Progress Report 12 – 30×48′ Pole Barn build

Moving stuff in and starting to frame out the full bathroom! I share some valuable lessons that I learned while teaching myself how to frame a wall. I made some newbie mistakes, but I think it will work out in the end.

We left off Progress Report 11 with fresh concrete, a garage door, and a big pile of wood in the back of the van. At this point the builder is done. Everything else is up to me to finish such as finish grading, electrical, driveway, etc. which I am totally fine with. I like that the ‘pressure’ is off and I can take it at my own pace as long as I keep current with my building permit which just requires at least one inspection within 6 months of the last to stay open. For my city they can be open for up to 2 years before you have to apply for another one.

Framing for the Bathroom / Mezzanine

I had planned to have the bathroom in this spot since I had to put plumbing in prior to the concrete. There were some details I am going to figure out on the fly though as far as exact dimensions. I will go through some of it here as I went through the process.

The idea here is that I am going to frame it out just like I would if it was in a house. This will allow me to use standard plumbing, wiring, and drywall methods. Due to that design though, I will need to frame out all of the walls using 16″ on center 2×4 framing so it can be sheetrocked.

The journey is part of the reward for me, I love having to figure this stuff out and apply it as I go.

Steps to building a pole barn
A view of where the bathroom and small mezzanine will be before I started any framing.
Steps to building a pole barn
The start of my first wall ever. I pretty much have no idea what I am doing other than I know to try to put the boards 16″ on center or less 😀
Steps to building a pole barn
Put the wall up in place. Had to cut a hole for the plumbing vent pipe. Used weather treated (contact rated) wood for all of the bottom boards that will touch the concrete.
Steps to building a pole barn
Cut the lid off the plumbing cap so I could see how it did. It did a pretty good job holding back the concrete but kind of bowed in some spots. It left plenty of room to get the plumbing in there though.
Steps to building a pole barn
Here I was just laying out some boards to figure out how wide the bathroom needed to be. This included google searches like ‘minimum distance from toilet to wall’ (In case you are curious, the answer is 21″ from the end of the bowl to the wall). Eventually after staring at it long enough I ended up with around 5′ wide for reasons to be further explained later.

Hanging LED lights that won’t get blocked when the garage door is up

While the 4 lights I had hung were good, it wasn’t very bright towards the front of the shop so I decided to go ahead and hang two over where I was framing for the bathroom. This gave me a lot more light to work without having to use any annoying halogen lights.

I had been thinking for a long time about how I was going to light under the area where the garage door is when it is up since it is so big (18′ wide by 12′ high). After ordering some parts I think I came up with a solution that is both easy and works great.

Steps to building a pole barn
To get some more light, I also hung up more 4′ LED lights. This time I used magnets to hang them from the garage door rails so they aren’t blocked when the garage door is up.

4′ LED shop lights

I have now bought 6 total sets of these Hykolity 4′ LED lights and haven’t had a single failure yet after using the first set daily for multiple years now. As a bonus they are super lightweight and can be hung pretty much anywhere (even from a magnet)

Magnets for hanging the lights

Steps to building a pole barn
Here is a pic of the lights hanging from the garage door track. This was a super easy install to hang the lights with magnets and only took 15 min or so. Might clean up the wiring later but I’m not worried about it for now.
Steps to building a pole barn
Here are the LED lights all lit up. I hung two more on the other rail (after this pic) but ran out of extension cords so they will have to wait until I get power ran to the shop. Plenty bright in there for now though. The scaffolding made this a breeze.

Temporary driveway

Everything was a mess at this point and there was a 6″ lip to get up into the garage which was fine for PJ but not for my humble minivan ‘Pearl’. Growing tired of there being mud everywhere I went ahead and pushed the gravel up to the shop to make a temporary driveway. I will have to dig this all up eventually when I go to do my drainage and driveway.

Steps to building a pole barn
Used the tractor to spread my gravel pile out and cover up the mud. This will be my temporary driveway until I get all of my drainage figured out and have a driveway poured.
Steps to building a pole barn
Pic of the gravel all spread. This has actually turned out to be a pretty good setup for the time being. The gravel is enough to at least keep everything from getting muddy for the most part. At this point I was also still working on whittling down the leftover wood pile.

More Framing

Steps to building a pole barn
More framing up! This helped reduce the scrap wood pile quickly.

Material choice for finishing out the inside of the pole barn

Typical pole barn construction would just put stringers laterally on the inside then finish with metal sheeting just like it is on the outside. I was told the ceiling pieces come in long lengths and typically take a crew to put up. I don’t want metal sheeting and don’t have a crew to help me, so my plan is to do sheetrock.

Sheetrock can be purchased with extra fire rating and going with 5/8″ thickness should help dampen the large amount of noise I plan on making in here. This is probably overkill but while researching I found that some of the 5/8″ sheetrock has a 2 hour fire rating which sounds appealing (haven’t checked price yet though). One of the biggest concerns I have when I go to bed after working out in the shop (welding and other hot work) is that something catches on fire.

