How One Man Built His Pole Barn House.

Milligan's Gander Hill Farm

Blake’s 30x56x14ft high wall pole barn house.

One of my readers Blake who commented on the post I did about pole barn house told me he had just finished his pole barn house and  he had put in a lot of things that I was planning to do. I wanted to see his place and emailed him to see if he wouldn’t mind sharing some pictures of his build and answering some questions on the building process. He said he was happy to answer any questions I might have and would send me lots of pictures of his place. I knew others who are thinking about building their own pole barn house would be interested in these too, so I convinced him to let me do a post about his project. In this post we will go over the entire building process of Blake’s house and get some questions answered so all of us will get a better understanding of what this all entails.

Blake’s house is built near the town of Many Louisiana by the Texas border in the middle of the state, and was built as a vacation home on a lake that Blake and his family use on the weekends and vacations. It is about a three-hour drive from his current home. Like most people who decide to build these types of homes he had a contractor build the outside and then he did all the rest of the work in his spare time. Blake said “it took two years and it was only on the weekends. I also did it cash only, so that dictated the speed of the build as well.”

Front porch of Blake's home.

Front porch of Blake’s home.

When asked I asked him what he did for a living? He said “I am an MRI Technologist. I practiced full-time for 15 years then managed to weezle my way into the executive/ownership side of a multi site medical imaging company.” He said he had  “Zero construction background, but have always been handy.” When asked how long did you plan your home build? ” I went thru several different options and pricing before deciding on a pole barn. I read a lot of post in the Garage Journal forum as well as others. Intensely planned for about 4 months before being completely confident” Blake said.

“I think this is one of the easiest and quickest methods of construction.  The most difficult part is constructing the shell, it must be square and plumb (no secret here) Blake said.” “I think someone with modest skills must research and must have (rent) the proper equipment or at least a tractor with a front end loader, forks, and an auger.”

Convincing his wife might have been the hardest part of the project. “The kids love the loft and spiral staircase. The wife was skeptical of the concept, but now thinks it is nicer than our main home and loves the rear deck, tongue and groove walls, solid granite counter tops in the kitchen, and old barn cypress cabinets (that are not yet complete)” Blake said.

The garage is 30×16 and the living area is 30×40

First Things First

The first thing Blake did was get a permit for the building and do a perk test for the septic system. To prep the site He had to remove 8 trees and three old stumps before bringing in 20 loads of a sand/clay mix for the “house pad”.

The poles were spaced 8ft apart on center and the part in the ground had a PVC sleeve over them so the post wouldn't rot.

The poles were spaced 8ft apart on center and the part in the ground had a Post Protector sleeve over them, that helps keep the post from rotting or getting eaten by termites. You can order your post sleeves here

“Poles are 4 feet into the ground. The soil is very compact clay and we did not use any concrete around the post.” Blake said. “Just a gravel base.”

Close up of the PVC sleeves and you can see were Blake used scissor trusses over the living area and regular trusses over the garage area. It still keeps the roof line the same on the outside.

Close up of the Post Protector sleeves and you can see where Blake used scissor trusses over the living area and regular trusses over the garage area. It still keeps the roof line the same on the outside. To get more information on Post Protector sleeves go here

He used a 2×6 treated base board and 2×6 girts two feet on center, then did the framing for the windows and doors. After the contractor finished the outside frame is when Blake took over. “I had done a rough plan of the plumbing before construction was started, but that changed a little when I started putting them in the dirt” Blake said.

Rough in Plumbing

Plan where your bathrooms and kitchen will go before construction starts.  You will need to know where your sinks, toilets, and washing machine will be so you know where to dig to put  your sewer line. Having your drain lines, toilet drain and vent stacks in place and sticking up and caped so no dirt or cement gets in them is a must before the concrete is poured.

I put a few 3/4″ electrical conduit 90’s in the exterior wall portion of the concrete pad for future electrical runs if I need them, had the dirt pad treated for termites before concrete, and used wire mesh in the fibercrete slab” Blake said. “I only used a plastic vapor barrier, no need to insulate under the slab this far down south.” Notice in the picture above the strings to show where Blake plans to put interior walls.

