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.”
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.
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”.
“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.”
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.
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.
Framing interior walls
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.
Finishing interior walls
In the kitchen area that will be mostly covered up with cabinets he used drywall.
He then used tongue and groove knotty pine siding on the rest of the walls.
He then used the same siding on the ceiling.
Last but not least
For the flooring Blake chose to go with tile for the kitchen and bathrooms and Laminate flooring for the living room, and everywhere else.
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.”
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.