Tag Archives: shouse

Room in a Barndominium

Room In A Barndominium

I read plenty of chatter in Facebook barndominium groups where people want to see other’s floor plans. In my humble opinion – this is a mistake. Building your own barndominium, shouse (shop/house) or post frame home from scratch gives you probably a once in a lifetime opportunity to craft a home specifically to fit your needs.

Home sizes can be split up into three groups – small (under 2000 square feet), medium (2000-2999 square feet) and large (over 3000 square feet). In discussions about possible rooms and sizes average square footage (sft) for each size will be indicated.

Entry Foyer  (65/89/138 sft)

Most homes have some sort of space inside the front door where coats and boots are removed, etc. Coat closet should be in this area as well. 

Our shouse in South Dakota has a tiled floor in this area located where top of stairs and  elevator are. Ours is on small end of spectrum, at well below average. My own personal favorite was in my Willamette Valley home where I created an ‘air lock’ entry – front door opening into an area where a nearly full glass door divided it from living spaces. This design was very practical for maintaining interior temperatures.

Kitchen (193/275/423)

Face it, we all have to eat. This is going to be your ideal dream home, so kitchen space is not a place to skrimp. Ours is most certainly beyond large average.

In our shouse’s case, I personally enjoy to cook, my bride to bake. Our kitchen tends to also become a social place where company congregates as meals are organized and prepared. Things I feel we really did right in ours include:

4’ x 8’ center island. We designed it with a two foot bank of cabinets on one side, a two foot space for a chair from each side (and grandkids can crawl through) and four feet of cabinets on other side. This chair space worked out to be ideal for my wife’s powered wheelchair after she became a paraplegic. 

Separate side-by-side refrigerator and freezer units. There is seemingly never enough space inside a standard combined unit. We also raised ours a foot above floor level so we didn’t have to stand on our heads to see what was at the bottom.

If one is good, two are better. This applied to our ovens, where one is stacked above another. This became even more important after my wife’s accident, as she can easily reach the lower oven. We also have two dishwashers – one of my pet peeves is fixing a meal for a large group and having dirty dishes remaining on counters and sinks. Two dishwashers solved this. We also raised each of them a foot off the floor and it has made loading and unloading so much easier! Our other duo is his and hers microwaves. Even though it is just the two of us here, it is amazing how often we have both of these in use at the same time.

We have large spaces (four feet) between island and surrounding kitchen counters.

Long eating bar (easily seats five on bar stools) – at the same height as the top of raised dishwashers, with sink and range on the other side and lower. With a passle of grandchildren, this makes serving and cleanup a breeze.

One thing I did miss (and I have had before) is a trash compactor.

Walk-In Kitchen Pantry (17/31/51)

Originally we did not have one in our shouse. After my bride’s accident, we ended up adding a full sized elevator, requiring a mechanical room. The space at living level, above mechanical room, became our pantry. Even with our kitchen having side-by-side refrigerator and freezer units, there just was never enough room, especially around Winter Holidays. Our pantry has both a refrigerator with a top freezer and an upright freezer. Refrigerator is a handy spot for 12 packs of soda and adult beverages, as well as when guests bring refrigerated items over for a get together. 

We also used heavy duty shelf brackets and have two foot deep shelves all up one wall and above cooling units.

Come back tomorrow for more on designing your new barndominium.

See Your New Barndominium Here

In our last episode, we were escaping odors produced by mushroom people – now let us move forward to getting a clearer vision and a view from your new post frame barndominium’s windows!

Once you have narrowed your choices down to a handful, ideally you can watch each site over a year’s time – as well as gathering more information about your area. Watch for ponding after rains, or Spring runoffs, you don’t want to wake up and find yourself in a slough. In snow country – what sort of drifting occurs?

Spend a few dollars and buy a beer or two for a local geotechnical engineer. You want to build upon stable soils – not prone to undue shifting and settling. One of our sons has a home high above the Missouri River East of Pierre, SD. Years of nearby river flow created a huge sand hill, upon where his now neighborhood is located. His home, and those of his neighbors, is constantly moving!

