First, don't get thinking you can't afford it. heard (and said) this many times. The tax advantage
is enormous. When I bought the first house, I went from $400 a month rent to $1700 a month.
the actual out of pocket expense after the tax advantage was like $25 a week I spent that
much on tools every week back then.
Make sure you and your wife agree on whats important, whats negotiable, and whats a nice to have.
Shop around. Learn the areas and what you want to live next to, and what you don't. I don't know
Ohio, but surely you have less than pleasant nieghborhoods. Speaking of that, be careful to ask
about homeowners associations. Most will frown on your hobby.
Look for backyard access if your in a suburb. Some lots have "zero lot lines" meaning the house
sits on the prop line on one side leaving an access on the other.
Big garage. Need I say more?
Check the power panel, does it have 220V available and at least 100 amp service?
If you decide to get a welder you will need it.
Is the laundry in the garage? you will lose that battle, as well as valuable garage space.
Get it bigger than you think you need, families have a habit of growing.
Negotiate, Don't be afraid to offer less. And remember, the RE agent works for YOU, don't
let them crowd you, Your the one with the money.
Don't be afraid to inspect the house closely, and don't be afraid to hire an inspector. You can
even make the sale contingent on that, and other stipulations. Have it checked for termites,
and have the roof inspected. These are 2 big problem areas, other than that a fixer-upper
can save you money if your handy that way. Hmmm, you probably have basements in your
area, uncommon in CA. I would suppose you need to check that out too.