We stated earlier that we are not builders. We are in advertising. But we are ambitious and have a lot of energy and are not afraid to try anything. So, after several rounds of online blueprints companies and a try at a semi-custom online architect, we felt that the $1800-2500 was better spent on materials. So, we began our own drawings. We used Adobe InDesign, Home Design Studio and HGTV Home Design to create our plans. The final document was built in InDesign and printed at FedX-Kinkos at 17x22, which is the smallest standard architectural print size, on their large format black and white printer at. This document was more than adequate.
We took the first draft of the plans to the local Building and Zoning department, in our area it is the Construction Code Authority. They were great! They checked truss and rafter sizes and made suggestions for larger and smaller specs as needed. They also helped simplify the site plan which is necessary for Zoning setbacks, square footage and height requirements. The plans were tweaked, we went back to CCA and submitted everything.
We decided to stub in plumbing for a future bathroom/country canning kitchen.. We also did DIY on the plumbing. The internet is full of info, the local building center was a huge help on the design of the system, as well as the CCA plumbing inspector.
With plans submitted, we are now ready to go! See the submitted blueprint document below.
We looked for foundation/cement contractors online. We were not happy with the results. So we networked through the local concrete supplier, Kens Concrete of Goodrich, and they gave us the name of a contractor named Brad Dunn. We were immediately impressed with his ability to share knowledge and explain his process so it was easy to understand. His price of $10,600.00 was competitive with 2 other contractors and he offered to dig for our perk test at no additional charge. For whatever reason, Brad became someone we felt we could trust, and he did not let us down.
We sent our material list to 3 lumber yards for quotes. 1 of the lumber yards did not even get back with us. Of the 2 quotes we had, Menards was by far the cheapest, plus we bought during the 11% rebate and save even more. we was skeptical to choose Menards, they have a bit of a reputation for low quality items, mostly their tools, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, etc. But, in the case of lumber, we had good experiences building our 12x16 barn, so we decided to go with them. Turned out to be a great choice, free delivery, no haggle returns, access to their Truss engineer, great tips on building techniques and much more. We were very happy with that experience.
My estimate for Lumber and materials was about 30K. Out total material costs came in around 25K. The 11% rebate was applied to the steel roof and made the overall cost effective.
Below is the RFQ for lumber
All good projects start with a good plan. We took our basic design and started drawing more detailed plans. We used 2 inexpensive 3D programs, HGTV and Home Design Studio. One of the programs gave a nice renderings, the other created better structural renderings. By doing a self build, we were actually able to upgrade. We added more windows, a steel roof, premium vinyl siding, and increased the size of the loft/dormer to 24 ft, and we were still substantially under on cost. Again, as the plan came together, all building techniques were designed to be done by 2 people with minimal heavy equipment. Below is our material list we created in Xcel with cost estimates.
OK. Now that we have decided on a self build, the question becomes "how are we going to build this"? Form follows function philosophy was applied. Any technique or feature of the barn had to be easy for 2 people to execute...without a great deal of physical effort. We are getting older and do not have the brute strength we once had. So, as we looked at ideas and options, we were constantly evaluating the "how/form" part of the equation. You will see this applied throughout the build. Below are just a few of our accumulated ideas.
After interviewing builders and looking at examples of their work, we were under the impression that most builders care about making money and getting it done. We should have understood this going in, we all understand that builders are like any other business, they are in it to make money. Unfortunately we saw cutting corners on material and labor and mostly fair workmanship. There were some glimpses of greatness, like great door/window installation and roofing, and some very poor examples of framing and siding. This varied from builder to builder, no one had the total package.
Additionally, most of the quotes were over our budget and some were quite high, much more than we had expected. Most builders markup materials...labor costs are what they are. We felt we had more time than money, so we decided to build it ourselves. So, here we go! Lowest builder quote below.
We knew from the beginning that our little barn would be too small for all our stuff. The decision finally came to build the big barn. This was always part of our homestead plan. We decided that our homestead could be built in phases to help spread out the costs over a greater period of time. So we begin by contacting builders. We started on the web and found several great resources. Many builders only built pole barns. We wanted a stick built barn, something to last the ages (Steve was thinking in terms of centuries). Plus, we wanted a second floor that would have a look of a "dormer look" so it could better match our home when we built that. Also, extra storage is always a plus!
So, a quote document was created and went off to various builders for quotes. As quotes began coming in, we realized these were a bit out of our price range. After much deliberation, we looked at the plans and decided we could build this barn ourselves. The important part of this was to have a design that we (2 people) could build easily. We had already built 2 other smaller sheds/barns so we decided, why not?
Below is the bid document that was sent out.