Pole Barn House

Updated on July 12, 2019
inbo5599 profile image

Lisa is from MI and grew up on a farm. The vernacular architecture--pole barns and timber frame barns--were inspiration for this project!

Pole barn house front elevation.
Pole barn house front elevation.

Barn House

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in a barn house? I did; so I decided to build one. I grew up on a farm and have always admired the flexibility of open spaces, high ceilings, and natural cross ventilation the sliding doors provide in barns. I salvaged building materials for a year and designed and built this house around the materials. I went with pole building construction for the following reasons:

  • minimal impact on land
  • easily passes code
  • appraises as a stick-built home
  • ease of construction
  • able to get the roof on early!


Pole Barn House

This pole barn house is 1,085 SF with 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, and a storage/sleeping loft. It is a shed roof structure with modern design and features:

  • high ceilings
  • pole building construction
  • plenty of natural light
  • solar passivity
  • radiant in-floor heat
  • wood stove and
  • some universal design principles

It makes a great small home, cabin, cottage, or guesthouse and its simple shape makes it easy to build!

Pole building frame and foundation.
Pole building frame and foundation.

Pole Barn House Foundation

For the foundation, holes 1' - 2' in diameter were dug 4' in the ground below the frost line. Then 1' of cement was poured in the bottom of the holes and posts were placed on top of the cement. The holes were then backfilled. The cement pads distribute the weight from the load on the post. The posts were treated 6X6's, and spacing varied from 6' - 10' apart.

Pole barn house lot.
Pole barn house lot.

Pole Barn House Lot

Getting a building project off on the right foot starts with getting the right lot or knowing how to best work with the lot you have. In this case, here are some of the lot attributes:

  • No lot clearing was needed as we built in the open part of the land
  • Minimal leveling (excavation) was needed for the driveway
  • Shade from the wooded part of the lot in the south provides for natural cooling in the summer (this building project was built in the north; if building in the south you would want to do the opposite)

If you are looking for land here are some things that might be helpful to look for as you seek a lot to build on:

  • Minimal excavation needed
  • Good drainage
  • Proper sun exposure or shelter (depending on if you are building in the north or south)
  • Land that perks for a regular septic system (specialized system can be triple the cost!)

Pole Barn House Doors and Windows

Pole building construction allows for easy placement of doors and windows. In this case, I used all salvaged and builder restock doors and windows. If you decide to used salvaged doors and windows make sure to get ones that are in excellent working condition.

Here are some places to look for salvaged, reclaimed, and builder restock doors and windows:

  • Craigslist
  • classified Ads
  • builder restock stores
  • garage sales
  • let friends and family know that you are in the market for quality used doors and windows; they may have some or know of someone who does!

* Always make sure doors and windows are in excellent working condition before buying!

TIP

Here is the best piece of advice I received from a designer regarding reclaimed doors and windows ...

"Don't worry if you find windows and doors that don't match in color or size. If you find a good deal pick them up because you can always use them somewhere in your house. It may mean that each wall will have a different color but if designed right people will never know--or will think it is supposed to be that way."

Pole Barn House Exterior

The materials of the pole barn house are wood, metal, and concrete. The exterior is plywood siding stained with an eco-friendly exterior stain, galvanized metal roof, corrugated metal skirt board, and 1X6" wood trim. I am not sure I would use plywood again for exterior siding due to the maintenance. I would probably go with untreated cedar shingles left natural.


galvanized metal skirtboard
galvanized metal skirtboard
galvanized metal soffit
galvanized metal soffit

Pole Barn House Interior

In the interior I decided to go with a low VOC paint on the walls and matte clear coat on the concrete floor.

These photos were taken during construction ...

Barn House Miscellaneous Construction and Building Photos

concrete floors with radiant in floor heat
concrete floors with radiant in floor heat
A shower basin was made when the concrete floor was poured so we could feel the heat from the radiant in floor heat underfoot.
A shower basin was made when the concrete floor was poured so we could feel the heat from the radiant in floor heat underfoot.
concrete shower basin
concrete shower basin

Universal Design

Some universal design features were incorporated into the pole barn house including:

  • stairless entry
  • 36" wide door openings
  • French doors in bedrooms for ample egress
  • 5' turn radius in work spaces

Inspiration

This is the farm I grew up on. These barns were inspiration for building a pole barn house ...

My son when he was little playing on the farm.
My son when he was little playing on the farm.
This was a corn mill that my brother and I later converted into a gymnasium.
This was a corn mill that my brother and I later converted into a gymnasium.
Lean-to (shed roof) structure.
Lean-to (shed roof) structure.
Family gatherings in the barn.
Family gatherings in the barn.
Somehow we survived without helmets!  YIKES!!
Somehow we survived without helmets! YIKES!!
My son playing in puddles after the rain.
My son playing in puddles after the rain.

Thank You!

I hope you enjoyed this information and found something helpful or inspiration for your project!

Would you live in a barn house?

See results

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

    © 2011 Lisa

    Comments

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      • inbo5599 profile imageAUTHOR

        Lisa 

        3 years ago from Michigan

        Gail W, The home was under 100K total to build (materials plus labor, many items DIY and recycled).

      • profile image

        Gail W 

        3 years ago

        Hi Lisa, can I ask approximately how much the materials cost to build your home? TIA!

      • inbo5599 profile imageAUTHOR

        Lisa 

        3 years ago from Michigan

        Thank you, ourvinny! Lol, I've heard that about renovating. There's something about a creative project that makes one want to keep going. Enjoy your third project!

        Did not discover any structural problems during or after construction. Would build with pole framing again.

      • profile image

        ourvinny 

        3 years ago

        Very nicely done. I have experience renovating/ restoring. I am on the third (as is) home. I swore I would not do it again after the first one.

        My question is this: did you discover any structural problems in your relationship as construction progressed?

      • inbo5599 profile imageAUTHOR

        Lisa 

        4 years ago from Michigan

        Thank you. Email me for the purchase link at: inbo5599@yahoo.com

      • profile image

        andy 

        4 years ago

        Great work, how can I get the pole barn house plans from you. Thanks in advance for your reply.

        In northern mi is our property and we are ready to build and your plan would for the bill perfectly.

      • inbo5599 profile imageAUTHOR

        Lisa 

        4 years ago from Michigan

        Hi Janet, The pole barn house study plan has the details on foundation and radiant in floor heat. No changes. If someone wanted more head room in the storage / loft area the roof direction could be reversed. Best wishes on your cottage project!

      • profile image

        Janet 

        4 years ago

        Hi there, thank you for sharing all your information. We are looking to also build a polebarn cottage in Michigan, did you need to put anything under the concrete before pouring, to keep out moisture or whatever may happen to it over time? We too are doing the radiant heat. Also since you've now lived in it for awhile any changes you would recommend? Thanks so much. Janet

      • inbo5599 profile imageAUTHOR

        Lisa 

        5 years ago from Michigan

        Hope7777, I wish I could answer that. Your project will depend on where you build and how you approach your project. I would start with getting a plan that you can take to a general contractor or if contracting yourself take to subs and get estimates.

      • inbo5599 profile imageAUTHOR

        Lisa 

        5 years ago from Michigan

        The plywood was attached directly to the frame then stained. No layers. Hope this helps.

      • profile image

        T.O. 

        5 years ago

        I really like the outer plywood idea. Is it stained plywood screwed directly to the frame, or is there other layers?

      • Diana Lee profile image

        Diana L Pierce 

        5 years ago from Potter County, Pa.

        I love this idea. I always wanted a small affordable house. I've lived in a mobile home for decades. Voted up.

      • profile image

        Hope7777 

        6 years ago

        How much do you think it would cost to build a 1100 square ft pole barn house roughly? Very small, but still 3 bedrooms. As my husband is disabled, most of the work he cannot do, therefore what do you think it might cost? Thanks!!!

      • inbo5599 profile imageAUTHOR

        Lisa 

        6 years ago from Michigan

        Thanks tobin44. I hope your ideas are coming together for your build on the family farm. Simple and efficient ... the best way to go :-)

      • inbo5599 profile imageAUTHOR

        Lisa 

        6 years ago from Michigan

        Thanks for the input polebarnguru. I like that, as a whole, pole barns lend themselves well to the average weekend warriors!

      • inbo5599 profile imageAUTHOR

        Lisa 

        6 years ago from Michigan

        Polly there is a lot of "barn conversion" going on right now. I love it! My fondness for barns comes from childhood. I grew up on a farm that had a lot of pole barns. Share a mutual fondness for the acorn shape as well :-) Don't let go of your dream to buy land with a barn to convert!

      • inbo5599 profile imageAUTHOR

        Lisa 

        6 years ago from Michigan

        Thanks for sharing about your pole barn house! It sounds wonderful! Nice on the white roof, "safe" room, garage / man cave, radiant in floor heat, and geo thermal :-)

      • profile image

        wags5 

        6 years ago

        We built a pole barn house last summer...drywall inside, open rafters, wood ceiling, 3,000 square feet of living space, 2,500 square feet of garage/man cave....never thought I would live in a barn but LOVE it! Living/kitchen/dining area all open with windows along the wall for a view of the pond...radiant heat floors so your feet are always warm and geo thermal for air conditioning,,,which this building seems to stay remarkably cool in the hot summers (hubby says it's because of white roof)...also, no crawl space, so built a "safe" room in one of bedroom closets, solid steel placed into concrete, vented on ceiling, solid steel door, so in case of bad weather, this room isn't going anywhere! Out pole barn is absolutely amazing and would build again in a heartbeat! Absolutely love it!

      • tobint44 profile image

        Tyler Tobin 

        6 years ago from North Carolina

        Great Hub, My wife and I are looking for house ideas as we are planning to build on her family farm. Simple and efficient!

      • profile image

        Lisa 

        7 years ago

        Thank you fellow Michigander. I share your appreciation of old post and beam construction!

      • homesteadpatch profile image

        homesteadpatch 

        7 years ago from Michigan

        Hello fellow Michigander. I would certainly live in a pole barn house. I've always been fascinated by the old post and beam construction. This is a really neat idea that could be adapted to just about anywhere. You could even take the sustainability to the next level and use trees harvested from the property. Voted up!

      • profile image

        Lisa 

        7 years ago

        Online this is the only pic. I do offer the study plan for sale. Contact me if interested via email. Thanks!

      • profile image

        ricoseda 

        7 years ago

        Lisa: ,many thanks. any way to get a bigger pdf file to see the dimensions and detail better?

      • inbo5599 profile imageAUTHOR

        Lisa 

        7 years ago from Michigan

        Thanks, glad you liked it!

      • glassvisage profile image

        glassvisage 

        7 years ago from Northern California

        This is great! I've never heard of this before but it makes a lot of sense and is a great option for people with smaller budgets!

      • inbo5599 profile imageAUTHOR

        Lisa 

        8 years ago from Michigan

        Your welcome! Best wishes and have fun on your micro passive solar pole house!

      • profile image

        kaye 

        8 years ago

        thanks for the great info. I plan to build a micro passive solar pole house soon.

      • inbo5599 profile imageAUTHOR

        Lisa 

        8 years ago from Michigan

        Your welcome CHS!

      • chspublish profile image

        chspublish 

        8 years ago from Ireland

        Persuasive argument in favor of the pole barn. Thanks for the hub.

      • inbo5599 profile imageAUTHOR

        Lisa 

        8 years ago from Michigan

        Thanks for the warm welcome Polly!

      • Pollyannalana profile image

        Pollyannalana 

        8 years ago from US

        Great! Something different. I always wanted to buy land with a barn and turn it into a house and my husband always laughed at me and not long afterwards everyone was doing it. I have always loved barns and acorn shaped roofs. Welcome to hubs! Polly

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