Thursday, December 8, 2011

FrankenBarn, the 2011 Barn Raising Project

For years now my father's been complaining about his shortage of indoor parking spaces and workspaces. He's been converting all of his outbuildings (mostly disused 100-year-old chicken barns) into garages and putting up tents and lean-tos wherever he can hide them out of view from his house. Still, this isn't enough.

He's also been compulsively squirrelling away a respectable stockpile of heavy timbers and leftover lumber from wherever he can find it.  He's been finding leftover construction materials on Craigslist, rooting through recycled concrete forms at the used lumber yard, and even pulling large chunks of wood that float down the river and dragging them home.

All of this hoarding has been aimed toward one day, someday, building a new workshop.  Doing my best to be encouraging, I've been telling him for the past couple of years that he'd be better off just hiring a construction company to come in and erect a steel building on a proper concrete slab. 

Finally, something goaded him into action.  Here's the finished result:
Frankenbarn Finished

If you'd like to see pics of it all coming together, read on...

This particular project began with sinking some pilings into the ground next to his existing workshop.  Then he ran some headers across from one side to the other and rafters to hold up the roof.  Then the project stalled like so:
New Workshop

FrankenBarn Roof Half Framed

Some weeks later he went ahead and poured a strip of concrete where the front of the workshop would end up being:
FrankenBarn Front Wall Foundation

Most of that strip of concrete was just overflow for the two pads of concrete he needed to anchor down the two posts that would hold up the front half of the roof:

Holding to the "built from whatever was laying around" theme, the tops of the posts were bracketed with some scraps of metal from the pile behind his workshop:

Yes, the outside ones are actually stainless steel.

Once the concrete had set up, the next step was to crane the final beam into place:

Then install the rafters that would hold up the front half of the roof:
Frankenbarn 2nd roof half

With the addition of some OSB sheeting and steel roofing, the project stalled again.  For a couple of months, it was a nice place to park projects in the shade and avoid the blistering heat of the California summer.  Then dad managed to muster up the funds for a shiny new concrete slab.  That meant it was time to roll all of the projects out of the way and lay out forms for the floor:
Shop Floor Forms Placed

Then add rebar and wire reinforcement:
Shop Floor Rebar Placed 2

Over the course of a day, the floor was poured and smoothed over:
Frankenbarn with new floor

Wasting no time, he then went ahead and boxed in the posts in the back corners of the building:
Frankenbarn Framing

Then it was time to frame in the walls:
Frankenbarn Framing Overview

Finally, the whole thing was wrapped with steel siding:
Frankenbarn Siding 1

Contrary to what you might expect, closing the building in actually made it seem bigger inside:
Frankenbarn Siding 2

Here's a progress shot showing dad and my uncle cutting siding to fit:
Frankenbarn Siding 3

With the siding installed, he went ahead and build large doors to close in the back of the building.  Here you can see his custom latch arrangement that holds them closed at the top:
Frankenbarn Door Latches

Using a rod to trip the latches, the entire back side of the building can be opened up so he can drive through:
Frankenbarn Door Opening 1

The first segment is just big enough to walk through:
Frankenbarn Door Opening 2

The next segment opens half of the wall to allow vehicles to drive through:
Frankenbarn Door Opening 3

On the front of the building, he installed a pair of tracks for sliding doors:
Frankenbarn Door Track Hanging

Here's a shot showing the partially-built doors installed:
Frankenbarn Front Doors

When the tracks turned out to be misaligned, I got to help out and ride in the lift basket on the utility truck:
Frankenbarn Door Hanging 2

It makes for fun pictures:
Hammering Shawn

Hammering Shawn 2

Hammering Shawn 3

At long last, here's the completed workshop:
Frankenbarn Finished

I'm still working out the design for a sign to hang on the facade.

Here's an interior shot with the lights and lift installed:
Frankenbarn Finished Inside

As expected, he's wasted no time putting the space to work.


  1. Is your dad a professional carpenter or something? This workshop sure looks to be done by a skilled contractor. This is the great thing about doing these kinds of projects on your own: it's cheap, and you are assured that everything is done to the detail. Kudos to your old man!
    Eulalia @ Barnhouse Exteriors

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