After the slab is poured

After the slab is poured

Framing interior walls

Milligan's Gander Hill Farm

Spray foam insulation really stops all air infiltration and really makes the pole barn house more energy-efficient.

After finishing the concrete pad Blake started framing the interior walls. He framed it as you would a regular stick built house. Another option for framing the outside walls would be the bookshelf method that uses even less lumber. After running all his electrical wiring he then had a contractor spray the foam insulation. “We had open cell spray foam sprayed directly to the metal siding (3″) and metal roof (4″) which makes for a very efficient building. The foam also cuts the noise from rain to levels of a shingle roof” Blake said. From here on out the building process is no different then building a regular home.

Sleeping Loft

Sleeping Loft

Finishing interior walls

Milligan's Gander Hill Farm

In the kitchen area that will be mostly covered up with cabinets he used drywall.

Having a good lighting plan before construction is started makes the whole project go much faster.

Having a good lighting plan  that includes knowing were all your lights, receptacles, and switches go before construction is started makes the whole project go much faster.

He then used tongue and groove knotty pine siding on the rest of the walls.

Milligans Gander Hill Farm

He then used the same siding on the ceiling.

Box beam to hide where the seem comes together on the ceiling.

Box beam to hide where the seam comes together on the ceiling

Last but not least

Milligan's Gander Hill Farm

For the flooring Blake chose to go with tile for the kitchen and bathrooms and Laminate flooring for the living room, and everywhere else.

spiril stair case.

He then put the spiral stair case for the sleeping loft in and trimmed the house out with knotty pine trim. Now all he has to do is finish up the kitchen cabinets, counter top and add appliances and he will be done.

“The cost of the whole thing will be right at 80K after I get the cabinet doors back from the cabinet maker. This came out less than my estimate of 90k when I first started” Blake said.

When I asked  him if there was a chance to do things over again what would you do different? he said “Of course I would have gone a little bigger! I also would have spent more time in the planning stage with the window and door placements. The poles dictated where a few of my windows and doors had to be placed, this never occurred to me during planning. I ended up having to cut one post for the kitchen window and using long 2×12’s above and below the cut connecting the adjacent poles to reduce any structural issues. I also had to move another post over by 1 foot in order to fit my large living room window (went from 8ft on center to 9ft between those two poles).   I had to actually leave one window out of the build in the living room area and had to choose sides of a pole that ended up right in the middle of my bedroom wall. These situations could have been accounted for if I had only realized it before hand and planned accordingly.”

Blakes ceiling fan

What a great example of pole barn house that is maintenance free, and that I think will stand the test of time. I want to thank Blake for sharing this with us. I hope you all have learned something on how to build a pole barn house, and are a little more confident to take on your own project, I know I am.   If you have any questions about the building process feel free to ask them here.

Blake has sent more pictures below of his home that some of you have requested.

z interior 002 z interior 003 z interior 004 z interior 005 z interior 006 z interior 007 z interior 008 z interior 009 z interior 010 z interior 011 z interior 012 z interior 013 2 z interior 014

About these ads

About Gordon Milligan

I am a conductor for a commuter railroad in Chicago IL, I have bought a 40 acre farm in South Central Iowa that I plan to retire to in 3 yrs. I want to raise and grow most of my own food using sustainible and organic methods. I have a blog that journals my journey to becoming a farmer.
This entry was posted in Pole Barn House. Bookmark the permalink.

53 Responses to How One Man Built His Pole Barn House.

  1. Bill says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this! We are planning to build a pole barn house in Oregon and can use all the help we can get! Looking for property right now. Would love to see more of Blake’s house. Especially the bathroom side. Is that window in the bathroom, or is there some other space there between the garage rollup door and the kitchen window? Since it’s not finished, has he gotten it inspected and permitted for occupancy yet? Just wondered if he hit any snags with permits/inspectors. Please keep us posted and updated on the progress. More pictures would be great!
    Bill

  2. I am glad it was helpful, Blake said he was going to his house this weekend and said he would be willing to take more pictures, so look for some of the bathrooms next week, if not before. As far as your other questions I will let Blake answer those.

