30 x 20 three bay pole barn / carriage shed

  • Advertise with us
Project by Mainiac Matt posted 05-23-2012 04:06 PM 17915 views 8 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve had a couple guys ask about the pole barn I put up in the summer of 2009, so here are some screen shots of the project.

The design was inspired by a rendered pic from an online catalog of plans. I imported and traced the bit map into Auto CAD and scaled it to the published verticle height, then I used the rules of 2 point perspective to extrapolate some dimensions. The barn is ~30’ x 20’ with three 10’ bays and a 3’ overhang. the design was then altered significantly to incorporate a loft and for economy, as I can purchase industrial grade lumber at work for cost, but only 12’ boards were available. The only store bought lumber was the 6×6 PT posts. The 2×10x16’ rafters were salvaged from a bowling alley demo back in the ‘96 time frame and are structural joist grade Hemlock….. really old and really hard. I carted these around for years and had them stored under tarps on an old trailer.

The post are 6×6 PT. The post holes were dug with a borrowed tractor post hole auger impliment, and go down ~3’ where I hit ledge. The bottom third of the PT posts got a tripple coat of Cuprinal (which I salvaged from a dead program at work, after the boss decided he didn’t want it on site any more)... this is NASTY stuff… but it is the real, deal Copper, Chrome, Arsenic mix that they used to use in PT b4 the environmental laws banned it for all but commercial use. I poured sack crete pads at the bottom of each post hole, and drove four lag bolts standing ~4” proud into the posts at ~ 18” from the bottom. I back filled the post holes with washed stone and when I got to the lag bolts, I put in sack crete “buggers” around the bolts, and then finished back filling with washed stone. These post are not coming out!

As mentioned, the size and frame design was driven by economy, with all the 2×10 rafters coming out of 16’ boards and 2×10 floor joists for the loft coming out of 12’ boards. The sill plate on the back side is quadrupled up 2×10, with two boards lapped into the 6×6 PT post and capped off with a 2×10 plate. On the front side, I had 13 year olld 8×10 White Pine timbers left over from the construction of my house that were lap jointed into the tall front posts. and I used 3/4 Advantex to make torson box framed gusset plates on the front braces. I cut a tounge into the top of the center line 6×6 PT posts and trippled up 2×6s to make post extentions that go all the way up to the ridge. So the 2×12 ridge is “structural”.

The loft deck and wall sheathing was all done with 1×12 #3 grade pine boards. I intended to do board and batton walls and have all the batton stock ripped and stacked up in the loft…. but the barn looks good and is tight enough for my purposes, so three years later and I haven’t put up the battens yet.

The roof was sheathed with recycled crate panels that were miscut for a job at work… so the rafter spacing is very odd, to match the 1×4 cleats on the crate panels.

September was slipping by quickly and I was running into bad weather, so I paid a guy I know $1K to roof it with 35 yr Architectural Shingles, to match my house and his crew did the job in a day.

I was lucky to get an indian summer, in which time the entire crew (kids and wife) primed the exterior walls with tinted Baehr oil based primer, followed by two coats of Baehr water clean up, oil based opaque exterior stain…. I can’t say enough about this stain. The barn has now been through three winters and it looks brand new.

The doors went on in December and have 1×10 verticle boards with 1×6 ‘X’ cleats on the front and corrugated metal fasteners spaced every foot alont every board seam on the interior side (again, fasteners salvaged from old programs at work).

It was a fun project. A buddy who was out of work and needed some income worked with me as a helper. And aside for a small crew of volunteers on the day we set the posts (yes, I did throw my back out that day), the two of us built and sheathed the entire frame.

I estimate I put ~$9K into the project, with the cost of stumping, grading and gravel the largest bill…. followed by the roofing.

hope your enjoy the pics.

-- Pine is fine, but Oak's no joke!

22 comments so far

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

7813 posts in 2263 days

#1 posted 05-23-2012 04:12 PM

here’s part of the painting crew

-- Pine is fine, but Oak's no joke!

View Bertha's profile


13510 posts in 2628 days

#2 posted 05-23-2012 04:50 PM

It’s a really attractive structure. I’m jealous:)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

7813 posts in 2263 days

#3 posted 05-23-2012 04:59 PM

Here’s a shot in December… just b4 the snow flew

I’ve since run power to the barn underground and have a 100 amp panel in it, with exterior lights centered over each door. I also put cain bolts on the left & center doors and a safety hasp on the right door… This after the neighbors garage was burgled.

