Building a Pole Barn Part 5

Welcome the last and final part about how I built a 12m x 5m barn for storing logs and implements on our small holding. It could also be used for sheep housing in winter. The project became more of a timber framed building than a pole barn; but you could easily adapt it and just put telegraph pole uprights straight into the ground (or concrete them in) if the land was suitable. The previous parts are here.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

I must reiterate my disclaimer; I am not a structural engineer or a builder so the whole project is more ‘belt and braces’ than calculations and you should not rely on my design or construction for your own building!

After finishing the frame in Part 4 I then spread some of the shale around that we had dug up when building the house extension to provide a firm floor. I would have liked concrete but it was just too expensive for this project.

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Spreading the shale with my hydraulic transport box on my Alpine Tractor

The next thing I did was build a single brick pier around the base of each column. This is to ensure that the columns cannot move laterally in any direction even if hit with a tractor and to provide a support to keep the bottom rail for the cladding off the ground. It also means that I can pour preservative or perhaps waste oil down between the brick and the wood every year or two to stop the base rotting! The columns are also on a piece of damp proof membrane for this reason as well. The photo below shows this.

Bricks around foot of Column

Bricks around foot of  each column to help stop lateral movement of column and support the cross rails for attaching vertical boarding.

Horizontal rails were fixed across between the columns and the vertical boarding nailed to these with approximately 20mm air gaps. The photo below shows the cross rails and the boarding nailed on the back. All the timber was supplied treated so no need for any preservative other than on the cut ends and joints.

rails

Note the cross rails to nail the boards to. The bottom one supported on a brick and the centre one by a vertical timber off the bottom rail.

All that was left to do was cut all the side boards to the correct height and fix them before fixing the end cover strip which is fixed over (and through the roofing sheets) and covers the top of the side timbers to give a nice clean finish.

Barn

The finished barn with one closed bay and two open bays.

We’ve always been keen that it would be hidden in the landscape as much as possible so deliberately set in the lowest spot and formed a soil bank in front of it. This will be planted to screen it from view..

Barn Landscaped

The barn is landscaped into the surroundings so that once we have planted the soil bank in front of it it will be almost completely hidden.

So there you have it our barn that we built entirely ourselves. Some people have asked about costings and this is of course a lot more than if we had used telegraph poles and second hand roofing sheets. But I estimate.

Clearing the site/digging footings      £100
Timber Frame                                    £700
Roofing Sheets                                  £700
Timer Boarding and support rails      £500
Nails/Screws/Sand/Cement etc        £150
Total                                                   £2150

That’s it; I may put some light field gates on the openings to keep the sheep out (or in if I put them inside) and I may build a sheep handling area next to it.

So that could be another project!

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Building a Pole Barn Part 4

The fine spell of hot weather in July 2013 has meant that we can ‘crack on’ with getting the barn erected. Previous posts are here

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

At the end of part 3 John and Jonathan were leaning smugly against the frame having assembled it. After Jonathan went back home to Spain, I (John) carried on fixing the 75mm x 50mm purlins across the rafters. These are necessary to support and fix the roofing sheets. I decided to use simple corrugated steel sheets for the roof. These are not too expensive or too heavy and are easily fixed. As the shed is partly open condensation should not be too much of a problem in winter. The sheets can be bought as plain galvanised or painted or plastic coated with the price and durability increasing accordingly. I went for the latter (most expensive and most durable) in a slate grey colour.

John and Purlin

Here you can see the purlins that John is resting the ladder on. They are nailed to the rafters and also have galvanised straps at places for ‘a belt and braces’ approach to gusting wind!

Each sheet of corrugated steel is 1m wide when lapped with its neighbour and they can be bought in any length to cover the exact span (remembering to leave enough overhang for the gutter). In my case I am overlapping them a tad more to save cutting the last sheet. It is of course essential that the first sheet is positioned correctly or they will all start ‘running out’ of alignment.

shed2

John marks where to fix the sheets by hooking a line over the last fixing and along the centre of the purlin.

The position of the fixings can then be marked. The Tek screw fixing are self cutting but I found it easier to either drill a pilot hole or just bang a small nail through.

John marks where to fix the sheets

The sheets are fixed through the top of the corrugation, not the valley, to prevent leaks. The screws are self tapping but I found it easier to make a starter hole with a nail.

If you don’t carefully mark the line of the purlin you risk having a hole in your roof and nothing underneath to screw into!

The Tek screw has a rubber collar

The Tek screw has a rubber collar to prevent water ingress.

The screws should be tightened down until they are holding firmly but not crushing the corrugation. They can be capped of with plastic caps (a dab of silicone under the cap before putting them on is not a bad idea to stop them coming loose).

It is screwed into the purlin with an 8mm nut driver on an electric drill

It is screwed into the purlin with an 8mm nut driver on an electric drill

Here you can see the fixed roof with another sheet waiting to be fixed.

Here you can see the fixed roof with another sheet waiting to be fixed as I work my way across the roof.

So the roof will soon be finished and then I only have to fix the side cladding boards and do a bit of tidying up etc which I hope to show in the last part.

Go to Part 5 (the finished barn!)

