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Pole barn conversion ideas needed!

7622 Views 19 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  slipshod
I have a small 20x36 existing pole barn on my property. The back half of the building is on a 4" existing slab. (20x18) - It used to be open poles with the sides of the backend boarded with original 150+ yr old cypress planks and had some inner walls. I took out the inner walls and built (2) 10' swinging gates on the front with the wood and some PT wood for the frame. I beefed up all of the existing poles (before adding the heavy cypress gates) with new 4x4 PT posts. Attached with lag screws, carriage bolts, etc. Added sides to the building and reinforced the whole building with 2x4 PT collar ties and hurricane straps on the rafters/joists.

I built a back wall onto the building and built a really HD workbench in the middle of the backwall (10 feet wide) - used 2x6 wood, (2) layers of 3/4" PLY and sheet of MFD for top and coated with 4 layers of urethane. Bench is attached to 2 4x4 PT beams into the concrete for the back and (2) 4x4 PT legs on the front ends. (notch cut into the posts with the 2x6 resting and lag bolted into the posts)

My plans:
Originally wanted a really nice --- electrified (well-lit), concrete floored workshop to do general home/farm repair, RC projects, car projects, etc in. No farm animals etc! I think sometimes I would be better off by building a new building for this and leaving this as a general farm storage building, but I just dont know.
The ceiling joists (which could be raised or eliminated with care) are at the 7' level --- kinda low. The peak of the roof is around 16'

My questions:

Originally I wanted to make this a work place for future projects etc but I have some issues to face:

1. Have all of my existing tractor/lawn garden equipment in this area. That easily takes up 1/4 of the building -

2. Tired of the dirt on the ground and equipment. Should I concrete the front 18x20? Cost? Was thinking about extending the concrete out in front of the building to make a nice landing. Ideas? (cost is a factor)

3. The building is not HVAC setup or insulated (mostly against heat down here in LA) --- open rafters, spaces between boards, openings, etc) --- what is the recommendation for this? Insulate and/or how? Or just leave it alone? (guess really dont need AC but would be really nice. How to insulate this beast? or just concrete it in and use workshop fans?) - going to need ventilation in some regard anyhow I guess. :)

Any comments?
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If it were me, I think I would build a shop building and leave this one as a pole barn. 7 foot head clearance is always going to be an issue even working on lawn & garden stuff. But then, it's not my money......:)
I don't know much about pole barns, I wonder about how long they will last with the wood in the ground to rot or be eaten by the dreaded termites. Around here if you put wood in or on the ground you are asking for rot and bugs. They have some real nice metal buildings advertised in the paper and ads in the mail, they are not real expensive. Depending on what you call expensive!!!!! You could certainly insulate them and add whatever outlets you need. I have a 16 x 32 shop with double doors out one end that will allow my tractor and other items through. It has power and water to the shop, and is insulated. It used to be used for dog kennels and has a bathtub and toilet. No hot water, but a tub. I plan to take out the tub and put in a utility sink in for general clean up. Sorry for the long rant but the features are nice and though it might be something to think about. Good luck and keep us posted!:D
I don't know anything about pole barns either, but to make your landing 18'x20', if you form it up and it is 4" thick, the concrete will be less than $250.00 including tax. Concrete is the cheapest thing on a project like a barn or shed. I'm ashamed of my shed. The slab is 24'x40' with the shed being 24'x 24' with a 24'x16' drop shed in the back. When I built it, I was recuperating from a heart attack and didn't have anyone to help me. I bought all the windows for it, but didn't put them in right away. (glad I didn't leave any holes for them) I put in temp. doors thinking I would finish the "garage" later. Well, its been 10 years and the windows disappeared a long time ago and the shelves aren't in and the doors became permanent. I was planning on tearing it down and doing it right, but never will now. It has served my purpose well though. I can tear the Cubs apart in it. Sorry I wasn't any help on your question.

I agree with Bigdog,you should think about building a new shop.
Sounds like the one you have is to small and will be costly to repair the way you want it.Check out the link I left for building plans,maybe you can get some ideas.
So Merlin, when you coming over to help me frame?


I got the beer and the BBQ --- See you soon, my local friend.

BTW, where do you get such cheap concrete prices locally?
At the 18x20x4" --- it looks like ~4.4+ yards...was told it was much more than the full 6 loads... might need to extend it a tad.

Any help here, Merlin?
A few weeks ago concrete was going for between $45.00 & $55.00 a yard. I just average it at about $50.00. 4.4436 yards would be $222.18. It may have gone up by now, but I haven't seen concrete above $55.00. I may need to get in touch with reality though. LOL. I can't drink beer because of my medicine, and I'm down to about 30 cups of coffee a day now, and my laboring days are behind me, but I'd be happy to come watch though. ( I even take my big S.S. coffee bottle everywhere I go ) Come to think of it, looking at it in that perspective, I'm just taking up space. :rolleyes:

You got love a self-aware man! Taking up too much space, Merlin?
I got quoted a MINT for anything less than full load of 6 last time I checked. Like $85 yd for 4.4 and then like $50 for full 6 ---- dont make any sense to me...I said well pour it on the neighbors yard or fill in some of the potholes in the street for all I care! haha

One of my hurdles is that my driveway now, all the way from the end of road (live end dead-end road) is packed slag gravel. So it will be really hard to dig into to form the ole' "landing area" --- and it needs to be level with driveway and "barn" because of the "swinging cypress doors" which are like 10' wide each and have clearance of like 2" off ground... Maybe a bobcat?

I would say, if you have the room, build anouther building. First for what it would cost to update the one you have, you could build most of the new one. Then if you redid the old one, you would have to find a place for everything in it wile you do it. And last, it's almost full now right? Well eaven with the mod's, it will STILL be almost full, and you will have no room to work in it anyway. My thoughts? Build a nice new, workable shop. Leave the old building for dead storage. Best of bolth worlds. Keep stuff under cover, and have a place to work.
Brother in-laws barn

Andy this is my brother in-laws pole barn if he ever finshes it itll be nice. Might give you some ideas dont know how big it is but it big.


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Here is another



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Another view

A different view


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One more view


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What you show as your brother-in-laws barn we call pavillions. We need at least 2 of the sides closed for keeping out cold winds. But I guess that's not a factor there.
There you go Andy, you could build something like that for next to nothing. Even if you just left the ends open (drive thru) and closed the sides it would be relatively inexpensive.
He hasn't finished it yet

Hes going to close one side in the other and the middle hes going to leave open. Also going to close the second floor in.
What's he going to use it for?

Is he storing hay or any thing like that in the mow?
I didn't ask him have to ask him next time i see him.
pole barn

This is my building project:
It is farther along ,but lazy about pics


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Is that pic supposed to be of a pole barn or a tractor? I mostly see a tractor with something in the background ---- :kookoo:

plane as the nose on my face

A Tractor Pole
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