Better Barns Hardware makes Do-It-Yourself Architect Designed Barn Plans, Shed Plans, Antique Reproduction and
Specialty Barn Hardware, Barn Windows, Barn Trim and Barn Doors.


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11 - 29 - 1999

NW Connecticut

-- Hi Penny, I have finished my barn! I thought you might be interested in seeing one or two photos.

I still have a couple of things to do next year, including a ramp, steps, a work deck in the front, a couple more windows and some carpentry benches inside. I intend to use it as a sculpture studio and general workshop.

I started it in the late spring and finished in the early fall. I took my time and worked mostly on my own. The timing was perfect, as this summer was the slowest for my business in the twenty one years since I started.

I became a carpenter, getting up at 7am and putting in a regular 8 to ten hours. (I even hung the plywood walls myself... using car jacks and a lot of clamps!) Then, just as I finished it, my work picked up again. Now my new barn is going through it’s first big test… the winter!

I am not real good with heights (16 feet at the high end!) and I made the roof pitch steeper than your design calls for, because my saw could not cut 50 degrees. Friends helped me put on the roof rafters and sheathing and I hired some pro's to finish the top half of the shingles. They got it done in about four hours… after I had spent a couple of slow weeks remembering how to nail a roof. (I built one other shed, about twenty years ago!)

I also changed the design in a couple of other ways. I used the 12' x 16' plans, but extended it to 12' x 20'. Also, I made the gable overhang wider and simplified some of the cedar trim.

The town that I live in is pretty stringent about codes, so the structure required a building permit and site maps, etc. It was inspected at the foundation phase and on final completion. This actually helped, as it forced me to follow your excellent plans precisely. I also bought the DVD and the book, but I must admit that I was well into the building before I finally took a look at them. There was quite a bit of trial and error involved.

The biggest things I learned were about the most basic construction methods. I started out intending to use a nail gun. I bought a whole kit, including a framer, but because the summer was so wet, my plywood became very soggy and the nails started to pop out. At the end of every work day, I had to put plastic over the structure just to keep it from turning to “pulp”. I then decided to use screws instead and pulled out most of the nails. The screws are a lot slower, but I recommend them to anyone who is not a professional builder. They allow you to undo mistakes and seem to be a lot stronger. A small guide hole drilled before the screws go in also makes the process a lot easier. The smaller nail guns were very useful for the trim and sheathing and saved a lot of time. I strongly recommend keeping your wood dry, raise it off the ground and do not store it over grass! I had to buy extra wood to replace the ruined stuff.

One other lesson that I learned is that getting the foundations level is important, but don’t go crazy! A neighbor saw me struggling with it and offered his laser leveler. Of course, this had it’s own problems.

I was able to get the foundation blocks exact to about 1/16th inch… all 15 of them! It was only when I got to the tops of the wall framing that I realized what friends had meant when they said “it’s only a shed” They could not believe it was so “square” and precise. But I guess there’s no harm in aiming for “perfect”, if you have the time! A real learning experience!

I’ve always thought that every house should have a barn, particularly if you live in the country. I could not afford a real “Big Barn”, but the Better Barns design is perfect for my needs. Already it is immensely useful. Your design is esthetically very pleasing and my neighbors seem to like it too.

All the best for 2010. Desmond. <<

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