Tag Archives: gazebo

Planning for a Dogtrot Barndominium

Planning for a Dogtrot Barndominium

Reader JIM in HOLIDAY writes:

Dear sir,

I have scoured your site as best I can in the past few weeks and I only see one very brief mention on the “Blower Door Test” and some other articles on elevated wood flooring.  These are the two main issues I am currently working on but I will try to briefly give you my current situation so you can offer any ideas.   Your knowledge and website are invaluable and although we haven’t talked or met, I feel I can trust you to be honest.

A little background:

I have 5 acres of mostly wooded land in northern Florida approximately 30 miles SSW of Valdosta, Ga.  I have the land approximately 50% paid off and owe about $18,000.  

I currently have a 100amp temporary electric pole, a water well drilled and am installing a temporary septic system.  All were permitted and approved except the temp septic since it is being constructed.  I also have a 12×16 single pitch roof gazebo, permitted and approved, an engineer stamped 12×16 s-type quonset hut shed, a 10×12 (no permit needed) shed and an 8×30 old refurbished FEMA trailer that we can stay in when we are there to work.  All are paid in full.

I am required to have a minimum of “1200 sq ft of heated living area” for a residence due to a covenant/restriction in the deed.  The land is approximately 4 hours from my current home.  

I would like a 30 to 36 inch raised wooden floor in the residence.  My budget is on the lower end since I’m on a retirement income.  I will be the general contractor (no experience) and I have two sons in the construction business with 15 to 20 years experience.  My oldest is a roofer but currently owns his own handyman business so he either does it all or knows people who can do what I need.  My youngest is a framing carpenter who also has connections.

I feel comfortable about their abilities and their friends and co-workers being able to get this done for me.  I want all the floors raised as I plan to eventually connect all the buildings with a continuous porch and the house with a wrap around deck the same height.  When completed the area will have the house and all the buildings in a “U” configuration that is approximately 250 ft by 250 ft.  There is a possibility, and room for, another 1200 square foot residence next to the first but both buildings would have to be connected, making it one residence since I am only allowed one residence on my 5 acres.

Now that you have the general, current, status of where I am, I am trying to decide on the 1200 sq ft residence.  First and foremost, my building inspector and I don’t always see eye to eye.  He says that he has yet to find a metal building that will pass the now nationwide mandate for every new residence to pass a “blower door test” and my residence will not be approved unless it does.  He has no issue with a raised wood floor but feels that poles in the ground may not be sufficient due to the hurricane rating for winds.  Uplift from winds will require not only cement but screw in tie downs like on a mobile home, which I was required to do on the other, smaller buildings.  

Can you please explain and elaborate on a Hansen pole residence of around 1200 sq ft and the blower door test and also the raised buildings and floors and uplift.  Any other suggestions would also be greatly appreciated.

My main goal is to get the needed, but bare minimum 1200 sq ft residence as soon as possible so I can get my certificate of occupancy and move there and then complete the interior of the first building.  Then apply for a permit to build an attached second building of the same size and design as the first to double my space.  I don’t know if this can be done but obviously living there will accelerate my plans rather than driving 4 hours, every 2 or 3 weeks, spending 2 or 3 days working and driving back.  My wife and I seem to like the “dog trot” style building but I don’t know if this can be done one building at a time. 

Thank you for your time and ideas on this.  


I am in somewhat of a rush to make a decision on what residence to focus on so an email reply to xxxx@xxxxx.com as soon as you can would be appreciated. Hopefully this will be of interest to others and may be published in your blog in the future.

Again thank you for such dedication to informing everyone who is trying to live their dreams.

Tune in tomorrow for Mike’s response!

Ramada – More than Just an Inn

Much of the year I am a “road warrior” – spending two weeks out of every month on planes, trains and automobiles, the next two back at home. Our youngest daughter (now a college sophomore) has threatened more than once to stop by the house when I am away and paste my photo on a milk carton in the refrigerator with the caption, “Have You Seen This Parent”?

On my journeys, an occasional haunt is Ramada® Inn, which this article has very little to do with, other than the name. This morning Eric (one of the Hansen Buildings owners) messaged me to ask, “Is a roof only building referred to as a ‘ramada’”?

Ramada, in the building sense – not the Ramada Inn sense, is a term which originated in the southwestern United States. A ramada can be either a temporary or a permanent structure, generally being just a roof, but could also be partially enclosed.

RamadaOriginally ramadas were constructed with branches or bushes by early southwest inhabitants. In modern times, it is also applied to pole barns which are used to shelter objects or people from the sun.

Many public parks in arid areas of the country may make use of ramadas to protect picnic tables, rest rooms or water sources. As sunlight is more of an environmental hazard than snow, wind or rain in these desert and near desert areas, a roof alone provides significant shelter, even if there are no walls.

In the case of public structures, I’ve designed more than just square or rectangular ramadas – as six and eight sided structures (especially in small spans) make for very attractive picnic shelters.

There are some design considerations when it comes to roof only ramadas. The challenge of designing a roof only ramada is there are no endwalls to transfer wind shear loads from the roof to the ground. This causes the columns to have to do all of the work and increases the pressure they must withstand by a factor of four! The resultant is large dimension columns and very deep holes backfilled entirely with concrete.

Building height also plays into good ramada design. The design formula for the building columns includes the square of the ramada height. Lower height ramadas are going to be far more cost effective than taller ones.

The best ramada designs have one (and ideally both) gabled endwalls covered with structural siding to the ground, over wall girts. In many cases, it is less expensive to add the endwalls to the ramada, than to construct just a roof.

Like the Ramada® Worldwide tag line, “You Do Your Thing. Leave The Rest To Us.” – this applies equally well to the design of your new post frame ramada. The Hansen Buildings tag line follows this train of thought by stating: “Your Building. Your Way.”