I know the mice sure like it…. as I’ve caught some 30 of them over the last year.

-- Pine is fine, but Oak's no joke!

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

7813 posts in 2263 days

#4 posted 05-23-2012 05:01 PM

I just looked at my oldest files for this design…. I actually started working on the design in 2005 :^O

Not that anyone ever called me speedy.

My wife told me that she felt like a single mom all summer long and has since banned any and all construction projects…. though I am well along with drafting up a screened in porch add’n to the house :^)

-- Pine is fine, but Oak's no joke!

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

7813 posts in 2263 days

#5 posted 05-23-2012 05:11 PM

I got the idea for the 2 point perspective reverse engineering from an old FWW mag, where they design a chest of drawers from a photo and one good dimension.

Though I learned about perspective in school this web site a great reference and refresher course

-- Pine is fine, but Oak's no joke!

View a1Jim's profile


117032 posts in 3512 days

#6 posted 05-23-2012 05:13 PM

Looks like a fine build and cool building .Did I miss what your using it for ,carriage storage LOL ,garage ?

-- wood crafting & classes

View canadianchips's profile


2600 posts in 2932 days

#7 posted 05-23-2012 05:26 PM

Great looking Architectural building.
Those pole building can be economical.
The only time they are NOT is when people build them, cement the floor, insulate all the walls and finish the inside. A framed wall is the better way to go. But for dirt floor storage pole is cheaper and quicker to set up.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

7813 posts in 2263 days

#8 posted 05-23-2012 05:36 PM

I spread washed 3/4 stone ~4” deep over the floor….

I agree with you chips… pole barns aren’t reallly meant to be finished… I did some soul searching and decided I would never finish this building b4 I committed to pole construction.

tractor in one bay… implements (york rake, snow blower, back hoe, 3PH log splitter, and spreader) along with lown mower and leaf sweeper in the second, and in the winter, I garage my old beater 1-ton in the third…. canoe, lumber and misc. junk in the loft.

My wife is quite disappointed that there’s no room for her car :^O

Funny how they always wind up looking a lot smaller than you anticipated once they’re closed in.

-- Pine is fine, but Oak's no joke!

View NormG's profile


5900 posts in 2939 days

#9 posted 05-24-2012 02:07 AM

Great project, well done. Love the doors

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View vakman's profile


301 posts in 2338 days

#10 posted 05-24-2012 05:47 AM

Excellent design, looks like you storing that structural lumber paid off!

-- - Power is not revealed by striking hard or often, but by striking true. -

View cathyb's profile


768 posts in 3179 days

#11 posted 05-24-2012 06:01 AM

Funny you should post this today. I was raised in Pennsylvania and naturally love barns, covered bridges, old mills and great craftsmanship. Those carpenters really took the time to do things right. No detail was too be neglected.

Today I fired the contractor who was working on my addition. It was a simple addition and if I knew nothing about construction, he would still be whistling his way to the bank. First the windows were improperly installed, then he used cheap untreated lumber for trim and thank God for caulk because it sure makes those joints look close. After I sent him packing, I removed the trim, the windows, and all that caulk. It was pretty messy, but as my mother used to say, “I had a bee in my bonnet and nothing was slowing me down.”

A few minutes ago, I was resting and longing for Pennsylvania. It occurred to me that I never saw caulk in the barns that I played in as a child, just amazing timbers and awesome joints. Those barns were magical to me. That brings me back to your pole barn. It is F A B U L O U S ! What is more important to me is that there are still carpenters, like you, who care about making something that will last for a hundred years. Thank you so much for posting this magnificent barn. I LOVE IT!

-- cathyb, Hawaii,

View Big Ben's profile

Big Ben

87 posts in 2825 days

#12 posted 05-24-2012 07:02 PM


Great post, I want to build a pole barn shop (16’ x 24’) next year and have been designing it for the past two years in my head. This is definitely pushing the inspiration to actually get it done.

Couple questions for you:

Was it hard to make the rafters? I am trying to decide if I wan to go with truss or just make my own rafters?

Why did you stick the poles in the ground verse concrete piers? And what size auger bit did you use to dig the holes?

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

7813 posts in 2263 days

#13 posted 05-24-2012 08:31 PM

Hi Ben,

Cutting rafters was pretty easy. Make sure you orientate them “crown up”. That is to say that most any long board will have some bow to it, and you want the “hump” up. I have a 12×12 pitch, so I simply cut a 45 degree angle at the top and then cut a notch (often reffered to as a birds mouth) with a power jig saw at the point where the rafter sits on the plate.