Make sure your potential site will not be in a habitat protected area. Don’t invest in land and find out some rare insect only lives or nests on what you thought was going to be your forever dream home site. Wetlands can prove problematic – get to know any possible restrictions.

Are wildfires a possibility? Is area a known fire hazard? Is your fire department supported solely by volunteers (if so, be prepared for higher insurance costs)? My Auntie Norma lost everything as 2018’s Camp Fire destroyed Paradise, California and surrounding areas. It can happen.

Avoid a site within a flood zone, unless you are prepared to invest extra to build above flood levels. Same goes for hurricane prone areas.

If not on a regularly maintained county road, who does maintain it? What might it cost you for your share to upkeep a private road? If access is across property of others, check for written easements. Investigate any easements across what could be your future property.

Order a preliminary title report, this will disclose easements and restrictive covenants or conditions. You might want to order a land survey as well, especially if property boundaries are loosely defined. Don’t count on fence lines to be accurate.

Water is important, and not all water is potable. Sometimes water rights don’t “run with the land,” this would mean you couldn’t dig a well.

If planning on a well, find out the depth of water table and determine difficulty of digging. 

It can be costly to bring electricity, telephone, or cable service to a property if they’re not already established nearby. Will you need to install a propane tank? What will it cost to install a septic system?

If you’re not planning to finance a land purchase through a conventional lender—requiring a lender appraisal—obtain your own appraisal to determine an appropriate price before making an offer. Comparable sales are sometimes difficult to find when you’re buying rural land.

It’s common to pay cash for land because getting a loan for this type of purchase can be tricky. Raw land can’t be leveraged by a bank.

If you do get a loan—and there are a few lenders out there who specialize in and will touch this type of transaction—don’t expect to be approved for more than maybe 50 percent of the purchase price. You might have more success if your land has utility access and is reasonably accessible by roadway.

Once you do acquire a place to build – then and only then is it time to move to your next step – designing your own ideal dream custom barndominium!

A Place for a Post Frame Barndominium

You and your loved ones have decided to take a plunge – building your own barndominium, shouse, or post frame home. 

But where?

Other than formulating a rough budget for building (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/07/how-much-will-my-barndominium-cost/) your journey is realistically at a standstill until you have acquired a place to build.

It is easy to idealize what it’s like to live on acreage away from city hustle and bustle, and there are indeed some advantages. Rural land costs are lower and generally further away from a city one gets, acreage becomes cheaper. Many people buy land because they want to build a custom home to their own specifications. They also want cleaner air and more space.

However, consider potential challenges fully before deciding to dump urban living and become Oliver Wendell Douglas (for those of you too young to remember Google “Green Acres”).

Now my lovely bride and I happen to have our own rural shouse. We live in a county of 10,278 souls scattered across 1136 square miles. Deduct our nearby metropolis of Sisseton and we average less than seven people per square mile!

Gambrel roof pole barnFinding skilled craftsman who are willing to travel to our location ranged from difficult to impossible. Few were interested in a jaunt of 60 miles from Watertown or 100 miles from Fargo. Those who would travel charged extra to compensate for driving time and distance. Transporting building materials and paying for delivery costs more than building near a major city.

Although modern conveniences are usually available, they aren’t always reliable. We are now installing a backup propane generator for those times when we can go days without electrical power. Cell service here can be problematic, “Can you hear me now?”. 

While we do have two grocery stores in Sisseton eight miles away, and serious shopping involves planning and a 100 mile drive. We’re in snow country and a blizzard means we could be stuck at home for days.

Take time to become familiar with any area being considered for your new home site. Get to know your potential community and hear stories from locals before diving in deep with a realtor.

Use some caution as all of your future neighbors might not be overjoyed to hear you’re going to buy up land behind their homes and erect your own palace there, obstructing their pristine views. You might meet up with some resistance—even organized resistance involving municipal and county authorities.

