Barndominium/Shop or "real" House?

   / Barndominium/Shop or "real" House?
  • Thread Starter
#151  
Lots of good information on here. My suggestion would be to really, I mean REALLY, do your due diligence on the GC/builder. Building our "dream home" has been a nightmare, 95% of it because the GC was nowhere to be found and just sent his subs out, and payed them without even checking if they did the work completely (not to mention well). I know it's a tough time for skilled labor, but supervision would have offset that drastically.
I'd suggest looking up recent projects of the GC on your county website and sending polite letters to recent clients/homes, see if they'll give any comment. I know I would and I know that we won't be one of the clients they use as a referral, so take any referrals they give you with a grain of salt.
Further, really probe the GC's company structure, who works for him, how many employees, how do they schedule subs, do they use online software that allows you to see the project progress, etc. We thought that going with a family run operation would be ideal, similar values, etc. In my experience, this was a bad call. The whole family GC (dad), owner (mom), assistant/do-nothing(adult child 1), assistant(adult child 2) were the entire "company". No professionalism, no organization and no sympathy when $hit went sideways - the whole family had to get a paycheck and we were the cash cow. Also, no hesitation in trying to blame us or insult us - in writing. If youre working with employees of a professional company, you've got a lot better chance of them helping you out, in my opinion.
Also, have a lawyer review the GC's contract, at least to let you know what your signing up for. If you have something you think is unfair to you (and there will be, its their contract), try to change it to something more fair. If the GC throws a fit or refuses, good riddance. Delaying your project until you find someone who'll work with you will be well worth it. I know this is tough when your wanting to get the project going but it will totally pay with dividends in the long run.
The GC will give you a budget, REALLY probe them on what that budget includes before signing the contract. In my experience it was the bare minimum, that way they could charge us change fees for anything outside the budget. So anything beyond "contractor grade" (i.e. crap), is extra and they get more money from you.
Lastly, you've got to be your own advocate, 100% of the time. if you see something that looks wrong or weird, it probably is. Keep in mind, subs are there on a contract price, that want to get in, do a job (different than a good job) and get paid. if it looks like crap, that's the next guys problem. After everyone's done and gone, your the last guy, so in the end it's your problem. Keep in mind, the plan-demic really screwed up the world, including skilled labor. A lot of the knowledgeable old timer's checked out and didn't get a chance to train up the next line of guys, resulting in much crappier subs out there. Keep in mind through the process, the GC will continue to work with his subs long after the clients project is done, so fairly obvious where his loyalty will lie.
I may sound a bit bitter, but this has been the most frustrating 18 months of my life. Building a home is not for the faint of heart, no matter how you go about doing it.
Oh, and if youre married, you'll get told about a 1000 times that "building a house is one of the toughest things on a marriage". Not that I'm telling you that, it just gets old hearing it, especially from your mother ;)
Luckily I'm not married.

I agree with everything you said. My main issue is, as of yet, I have been unable to find a GC who wants to touch either of my projects (been looking since Jan 2022). So it's not like I have a list of guys bidding that I can filter and pick the best one. I have zero right now. I have one home builder who said he would not touch my stick frame for less that $380k, and he flat out told me he really would not want the job as there are easier money makers out there for him.

Because I am not building a cookie cutter house that a given GC has done before, they don't want any part of me it seems.

As far as being my own advocate. I do run the risk of nitpicking the GC and his contractors to death. I'm a mechanical engineer and I tend to want precision/perfection.

Having said all that, I think if I want something built I might have to do a lot of it myself, due to not being able to find a GC with interest, and also because of my demand for quality, when in today's world that doesn't seem to exist anymore.
 
   / Barndominium/Shop or "real" House? #152  
Luckily I'm not married.

I agree with everything you said. My main issue is, as of yet, I have been unable to find a GC who wants to touch either of my projects (been looking since Jan 2022). So it's not like I have a list of guys bidding that I can filter and pick the best one. I have zero right now. I have one home builder who said he would not touch my stick frame for less that $380k, and he flat out told me he really would not want the job as there are easier money makers out there for him.