The framing will be similar to house construction with 16″ OC framing and fiberglass bat insulation. I am building my framing flush with the inside of the pole barn poles. Framing it this way will allow the sheetrock to be flush against the poles also which in turn makes the shop interior dimensions about 3″ larger since there aren’t stringers on the insides of the poles (every bit counts right?). I have some out of the box ideas in store for finishing the inside of the shop that only Google knows about at the moment (due to my random searches 😛 ).

Steps to building a pole barn
Here is the plumbing I noted in part 11 that I was worried was going to be a pain. Guess what, it is. At first I tried notching the board to fit around the pipes…
Steps to building a pole barn
…Until I got mad at it and just cut some gaping holes in the board. I will have to reinforce it later.
Steps to building a pole barn
Hey, we have more walls!

Newbie mistake

As I said, I have never done any framing before. When I went to the hardware store, I bought the boards that said ‘STUD’ on them and assumed that they were the correct length. Well, turns out that the boards I bought were a full 8′ long and it doesn’t work that way because by the time you add a single board on the bottom and double header at the top your sheetrock isn’t big enough to cover it all. Therefore after calling my Dad, I learned that you have to cut the ‘STUD’ boards down to 92 5/8″.

Steps to building a pole barn
Here you can see the difference between the new wall and my original wall (though I didn’t put the second board on the top of the new wall yet)

BTW, my original walls are NOT coming down. I hammered those puppies into place and screwed them in already, they aren’t going anywhere. I will have to scab some boards in later so I have a spot to attach the sheetrock to.

Steps to building a pole barn
Marking all of my studs so I can cut them off at 92 5/8″
Steps to building a pole barn
My two favorite loves wrapped up in one product. Coffee + beer = happiness 😀
Steps to building a pole barn
More walls getting framed. My knees weren’t happy about framing it all on the ground but I couldn’t really think of a better way to do it. I’m all ears if you have any ideas for me because there are a lot of walls left to go.
I did time lapse some of it, I will need to put together a video one of these days.
Steps to building a pole barn
Here is the reason I ended up deciding on 5′ for the outside width of the bathroom. My outer rafter will be perfectly lined up to intersect with the post next to the garage door making it super strong (and easy to do).

Moving in some tools!

The attached garage was bursting at the seams and I needed to run conduit through the place where my tools were. The only logical next step was to go ahead and move them to the shop even though I wasn’t quite ready. Luckily I was able to borrow my neighbors tractor which turned out to be a huge help.

Steps to building a pole barn
Borrowed my neighbors tractor to start moving some of the bigger tools. He had some clamp on forks that worked really well.
Steps to building a pole barn
However, even though the tractor could lift them, it couldn’t make it into the shop because the front tires would hit the door pocket and the rear tires just spun in the gravel. This was fine though since the tools I was moving were all on wheels and I could just roll the stuff into the shop from there.

Thank you Bill and Dan for letting me steal your tractors. They were very helpful!!!!

Cool story bro…

This is one of those moments where I knew that my plan had gone flawlessly. I was ready to return one of the tractors the next morning but it was cold outside and already past dark. So I backed the van in and was able to hook on the trailer, drop the gate, and load the tractor all inside of the shop. Yes I am a spoiled princess, no I am not afraid to admit it 🙂

Steps to building a pole barn
This was awesome. I was able to back in, hook the trailer up, and load the tractor on it all INSIDE of the shop. Whoa.
Steps to building a pole barn
The mini-fleet enjoying the new crib. Though ‘Pearl’ the van still has to sleep outside 99% of the time.
Steps to building a pole barn
The last wall framed out. Learned a lot building the door hole. I only had to move the door framing once after sitting it up in place and realizing that the door was going to be too close to the sink. Luckily I used screws instead of nails so I could easily take it back apart.

A note on DIY

I often have people ask me how I know how to do so much stuff. The answer is… I don’t, I just look it up when I need it. The secret is not having all of the answers, it is knowing where and how to look for them. For example, framing this bathroom started with a Google query of ‘Typical wall framing’ which led to ‘How do I frame a corner’ which led to reading something about a 3 stud corner that prompted the follow up question ‘How to frame a 3 stud corner’ etc. etc.

There are people all over the world that like to write about their specialty just like I do. It is to the point now that with enough research one can perform a task that used to be reserved for the ‘experts’ with an equal level of quality. Another recent example was from the concrete guy who poured the floor that said my radiant floor install was among the best he had ever seen. I had never done it before and had no expert help other than just researching the subject on the internet. Take your time, do lots of research, don’t cut corners, and you will end up with a great end result. If you don’t, you can always tuck your tail and call the experts in later to help you fix your boo boo. I chock those up to learning experiences.

Anyways, long story short… You don’t have to know everything, just Google it.

Steps to building a pole barn
Hey! We have bathroom walls. It actually looks like I halfway knew what I was doing too.


Thanks for taking this journey with me. I hope you learned something or at least got some ideas. Stay tuned for the next part where we will finish the framing on the bathroom and start laying conduit for running power and internet out to the shop.

Now YOU, go outside and work on something!

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