Consider rural resale values can be less in rural areas, due to a smaller pool of potential buyers. If demand is low and supply is high, prices will be more negotiable. 

Check with local authorities, including city, county, and state, to determine zoning ordinances. Find out any possible restrictions before committing to a land investment. Some areas prohibit construction on anything other than large parcels of five, 10 and even 20 acres.

Realize you might be subjected to sounds and lovely odors produced by nearby farms. In my past life I once rented a home, not realizing it was occasionally downwind of a mushroom growing plant. Mushrooms grow real well given dark and manure!

Stay tuned for our next exciting episode – where stench goes away and you move one step closer to making your dreams a reality!

Post Frame Home Construction Financing

Most people building their own post frame post frame home (barndominium or shouse included) need some amount of post frame home construction financing.  (shouse=shop+house)

Some important things to keep in mind with construction loans:

Obtaining one takes more time and financial investment than a conventional loan (loan on or against an existing building).

Lenders require more documentation – building plans, budgets, time lines, etc.

“Single Close” loans finance land and post frame home and serve as long-term financing.

“Two Step” loans finance land purchase and construction. New post frame home owners must refinance with a conventional loan upon completion.

Plan on needing at least a 20% down payment. In some cases, if property is free and clear, some or all of land value can be applied toward down payment.

Your lender’s equity will be based upon whatever is least – cost or finished appraised value. Be wary – some items or inclusions have a greater cost than their finished appraised value.

Typical payments are interest upon portion of funds used during construction.

Borrower/builder will take draws as needed to cover materials and labor completed. In an event a general contractor is hired, do not give him or her direct access to funds without you having to approve.

Borrower and builder must be fully approved by lender. This is one of the few cases where I recommend using a general contractor – but only if your lender will not allow you to self-build. 

Do NOT apply for your loan telling the potential lender it is a barndominium, pole barn/building or post frame home, etc. Your post frame home should be listed as a “wood framed with a concrete foundation”. Period.

Post Frame Home

While it sounds ideal to build a post frame home for your specific wants and needs, processes of applying for and closing a construction loan will require a much greater commitment of time and financial resources compared to financing an existing home with a traditional Conventional Mortgage. This is because those banks funding construction loans are investing a considerable sum into an intangible asset, one not yet existing. As such, their requirements for documentation and a greater down payment from buyer are greater than if they were financing an already existing home.

There are effectively two types of construction loans, and while they may go by different names by banks offering them. 

A single close construction loan is a single loan financing property acquisition and post frame home construction, it serves as long term financing as well. Since this bank is taking a leap of faith the home will be built “as advertised” with plans and specifications they’ve been provided, they’re still taking a risk in home buyer and builder. If something goes wrong during construction, they could end up being lien holder on a partially constructed post frame home. Since banks are NOT in the business of building homes, they will mitigate this risk charging higher interest rates on construction loans. Greatest risk to a bank closing a construction loan is having either builder or buyer default during construction and higher rates allow them to spread this risk.

A Two Step loan differs as home buyer will close on one loan solely used to finance land purchase and dwelling construction. Once completed, post frame homeowner refinances construction loan with a permanent conventional loan of their choosing.

Both single close and two step loan have their distinct pros and cons and each individual home buyer/builder needs to evaluate those to determine which is best. While a single close loan only requires a borrower to sign one set of loan documents and they have one loan covering both construction and long term home financing, rates at closing are anywhere from .25 to .5% higher than a traditional conventional loan may be. Again, this is due to construction lender’s added risk. Two step loans offer client an ability to choose (after completion) a permanent loan of their liking. Typically this will be at a lower rate than a conventional loan, but two loan closings result in two sets of closing costs, two signings, etc.

Variables a post frame homeowner should consider include length of time they plan to keep the home, current interest rate environment (are rates rising or falling?) and their own risk tolerance knowing rates can and probably will either go up or down while the home is being built.

