DIY



How to Build an Inexpensive Pole Barn

This simple animal shelter, a versatile pole barn building for livestock animals, such as cows, sheep, goats, pigs or poultry, or livestock feed can be constructed in a few weeks. The article includes layout, materials and cost list, diagrams, stringers and trusses.

| February/March 1995

I'm a 5'4", 115-pound grandmother pushing 50. Certainly no "super-woman." When people ask me how I first learned how to build animal shelters and pole barns, I feel as though they are asking how I first learned to eat with a knife and fork.

In La Luz, New Mexico, in the early 1950s, such skills as pole barn building were passed from elders to children without anyone being aware of a teaching-learning relationship. In that era of the family farm, we would repair the tractor, vaccinate the cattle or mend the fence without the aid of a mechanic, vet or carpenter. The typical family farm worked because everyone worked and I became "Jane-of-all-trades" because my father had no sons. My marriage to south Texas rancher Don Franklin added his family's skills to my own and together we spent 15 years in Third World nations applying our abilities to the production and processing of food. In Angola, Africa, "lumber" for any construction project began with cutting trees yourself, while in Guadalajaran deserts of Colombia, it meant dismantling the packing crates our supplies were shipped in. A shelter for animals or feed was a necessity everywhere we went and when it needed building, we built it. To raise a pole barn, I was used to sinking a few tree trunks in the ground to act as both foundation and roof-and-wall supports and then nailing up rough board stringers and rafters for fastening a tin roof. After I called a local contractor and was told that such a pole barn on my new property would cost $10,000, I just offered an amused smile. I got out the old tools and began planning. What do they say about life experience being invaluable...?

I think the "know-how" of a project like this one is highly overrated. What you really need is 50% confidence that you can do it and 40% knowing where to find the answers before you make the mistakes. The other 10% is a little skill in the use of a hammer and saw. This barn can be built by anyone using the instructions here. I have even included my mistakes so that you will feel free to make your own original mistakes without repeating mine.

You should start with a call to the local Building Inspection Service at your county seat to see what building code restrictions apply. Be sure to stress that your structure is not for human habitation, but is intended for agricultural use. Most states have more lenient structural requirements for farm buildings than for homes or garages. Still, you may need to have drawings and a spec sheet approved and have the building inspected at several stages.

So, here's how I did it and what I did wrong.

Layout

Find some flat, firm ground that doesn't hold standing water for long at any time of the year and determine your barn's outer dimensions. Standard 2"-thick building lumber is cheapest in 8' lengths, so design in 8' sections, especially if you plan to roof it or add floors or siding using 4' x 8' sheets of plywood, particle board or stock 8' boards. My barn is 48' long and supported by seven poles on each side, which divides into six 8'-wide bays per side. I left 8' of pole above ground to make walls an even 8' high.

www.EasyWoodwork.org
5/14/2018 10:32:19 PM

I used the plans at WWW.EASYWOODWORK.ORG to build my own pole barn – I highly recommend you visit that website and check their plans out too. They are detailed and super easy to read and understand unlike several others I found online. The amount of plans there is mind-boggling… there’s like 16,000 plans or something like that for tons of different projects. Definitely enough to keep me busy with projects for many more years to come haha Go to WWW.EASYWOODWORK.ORG if you want some additional plans :)


Andrew Jones
5/4/2018 7:34:58 PM

Thanks! Great tips!!


Andrew Jones
5/4/2018 7:34:08 PM

I built my own pole barn using the plans at www.EasyWoodwork.org - highly recommended you check those out too. They are detailed and super easy to read and understand unlike several others I found online. The amount of plans there is mind-boggling... there's like 16,000 plans or something like that for tons of different projects. Definitely enough to keep me busy with projects for many more years to come haha





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