I made the trusses for my house with plywood gusset plates, and will never do it again. Pre-fab trusses are great, but my design is not symetrical and I wanted to maximize the useable space in the loft.

Well, pole barn construction is, by definition, poles set into the ground and it is often the most economical way to put up an out buildiing, specifically because you don’t pour a concrete foundation or footing. As long as the poles sit below the forst line, the building will be stable.

Often decks have concrete piers poured into sono-tube and then the PT posts sit on that pier. This will support the weight of the structure, but will not keep it from being lifted off, or rolled over. There is galvanized steel hardware that can be set into the concrete pier as it dries, and then lagged into the post, and though this will prevent you from pulling straight off the pier, it doesn’t have a lot of resistance to being bent over (that is to say it can’t resist moment loads).

Some people pour concrete into the holes and then submerge the PT post into the concrete. This is often done with fence posts. But concrete is just like a sponge with water and even PT posts will rot away when constantly wet in their water filled concrete environment.

The gap spacing in 3/4 washed stone is large enough that it can’t use capillary action to wick water up to the pole. Rather the water will drop straight to the bottom and,depending on the soil type, either sit there (clay) or spread out away from the post (sand).

I think the auger was 10” diameter, and I definately recall at the time wishing it was 12”. But beggers can’t be choosers…. and I had my 12 post holes dug in two hours, so I was a happy camper. This rig mounted to a tractors 3 point hitch and are driven by the PTO shaft. They make quick work in sand, loom or gravel…. but will not dig up rocks of any significant size.

Hope this info. helps. Pole barns can be cheap to put up, but they are not the most enduring structures in the world. That’s why I tripple treated my posts and was carefull about back fill materials.

-- Pine is fine, but Oak's no joke!

View Keith Fenton's profile

Keith Fenton

328 posts in 2855 days

#14 posted 05-25-2012 02:43 PM

quote: ”The design was inspired by a rendered pic from an online catalog of plans. I imported and traced the bit map into Auto CAD and scaled it to the published verticle height, then I used the rules of 2 point perspective to extrapolate some dimensions.”

As a professional pattern designer, I am rather offended… It’s impossible for me to sell a plan without showing the customer a picture of the project. I try and make the pics small enough that people can’t easily do this, but I’m sure it happens. A $9000 barn and you couldn’t buy the plans? At the very least, since you seem to have the design ability, you could have designed your own of roughly the same style from eyballing it rather than making a blatant rip-off copy and then bragging about it.

-- Scroll saw patterns @

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

7813 posts in 2263 days

#15 posted 05-25-2012 07:29 PM

At the very least, since you seem to have the design ability, you could have designed your own of roughly the same style from eyballing it rather than making a blatant rip-off copy and then bragging about it.

Perhaps you would like to actually read b4 you get all hot and bothered and leap…. as this is exactly what I did.

Or if reading is a challenge, you could look at the pictures and see that the pattern barn slopes down to an eve height of ~4’ at the back wall, while my back eve is at ~8’. And the pattern barn has no loft… and mine does. The pattern barn is only enclosed on three sides, while my design has sliding doors. And while I’ll gladly admit that the pattern barn more aesthetically pleasing… my design is much more functional and efficient.

I actually had a pleasant conversation with the Architect that designed the pattern barn and after complimenting him on his work and discussing the construction, we both concluded that there was no way to make a loft fit into his design.

As I am an industrial designer and have had my work ripped off more times than I can count (usually by customers who insist on fully dimensioned prints for thier internal q.c. purposes, and then send them out to bid) I appreciate your perspective. But in all honesty, you can’t drive more than a couple miles in New England without seeing a two or three bay carriage barn. So I don’t think the architect who designed the pattern barn has any more right to claim exclusive rights to the design than I do.

The reason I showed the screen shot of the two point perspective was to iillustrate how a photograph can be converted into a fairly accurate drawing with just one or two dims. And since I got the idea from a copy of FWW that I purchased with green dollar bills, I don’t feel any shame for using the information to advise my own design process.

I support intelectual property rights, but I do not support them to the extreme that everybody who ever whistled Dixie owes some dead sotherner’s estate a nickle for each and every time they took the privelage. I hope you never designed a theaded fastener into any of your work Keith, as I’m sure you neither came up with the idea, nor paid any royaltees to the person who did.

-- Pine is fine, but Oak's no joke!

showing 1 through 15 of 22 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics