Australia to Texas — Framing the Exterior of the Barndominium

Reader Contribution by Jim Christie
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In the previous edition of the blog, the barndominium shell was built out in 9 days. Part of the design was to leave the steel off the outside walls on the portion where the house is going to be — except for the steel above the large patio that wraps around the north and west side of the house. Also, part of the plan was for us, on this trip to Texas to be able to “button up” the Barndominium so that we would be able to lock all our tools, our large travel trailer (in which we live while we’re in Texas until the barndominium is finished) and our farm truck.  That way, most of our Texas possessions are well locked away and protected by security systems and our family’s large dogs from next door who seem to patrol the property both when we’re there and (according to our family) almost especially while we’re gone as if they know it is their job to take care of our property.

As I write this we’ve been here in Texas for a week now and are making substantial progress on the Barndominium. The first day here was spent setting up the shop in the garage portion.

 Notice the open walls.  That’s where we’ll be building out the walls starting tomorrow.

Going from having the sticks up to getting everything absolutely secured from the slab to the steel beam above the studs took another day or two and then we put up the sheathing and weather coating.

So now it’s starting to look like a real house. The windows and doors are in. The final weather protecting paper isn’t installed at the top of the sheathing, but the following day, it will be ready for the final covering — the Hardi Plank (lap siding). Here is a picture just prior to Hardi Plank.

 Finally, on the 4th of July, we worked about half a day starting the Hardi Plank.

A huge thanks to Joel (second son) who spent the better part of the week with us. Without him, we would never have gotten this far nor would we have created something as sturdy and attractive as we have. Thanks Joel!

The next couple of days, we’ll be completing the Hardi Plank. There’s caulking to do and then painting the exterior to match the building. The colors now (a brown and an unattractive yellowish color) are only the natural primers on the Hardi Trim and the Hardi Planks.

It’s been a very vigorous week and a day. The last two days  have been pretty easy — fairly much a half day on Sunday and the 4th, but it’s back to full days tomorrow and Wednesday.

Since I wrote the previous entries, we’ve had a number of days of incredibly hot weather. The exterior almost finished. All the Hardi Plank is installed and some caulked.  This picture shows Julie and me doing some of the HardiPlank installation. It actually goes very well with the fixture that goes with the planks. If the bottom and second course are installed very level and properly, you can then use the fixture (as seen in this picture) to install the subsequent courses. As a result, the planks are installed in a very level fashion and fit beautifully.


Julie’s doing a little clean up along the front of the house. That area on will be built up with a large planter box — some of which will be done while we’re gone to Minnesota. You can barely see some of the sample stone in the left middle of the picture. The entire 52′ front plus 12′ down each of the east and west side will be where the planter goes.  I’m eager to see how much progress they make while we’re gone.

 We also went and procured all the electrical equipment and lots of wiring (much more expensive these days) to bring power into the Barndominium. That should also be well underway while we’re gone.

We are very grateful to all the family and friends who have helped us get to this point in 9 days on location. We are off to visit some family in Minnesota and we’ll have a week when we get back to get the final caulking done (the color you see is just the primer) and get the final painting done on the house. Also, while we are gone, there will be a fun project being built — a large retaining wall and planter box described above and insuring that water running downhill won’t wash across the deck and into the house. The large planter box will serve us very well with herbs and other growing items nice to have close to the kitchen.

When we arrived back from our trip to Minnesota, we went immediately to the new house to see the work that had been done on the planter along the North side. In these couple of pictures, you can see the first “wall” of the planter (the wall closest to the house) has been completed.  We had a small toast to this progress as it was obvious that this planter will become one of the key features of the Barndominium and, although not part of the work plan for Phase I, certainly is one of the activities we are most pleased with. Here’s the pictures:


We’ve had a very productive 2+ weeks. It’ll be 3 weeks by the time I’m done but the majority of the visible work is done and can be seen in these pictures. It’s hard to believe that only a few weeks ago, we had a bare plot of land here and since, have improved the road to the building site, built a well, created the site for the building, poured the slab and erected the building. Over the past two weeks, we’ve enclosed the “house” portion of the Barndominium, put in all the doors and windows, sealed and fixed everything to the metal building and slab and finished the painting. The functional and decorative part that we didn’t plan on doing until we were here and saw the site and what it needed was the very large native stone planter all across the north face of the building as well as 12′ down each side. That work now provides 76′ of planter box (it’ll take awhile just to fill it with dirt). The planter will enable us to have a wide variety of plants and vines along the east side where the morning sun is strong on the patio and some on the west side where the evening sun is really strong. Also, there’s good protection on the north side in the case of an exceptional storm in terms of providing a wall to prevent water from coming down the hill and getting up on the deck.

Electricity has now been pulled through the ground into the building and work is started on wiring the inside so that the next time we arrive, it’ll be home sweet home for us, even though there is all the internal construction remaining on the house. At least we’ll have the camper trailer inside the barn, connected to the power, water and septic systems.

  You can clearly see the planter box across the front and the west side.  Also, note the sandy color of the HardiPlank and the Periwinkle blue trim around the windows and door.

The size of the planter is more visible as well and the blue trim.  While we won’t get it done on this trip, the next trip will involve putting shutters on the edge of the windows.  These shutters will be the same blue color and will add a lot more “blue” to the building — a nice contrast to the color palette of the land, trees and the building.

A good panoramic view of the west and north sides of the house.

Now it is back to Australia and our lives there, planning the next phase of the activity.  Electrical and some plumbing work will be done while we’re gone but we still have tons of work to do.  We leave with a confidence that our Barndominium (now to be named Chateau Christie) is well on the way and that some day in the foreseeable future we will be home in Chateau Christie.

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