The Grant Barn Project

When we moved into our house 11 years ago it was apparent that it wasn’t a brand new house.  For me it was hard to move into our house at first because we spent so much house hunting time looking in brand new subdivisions with new houses.  I like new things, who doesn’t?  This house on the 2.5 acres was exactly what my wife dreamed of and now I agree fully.  We are in a great area.  8 minutes from town, yet it has a peaceful and quiet country feel.  I knew that through the years we would have to do some work to make it our own.

Shortly after moving here we realized that the previous owners had horses because of the horse pasture beside the house.  At first we did nothing with it but realized that the grass inside grew really quick.  I had a man I worked with who sold baby goats and we bought 2 that we could have as pets and they could maintain the grass in the pasture.  Fast forward to now and we have 10 chickens, 2 ponies, and the original goats.

There is a lean-to shelter for the animals that was here when we got here.  Nothing too fancy and it sits back in the pasture.  It is a bit of a walk to the shelter and is generally a muddy mess.  Our neighbor last year decided to build a retaining wall between his property and the horse pasture which has caused us to have major drainage issues in the area of the lean-to shelter.  It is now muddier than ever.  I still use it to shelter our round bales from the rain and the animals still use it often, but we wanted something bigger and nicer and in a better location.

Our friend Brad built a huge barn last summer.  I volunteered a lot of my time to help him with this job because I am nice.  I also wanted to learn a little bit about what went into the project.  His barn is much bigger than ours and in no way does mine match up to his but after it is all said and done, I love our barn and the personality it displays.

So without further ado, here is the quick version of how I built our barn.  Please keep in mind that I am not a contractor and have never really done construction type jobs.  Everything I know how to do has been self taught by watching videos online or watching others do it in real life.  This was not an easy job and did cost a bit of money.  However, the cost to have someone build one for you is enormous and if you have any kind of DIY skills it is worth it to build it yourself.  Just make sure you don’t cut corners because failing one thing could set you back hundreds or thousands of dollars and you could end up with a janky looking building that can’t withstand the first wind that comes it’s way.

Below is a picture of the original barn.  This is still there and will be used.  Pictured here is Flash our Shetland Pony, and our fat goats Mia and Jewels(named after characters on Pulp Fiction)

The project wasn’t so easy as drawing a diagram and just getting to work.  My wife had visions and I had visions and they were not the same.  I just wanted something simple like the above structure, only bigger.   She wanted something more elaborate.  We had to revisit the final plans numerous times before we figured out what we were going to do.

A lot of the wood for the framing was wood I removed from our sun room that I had to get rid of.  This made my sun room demolition much harder because I had to try to carefully remove screws and nails and not damage the wood too much.  Even though I was exhausted after demo’ing the sunroom I had to jump right on the barn project quick so I didn’t have the wood just lying around everywhere.  With a couple of weeks of tearing down the sun room we started the Barn.  Below is a picture of the sun room demo and some of the wood that had to be moved.

After we chose an area next to the garage we started the post hole digging.  This part sucks any day of the week and anywhere, but I can truly say that this is horrible in Lascassas because this whole area sits on top of limestone.  When you dig the odds of hitting a rock are huge and then you have to figure out what you are going to do.  In my case some of my post had to be slightly not even or not dug in to the depth that I would have liked.  For one post that had the whole area dominated by limestone I had to improvise and make a wide hole, use a cinder block and a ton of cement.  Here is an example of the steps I had to take to make it work without blasting which just wasn’t practical.

Here is an example of what I had to do.  I actually worked pretty good.  And the finished post with the buried cinder block.

So we proceeded to dig holes and mix concrete until we had gotten all of the 4X4’s up.  I was not easy.  I did most of the grunt work while my wife helped to get the poles level.  This of course did not go smooth.  For a few days Natalie had to leave to tend to a family emergency in Texas.  I decided to keep the show going by going to home depot and getting supplies and then inserting the post myself.  After working my ass off and cementing a center post I realized I had blown it and it wasn’t inline with my other post.  I just stood there staring sadly and in disbelief.  Wondering what I could do.  My only option was to pull it out and reset the post.  I cussed the entire time and had to go buy more concrete.  Here is how off my post was.

You can tell that is is bowing the line way out.  The mistake I made was that while putting the post in I was too lazy to take down the line and when I put my post in, it hit the line and snapped it.  I trusted my eyes to do it right.  After putting the line back up I realized how bad I had fucked up.  Grrrrrrrrrrr!

Here is the post finally all complete.

As you can see I also attached the gate on the left side and fencing to the back.  I had to make sure the animals could not escape through this area and run a muck through our neighborhood.

The next step was to attach the support beams the the framing.

At this point the hard work was starting to pay off and the barn was coming to life.   When I got home and drove in my driveway, my heart would fill with delight at the work I had accomplished.  Corny?  Yes.  True?  YES!!!!

The next thing I did was to add a cement slab in the corner for the water bucket to sit on.  Since then we have relocated the water out of the barn because of how nasty it got sitting in the shade of the barn.  But I wanted to make it because I had never done something like this before.  I came out quite nice when I was done.

If anyone is interested I could do a separate do it yourself post about this process because it wasn’t hard at all.

We decided that we like the idea of trimming fence post and using those for the siding.  It would be a lot of work but add more character than just slapping up siding.  It took about 4 trips to home depot to get enough post but eventually we got it done.  We did not want to settle on just a plain looking barn and so we added the classic barn door pattern onto the front that everyone can see.  We knew it would look great once it was stained.

I used the tin roof off the sun room and covered the barn.  I had to buy roof repair putty to fill in all the screw holes (draw back from using refurbished tin roof).  Once I got the sides up and the roof we had to tear down the existing fencing and make our barn accessible to the beasts.

My wife built a really nice stand for the food.

I tried my hand at hand making american flags from wood and decided that I liked the Tennessee flag better for our barn.

Here is the barn after the painstaking hours and hours of staining in the hot sun.

All I had left was to stain the back side facing the neighbors and finish off the top areas.  We went for a rustic beam look.  I beat the hell out of that beam with a hammer, screwdriver, and a rotary tool but the beam just looks like a beam.  Here is the finished product.

That is Remy in the above photo.  Here are a few more pictures of the add on stuff.  First a picture of the entryway into the barn.  The gate is made to open both way so that the barn can be closed off and animals kept in as needed.

Next is the rustic beam I tried to create.   It actually looks OK in real life.

Natalie’s food creation trough, because her uppity animals cannot eat off the ground!

And lastly, I built steps up the side and into a cat loft.  You can’t see, but there is hay up there and it is quite inviting and cozy.  Sadly, I don’t think the cats have discovered it yet.  I have a feeling they will when it is cold AF during the winter.

So there it is.  If I can do this project, so can you!

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