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Building a Pole Barn Part 3

If you missed Parts 1 and 2 you can find them here
Part 1
Part 2

The foundations  were finished around July 2012. Each pier has a galvanised anchor strap set in it an the columns will be secured to these.The foundations are finished

The foundations were finished in around July 2012

Unfortunately everything then went on hold due to a combination of the wet weather and us starting the building work on the house. I found a local sawmill here in Carmarthenshire and Rocco at Talley sawmills sourced some larch and cut it to my specifications. Rocco is definitely a ‘character’ and not necessarily the fastest but he found, cut and treated all the timber for me for a very reasonable price. So I’d definitely suggest that you ‘sound out’ your local saw mill for a project like this.

In essence I am using 200mm x 200mm upright columns each with a cut in one end to accept 200mm x 100mm cross beams; these will be bolted together. Then rafters will span across the barn and these are  200mm x 100mm above each column with (2) 200mm x 50mm rafters in each bay.The latter will be secured by upside down joist hangers. Each column will rest on the concrete pads with a d.p.m. and be secured to the galvanised straps in the concrete base.

Sounds complicated but should become obvious from the photos.

It was several weeks before the timber was delivered and things gradually ‘slipped’ so it was not until June 2013 when Jonathan, our son, came home again and he was press ganged into helping with some of the heavy lifting that we started the build. When we first erected the columns we decided that the barn was just going to be too tall. It would be fine on a working farm; but would be too visible in the landscape. So with the help of a chainsaw I reduced the columns to a height that gave sufficient access for a tractor but that was not too high so as to be visible from the house and from the other side of the valley.

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After Erecting the 200mm x 200mm Columns the 200mm x 100mm cross beams are drilled and bolted in place.

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Then the Rafters are Placed Across the Span

Getting the first cross pieces into place was a tad tricky as nothing was really secured and it was all a bit wobbly! But after we started to drill and bolt the joints the frame started to become more rigid. We then had to constantly check that columns were plumb and that distances were the same between openings etc. But after around two days work we had the basic frame in place. It still needs horizontal rails to board the external boarding to and needs some purlins/battens across the rafters to fix the roofing sheets to.

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The 200mm x 50mm Rafters are Put in Place First and Secured with Joist Hangers

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The barn frame takes shape; just the 4 thicker (100mm) and heavier rafters to be put in place; one above each column. Luckily a friend dropped by at just the right moment to help with the lifting!

We also found that it needed some triangular braces between horizontal beams and columns to increase its stability.So these were duly added and treated with preservative.

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Cross bracing and detail showing bolts and joist hangers

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The Finished frame for the barn; now you can see why we didn’t want it to stand out in the landscape. The excess soil heaps will be landscaped and planted to form a screen. It is really important to us that it is not visually intrusive.

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John and Jonathan prove that it will not fall down by leaning on the finished frame!

But at least it is starting to look like a shed. The next post will show the roof and boarding, just as soon as I’ve sourced these! Whilst I don’t have prices for these yet I’m expecting the whole barn to cost around £1500 – £2000 which I don’t think is too bad for a 12m x 5m barn. It could be built for half of this by careful sourcing of things like second hand roofing sheets etc.

Disclaimer; I am not a structural engineer or a builder so the whole project is more ‘belt and braces’ than calculations and you should not rely on my design for your own building!

Go to part 4

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Building a Pole Barn Part 2

Following on from our first page about building our own barn we have started constructing the piers to support the upright timbers that will form the barn uprights. As previously described these footings have had to be a substantial depth in places to get down below the in-filled ground where we are building the barn.

New shuttering

The first job was to construct some shuttering. In this case I used the cheapest timber I could find (which turned out to be T&G pine cladding). This certainly wouldn’t be strong enough for professional use; but hopefully will last to build 8 piers.

I decided to construct the deepest pier first and will then cut the shuttering down as we progress to the smaller ones. So the shuttering was carefully placed in the first hole on the concrete pad, ensuring that the centre of the shuttering in the hole would be 4m from the next. The shuttering was then given extra support with some soil around the base and bits of wood wedged between it and the sides of the hole. Liz gave the inside of the timber a coating of Aldi’s cheapest cooking oil to help stop the shuttering sticking. I then proceeded to fill it with concrete. I put some steel mesh (that I had left over here) in the centre (ensuring 50mm concrete cover to ensure that it wouldn’t cause the concrete to spall if it rusts). As I filled the shutter with concrete I used a thin stick to ‘poker’ the concrete to remove air bubbles etc.

Concrete column

Concrete pier constructed off the concrete pads we put in the bottom of the hole first. The piers have steel reinforcement and a galvanised strap set in the top to anchor the wooden barn columns.

I set a small marker pin in the top in the exact centre to help with measuring to the other columns and also set a galvanised steel strap in the top of the column exactly 100mm from the centre. This strap should(!) be in the correct place to anchor the 200mm square timber uprights I’m looking to use for the barn columns.

After 48 hours I unscrewed the shuttering and removed it to leave an impressive concrete foundation column going down nearly 2m. I reckon this should be adequate for what is after all a rather large garden shed!

Setting Out

Once we had the first column in place we then started to set out the next one by stringing a centre line through the rest of the holes along the back of the shed.

By running a string line and measuring we were then able to position the shuttering for the next column. However, we also had to ensure that the top of the concrete would finish level with the first (i.e. we are now having to work in 3 dimensions). Lacking an expensive laser level I bought a cheap water level off Ebay for a few pounds and used this old fashioned technology to get the columns level. By putting the shuttering in upside down first I could measure how much to cut off the bottom before inverting it and repositioning and rechecking prior to concreting the second column. This process will be repeated until we have done all 8 columns.

Using a water level to determine the column levels

To show this clearly I am holding the level on the outside of the shuttering. The water level (coloured with a bit of food colouring) allows me to check that the top of the shuttering is exactly the same height as the first column.

Disclaimer; I am not a structural engineer or a builder so the whole project is more ‘belt and braces’ than calculations and you should not rely on my design for your own building!

Continue to Part 3

 

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Building a Pole Barn Part 1

One of our projects on the smallholding is to construct a barn for storing logs and implements etc. I’ve looked at commercial barns etc. and decided that in light of the cost (especially as we are planning to undertake some expensive changes to the house as well) we will build this ourselves. Disclaimer; I am not a structural engineer or a builder so the whole project is more ‘belt and braces’ than calculations and you should not rely on my design for your own building!

Originally I was was thinking about building a simple pole barn from old telegraph poles and I scoured the internet for plans. In actual fact there isn’t much available in the UK with most information being in the USA. In particular I came across the Barn Construction Resource Centre which had some nicely constructed barns. As a consequence I decided to go more down this route. Hopefully building something that looks a tad more pleasing to the eye. Hence why the title is about a pole barn but the structure is more of a ‘cut frame’. However, the same technique could be applied and could be simplified by just putting the poles straight into the ground. Not an option in my case because of the ‘landfilled ground’ where I am building it.

The first thing was to check the planning situation and to ensure that it would fall within permitted agricultural development. So the first job was to contact the local planning department and submit an ‘Application for Prior Notification of Proposed Agricultural Development’. For this you need to submit 4 copies of the application form, describing the size and type of the building, together with 4 copies of the plans showing the extent of your land and the location of the proposed building. You don’t need detailed plans of the building. The council then has 28 days to confirm that the proposal doesn’t need Planning Permission (or otherwise). In my case I got a letter after about 6 weeks saying that it was permitted development and that I didn’t need planning permission.

Although I knew roughly the size I was going to build the next stage was to come up with some more detailed construction plans. So using the American site above I roughed out some plans for a monopitch barn with an overhang on the front that would be about 12m long by 6m wide with 3 bays. As the plans are going to evolve as ‘I work things out’ I’ve put small copies of my initial thoughts here and hope to put better and bigger plans together with construction details as I progress. Hopefully I may by then have ironed out any snags if anyone else wants to have a go!

Barn Plans

The ‘rough idea’ of how things will look. I’ll add bigger more detailed plans at a later stage once I know things are going vaguely according to my ideas!

The land I am building this on was quite low and has been filled with rubble. As a consequence the soil is not ideal for foundations; so the plan is to level the top then dig eight holes down to firmer subsoil with an excavator. I will then pour a concrete pad at the bottom of each hole approx 150mm thick. Once this has cured I will form shuttering on top of the pad to pour concrete pillars that will finish approx 150mm or so above ground level. These concrete piers will have to all be perfectly level and in the correct place as the wood columns of the barn will then be built off these. This section of photo from one of the barns on the above site shows you the idea.

Concrete Piers for Barn

Concrete Piers for Barn. As these go down below the infill to solid ground the barn should remain stable. Once the land has settled for a few years the level can be made up with stone or even concrete.

So last weekend end a neighbour came over with his JCB and scraped the land level. We then carefully marked where the columns would be; checking it was square by ensuring that the diagonals were the same distance apart. We then dug out each hole; the back ones had to be quite deep to get down to solid ground. In fact the deepest are around 2m deep!

Barn Foundations

The land levelled, holes dug and concrete pads at the bottom of each hole. We will then construct concrete piers off each pad in exactly the right place for the barn uprights. I’ll probably put a bit of steel mesh (some lying around somewhere!) for extra reinforcement in these.

Then this weekend I hired a mixer and got a couple of tons of ‘all in’ sand and gravel delivered and, with the help of our son who was visiting us for Easter mixed, enough concrete to fill the bottom of each hole to a depth of at least 150mm. Before tipping the concrete in we jumped in and cleaned the loose fill out by hand ensuring a nice firm base for the concrete.

Jonathan

Jonathan gets to spend an exciting Easter in a hole when he visited his parents! The holes at the back are nearly 2m deep so dad got sent down those.

The next stage will be to shutter the concrete piers of these pads and concrete these. I’ll try and keep you posted as we go!

Mixing Concrete

John and Jonathan mix concrete. The container, in the background, is a recent arrival in preparation for storing materials when we do the building work on the house. Once that is done it will probably be moved to sit alongside the barn to provide secure storage.

Go to part 2 to learn more

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