RAISING THE POLE BARN
Greg and I decided to spend our 2006 summer vacation building a 40' by 60' pole barn. It was an amazing
adventure and I know that I have never worked harder in my life, but it was without a doubt the most
rewarding vacation that I have ever had. And do you know what? I'll even smile and tell you that it was the
best vacation that I have ever had. One of our farmer neighbors told us, as he stood before our barn, that
we might put the Amish barn builders out of business. That I doubt, but the compliment certainly felt good.
First we had to prepare the barn site. Greg worked with
the backhoe for several days, digging out the hillside and
leveling the ground. We learned that perspective can be
deceiving and to rely on the line level, not our eyes.
Once the site was ready, we set up temporary, but sturdy,
corner stakes from which we could run level lines to mark
the perimeter of the barn. We then dug the barn's 26 post
holes (52" deep ) with an 18" auger on Bob Cat skid steer.
We carefully measured and marked the center of each
hole on the level string. The above photo shows the string
running along the post holes at the back side of the barn.
We would remove the string to drill each hole and then
replace it once the hole was dug.
The grey fringe around the holes was the result of dumping one
and a half 90 pound bags of cement into each hole to form a
sturdy "punch plate" for the pole's foundation.
We set the corner posts first, placing them in the holes with
the assistance of the backhoe, and then maneuvering them
with leverage and pure muscle power up to the strings so
that they stood perpendicular, without touching the string.
We did not want the poles to contact the string, for that
would have pushed the string out of line and caused our
subsequently placed poles to be out of line as well.
All the barn poles are up and temporarily braced.
For the first time in my life I felt rather short!
We next set to nailing on the girts, with 24"
centers, around the sides of the barn.
We next raised the trusses, each weighing about 250 lbs, again with the help of the
backhoe. We carefully set the straps so that we could raise the trusses with minimal stress
to both the trusses and our muscles.
Partially braced, we left the pole barn after two
weeks of glorious hard labor that neither of us
would have traded for the world.
We then pounded in ten spikes at both ends
of the trusses, to secure them to the posts.
We then set to working weekends over the summer and throughout the fall placing the purlins down the
length of the roof. This was no easy task. The purlins consisted of two by fours that we stood up on 24
inch centers and nailed into the trusses below with more of the eight inch spikes that we used to secure
the trusses to the posts. I could nail one or two spikes for every eight or so that Greg nailed. He never
We then started the arduous task of putting up the steel roof. Each panel was twenty two feet long and
three feet wide. They really weren't that heavy, but we still had to heft them up onto the roof. We
would climb up the girts along the side of the barn, pulling up the panels behind us. But even before
we could screw each panel to the purlins below, we had to roll out a layer of R-7.5 Solarguard
insulation. We figured that the insulation would mainly serve to keep the barn somewhat cooler in the
summer, and it seems to have helped. Perhaps it's just cognitive dissonance, but it does seem that it
was worth the effort, for even on hot summer days it is always just a tad cooler in the shade of the
Here you can see the back side of
the barn, with the roof almost
completed. The white roll is the
solarguard, that we rolled out just
far enough to place the next panel.
It was such a wonderful feeling to have the barn under roof. Just after these photos were
taken, we put on the ridge cap. You can still see the daylight at the peek of the roof, but once
the ridge cap was in place, we could stand in the center of the barn on a rainy winter day,
listening to the rain while staying perfectly dry.
Straight Creek Valley Farm