Author Topic: If this were your canvas for a workshop...  (Read 5512 times)

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Offline maction17

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If this were your canvas for a workshop...
« on: March 31, 2016, 06:30 AM »
What would you do? We bought the house that goes with the barn last spring, and I'm eager to get it set up as a proper workshop (as a hobbyist and DIYer), although I'm willing to take the long view on this. The barn was built around 1820, originally as a horse barn for the town doctor who would ride out to house calls from it. It's a solid structure, but not much of a foundation at all.

What it needs for sure:
A subpanel to run 220
A flat floor

Everything else I can peck away at.




The left side had some work done before we came into possession. Some footings were installed and there's 3/4" ply on the floor. This was the previous owners stuff, but now this side is operating as my temporary workshop.

Leads up to an open loft (maybe a studio apt one day?)

The largest existing open space, on the left side of the barn. Stalls to the left could easily be removed to open it up more.



241125-5 And here's a dining table that I made by repurposing some of the boards on the horse stall.

I'm open to any and all suggestions. I have a fella that specializes in lifting structures to install foundations, and I was thinking that might be the best place to start, but if there's a way to get a level floor without sinking that kind of money in, I'd love it. I wonder if I could just sand the heck out of everything with a Ro150...

Offline Kev

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Re: If this were your canvas for a workshop...
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2016, 07:27 AM »
That floor's gotta go! A solid floor and clear space (including overhead) for you working areas is absolutely critical from a safety perspective. Whether you have a timber floor, concrete, etc isn't important from a workshop perspective .. that more comes into play when you consider dampness, ventilation, etc obviously.

If you are going to wheel in some heavy machines and do decide on a timber floor .. make certain it's up to spec!

Is the shell structurally sound? I really don't like the look of a lot of that timber from the inside. Yes you can sort out the floor and gradually repair in, but there's a point where it becomes frustrating.

From the outside it has character and I'm assuming it blends with the rest of the property .. and why you'd want to maintain it.

You certainly have a challenge if you're going to renovate it! [wink]

Offline maction17

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Re: If this were your canvas for a workshop...
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2016, 07:43 AM »
Thanks, Kev. Yeah, the floor was the first thing that grabbed my attention. I don't want to put down concerete if I can avoid it, only because I would like to preserve the character as much as possible. The prop is old (1795 house) and it's on the historic register.

Of course I dream of having a 600lb thickness planer in there one day. Certainly a cabinet saw. Interestingly, my Festool adventure very recently began with a ts55 specifically because I need lightness/mobility as long as the space is in flux.

Structurally, it's really sound. Posts, beams, joists...they're all beefy and stable. There's room to open up the main part without messing with the structure. The other piece of this is whatever comes out is wood that's been around for a long time and has a great patina after a couple planer passes.

Online rvieceli

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Re: If this were your canvas for a workshop...
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2016, 07:57 AM »
It is certainly an interesting structure.

I would think that the first order of business before you spend much time, effort and money should be to assess the condition of the foundation. The cost of fixing that if needed would then determine the direction you need to go from there.

Once that is done then determine the integrity of the outside envelope. Roof, walls etc. Make repairs as needed.

From your photos it appears that there are some added structural members that have been put in to prevent racking. You'd need to remedy that situation and get rid of those braces that go across the space under the ceiling height, to give more head room.

If it were me, I'd figure out a way to remove all the stall structures and open up the side that appears to be the original barn. You might need to consult an engineer to decide if you need to install a beam in there where the stall walls are.

I'd carefully pull the floor and replace with poured concrete. Those boards could be used to close in the walls after insulating. Or you may find they bring more value by selling them.

So... first step figure out how structurally sound it is. Then how much it would cost to fix it if it isn't. And go from there.

It is a great structure, good luck in your venture.

Here is a thread over at garagejournal.com of someone who converted part of a century barn for a shop for your inspiration.

http://www.garagejournal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=283881

Ron




Offline maction17

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Re: If this were your canvas for a workshop...
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2016, 08:25 AM »
Thanks, Ron. All really good advice. In that regard, if anyone knows any structural engineers on Cape Cod, PM me.

Offline Master Carpenter

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Re: If this were your canvas for a workshop...
« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2016, 08:40 AM »
If that was my starting point, I would dismantle the building. Looks like lots of salvageable timber in there that could be sold or saved for projects. Then I would start fresh and build a solid and energy efficient workshop.

Renovating something with that much character could turn into a money pit.

Offline TSO Products

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Re: If this were your canvas for a workshop...
« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2016, 09:46 AM »
If that was my starting point, I would dismantle the building. Looks like lots of salvageable timber in there that could be sold or saved for projects. Then I would start fresh and build a solid and energy efficient workshop.

Renovating something with that much character could turn into a money pit.
as a restorer of historic structures, the sentence from Master Carpenter is a cautionary note you would do well to keep in mind. I suspect you there is a good bit of emotional appeal to you in this whole project. Ultimately rational thinking has a limited role to play here except as to the total amount of money and time accessible to you for this project.

Finding others who have done what you are about to do is extremely helpful. Stnad on the shoulders of other who have gone down this road before you.

When trying to make decisions on issues like the ones you face, try to back off a bit and list what your ultimate goal is. List budget limits and an elapsed time limit. Don't forget about a parallel list for the main house :) Once you write all that down and look at the list, resolve conflicting goals.  Rearrange for your priorities.

I would not be surprised that your list shows some conflicting and contradictory goals.  Reshape the list into a more workable set of goals and parameters.

Now look at your shop project and break it down into its component issues with the related preliminary budget estimates.

Then add at least 50% to the elapsed time and money estimates.

Keep this thread posted on your progress - very interesting project.
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Offline maction17

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Re: If this were your canvas for a workshop...
« Reply #7 on: March 31, 2016, 10:40 AM »
If that was my starting point, I would dismantle the building. Looks like lots of salvageable timber in there that could be sold or saved for projects. Then I would start fresh and build a solid and energy efficient workshop.

Renovating something with that much character could turn into a money pit.
as a restorer of historic structures, the sentence from Master Carpenter is a cautionary note you would do well to keep in mind. I suspect you there is a good bit of emotional appeal to you in this whole project. Ultimately rational thinking has a limited role to play here except as to the total amount of money and time accessible to you for this project.

Right. And I should underscore that I'm really taking the long view on this project. We've just checked off bathrooms and kitchen remodel/reno. I painted the whole interior, and the last bit is a facelift for the mudroom. So house goals have come first, and now is the perfect time to do exactly what I'm doing- start conversations. When the time comes to make a decision on the barn, hopefully it'll be eyes wide open.

The more I hear from you, the more I think my approach to preserving the barn should be flipped. I can't ignore the convenience and comfort factor I'd have knowing I had an efficient, new structure, and it's certainly possible to have it fit the style of the house and street-- that wouldn't require much more than cedar shingle like any Cape. There are also ways I could incorporate pieces of the old barn-- posts or beams could be integrated in cosmetic ways, old boards could be resurfaced and used in a number of ways.

Coincidentally, I know there's a lumber yard in that specializes in salvaged wood, and I suspect they'd be happy to work out a deal.

Offline TSO Products

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Re: If this were your canvas for a workshop...
« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2016, 11:47 AM »
now you're talking, MAction,
you will be so thankful that you took a clean sheet approach. A purpose built efficient structure dressed in keeping with the architecture of the site - way to go! incorporating a select few elements of the original structure will give it special "wow!" touch.

Consider in-floor heat. you can have a wood floor above to avoid standing on  concrete. Electric warm water boiler heat can be very inexpensive when run on low-cost night time electric. Having it warm year round takes care of condensation moisture. Provide a large thermal barrier under the concrete/heating system to keep ground temperature from always drawing heat out of the floor.
I enjoyed such a system in my Minnesota shop for many seasons but wish it had wood flooring  on top.
Think about in floor utility provisions: - trough(s) for electric, air and dust collection. You can always choose to not use if they are there - but obviously not the other way around.

