Converting an old barn to a shop

Darren Wright

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So if we decide to move to the farm, I'm needing to look at shop options.

There is currently a 3 car detached garage, which will need work and clean-up. I could utilize it for a short time, but my wife does want a garage to park in too. :dunno: There is also space next to it for a new building, but I'll need to resolve some water issues for each due to the slope in the yard that puts water right in under those garage doors, nothing a little grading won't fix.
2020-07-04 20.37.13-1.jpg

Now this is a lot of work and I'm still trying to determine if there are any major issues with the structure that are too prohibitive to fix, but I'd like to turn the old dairy barn into a shop.
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It's over 100 years old, measures 30' x 30' x 35'. Her grandfather had put a new roof on it several years back and for the most part it's in good condition. It is timber frame, and fully sits upon a concrete foundation. My wife wants to save it, it's part of her childhood, so I've already been trying to figure out a plan for doing that. However, we're not looking to farm, so other than storing her xmas decorations what else are we going to do with it? :D

For the side walls we're looking to remove the barn wood and replace it with metal, close off the hay loft opening. She wants to put a big quilt pattern up in its place. I'm also looking to add some side windows for light, and add a garage door at each end of the barn, slightly recessed in. Currently the back lean-to has collapsed due to some storm damage and I'm working on removing it. At some point, I'll probably build another lean-to to cover the concrete pad (future saw mill home?), but also for a little shooting range out back.

The first floor is three bays, the left side and center sections are dirt floors, I'm planning to pour concrete in those two dirt areas. The right side has a raised floor with a drain trough down the middle. The second level hay loft floor is just above the opening in the front and open inside to the peak. It will mostly be storage, but may build out some rooms upstairs too.

For the outside walls, I'm looking to build wall structures in to the openings between the timbers, leaving the timbers exposed inside, but to insulate and add some additional structure too. I'm still trying to figure out the best way to insulate the first floor ceiling from the hay loft's plank floor above. I like the look of the planks, but way too many gaps to keep the rodents out of any insulation I may add up there. I guess I could stack hay bales tightly front to back covering the loft floor, they do have something like an R75 value. :)

Anyway, just throwing around ideas and looking for some. There would be some pluses to building a new shop next to the garage and saving some costs of running electrical and having running water, but kind of digging the idea of having the shop in the barn. Of course it all has to wait until her house project is complete too, that is another thread.
 

Ryan Mooney

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For the outside I'd probably look at the "Wrap and strap" method http://www.squarepegtimberjoinery.com/timber-frame-enclosure.html - or something very like it..

You'll probably want to look real close at the bottom of the support timbers. Pouring in a concrete floor also probably means digging it below grade to avoid trapping moisture around them as well..

On the upper floor I guess it depends on which way you like the look of the planks :D I'd either "just" (just :rofl: ) lay sheathing followed by blocking and insulation, subfloor, and a flooring material on top.. or if you like the look from above.. pull them and then put in sheathing. blocking, insulation, subfloor,... then put the plants back down as the flooring.

The other alternative is to stuff sheathing into the gaps, and then insulated below that... that's a lot of scribing and fitting though..
 

Darren Wright

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Well, as I mentioned, all the timbers are on concrete, about 1 1/2' high walls all around the outside, so no real digging to do, mostly add gravel and moisture barrier below the new slab and tie it in to the existing walls. I don't have this to scale, but took another design and moved things around to mimic it's structure. I'll get some better images and measurements on my next trip down later this month.
BarnStructure.PNG

You can see the first middle bent's top collar/purlin in this image.
barnbent.PNG

There is a Hardy Heater (Hydronic) at the house now that isn't being used. I'm considering moving it over to the barn (which is across the road) and using it for the main heat source. Since I have to pour the floor, it's a good opportunity to put radiant heat in it. I'll also plan for some forced air heat exchange and cooling.

I'm kind of liking the idea of doing a new subfloor upstairs, maybe leaving the planks down and putting sleepers over them with insulation below to help level things out and insulate between the levels. I'm also thinking about actually making the upstairs the woodshop. At first I didn't think I'd want to do the stairs hauling materials and tools up/down stairs and such. I had remembered seeing an article on another woodworkers shop where he had two levels. On the second level he built a foot bridge from a hill above over to enter to it for larger items. The old hay elevator is still on the east side of the barn and one end sits on the hill where there was a path to pull the hay wagon up to it. I'm thinking of building the foot bridge over from there to a new opening/double door in the upper level, then can just pull my truck/trailer around over there to bring in supplies and tools.
barnwalkbridge.PNG

As for the walls, I'm still leaning towards studded walls between the timbers, but sheathing on the outside to envelope the timbers behind it, using flashing and a house wrap over all the sheathing, then maybe purlins with metal siding over that. The studded walls would give me the wall space and studs for hanging cabinets I'd want inside, and add structure to the building. Since we'd not be replacing the roof, just using the existing, I'm thinking that covering all of the under side with house wrap and spraying with spray foam might be the best option. it won't look great, but would be light weight, air tight, and make it brighter in there.

For that up-most level, I don't think there are any collar ties between the taller posts. There may be an opportunity there to add another level in the center section there and a nice office space up in that loft, given the height of the peak.

To carry over some discussion from Glenn's thread about windows. I do see adding some to the outer walls on the front and side walls, at least on the upper half. There is a small creek to the west side that's nice to listen to as it babbles. I'm going to want to some air flow through the building also when it's nice, and add some egress for an emergency, but they may be small and will have to plan out their locations.

I also could see someone wanting to convert the barn into living space at some point when I'm done with it, so I may do some framing for windows, but just frame them closed to be cut out later. I'll most likely plan for drains and water in the future when pouring concrete, maybe just go ahead and stub it all in.
 

Ryan Mooney

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Having a drive / walk up entrance into the upstairs would imho be super useful regardless of the final layout. That's one thing I really like about al of of the old barn lofts where they built them against a hillside.

I kind of wonder if you could do a heat exchanger with some water from the spring flow to the in floor for summer cooling? I don't think you'd want to do direct flow because of the issues with bacterial growth.. but plumbing in a loop to an outside heat exchanger that some spring water flows over (thing a couple of radiators basically) would be pretty doable. Something pretty similar is used for a lot of datacenter cooling systems.

If you're looking at infill studs there are a bunch of articles on buildingscience.com about their "perfect wall" concept that might be helpful (linked the main ones below). I think the main change might be a breather layer under the cladding but cross check the idea. They have a lot of discussion on moisture control/flow anyway that I've found pretty interesting.

Careful with creating a hot roof problem, I'm not sure if that will be an issue but there may be some venting problems.



 

Darren Wright

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Careful with creating a hot roof problem, I'm not sure if that will be an issue but there may be some venting problems.
Yeah, that is a good point, may be different if there was also tyvek between the metal roof and purlins, above the joists. Could get moisture in there and rot the rafters I guess.
 

Ryan Mooney

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Yeah, that is a good point, may be different if there was also tyvek between the metal roof and purlins, above the joists. Could get moisture in there and rot the rafters I guess.

Yeah that would be concern 1, the other would be causing some issue with the roof overlay.. not sure with the metal if that's a real problem or not though.. I think the only thing might be popping screws/nails.

In an ideal world the metal sheathing would be stood off from the trusses / sheathing with an air gap then I think you'd be mostly ok. Although I'd probably still want a secondary moisture barrier over the sheathing.

Back to building science they have some stuff on unvented roofs and things to watch for. I'm on the edge of understanding some of it sort of :)

 

Chuck Ellis

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Being a lousy carpenter I can't give you any pointers on the barn, although I do like the looks of it.

There's an old tobacco barn across the road from my house that I wished I could have had as a shop...
 

Brent Dowell

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Probably need to do a little financial analysis and see what the difference would be in building a shop from scratch versus renovating the barn. The barn is cool, but if it's going to take more work and money to make it work, might be easier to build something from scratch.
 

Darren Wright

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Probably need to do a little financial analysis and see what the difference would be in building a shop from scratch versus renovating the barn. The barn is cool, but if it's going to take more work and money to make it work, might be easier to build something from scratch.
Even if SWMBO says, "I want to save the barn"? ;) No, I'm with you, but the woodworker in me also really wants a timber framed shop too. :D
 

Don Baer

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Now if I were to have the opportunity to do this project I would use the ground floor for the shop, (Machinery is heavy) middle story for storage and the upper storage I might make into some sort of a guest house. I would use the small building on the for for my office. The lean to on the back I would take down or like you said make into a saw mill.
 

Rennie Heuer

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I would use the ground floor for the shop, (Machinery is heavy) middle story for storage and the upper storage I might make into some sort of a guest house. I would use the small building on the for for my office.
Ditto.

Machines are heavy and I would keep them on the ground (concrete) floor. Upstairs would make great storage space for lumber, larger jigs, anything that does not require strict climate control. Keep the office on the same level as the shop. I always thought it would be nice to have the office up a level, away from the dust, but now realizing I run to the computer a couple dozen times a day to check plan dimensions, order supplies, check the forum, etc., I am glad I never had the opportunity to take my own bad advice.

Third floor guest quarters - cool idea, if you were planning on running plumbing to the barn. Don't know about code requirements. Might hurt the exterior esthetics to have emergency exit stairs running down 3 stories.

This is a cool project! :lurk:
 

Darren Wright

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Probably need to do a little financial analysis and see what the difference would be in building a shop from scratch versus renovating the barn. The barn is cool, but if it's going to take more work and money to make it work, might be easier to build something from scratch.
The metal siding, trim, and purlins came out to about $3,000, another $200 for house wrap. The lumber for the walls themselves is $1500, and osb is $1600. I'm just trying to decide if I really need to do the exterior OSB. or just house wrap under the metal, over the purlins, and spray foam the cavities. Mostly I was looking to keep the mice out, but I've done that with blocking and spray foaming any gaps on my current shop successfully. But in the end, it's $1,600, might as well only cry once and add some structure to the building. In the end I'm hoping to be south of $10k if I do most of the work.

Don't know about code requirements. Might hurt the exterior esthetics to have emergency exit stairs running down 3 stories.

I'm not sure there are many code requirements enforced out there, but was thinking a cool spiral slide might be fun. :D

I do agree with you all about doing the first floor as the shop for now and storage upstairs. If we ever replace the roof again, we could add some insulating blankets under it at that time or the house wrap and spray foam it then, and just use the upstairs for storage for now.
 

Don Baer

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maybe instead of the OSB something like this for sheeting the exterior wall. Out here that's all they use under the stucco...https://www.homedepot.com/p/R-Tech-1-in-x-4-ft-x-8-ft-R-3-85-Insulating-Sheathing-320821/202532854?source=shoppingads&locale=en-US&mtc=Shopping-B-F_D22-G-D22-22_4_INSULATION-Generic-NA-Feed-LIA-NA-NA-&cm_mmc=Shopping-B-F_D22-G-D22-22_4_INSULATION-Generic-NA-Feed-LIA-NA-NA--71700000044087233-58700004607994983-92700038798652228&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIvMDCr4vv7AIVpB-tBh1e1AcEEAUYAiABEgJ_xfD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds
 

Darren Wright

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I spent a bit of time over at the barn today, there's about 70 years of "stuff" that needs to be cleared out. Found that several of the lower timbers will need the bottom few inches replaced. I'm leaning towards just replacing the sills with treated lumber. I'd probably jack up to level, shore in sections, and replace the sills in sections to cut out/replace the rotted areas. There are also a half dozen floor joist on the west side that need to be replaced or sistered up as they are starting to bow downward and crack.
2020-11-21 13.25.55.jpg

The hay trolley is still intact up at the peak.
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Some other structure pics...
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The outside wall construction wasn't as open between timbers as I had recalled. I'm trying to decide how I can preserve the look of this and still add framing and insulation. framing outside the structure, or doing sips comes to mind, but probably not practical or cheap.
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fred hargis

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"The outside wall construction wasn't as open between timbers as I had recalled. I'm trying to decide how I can preserve the look of this and still add framing and insulation. framing outside the structure, or doing sips comes to mind, but probably not practical or cheap."

The cool factor of having walls like that would be worth some extra spending, IMHO. That is about as neat as anything I've seen!
 

steve ramsey

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Lucky you. I would be chomping at the bit to tear into that. I am assuming you are going to reside & have a wood finish on the inside. A couple of thoughts:

Fur out from the existing framing.
Notch the furring around the existing framing so the wood finish is flush to the inside face of the braces.
If that moves the outside face of the barn out to far rip 2x6 down to 2 1/2 - 2 5/8.

Also I would consider a spray foam insulation.
 
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