Barndominium is Popping Up Everywhere

Back in 1981 Barbara Mandrell recorded and released a hit song written by Kye Fleming and Dennis Morgan, “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool”. Well Barbara certainly has it over me in the looks department and I doubt I will ever have a Top Ten hit with, “I Had a Barndominium When Barndominiums Weren’t Cool”.

Read more about barndominium here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/02/barndominium/.

My first personal barndominium, built in 1994, was actually more of a shouse – a 40 feet wide by 36 feet deep, but not rectangular, post frame building! Seriously, it was built as a parallelogram 14 degrees out of square to follow property lines of a very narrow lot. Shop portion is on the ground floor – a garage level with three overhead steel sectional doors 9’ wide x 8’ tall, 10’ wide x 11’ tall and 8’ wide x 7’ tall. I would never recommend the latter of these for an automobile, but it works superbly for motorcycles and our log splitter.

Gambrel roof pole barnThis building is entirely clearspan – no interior columns to have to work around. Second floor has a 10 foot wide step-down by four feet. This area has its own vaulted ceiling at a 7/12 slope and is used for exercise equipment. With a series of nine windows overlooking a beautiful lake, it takes one’s mind off the agonies of treadmilling and lifting weights.

Upper level is only 30 foot by 36 foot, however it has a vaulted ceiling with a 4/12 interior slope. Another set of nine windows for lake view and a cantilevered deck facing eastward – perfect for a BBQ, with access from a sliding glass patio door.

A June 11, 2019 article by Becky Bracken and provided by www.realtor.com tells a story of bardominiums for sale from coast-to-coast: https://m.chron.com/realestate/article/Barndominiums-Blooming-The-Popular-Style-Is-13967497.php.

Ready to make your custom home dreams into an affordable reality? Then a post frame barndominium or shouse might be exactly what you need. Call 1(866)200-9657 to discuss your wants and needs with a Hansen Buildings’ Designer today.

Maximizing Post Frame Gambrel Space

Maximizing Post Frame Gambrel Usable Space With Trusses

Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer Rachel and I recently had some discussions in regards to maximizing post frame gambrel truss useable space.  Most often gambrel roofs are supported by one piece clearspan gambrel trusses. Largest downside to this type of truss system is lack of bonus room width. Usually you can expect a room from 1/3 to ½ building width with smaller span trusses (generally 24-30 foot spans). Sort of like this:

My bride and I happen to live in a gambrel style barndominium (for more reading on barndominiums https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/04/the-rise-of-the-barndominium/). It is actually probably more appropriately a shouse (shop/house). We wanted just a lot more living space than what could be afforded by a bonus room in a gambrel truss.

This is what we did…..

Center width of our home is 48 feet. We clearspanned this using 48 foot long prefabricated wood floor trusses, placed 24 inches on center. These parallel chord trusses are close to four feet in depth. With our 16 foot high finished ceiling downstairs (it is a half-court basketball court), this made our second floor level 20 feet above grade. Ends of these trusses are supported by LVL (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/01/lvl/) beams notched into four ply 2×8 glu-laminated columns every 12 feet.

This got us across from column to column to support a floor, now we needed a roof system! We utilized trusses much like these, only much bigger:

Our trusses were so much larger, they had to be fabricated in two halves, split right down the center and field spliced to create a whole unit. We utilized the “Golden Ratio” (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/06/gambrel/) to create slopes and pitch break points. Our steep slope is 24/12 and our upper slope is 6/12/ On the inside, our slope is 12/12 and our flat ceiling ends up at 16 feet above floor!

We also ended up with a very, very tall building. Roof peak happens to be 44 feet above grade! Living at 20 feet above ground does afford some spectacular views – we look due south down Lake Traverse and can see the tops of tall structures in Browns Valley, our closest town six miles away.

In my next article, I will clue you in on things I would have done differently, so stay tuned!