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Online rvieceli

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Re: If this were your canvas for a workshop...
« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2016, 01:46 PM »
@maction17

there are solid arguments for each path that you might choose. It is certainly true that these older structures can very quickly become money pits. But keep in mind that this is not a residential structure. Almost everything is open and exposed with nothing hiding behind lath and plaster.

If the structure itself is reasonably sound and/or can be made that way for a reasonable sum and amount of work and the envelope is weather tight or can be easily made that way, it makes sense to utilize the existing structure as a starting point. If the limitations of the existing structure can meet your needs. Obviously if you are working on cars or trucks and want 12-14 foot ceilings to accommodate a lift, then what you have won't function.

so my suggestion is to evaluate if the foot print of what you have can adequately meet your needs. If it can then have someone that knows what they are doing give you an estimate of what the shortcomings to your existing structure are (both structurally and from a weather proof standpoint) then find out what the projected cost of fixing it might be.

Once those numbers are in you can decide if it makes sense to go forward with new or modify the old.

Offline bkharman

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Re: If this were your canvas for a workshop...
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2016, 06:45 PM »
Where are you located?  Call the timber guys that are on TV. The ones based in WV, they might cut you a deal to be on one of their shows!!

They are great at what they do.

Cheers. Bryan.
People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along? Can we get along?

Offline chris s

  • Posts: 129
Re: If this were your canvas for a workshop...
« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2016, 08:10 AM »
The key is that you want it to be your shop,not something that had to be adapted. I don't know your age,but remember our craft /hobby seems to grow with time.
   In addition seeing the table you built with some of the lumber you appear to have vision, that said imagine what you could accomplish with a clean sheet of paper
   The picture of the facade is great and could easily be recreated on a new energy efficient building which would be as YOU like it.  Please keep us informed of your progress.  Chris

Offline maction17

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Re: If this were your canvas for a workshop...
« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2016, 03:01 PM »
House lifter came today. He showed me a barn down the street he did, and it's very similar to ours. I'll have an estimate coming soon for lifting and a slab, but my guess is 15-20k. Stay tuned...

Offline RussellS

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Re: If this were your canvas for a workshop...
« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2016, 04:43 PM »
Opinion.  My Mom grew up on a farm that is about 100 or so years old.  House and barn and other buildings.  Newer than yours by a century.  The barn is big.  Lots of stalls inside for when every farm had cows.  Now almost no farms have cows or animals.  Farms are either grain only or feed lots for animals only.  No mixing anymore.  Barn has a huge hayloft.  I remember as a kid helping to put hay bales in it once.  Now all hay is big round bales, not the small rectangles you put in a hayloft.  So hayloft is useless and empty.  Shelled corn bins are useless.  Eared corn bin on the back end of the barn is useless.  Pass thru for the tractor is too narrow for duals tractors or any modern big tractor.  Whole barn is pretty much useless today even though it is only hundred or so years old.  House was about the same age yet it was useable for living until recently.  Since the barn is only hundred years old, it was nailed together.  Not post and beam and pegs.  Pine wood.  Not nice hardwood.  Good pine but still pine.  Not sure how much you could sell the wood for, but probably not a lot.  Might be more work to dismantle the barn than burn it.

I'd suggest selling your barn to someone who will dismantle and remove it.  Maybe try to keep some of the wood to work with.  Then start from scratch and build a decent shop space.  Does not have to be huge or fancy.  But more usable and functional than what you have.  Probably far less work than trying to repurpose what you have.  And more useful.  You can add decoration to the outside to make it blend with the house and property.  It does not have to look like a metal Morton building.  But it will have good insulation, electrical system, smooth concrete floor, 10 foot plus walls, and trusses/I-beams so the entire interior is open without any walls or posts.  And a roof that does not leak.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2016, 02:33 PM by RussellS »