Building My Small Barn

If you are thinking about barns that are traditional looking and on the small side, you could hardly do better than look at the designs of Donald J. Berg.  I had a great time looking at as many designs as I could find before I settled on one of his called The Candlewood Barn.  I am lucky enough to have a nice little John Deere 4310 compact utility tractor, and I needed a place to keep it, along with a lawn tractor and assorted other lawn and garden implements.

According to architect Berg, this is what the barn is supposed to look like.

The Candlewood Barn by Donald J. Berg
The Candlewood Barn by Donald J. Berg


As with most buildings, first you have to dig.

Getting the topsoil off
Getting the topsoil off


I set up batter boards for each corner, and ran strings between them to lay out the outside dimensions.  Being a pole barn design, each 6 x 6 building post needed a concrete footing below it, and these were dug by hand.   Here’s how I set the posts up.  I built the boom out of old pipe and scrap steel.

The first of eight
The first of eight


Repeating that operation seven times and bracing all the posts gave me this.

All eight, up straight
All eight, up straight


Double 2 x 8 girders went on next, one on each side of the six posts of the main part of the structure.  They were nailed on first, then drilled and bolted with 1/2 ” bolts.

A  nail gun is nice
A nail gun is nice


The 2 x 6s nailed on the sides are called girts, and there are 2 x 12 pressure treated skirt boards nailed around the perimeter at the bottom.  Sand has been added to raise the grade of the floor, and in the picture below, I’m backfilling against the outside of the skirt boards to keep them solid when the concrete floor is poured.

Putting some of that topsoil back
Putting some of that topsoil back


The one part I didn’t do myself was pouring the floor.  The last two floors I poured were less than professional grade, and after living with them for twenty years, I decided to let the pros do this one.  It was fun watching someone else do the work — until it came time to write the check.

These guys were fast!
These guys were fast!


All the framing is done and the floor is poured.  Now we’re getting somewhere.

The rafters are up.
The rafters are up.


The tractor helped again in getting the roof decking up there.  I was wishing the boom was longer, but it got the hardest part done for me – way better than trying to hump those four by eight sheets up a ladder by myself.

Almost done with the roof decking.
Almost done with the roof decking.


The fall weather stayed nice long enough to get the roof shingled.  And then we got snow.

At  least the roof is done.
At least the roof is done.


You can see the loft floor framing in this shot.

No  snow in here
No snow in here


I wasn’t too sure what I was going to do about siding, so I just sheathed the whole thing in 3/8″ OSB for the winter.

Not pretty, but closed in at least
Not pretty, but closed in at least


Observant readers may notice that I have a cab on my tractor at this point.  Boy is that nice for snowblowing!  I built two temporary barn doors to get through the winter.  A barn, a cab, … I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.



The following summer I added a layer of 3/8″ exterior plywood and nailed furring strips over that to make a board and batten effect.  I made the doors out of 2 x 4 framing with grooved exterior plywood for the skins. Here’s how it looks now.

Flower Garden and Barn3

And now it’s done.


Although not part of the plans, I added a shed roof on the back of the barn for more storage.    You can see it a bit, through the trees in this picture.



I am totally happy with this little barn, but it wasn’t cheap.  I spent $8300 ($1350 for the floor) for a little under 400 square feet of space, not counting the loft.  That does include the 10′ x 15′ shed roof on the back.  The architect, Don Berg, was surprised at that total, and said that his clients have generally reported materials costs of quite a bit less.  I did splurge a little bit on plywood for the roof, instead of OSB, and two-piece shingles to match my house.  Materials in your area may very well be less expensive.  I think I could have built a bigger plain Jane steel sided pole barn for the money, but then I would have had to look at that every day instead of this pretty building.  As my dad used to say, you pays your money and you makes your choice.

One of these days I’m going to build a cupola for it.

Comments on: "Building My Small Barn" (6)

  1. I built me one but not this nice… What do you do with all the sunflower seeds shown on the photo.. I plant some for my chickens and to sell for flowers but not that many…ty,,,,don

  2. thinmac said:

    Hey, Don, thanks for visiting. I sell the sunflowers at our local farmers’ market. In a good week I can sell a couple hundred of them.

  3. Michael Zimmerman said:

    Nice job. I too have the same problem when I hire work done. Not because I begrudge paying someone for a job well done, but rather that my health now dictates hiring some help. I intend on building something similar and will have some pine milled for roof sheeting and use a steel roof. Thanks for the tips.

    • It’s a real pain when you can’t do what you used to be able to. Good luck with your barn.

  4. This is one of the prettiest small barns I have seen. And it looks like a barn! Well at least the ideal image I have always had in mind. So much nicer than the tin boxes I see labeled as traditional barns nowadays…. and IMO your barn looks a lot better than the artist’s impression you opened the page with. And btw grey is a brilliant colour choice.. looks like it has been part of the landscape for a hundred years.

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