  3. This is fabulous! I love the spiral staircase, too, and the knotty pine paneling.

    A tornado just destroyed the lake cabin (for picnics or camping only–no facilities or electricity) and dock at our guest house in AL. We’re thinking of replacing it with a pole barn structure with just a roof and a floor, leaving it open to the breezes. We’ll have to see if the insurance gives us enough to do that. We’ll definitely have a contractor do it, though, because my husband’s in school full time and starting an internship on top of it.

    Great job on the post!

    • Sorry to hear about your cabin on the lake Susan. I hope the insurance comes through for you. As you can see this type of structure makes a great cabin and are not that expensive to build.

  4. Jocelyn says:

    Love this! Thanks for sharing. No where near owning property to build but cant wait! Would love more pictures as well as they come along!

  5. steve says:

    Truly Fascinating article Gordon. Those Pole Barn Houses look lovely & are a World away from what we see here in Spain.

  6. Lisa Haber says:

    I love it! Bought property in Arkansas and want to build a pole barn . Can you tell me how many square feet this house is? Also how much per square feet to build?

    • Hi Lisa, thanks for checking out Blake’s house. The living space with the loft is about 1800 square feet. If you take in account the garage there is around 2200 square feet. He spent $80,000 to get it to this point, so divide price by the square foot and that gives you $36.36 per square foot. A conventional built home cost any where from 80 to 200 dollars a square foot to build. I am glad you asked that question, that is nice to know.

  7. Brenda says:

    Thanks for the pictures and information, this was very helpful in our planning process. This looks very similar to what we are hoping to build in central Minnesota. Was wondering if Blake put in any kind of heating or A/C? We are exploring radiant floor heat, but are interested in what others are doing for heating and cooling this type of building.

  8. Thanks for your comment Brenda, I don’t know what Blake is using for his heating or cooling, but I think your idea for radiant floor heating is a great and best idea for Pole barn homes. That is what I plan to use too when I build ours. Right now my plans are also to have a standard furnace and central air in my home too for the duck work for the cooling and to heat and cool the second floor on my pole barn house. I am also exploring other methods to see if there is something that might work better. I plan to start building in April of 2015, I will be doing posts about what I plan to do the closer I get to that date.

  9. Brent Gentry says:

    Hi Gordon,

    I am looking into doing this very same thing in South Louisiana (Hammond area). This has been very helpful. I really like the look of this home. I’m searching now for options on homeowners insurance. I have been told by several agents that they will not insure a home that is built in a metal sided building. Since Blake is also in Louisiana, I’m curious if he would share some of his experience in this area and provide an agent / company contact if possible.

    Thanks,
    Brent

    • Hi Brent, congratulations on deciding to do a pole barn house. When people were first starting to build these for homes it was hard to get homeowner insurance for them, but now that they have become more common there are some insurance companies that do offer coverage. I will email Blake and see if he will get back to us with the insurance company he uses.

      Good luck on your project,

      Gordon

      • Brent I got a hold of Blake and this is what he said about his insurance on his pole barn house.
        “I was able to get a policy from State Farm, I have everything else with State Farm (Autos, boat, my full time house) so they just added this one on. I started with a construction policy that converted to home owners once I supplied them with a copy of the certificate of occupancy”.

  10. Sheila White says:

    Great blog…we too are planning on building a pole barn to live in but then convert back to barn when we are no longer living. Recently bought a 11 acre farm in California with my son and family. We definantly need a barn on the property but since I don’t want to live in the house with my kids I am going to live in the barn. I really like the Great Western Barn style and plan to have two sheds on each side. One will cover our park model trailer ( that our country will not let us live in) and the other side will be a garage. Later the trailer side can be turned into horse stalls and the garage will house farm equipment. I so excited but alittle nervous about taking this on in my retirement years.

    • Hi Sheila, it sounds like it will be a nice project. I like the Great Western Barn style too. I say go for it and don’t be worried about taking it on in your retirement years. You can do it and once done, will be glad you did. I too feel some what nervous doing most of the work on our pole barn at age 60, but I think it will help keep me active.

  11. Seanb says:

    Question. Does the $80k cost of build include septic and well?

