Pole Barn Renovation

   / Pole Barn Renovation #1  


Elite Member
Jan 13, 2011
SW Michigan
John Deere 2320
I've finally completed the renovation of my pole barn. I thought about posting as I went along, but it would have been the most drawn out thread in the history of TBN. I hope this gives others some ideas and I'll try to include some of the cost since there always seems to be interest in that.

I bought this place in mid-2010. The house needed a complete renovation and I did some of that myself. However, I contracted most of it because we wanted to actually live there in a reasonable period of time. The pole barn was 40 x 48 with a single 12 foot wide overhead door and had a lot of problems. The frame and concrete floor were OK, but that was about it. The roof was rusted out where a solar heating system for the pool had been installed. The wiring was minimal and only partially functional. The siding had been installed without a base or ratguard and then soil/mulch were piled against it. Not only was the siding rusted out, the grade board was rotted out.

I contracted out a new roof because I needed dry space to store material but did all the rest of the work myself. My first project was replacing the access door. It was a steel door and the frame was rusted out as well as some of the framing being rotted out. I put in a standard pre-hung door.



   / Pole Barn Renovation
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Wall Insulation

One of my main goals was to be able to work in the winter, which is not a minor issue in our area. I was able to find a source for used roofing polyiso insulation sheets - 1.5 and 2 inches thick. I picked up a couple of trailer loads of it. First I installed a base treated 2x6 between the posts. I installed two layers, staggering the joints. Then I added some 2 x 4 nailers and filled in another layer of foam. I covered it all with a plastic vapor barrier. At the bottom I installed a cedar paneling wainscot using paneling I salvaged from the house renovation. Above that I installed OSB. The cost of insulating and finishing the walls was about $1200.

I put lots of new wiring in the walls. This is an area I would change if I was doing it over. I think it would have worked out better to wire with conduit on the walls and ceiling and avoid a lot of fitting and trimming.



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Interior finish

I finished the ceiling by putting up steel liner panel over a vapor barrier. Then I blew in about 6 inches of cellulose in the attic. I was able to install the panels by myself by using a high lift drywall lift. I had already run the wiring and installed outlet boxes for the lights. Fitting the panels to the box locations was not that hard but it seriously slowed me down with the need to climb up and down to measure and cut.

The lights are 4 foot T8 fluorescents. I got most of them from Menards, on sale with rebate. I averaged about $11 to $12 per fixture and bought bulk bulbs. There are 26 fixtures so I've got perhaps $350 in lights. That includes the 2 that failed in the first 3 or 4 years and had to be replaced. I haven't replaced a single bulb yet. If more lights fail, I'll start looking at LED fixtures. Overall I have about 1 watt of fluorescent light per square foot. However I varied the spacing. The "storage" area has about 0.5 watt/ft2 while the "shop" area has 2 to 3 watt/ft2.

On the storage side I added shelving by building a frame and putting cleats on the wall using 2x3 and 2x4 lumber. I used OSB for shelving. It's 2 feet deep with various vertical spacing.



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One of the problems was the single 12 foot wide door that made it complicated to use for parking and get in and out. I found a 9 x 8 insulated overhead door, never installed, for $150. I cut it into the eave end. I had to remove one post and add two new posts on each side of the door. I also came across a CraigsList deal for 3 slightly used Genie belt drive high lift openers for $180 (plus a damaged on for parts, which I didn't need). Since I needed two new ones for the house, this worked out great.

I installed a US Stove 2000 wood stove. Mixed reviews on this. Price was very good ($600) but I wouldn't be very happy with it in the house. It does have outside air intake which I connected to the attic space. It draws like crazy (it should with about 18 feet of straight vertical chimney) and burns ash down to nothing. However, it takes a good bit of fiddling with the intake damper to keep the temperature within the operating range. Also, the circulating fan failed after the first heating season. I have an old box fan behind the stove now. It takes a while to heat the building up but I can get over 50 degree increase over outside temperatures when I need to.

Investment in the workbenches is zero. A couple of benches came with the building. I built a frame from scrap lumber and then used the old steel entrance door as a bench top. I also had a couple of salvaged bathroom vanities. i built bench tops for them out of salvaged hardwood flooring. I did buy the pegboard. I've got various hangers over the years but I bought some plastic hooks from Ebay and I really like them. They are cheap and stay in place unlike the wire ones.




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With everything else done, I started on the new siding. I added house wrap, put all new grade board on and 29 gauge metal. I added two windows which really changes the feel inside. The house (built in 1975) had Andersen casement windows. Some were going bad so we replaced them all. I picked a couple of the best ones we removed and used them in the pole barn. One thing I did a little differently was the corner finish. I've never liked the way the metal corner closures look on pole barns. I used 1 x 4 composite boards on the corners and butted J-strips against them. I like the look much better.

There are always odds and ends left. I need to do some minor grading and I will add rock all around the base. I've got some trim work left inside around the windows. But I've got a good place to work now. If only it were a little bigger....





   / Pole Barn Renovation
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Total cost of this renovation was $6000 for the roof I had to contract out and about $8000 for the rest of the work I did. I probably could have saved $3000 if I had done the roof myself but I think I saved about $3000 with all the used and on sale materials I used.
   / Pole Barn Renovation #7  
I'm impressed. Beautiful barn and will be a great place to work or just get away from everything. My barn isn't as nice, but it's my fortress of solitude.
   / Pole Barn Renovation #8  
Nice job.
A note for readers looking at building or remodeling.
One problem I had in my new garage was the door opener. I had 10' doors with a 13' ceiling. When I installed my 2 post lift I had to switch to a jackshaft opener so lifted vehicles wouldn't hit. Jackshaft openers are easy to install and leave lots more room.
   / Pole Barn Renovation #9  
Good job. You made a nice barn and workshop that I'm sure you will enjoy.

Thanks for sharing.
   / Pole Barn Renovation #10  
Great job. it reminds me that I need to get out and reorganize my barn/shop.