not match the physical and mental strain to keep such an event above water.

If your home haunt is getting strained and all you want is some sort of return on your investments, there is nothing illegal and no harm with a donation box. (I think)

If you have something good, don't kill yourself... either try and get a bunch of people you trust on board with you to make the sacrifices necessary to go pro or become the best kept secret in your area. As more time passes I am losing more and more faith in this industry, every story I've heard about pro haunts has been one of sorrow and sacrifice...

There is a few good points here!
I wont ramble.
-But read above...main key is "why do you do it?"
.
.
.

scareshack
12-27-2008, 03:19 PM
Zach, you gonna get a lot of comments in reguards to trying to run what some call a "pro" haunt at your home.
Like you said, INS is and will be one thing as well as a lot of other things you may have to deal with.
Listen to what others have gone through and then check with ur city/town.

It all depends on where you live.....Thats the sad truth....
but use all the info everyone gives you to protect yourself if you go that route.

Greg Chrise
12-27-2008, 06:24 PM
Yes you can be a pro if you get one bowling shirt wih your name on it. It is great that there are things like Transworld and the top 13 haunts entertaining serious numbers of customers. But, to get real the other 90 plus percent after all the bills are paid might make $1000 clear. Now if you actually were open for 40 hours this $25 per hour might sound great.

How great that is and wether you are having issues with terms like "Pro" might have a lot to do with what you do the rest of the year. If you have an $8 or $12 an hour job $25 per hour sounds good. If you have your own business, $25 per hour might be one of your lowest kinds of income and could actually be a drag on whether the rent gets paid. Enough so to question all the prep work required to do this. It still makes money mind you. Yes, some people do keep track of the prep time hours and realize it is a $2 an hour or less job. How pro is that? Does this mean all of a sudden you are going to start eating only rice to compete globally with a Chinese villages? No.

So if you can make $1000, what would it take to make $10,000. What would it take to make $50,000.

Frankly any business that can survive no matter how small the number of customers is working from a place that is completely paid for, not paying rent, not paying a mortgage, not having to repay an investor or partner for providing these resources. Your home is obviously something that is going to cost the same amount no matter what so it could be considered free.

Other haunters have gone to the other extreme and they are living in their commercial buildings despite whether that is allowed or not. Many larger haunts have secret apartments on the rafters to save on hotel rooms as they go from town to town to their several haunts in an old paid for pick up truck.

You can never tell though. Articles say this is how real millionares act. A dude with dirt on his work pants and bandaids on his fore arms my be wealthy and might not having to do anything.

The bottom line I think is, are you happy. Does what you do in your free time inspire you somehow. Is there someone telling you to be somewhere at 7AM everyday or can you make the same amount of money if you show up at 7 PM not even getting out of bed until noon. Do you have to bust your ass 8 hours a day and with the commute you have a 12 hour day or is it just next door and 5 hours will get it. Does what you do wipe you out so bad you have no other life beyond licking the wounds you inflicted upon yourself trying to make the man happy or is it a good kind of tired.

Still, to those that are chasing the rat race, happiness only comes to mabe lazy hobos instead of smart business people. People that are chasing the carrot seem to die on retirement day or way before that ring up far more than their amassed fortune in hospital bills.

To some being a pro or being wealthy come down to how may people did you really help or inspire. Did you change the community for the better. Did people walk away from you with skills or at least the confidence to master other things that they too would be able to feed themselves and others.

Spending hours everyday on this forum could be considered highly dysfunctional behavior. Or are you learning. Sometimes you learn the most by expressing what you know and getting feed back. It is so easy for someone sitting on momma's couch to define pro. All you need is a printed T-shirt with your own haunt name on it and to be really pro a brief case full of Transworld catalogs and a cell phone. Let's see that means I'm not a pro. I have other things in my brief case like titles and art work to grab in case of a fire. I never had T-shirts made. I have a cell phone but only once was it used to call some low life to tell him to come buy a ticket at the haunted house.

It is tough to admit that some times an activity is nothing more than an over active hobby. No matter how cool your bowling shirts are or how many other people act very interested with you at Transworld, the bottom line is that the truely successful haunts that aren't seeing 80,000 people are more like running away with the circus. Decades of running gypsy shows either proved a market will bear some known outcome or it doesn't. There is no magic dollar spending level that is going to make things happen if it isn't there. Would you still be happy with the lesser plan that doesn't have dental care?

Yes Castle Blood is a pro event on what would be near rural property. They have tons of stuff there, even have a TV show using the back drops of the haunt. Still the bottom line has been the achievement of a great community of people that help contribute to the event as opposed to black American Express Cards and driving Hummers. Still they are very much pros.

There is a level of calling as well. So many have lost their families and had to chose having a haunt instead. Not everyone wants to run away with the circus or be hauled away. They all want dental care. Even if you cultvate completely insane retarded people to be your family, at some point society will win and they will spout out that you should stop all this stupid stuff that is also probably somehow evil and think about having a condo somewhere and a retirement plan. Alas, if Paul Harvey has gotten to them while you were at work, you must have them leave the compound.

If your entire family DOES dig it, they might not make the transition to pro. This happens in so many businesses when the suppliers and employees are obviously walking out with sizable pay checks and you are left with $12 to feed many. The long term trial and tribulations of a commercial offering or, could you have it at your house for the next 20 years before society grows up around you.

Then what do you do. Rather than buying a property fo $30,000 and erecting a $100,000 building everyone seems to lease a building in the ghetto that isn't up to code. Obviously because they aren't willing to part with their humongous stacks of cash.

If you look at business theory, someone that wanted to net $1,000,000 at some point in the proceedings didn't start out with a $10 business plan. They go right after a million in backing to make THEIR million. And of course once they leave it all colapses but, they reached their goal. Or, you can make a million over the course of 20 years and spend every dime on other people's well fare. Some of these things aren't like the other. Which one is a pro. Which one is happier. Which one has had thousands come up to them and thank them and genuinely mean it.

A future millionare isn't going to spend 10 years experimenting with 800 customers. They are going to take over someone elses existing high through put location and make it better using other people's money.

Yes, those sitting on mama's couch are pro. They are already using other people's/parents overhead, other family members money for the haunt that never gets returned somehow and entertaining many people. Then trying to liquidate wall panels at $300 per wall to get the money back. This is all very professional. No permits were filed for as this is all part of the learning lesson of how to be an outlaw and what does it really take to stay out of trouble vs what can you get away with. Eventually at age 23 they have to pack their shit and venture out into the real world and they aren't so pro anymore. If somehow you are offended by this statement, put your parents on the Internet so I can yell at them about not supervising their children's Internet usage. You never know who or what your children are being influenced by. I met Jim Warfield on here and my life hasn't been the same since!

Maybe a pro knows where the dumpsters are that has the good muffins? Not around here.

Jim Warfield
12-27-2008, 07:48 PM
It was the glue on the goat-glue mask.
Pretty heady stuff.
Who phartted?

Frighteners Entertainment
12-28-2008, 06:33 PM
Thanks Jim...beer this time thru the nose....

I have to admit, beer is better than coffee, well depending on how many beers.

It was the glue on the goat-glue mask.
Pretty heady stuff.
Who phartted?