Backyard Barn

comment 0
architecture, architecture, photography

Seeking to live closer to work and other activities, my parents moved from a rural property outside of Wichita to one in its western suburbs. The property they moved to is an older, three acre plot that predates the smaller, more recent suburban development around it.



A windmill and small barn (below image) still stood on the property (above image), pointing to the area’s recent past as farmland. While still functional, both were in need of some repair. In the case of the barn, the roof had begun to collapse and leak in multiple places.


While this could easily be fixed, the low ceilings and small divided spaces of the barn were not conducive to the use and storage of the equipment and tools that my parents own. As such, they asked me to design a new structure to replace the original barn.

Wanting space to fit a truck, small tractor, riding mower, and various other implements, I sought to design an open space with ample ceiling height and wide doorways to allow the easy movement of equipment.

Immediate precedents were the wide variety barns and sheds I had seen growing up in rural Kansas. In addition, there were the low-lying forms, large roof spans, and unique doors of hangars seen at aviation factories in Wichita.

More contemporary precedents I came across were the Big Tree Camp by Tobin Wells Smith Architects and the DIY Shed by M. Valdes Architects. Both are simple forms with beautifully exposed details.

Working with these ideas in mind, I produced this design:


The building has an overall footprint of 30’x40′, a 30’x10′ section of which is a covered exterior space. 4×4 and 4×6 posts are placed on a 6’x10′ grid and rise from 8′ to 14′ in height to create a single 2:12 roof pitch. 2×8 headers and footers connect the posts, with 2x4s 2′ O.O. in between as girt boards. Corrugated steel sheets clad the exterior up to 8′. To bring in an abundance of natural light, transparent corrugated polycarbonate clads the remaining portion.

Five 24″ engineered wood trusses more commonly used in floor construction span the 40′ length of the building; this creates an uninterrupted 24’x30′ interior space and an exterior 10’x30′ cantilevered canopy open on two sides. Vertical 2x6s 2′ O.C. span the distance between the trusses as purlins. Perpendicular to this are attached 2′ O.C. 1″x4″ furring strips onto which the corrugated steel roofing is screwed.

Two 8’x10′ doors slide apart on a steel channel to produce a 20′ opening along one facade. Half of this track runs in front of the exterior bay and is suspended from the cantilevering wood truss above. The doors themselves are made from wood cladding reclaimed from the previous barn, as are portions of the wall and roof framing. A more conventional prehung steel entry door off the canopy side also allows entry into the barn.


Having done all the work up to this point, we figured we could just build it ourselves as well.

All build work was done by myself and with the much needed help of family and friends. Work of such nature started on October 5, 2013, with demolition/salvage work on the existing structure. Construction on the new structure started October 23 with the leveling of the building’s footprint and the drilling of footings. Most of the construction was finished on November 30th.

Foregoing any work in the winter, my parents started work again in the spring of 2104, and put the finishing touches on it that summer. Below are some detail shots of the whole process:


October 05 – First day of demo and salvage on the old barn started on the roof.


October 06 – By the following day most of the roof had come down and the original cedar siding had been exposed.


October 15 – A bit more care was used in taking apart the walls in order to salvage as much of the cedar siding as possible.


October 16 – Getting closer.


October 17 – We managed to save a substantial amount of the cedar siding. Quite a bit of it still had to be tossed because of extensive termite damage.


October 17 – Once the walls were down we had to clear away a small concrete pad. Here you can observe my father’s lovely form in the use of a sledge hammer to smash apart said concrete.


October 23 – Demo work is done at this point, as well as some minor dirt-work to better level out and slope the site.


October 24 – We rented a ‘Dingo’ with scoop and auger attachments to drill the holes for the post foundations.


October 26 – We had a few more hands at the ready when we set the posts in the holes to make sure everything was level and in line.


October 27 – The following day was a full afternoon of mixing and pouring concrete into the foundation holes. We used sixty 80LB bags of concrete mix.


November 15 – Construction was delayed a bit as we waited for the pre-manufactured trusses to arrive. Once they did they went up easily with the assistance of a rented construction forklift.


November 16 – Making sure everything stayed square as we bolted the trusses into place


November 17 – Putting into place the 2×6 studs that span the distance between the trusses.



November 19 – By this point the purlins have been nailed in place and the 1×4 furring strips are ready to be put on. The darker colored studs at the wall and roof framing were salvaged from the old barn.


November 21 – We had been very fortunate with the weather throughout the previous days of construction. That of course changed the day we went to put up the 36′ long sheets of corrugated metal roof sheathing. Freezing rain and winds made for a miserable experience, but we got it done!


November 27 – The nasty weather didn’t last long, allowing us to finish up the roof and get a start on most of the wall sheathing.


November 30 – So close at this point! Clear poly-carbonate siding and all the metal trim are being finished up. This was my last day on site, as a new job in Colorado had me leaving for the mountains the next day.


May 23, 2014 – The arrival of winter curtailed the remainder of work. Once the weather warmed up my parents got around to having someone else pour the concrete slabs. They then put together the sliding doors made from the cedar siding of the old barn.


Summer 2014 – All done!




AAA_3380 HC2





Leave a Reply