Loading Gambrel Loft Space
Loyal reader ANDY in OXFORD writes:
First, thanks for providing so much useful information to all of us. I’ve read about 1,200 of your blog entries so far, and I’ve learned so much.
I have already priced a 30X36X11 Gambrel Roof building from Hansen for a woodworking shop. I’m committed to the Gambrel roof for aesthetics and just because I’ve always wanted one.
Am I dreaming?? I’d like to hang a steel H-beam from the roof trusses in the loft, extending about 4 feet outside the front wall – just like the old-time hay barns. I’d use it to hoist lumber into the loft for storage. I wouldn’t need to lift more than about 200 pounds per load. I can insure against overloading by using a very light-duty electric hoist. I’d inform your designers so they could design the trusses for the added load.
The thing I can’t get my head wrapped around is how to completely weatherproof such a setup so that rain doesn’t get in the opening for the rail and hoist. Do you have experience or ideas to share? Should I drop the whole idea and just plan to manhandle the lumber from the back of my pickup up into the loft? I’m vertically challenged, so it’s not as easy for me as for you.”
I am impressed you have done so much reading, and thank you for your kind words, they keep me writing more content!
I might be bursting your bubble here, however honesty is always the best policy.
In order to store hay, your loft area would need to be designed for a ‘light storage’ load. By Building Code this is 125 psf (pounds per square foot) – more than three times required load for residential applications. If your intent is to utilize clearspan trusses for this, it may very well prove to be prohibitively expensive. Less costly (although perhaps an interruption of main floor materials’ flow) would be to support your upper loft with strategically placed interior columns. Almost universally, loft spaces tend to be where things go to die – as access and going up and down stairs becomes tiresome and inconvenient quite quickly.
I would instead encourage you to go with a larger footprint and store your lumber at ground level. You will find it to be less expensive, as well as more readily accessible. If you love gambrel looks, by all means keep it as your design.
Should you be dead set upon utilizing this second floor space for light storage – design with a widow’s peak to cover rail and hoist outside of the building and always keep outside. Materials can be loaded through a “bale” door unit, placed in the endwall, sealed against wind and rain (granted you will be limited to materials in length two times the distance from building face to most extreme point of rail). In old time barns, being totally weather sealed was not usually high on priority lists – an ability to get materials easily loaded would have been way higher.
In an attempt to preserve “pristineness” of neighborhoods, Planning Departments can come up with some interesting requirements. Amongst these are often restrictions upon building heights. Sometimes restrictions for detached accessory buildings (garages or shops) are related to primary dwelling heights, sometimes they appear entirely arbitrary.
In the case of our “shouse” (shop/house) in South Dakota, there was a restriction on any building having a sidewall height of 10 feet. We solved this by erecting a gambrel with sidesheds, where sidewall steel lengths were just under 10 feet (although overall building height is 44 feet)!
*Our “shouse” with 10′ sidewalls
Reader BILL writes:
I have a customer who wants a pole barn for his RV. We have issues with height restriction. He wants a 10 x 14′ high garage door but we have a max height restriction of 14′ to the mid span of the roof. My question to you is this: can we get a building that can have say 10′ high side walls, a 10′ wide x 14′ high garage door on the end and meet the height requirement? Not sure if you can design a truss to accommodate this. It can be a gable roof, gambrel roof, or any other roof that will work. The side walls can be any height as long as the roof height meets the requirements (I only said 10′ as a guide).
They would like 30′ width but that may be too wide for the coverage. I was thinking 24′. They want it 60′ deep.”
Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:
Provided they can stand 8 interior columns, you could go with a gambrel formed by using a 12′ x 60′ x 16’6″ center portion where overhead door would be placed. With a 4/12 slope your peak height would be 18’0″. On each side of center, place a 6′ x 60′ single sloping shed from 16’6″ to 10’0″ (13/12 slope). This will put average roof height at 14′ and will give an exterior gambrel appearance. If they want to go 30′ wide, make sheds 9′ wide and change steep slope to 8.67/12.
While this appears to sound like it is a circumvention of restrictions, it does meet with the “Letter of the Law”.
Faced with what feels to be an overwhelming challenge of height restriction vs. wants and needs? Please call 1(866)200-9657 and speak to a Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer. Chances are good we can find options for you.
Need a 13’ Tall Door With a 12’ Mean Height Restriction
Planning Departments can be the bane of a property owner’s existence. They are the folks who are delegated enforcement of what some might feel are unrealistic expectations as to building heights and footprints. Many times there are solutions, and chances are if a solution can be sleuthed out, we at Hansen Pole Buildings can creatively arrive at it.
Reader PRESTON in FALLBROOK writes:
I have cleared my build with the county (San Diego, CA) and have checked into my setbacks and am all set; moved 120 yards of dirt and graded the site out as well. My dilemma now is that with my setbacks I need to comply with some sizing restrictions but still need to fit my RV in the garage; the whole point of the building… I need to be under 1000sf so a 24′ x 40′ is perfect for me. The issue comes in the height of the building. I can’t be any higher than 12′ tall on my mean roof height which is to say the average height of the roof. So I could have a ridge that is 14′ if the eave is 10′ making an average of 12′ roof height. I could get more extreme and make a 16′ ridge height and 8′ eave height and still comply. However with any style of roof I need to have a 13′ clear opening for a garage door to fit the RV height. I could center the door and shrink it down to a single but would like to keep a double garage door (16′) or at a minimum a 12′ door. I think that the “barn” style would give me the best roof profile to fit the largest door in while still keeping a roof height that complies (again a 12′ average/mean height). Can you help?! Does the gable end of your barn kits have bottom truss or is it open? I keep laying it out on a scale drawing with standard roof pitches and it doesn’t pencil out; I can’t even fit a 9′ door in a 6/12 pitch roof.”
Here is just one creative solution:
A gambrel (old barn style) roof is probably your best (and only) solution. Think of your building as a center portion which would be 18 feet in width and 15′ tall. This would allow for an overhead door 16 feet wide by 13 feet tall. With a 4/12 roof slope, the overall building height would be 18′. In order to comply with the 12′ mean roof height, the remaining three feet on each side of the 18′ would slope from 15 feet down to six feet (a 36/12 slope). This would allow you to get your RV in and yet comply with the requirements of the county.
Trying to do what feels like it is dimensionally impossible with your new post frame building? Run it past us, we may have a design solution for your challenge which will fit within your measurement restrictions and your wallet!