Because I am not building a cookie cutter house that a given GC has done before, they don't want any part of me it seems.

As far as being my own advocate. I do run the risk of nitpicking the GC and his contractors to death. I'm a mechanical engineer and I tend to want precision/perfection.

Having said all that, I think if I want something built I might have to do a lot of it myself, due to not being able to find a GC with interest, and also because of my demand for quality, when in today's world that doesn't seem to exist anymore.
I'm also an engineer with the same mentality as yourself, so I can tell you right now, working with a disinterested GC is going to be a real nightmare.
 
   / Barndominium/Shop or "real" House? #153  
I overlayed our floor plans. Looks like your door spacing is about 15" wider, and overall the inside of your garage is about 3ft wider.

View attachment 785362

Do you have work benches & shelves on the inside of the garage? The plan is for mine, just parking, no clutter. I have the rest of the shop for benches, shelves, toolboxes, etc.

If I make the garage wider I might have to move from 14" tall I-Joists to 16" tall, losing headroom. I don't want any columns inside the garage, want a clear span ceiling.
You nailed those dimensions! Sorry I missed your 2 pc bath in your garage on my phone screen :rolleyes: On my 34" desktop now. I will say my garage is just right for 2 intermediate cars for width and length BUT as we accumulate STUFF it does get crowded though manageable. Extra length like yours would be quite helpful for more hoarding. A good purge is in my future, no doubt. I could fit a full size pick-up on the right I should think. My pick-up is only 12½ feet long with a 4 foot bed so no worries there.
I do have a post mid span which actually comes in handy for hanging my helmet, jacket and battery maintainer for the Honda Fury parked between the cars :).

No work benches or shelves inside the garage and I definitely would not want to reduce the door spacing or overall width.
 
   / Barndominium/Shop or "real" House? #154  
Luckily I'm not married.
I've been a bachelor all my life too, so, at 60 I decided it was time for a good dog and a house for ME. Started off with a 600 square foot log cabin design I liked which grew into 1250 square feet on top of a basement 2 car garage and a vehicle hobby shop in my 3D Home Architect software. Broke and 5 years to pension, I hung a sign on the road stating Vehicle Repairs. Low and behold my lady of 20 years now, came rattling down the driveway in her tired 16 year old Subaru. The rest is history, LoL.

In 2009 I designed and built a 840 square foot home for my mother. Her investment for rent covered the cost so it was a no brainer. After she passed at 94 the cottage sat empty until 3 years ago when my better half sold her house and moved in. Now we share both homes but maintain our own spaces with zero conflict 🥰.

As a point of interest, my home used factory built rigid foam insulated walls that went up in half a day. The cottage was manufactured 800 miles away, transported, cut in half and dropped onto a 2 car garage built into another slope (no surprise there). Another same day effort. Of course both houses required roofing and siding. Mine also got windows, doors, plumbing, electrical, hydronic heating and flooring, all of which was preinstalled in the cottage albeit forced air electric heating.
 

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   / Barndominium/Shop or "real" House? #155  
Nice house. Love the design.
rScotty
Thanks Scotty :)

Regarding the shop, there is no question that a much larger space would have been ideal. I managed quite well during the 5 years doing vehicle repairs but now that I'm immersed in the original purpose of doing a body off drivetrain swap, space is at a premium. I have the body on a pair of trailer wheels that allows me to move it (with my tractor) back and forth from the garage as needed. Would love to have a separate wood shop too (sawdust and all) but that ship has sailed, in fact it never made port!
 
   / Barndominium/Shop or "real" House? #156  
So, been wanting to build at a lot that I have owned for nearly 20 years now. I think I am finally in a position to do so, albeit at the worst time to build... That's my luck.

