When we first started homesteading we found that we lacked a place to store food, equipment and animals – especially over winter.  And so we decided to build a wood pole barn as it was something we felt comfortable working with.

The cost of having someone build what we wanted was way out of of league – and so we decided to build a pole barn ourselves.

I have a confession….we had NO idea what we were doing!   But we studied all we could find online and at our local library and spoke with the local county building people to make sure we were doing everything right.   To embark on this was scary with our low-level skill set, but we managed to build a sturdy structure that did all we needed..and a bit more!

How to build a pole barn

build a pole barn
The completed pole barn.

Design
Our design was based on one simple factor – space!  We wanted two stalls for our horses that were 12 foot X 12 foot and a tack room.  We wanted space to store hay all winter and a place for a workshop.  We drew up a design that was 36 feet long (3 stall spaces) and 32 feet wide (two stall spaces and a 8 feet wide passageway between them).

build a pole barn
Barn plan – 16 poles that were 6 inches X 6 inches made up the upright elements.

We decided that we would make the passage way two stories high so that we could have a loft to store hay.

build a pole barn
Cross section through barn showing footings and loft floor.

Footings and setting the poles
We dug the footings in accordance to the local county specifications and hand mixed and poured the concrete.  Rather than setting the poles into the concrete, we set footing post holders for 6 inch x 6 inch beams.  We let these set for many weeks.   We then placing the poles in the footing brackets and bolted them into place.  Using the beams, we braced all the poles together.

 

build a pole barn
Using beams to brace the poles.

 

build a pole barn
The poles placed and braced with beams.

 

Placing the beams
Placing the beams

Roofing and cladding
From the main beams, we hung rafters using galvanized rafter hangers and spaced them 16 inches apart.  On top of this, we screwed sheets of composite board.  Later on, we screwed metal roofing into the roofing sheets.  While we may have been able to get away from using the sheets and just used batons (thin strips of lumber to screw the metal roofing into) we were building in a high wind area and wanted to lock everything strongly together.

Putting on the roofing sheets.
Putting on the roofing sheets.

We placed a runner beam around a ground level, one at mid-level and one at 8 feet high.  To these, we screwed in wood composite barn paneling for the walls.

Unfinished cladding on the barn..and the loft area not completed.
Unfinished cladding on the barn..and the loft area not completed.

The lower zones were completed first, then the loft area completed.  At one end we replaced the wood barn siding with white translucent polycarbonate sheeting to let more light into the barn.  I also picked up a pile of second-hand windows that I put into the loft. walls and one in the tack room area.   As we constructed the loft roof I built a cupola…just for a design element more than for any function.   We already had a weather vane….and it needed a fancy place to live!  If you build a pole barn you need a weather vane! 🙂

Loft area filled in and a cupola being constructed.
Loft area filled in and a cupola being constructed.
Finished cupola
Finished cupola

With all the walls complete, we painted.  And painted.  And painted!   Yep – bright yellow!  It certainly stood out on the plains!

Painting the barn
Painting the barn

 

Partly completed and painted barn end
Partly completed and painted barn end

 

 

Inside work
Inside we built two stalls and a floor for the tack room.  We also constructed a simple ladder/stairs to get up into the loft area.  The ground was very sandy, so we did not add a floor for the horses – we just used the sand as the footing for them and it worked great.

Two horse stalls
Two horse stalls

 

A horse stall
A horse stall

 

Tack room floor and stairs to loft.
Tack room floor and stairs to loft.

 

We left the other side of the barn open…as a place to store hay and hopefully one day install two more horse stalls.

Storage in the pole barn
Storage in the pole barn

Power and water
We had a licensed electrician run underground power into the barn so that we had light and a place to plug in heaters for the horse’s water in winter.   We ran a water line into the barn so we could fill water buckets.

This pole barn worked perfectly for us – it really turned our ‘house on a weed patch’ into a farm.

Costs
All up, this pole barn cost us around $8,000 (2007 prices – and not including the electrics).  All the labor was free (except for the electrics).  All the material was bought from the local hardware store – and I am sure we may have found a cheaper option if we had been willing to travel further afield.

Epilogue
We moved from this property in 2010 – and sold it in 2013.   We sure miss this big barn – and maybe one day we will build a smaller version of our new property. Still is it time for you to build a pole barn?

 

How to build a pole barn

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