  12. Kathy Wigley says:

    We live in Southern Arkansas on 20 acres and have a 25′ x 25′ pole barn that came with the place. I have been wanting my own retreat and suggested to my husband that I could transform ours since it is still holding up. It’s been lived in before we bought this place but has a dirt floor and galvanized steel roof and siding. Surely I can pour the floor, put in windows and french doors (a must!). It is tall enough to have a loft maybe. Your site has inspired me!

  13. jake barnes says:

    I too am seriously considering building a pole barn home in northeast arkansas. I’ve built over 75 rental homes in past 20 years while operating a small cpa practice. I’m soon gonna be 68 but am wanting to build this for retirement living as energy efficient as possible with alternative methods of heating and cooling with considerations for frequent power outages due to weather. This site is super imformative and i will continue to follow. Thanks

    • Thanks Jake, I am glad you liked the site and are thinking about building a pole barn house. I hope to have a lot more information for you and others who are thinking about building these types of homes.

  14. Thelma says:

    Mr milligan. I want to build a ple house in pearl river, louisiana. Do you know anyone in that area that would do it for affordable price. Simple home i want for a vacation site.. I can do the inside work like painting, flooring, but i need the shell and electric and pumbing done

    • Hi Thelma, nice to hear you want to build a pole barn house. I don’t know any builders in Louisiana but Blake who built this pole barn house used a guy that built his shell. I don’t know how close you are to where this house was built but let me contact Blake and see if I can’t get the guys name for you.
      Keep checking back to see if I get that for you.

    • Here you go Thelma, Brian Mitchell Mitchell Builders, 337-249-6647. He also built one for Blake’s neighbor.

  15. Very nice, We also built a pole barn home. Our plans started out completely different. We built a30X40 garage. We then built a small apartment in one end of it to stay in while we built a new home. We got to thinking and didn’t want to have payments. So, little by little we turned our pole barn into a home. We built a 14X 40 addition onto the back and a small addition onto the front for a foyer. We aren’t completely finished yet but it is coming along. Its really nice not having payments. What we have is completely paid for! I can post pics if any one would like………..Karen from Arkansas…………..

    • I also wanted tot add that our house is big, 4 bedrooms, 2 bath, huge walk-in closet in master, large living room, dining room – kitchen combo, laundry room, office, and one car garage……………..

    • Hi Karen, thanks for stopping by my blog. That is great you have already built your pole barn house and have done it with out a mortgage. That’s what makes these types of home so attractive to prospective home owners. I would love to see pictures of your place and as you can see from Jocelyn comment, my readers would too. I could add them to this post or even do a new post about your place, up to you. Email me at gordonmilligan56@gmail.com

  16. Jocelyn says:

    Karen would love to see some of your pictures as well if you care to share! I like to live vicariously lol.

  17. Jeanie Purvis says:

    This is beautiful, been pricing metal buildings, would love a mini barn style w/loft like this but much smaller scale like 24×36 for me and my daughter, planning to do a lot of work myself. How has living in it been?

  18. Jeanie Purvis says:

    I would love to see Karen’s pictures too :)

  19. Sarah Lee says:

    I would love to see Karen’s pictures as I am in the planning stages of building a large pole barn home. (4 bedrooms, 2 bath, etc) Also, I am interested to know the approximate amount spent.

  20. collin says:

    This article is great! I have been planning a 40×60 horse barn with a 2nd story apartment spanning half the length for some time now, and have had a few concerns holding me back, but this article really reinforced my vision. A few questions I have..

    1. By spraying the foam insulation directly on the metal sheathing, there is no gap for ventilation/condensation etc to escape… have there been any problems? Is this common practice or just the most applicable installation method.

    2. What is the height on the 2nd floor loft? I am having to get pretty agressive 8/12 scissor trusses to span 40′ just to get enough living space. I assume your eave height is between 12-14 feet. Seeing your truss set up really looked simple, what are the specs?

    3. Did you work with a post frame/pole barn company to procure materials for the outside shell, or did contractor provide all materials?

    Thanks for the help, and appreciate the info.