I have attached my shop/living space design. Talked to various residential and post frame builders. Many of them suggest bookshelf framing the garage and upper living space portion of the structure. Most of them recommend sheathing the garage and living space walls with 7/16" OSB and the living space roof with 5/8" OSB before the steel siding and roofing is installed. One of the builders thinks that's just a waste of money and that the steel provides the anti-racking for wind loads just fine. Thoughts? Will drywall in the living space be subject to more cracking without the sheathing?

The 10 X 12 OH door bay will be for a 2 post asymmetric truck lift. The 14 X 14 sheet roll doors will be in a 48 X 48 area where I'd like to have a 5-7 ton bridge crane someday. Want to go with sheet roll doors to make sure the doors do not interfere with the future shop crane.

The living space is minimal, per the municipality, I cannot go under 900 sq-ft living space, this design ends up at around 990 sq-ft.

I have also attached an ICF design as the "real" house option. Both designs are of my own making, but RA's have looked at both and they will be stamped, which is required in my area.

One of the builders is looking at both of these designs and will be pricing out the builds for me. (For either design I will be helping with labor wherever I can digging my own trenches, etc, but I do have a fulltime job) If they are similar in cost, what would you build? This would be my final residence, so the decision is a life decision...

I really want a shop ASAP because I am almost 50 years old and sick of working on my equipment outside in the weather.

At the same time, a "real" house would be nice as opposed to living in a barn. Not to mention it is an upper story with stairs that I will have to deal with the rest of my life.

If I were to build the ICF house, that puts out my shop probably at least another 5 years.

The ICF house design has a decent garage and will have provisions in the floor for the asymmetric truck lift. So I will have somewhat of a shop to tide me over until I put up a larger structure for working on my equipment. (Not an contractor of any sort, equipment is personal/hobby stuff).
Barndominium is the way to go. I have one and it costs less to build. It cost less in taxes. If you don't mind living in a building that looks like a barn or a shop. I bought property with a metal pole barn on it. Already had electric. I ran water and sewer lines. Divided it off for dwelling and shop. Installed mini split systems for heat and air. Before sheet rock I had spray foam insulation installed. Very happy with my new house and shop. Cost less and less tax money out the window.
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   / Barndominium/Shop or "real" House? #157  
Barndominium is the way to go. I have one and it costs less to build. It cost less in taxes. If you don't mind living in a building that looks like a barn or a shop.
Another bachelor no doubt :) Love it!
Thinking there may be a few limitations on the shop activities 🤔
 
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   / Barndominium/Shop or "real" House? #158  
Wow, what a thread. I haven't had time to read all the entries, so forgive me if I am repeating something.

I agree with the concerns about noise, smells, fumes, and fire issues with a residence in the shop building, but if the construction is well done and well sealed, it shouldn't be a huge issue. I think the house and shop separate would be better if the cost is workable. I am pushing 60 and have had a couple of injuries that made stairs impossible for a few weeks at a time. Living in a 2 story became a real problem.

I had the thought that rather than build the residence on an elevated platform in the shop building, why not put the residence on the ground level and have shop and/or storage space over the residence? This could be a wood shop, or some other "shop" that doesn't need the big shop area. Anything heavy can be lifted up there with a forklift or tractor FEL so you don't have to muscle it up the stairs. This would also enable the house to have doors directly to the outside in more than just the front, so egress in case of fire is much easier and more reliable - sort of mitigates that problem.
 
   / Barndominium/Shop or "real" House?
  • Thread Starter
#159  
Another redesign. I took a look at my 24ft wide garage and it was a bit too tight, so rearranged it into a 3 car garage. Much smaller deck/balcony. But I'd rather have more garage space than a huge deck.

There are now columns in the garage with dual LVL beams attached to rest 2x12 joists upon. No more 14" tall clear span I-joists.

Roof design is much simpler now, all the same trusses.

I think this design should be a bit cheaper than my last.

Still need to put in the shop bathroom.

Barndominium_Redesign.png
 

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   / Barndominium/Shop or "real" House? #160  

ETD66SS, wondering what the purpose of an 18>25 foot high roof is since most commercial vehicle lifts only require a 12 foot ceiling.

 
 
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