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Century barn becoming my shop and garage

62923 Views 464 Replies 58 Participants Last post by  FlintMich
I have been wanting some sort of a shop for a while since the one that I have (a 40' x 60' pole barn with a big open door) is tough to do work in. The lighting is bad, the soffits are open, there is a huge opening (about 14' x 14') and the floor is in bad shape and tends to flood. I have a rental construction trailer on the property that I use for anything "shop" like such as welding etc. I was going to section off a 18' x 40' section (about 700' sq. with wall thickness) and close it in but the poles are rotten at the bases.

I have two barns on the property, the pole barn and a century barn that was likely built around the same time as the house in 1879. We have a guest house on the property that was used as an income property up until around April and they were also using the barn for some storage.

My dream for the century barn has always been to convert the stable portion (area to the right with sliding door) to a garage for cars and my John Deere tractors and the tack room area to a shop. The tack room is 753' sq. inside the stone walls. This is what it looked like inside before they moved out.

I think that the ceiling is about 10' and the floor is dirt and mostly broken up concrete. I've made a lot of progress so far and more pictures to come.
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That is STUNNING! Right up my alley. Please post tons of pics!!!
oh that's real nice!!!! Im making plans in my head already!!!
Back in the middle of July my wife's uncle came over with some of his toys and helped clear out the busted up concrete that was in the shop area. Some of the stones came out of the lower corner of the door but they were loose already so I wasn't too worried. He needed some depth to get the little excavator inside so he had to go down a bit first.

Once he was inside, he was able to push out all of the bits to the Bobcat on the outside.

After he was done, I could get my JD 455 in there with a blade on it and level it out. There were still some areas with concrete that got missed but I was able to push them outside with the blade.

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Once the ground was leveled in the shop area, I was able to start to put in some gravel. Luckily my wife's uncle's yard is across the street and he told me to help myself to some of the gravel. I did about 35 trips back and forth but put down about 4 inches. Should be enough for the 4-5" of concrete that I want to have in there.

I'm a little slow on the controls as I had the camera in my right hand and the hydraulics use the same hand.

I'm thinking about putting in an I-Beam under the main beam so it gives me a place to hoist stuff as well. Problem is that it will require a post at either end. I'm also thinking about putting a beam above the ceiling and dropping saddles down to the old beam.

The beam has a fair bit of dry rot as well as insect damage. You can see here that there was a helper beam put in.
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After I got the gravel laid in the shop area, I was able to turn my attention to the garage portion. I had been waiting to hear from help on the concrete pour so I had nothing to do but wait.

The garage was previously stables and they were all still there. On the right, you can see the stables that were there and on the left, I have already cut them all out. The old owners had left a lot of stuff behind. Mostly garbage but the odd little useful piece.

They were standing stalls on the one side and the ones that are shown are box stalls. I thought it wasn't going to be too bad to clear it all out but man was I wrong.
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This is going to be a very cool shop. I too was running designs in my head. And yes please, lots of pictures.
Great pics, nice progress :thThumbsU
Fun project. And as said above take lots of pictures.
That is quite an improvement. Waiting to see more. :thThumbsU
Very impressive. Fun project. They don't make me like that anymore
Great pics, nice progress :thThumbsU
So far the progress looks good!
That is quite an improvement. Waiting to see more. :thThumbsU
I see you got them taken care of, but I tell you... we rented some garage space many years ago when I was a teen, in a old barn. The stalls were still there, and MAN they were handy for keeping things organized!! Minibikes, and gocarts in one, lawn mowers and tractors in another, and misc in another... it was like huge cubbyholes!!

That's looking awesome. Its a beautiful building also!
Thanks guys, your feedback means a lot. As you may have noticed, the photos are from a few weeks ago and I've made a lot of progress beyond what is in the thread so far.

A bit more though on how it is coming along and if I can find enough time, I'll try to get it up to current condition asap.

Once I got all of the wood out, there was a lot of crap left behind from many years ago. Some of it was old pieces from the farm house that we live in like old doors etc. unfortunately, they hadn't been cared for and were rotted from water. These photos are once I got most of the stuff out and after a light rain. It floods very easily. The old windows I kept since they have the old bubbly glass in them.:fing32:

When I started to strip out the stables, I thought that it was a dirt floor in there. I found out though that there was a busted up concrete floor too. That added a lot of work since instead of having my wife's uncle over with the heavy equipment me and my John Deere went at it. It wasn't able to lift the bigger pieces of concrete so I pushed them out with the 54" blade.

Once I got all of the stuff that wasn't supposed to be in there, I leveled the dirt so that I could lay down some gravel. Every time that I thought I had all the old concrete out though, I found more.

Most of the posts that were used for either stalls or beam supports I was able to remove with a chain falls and beam gripper. There were a couple that didn't have a solid enough beam above them. I found out that my bucket scoop that I built was usable as a pincher grip too. When closed over the post, I was able to walk them up out of the holes.

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Are you planning on some form of water control ?
A bit more catch up information and photos.

I used my new laser level (found it on Kijiji for an unbelievably low price and it was basically new) in a hole to set a line around the walls for about 4" of concrete later on. I had to set it in a hole to get low enough.

The gravel was dropped off one evening and it was raining. Oh well, got it in and levelled up. I'm a bit short on quantity but it'll do until next year when I can afford the concrete floor pour. I also got the two beams that have some weak areas bolstered a bit more efficiently.

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Are you planning on some form of water control ?
I consulted with my wife's uncle and he figures that if the new floor is poured high enough, we should be alright. I have to do some re-grading around the property and I'll fix up some of the issues when I do that.
It looks fairly flat around the barn in the pics. If there is anywhere within 200' that drops off significantly, I would recommend running drain tile over to it, even if it did not go inside. That stone holds water a long time, the more you can get away from there, the better.

Fun project, thanks for bringing us along with.
Regarding a poured in place concrete floor, you might want to consider sidewalk blocks instead.

I do not have a heritage building like you have but I recently purchased a 1,200 sq ft pole barn airplane hanger, also with a nominal ten feet ceiling.

The floor area is also subject to a high water table - as in standing water about 9 inches below finish grade. In my case, per the first jpg, the 24" x 30" blocks were already there but all out of level due to settlement over time. Per the second jpg, I hired a crew do to the back braking task of leveling the blocks and per the third jpg, the results turned out OK.

My feeling was that to pour a floor, the subgrade preparation would require excavation and compaction but due to the water table, that was not economically feasible, at least for me, hence redoing the blocks was the most practical.

I might add that sidewalk blocks are not cheap either but given my conditions, they seemed to make sense. As such, I thought I might mention it as now that you have the gravel down, about all that would be required is some sand to make leveling the blocks easier and maybe some fabric as well. You might also pick up a couple of inches of headroom which can matter in a shop situation.

Of note that when I lift a block, the sand remains wet right under, but one does not know that from on top. Probably over time, I will have to lift the blocks again and re-level, however I am re-grading outside in an attempt to at least get the surface runoff to flow away from the building.


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