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We want to build a pole barn to live in, cold climate - suggestions?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
We finally have our house up for sale and have our eye on a 5 acre piece of land. We want to put up a pole barn to live it to begin with. I want to keep the price down as low as possible while still making it comfortable and of course up to code.

Without knowing much about this type of thing, I am thinking of keeping the main floor pretty rustic, with polished, stained concrete floor. We'd get some big rugs to throw down. The kitchen and living area would be on the main level with a finished off bathroom. I'd like there to be an upstairs that would have bedrooms and would seem more like a conventional house, with sheetrock and carpet. I'm picturing a loft upstairs as well overlooking below.

I think we'd get heated flooring in the concrete on the main level. I'm not sure what other heating option to go with. I am thinking maybe 1,200 feet on the main level with 600 sq feet above. I'm wondering about the cost of heating something like this. One site we found that sells complete pole barn kits said they can be insulated up to 30 - 40 R. I haven't looked that up to know how it compares to a conventional house.

Anyone done this sort of thing and can advise about the heating or any other part of it? Any guestimates about the costs involved? I haven't been able to find too much out there about people living in a pole barn. Most of what I've found along those lines shows a pole barn that inside looks just like a conventional home. While the cost was still below an average home, we are really looking for something on the cheap right now, like less than 100K (not including the lot or cost of electric, well and septic). At this point, I'd rather have the space than the nicities.

Thanks,
Tracy
post #2 of 21
Hi there. I'm not sure what a pole barn is but i thought of something that might inspire. Ben Law's woodland home was built for less than $60k, it was truly beautiful and actually completely changed his life (he used to live under a tarp, now he has a wife and child). He wrote a book about it too, I'm sure you'd find it on Amazon in the US.

Good luck Sadystar xx
post #3 of 21
I'd highly recommend chatting with the county about their requirements for habitability before you get too far into the process. Every county and township has different requirements, and the closer you are to the cities, the more stringent the requirements are likely to be. I've seen people living in pole shed-type buildings in my rural county, but I don't think it's allowed in other places.
post #4 of 21
Thread Starter 
We have already spoken to the county in question. The property is in Somerset, WI, and we were told that we could live in a pole barn that was up to code. We have two different builders in mind who have build many conventional homes but due to the current economic climate happen to be available. We haven't spoken to either of them yet, though.

Ann, do you know much about the set ups of the ones in your county? Are they set up to live in long term?

Thanks,
Tracy
post #5 of 21
I would suggest the Builder's guide to cold climates:

http://www.buildingsciencepress.com/...x?CategoryID=2

:
post #6 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wugmama View Post
Ann, do you know much about the set ups of the ones in your county? Are they set up to live in long term?
So you're defecting to WI, huh.

I've never actually been inside them, but they do look like they are set up as permanant residences. It looks a little different, but the 2 I'm thinking of right now have a porch off the front door and are really well taken care of. They have all sorts of nice little touches that make them look homey, like flowers in front of the house, landscaped yards and concrete driveways. So it doesn't look like they've set up shop temporarily while they're waiting to build their 'real house.'
post #7 of 21
I have friends who live in a Civil War era timber framed barn. The took it down to the frame, put up structural insulated panels (basically a sandwich of plywood and foam insulation), put siding on the outside, and plastered it all on the inside.

They originally heated it with radiant floors but the space is so big it was very difficult to keep warm, particularly upstairs in the bedroom/loft. The radiant heat is supplied by an outdoor wood burning boiler so they rerouted the hot water to old school radiators and now it's always nice and toasty inside.

Good luck!
post #8 of 21
I lived in a barn as a kid for year until while my dad built our main house. He built a large barn, and sectioned off one side of it. In that section, it was insulated, concrete floors, had two bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchen, etc... the heat was only by woodstove. We live in CO, we stayed warm enough.
post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
So you're defecting to WI, huh.
Oh, I know! I wanted to be Minnesotans living in WI, but I guess we'll have to get WI plates and the whole 9 yards!

The good thing is that we unschool, and from what I understand, their regulations are very lax.
post #10 of 21
There is a man in my area building one right now to live in. His sounds pretty big, big enough he has his camper parked in it right now while he works on it. I think his plan sounded nice, I was wondering about windows though. I guess you could frame them in like normal, but I wasn't sure. I will ask him sometime. I think he is going to keep the main floor open with a bathroom, but it will mainly be a shop I think and then the second floor is going to be the house. I don't remember all the details, but I thought if we ever got property this would definitely be and option. R 30 to 40 is pretty good, I am pretty sure.
post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 
Any more thoughts? We are still thinking about this. Our house is on the market but hasn't moved yet. We are going to drop the price next week.