    -Collin

  21. Todd Terrell says:

    We are building a pole barn house in Michigan and are wondering how you ran your water lines? Would appreciate any suggestions. Thanks

    • Hi Todd, I don’t know how Blake ran his water lines and I haven’t heard from him in awhile since I wrote the post about his house. I will be building my pole barn house next year, so I haven’t actually ran any for my house yet. But I do know how some people have done their water lines.
      The water line to the house from the rural water meter that the water company put in for my friend Tom who has a pole barn house is run to a shut off valve in the house. He then used Pex for all his water lines instead of copper. I know this answer is kind of broad but I hope it helps you.

  22. Joanna House says:

    As far as the article stating that the total cost was 80,000, does that include putting in the septic system, water lines, and electric? Or is that simply the construction of the outside and inside? I understand if you don’t know as I’ve noticed where you stated in the previous comment you have not talked to Blake in a while. Just trying to plan financially.

    • Hi Joanna, you are right I don’t know if that 80,000.00 included his septic and water and electric hookup or not. But now that I have been doing a lot of pricing for material for my own pole barn house I would say yes that price would include all of that. I am sure for the material and labor to erect his shell was probably only around 30,000.00 for that size home and he probably spent around 7,000.00 for his slab and between 8 to 10 thousand for his septic system. That brings the total around 47 thousand. I am sure he could do the rest for 33,000.00. Hope that helps and good luck on your project.

  23. Steve says:

    I was thinking of living in a pole barn that has a concrete floor poured already . No walls or any plumbing yet..Basic pole barn ..Just curious how hard it will be to plumb in a shower, sink, toilet and kitchen sink. plus a drain and water hook up for washer and dryer. Getting the water from the well to the inside of the building along with the sewer line going out to the future septic. How do you do this and take into consideration it gets to 30 below zero some nights in the dead of Wisconsin winters. Anyone? thank you for any help..

    • Hi Steve, thanks for your comment because I am sure others have thought about it. Your situation is not ideal because you would have been better off doing all of that before your slab is poured, but it is still doable.

      You can cut a trench in the concrete and dig out where your sewer and drain lines will go. It is done just like in a basement where they where added later. Its best if you can do it all in a straight line and in one wall, like where your kitchen sink is on one side of the wall and your washer and dryer and bathroom all runs along the same wall. It is very possible to do, You need to consult a plumber and to see what needs to be done.

  24. nat says:

    Thank you so much, great article!

  25. Steve says:

    Hello, I keep waffling around between a wood pole barn and a metal red iron framed barn with a hybrid wood frame (framed in between red iron sq 5.5″ tubing) and a modular home. My only real concern with the wood pole barn is rotting post. I wanted to use closed cell foam. Is his barn/house have any venting? My understanding is that with closed cell foam you do not need venting. How thick is his slab and does he have any footers or beams? Is the truss spacing 24″? On a side note, that looks like Toledo Bend. We have a place there.

  26. Dan says:

    Love your pole barn house. We plan to build one in spring on our farm in northern Alberta Canada. It’s great to view all the good pictures which gives us many ideas.
    Thanks Dan.

  27. Brady Sittner says:

    I live in nw oklahoma and we are getting ready to build a pole barn home 50 by 100 I’ve got a few quotes and just for the building no cement or garage door just the shell I was quoted 55k is that high or about average

    • Hi Brady, that is a big building, how high is it? My 30×40 two story is going to cost 30k without any cement or windows and doors so not knowing what all you got with that, things like overhang and how high, it still sounds like it is in the ballpark.

      • Brady Sittner says:

        It is going to be 12 ft high. We are using half 50 by 50 2500 sq ft for living area then 20 by 50 game room and then 30 by 50 garage

  28. I think its a great deal then, who did you go with?

  29. Bruce says:

    Gordon,
    What brand of spray foam did you use? Was is open cell or closed cell? I was told you could not spray foam directly onto the metal. Have you had any issues with the foam directly on the metal?
    Bruce

    • Hi Bruce, I have not built my pole barn house yet, but when I do I have heard closed cell foam is the way to go. I plan to spray it right on the metal.

      • Brady Sittner says:

        I was told to use a moisture barrier then spray foam and if u ever have to change a piece of metal u won’t have to worry about your spray foam being stuck on your metal

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s