Thanks,
Tracy
post #12 of 21
I have friends who bought 6 acres. They started with a garage/barn, and built and apartment into the upstairs (this was before they had their baby!) After a few years, they constructed a house, and now have a garage with office for their business. It has worked out very well for them.

When you pour the concrete slab, make sure you have foam insulation underneath - it will keep your feet warmer.
post #13 of 21
Thread Starter 
Crazy thing about this property is that they have a rule against splitting the land up, which is good - this will keep the area feeling rural. But they took it so far as to say that there can only be one livable building on the property. We were told by a city or county official that if we build a barn to live in then eventually built a conventional house, we would have to tear down stuff inside the barn until it no longer met code. What a waste that would be.

~Tracy
post #14 of 21
I'm sure it could be done and be asthetically pleasing, but by the time you insulate it, put in decent windows and doors, wire it, have a heat source, you could be in just as much money as regular stick built house. I'm also paraniod about high winds and would have to have some sort of storm cellar/little basement area either in the house or just outside of it.
post #15 of 21
I have lived in a pole building for six years. We hired someone to build build the garage then DH and I built an apartment in the loft. It is 720 sq ft, we have no children as of yet. We do occasionally have a mouse problem because they can easily get into the metal siding, come up the walls and then I think they are coming in at the sheetrock next to the plumping and maybe where the dishwasher power comes in. Our washer/dryer are downstairs in the unheated garage which is no fun in the winter but hey it works. The garage space is 1900+ sq feet. I believe it cost around $60K for the building/apartment at that time but we went cheap with everything: cabinets, only 4 windows, cheap carpet. Oh plumbing was a little interesting too because in the garage you aren't running the plumbing in a standard 2x6 wall. We have to be careful when it gets below ~15 or there are a few places where the pipes can freeze.

We have been building our house for three years and when it is done all we have to do is remove the stove from the apartment and the county will no longer call it a living space.

It has been a great little place for us, but I look forward to moving into the house soon. :
post #16 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by mnnice View Post
I'm also paraniod about high winds and would have to have some sort of storm cellar/little basement area either in the house or just outside of it.


Don't go far away!
post #17 of 21
There are several of these homes around our part of the country. I think resale prices tend to be a little lower even though they can be pretty fancy inside. Anyway, dh is a HVAC guy and he tells everyone to get R40 insulation in any home they have to improve energy efficiency.
post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wugmama View Post
Crazy thing about this property is that they have a rule against splitting the land up, which is good - this will keep the area feeling rural. But they took it so far as to say that there can only be one livable building on the property. We were told by a city or county official that if we build a barn to live in then eventually built a conventional house, we would have to tear down stuff inside the barn until it no longer met code. What a waste that would be.

~Tracy
We have similar zoning here (we're in Sibley county MN). We're zoned conservation, the county is trying to avoid exurban sprawl. We're only allowed one residence/tract of land. Our neighbors built two houses when they first bought the land- they built a smaller house and then a HUGE house, with the intent of filing for a zoning variance and running a B&B. The zoning variance was denied, so they have two houses on their property, but are only allowed to inhabit one of them. They've had county officials check on the property several times to make sure no one is living in the other house. It seems so stupid to me that they have an extra house that can't be used. At least they weren't forced to tear the house down or make it uninhabitable. But still...
post #19 of 21
This is quite common in Alaska. A large enough shell is put up to encompass a garage on one end and a house on the other.
My favorite is one where you enter on the ground level in the middle, into the garage portion. THe immediate area is for boots, shoes, coats, etc.
A stairway leads up to a balcony which holds extra freezers, trashcans and cleaning supplies such as the vaccum.
When you enter into the house, it looks just like any other regular home with two levels.
The one thing I noted was the doorway led right into a kitchen, and that did not work very well.

The garage portion was insulated and heated, and had good ventilation and circulation as well. A couple of ceiling fans were hung on either end.

Makes for a wonderful permanent building.
Paula
post #20 of 21
I just wanted to add something small here. I don't know too much about living in one but we did have a pole barn in Maryland that we used as a workshop and we had constant battles with termites. We had telephone poles for the poles and they were covered in creosote (sp?) on the botton. So it wasn't the poles that had the termites, but the wood walls. It was untreated wood siding though. I imagine that if you have a concrete slab and something rocklike (eg concrete) in between the wood siding and ground you wouldn't have problems. Unless you don't use wood siding that is. Also, I don't know, maybe termites are not a problem in cold climates. Just a thought...
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