Thursday, February 18, 2010

We have BARN plans!

At you can purchase a variety of barn plans for little money. You can also download them instantly for even less. (Photo above is from Stable Wise website).

This barn houses four 12x12' pens a tack area and wash area and stairs to a hay loft. It measures 36x36' square. The barn is supposed to be for horses but I think it's about perfect for our goats and milk cow. Between the stalls I'll build a U shaped channel on both sides of the wall where they're normally divided into 2 pens. Here I'll be able to slide in 1x8x12 boards to create a chest high wall that will be removable. This way I can let the goats all live together and sanction off a section as needed for kidding, illness or bucks. The tack and wash areas are also convertable to pens. Since I don't really need tack for them I might make the part with stairs to the hay loft both the tack and wash leaving the other 12x12 side available for more livestock. The beauty of the plan is it the modularity (that's a word, right?)

I've emailed a guy that has some 25 and 30 foot long telephone poles (this is a pole barn btw) for sale and he delivers. I'm waiting for a quote.

I want to submit these plans with the house so we can work on what we want as materials, time and money permit. Having the large barn available for building materials and shaded workspace might be a bonus to have in the sweltering Florida sun. Plumbing will come in the form of rain barrels which will also be used for watering the animals. Positioning them on the North facing wall will provide shelter from the sun, keeping them cool. This will also eliminate the need for plumbing permits, inspections and additional costs to build. I'm also thinking solar for the lighting as I'd only need it when I went in to see them.

This barn is where the pallets will come heavily into play. If we can figure out how to pull of the boards without cracking them (we've been having a problem with that) I'd like to use them for siding the barn. A coat of paint and no one would know the difference. Light colored or tin roofing will help deflect heat. We'll build the barn doors ourselves with scraps unless we can get a good deal on them or find them used. Up there is Ag country and a plethora more resources than we have in the city. At least I hope so.
Right now we're finalizing the house floor plan. I'll be making calls this week to find out about permit prices. We have a lead on a bus which might pan out to our benefit. Not exactly what we're looking for but in our price range. Stay tuned, much more to come!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I suppose it's time I start actually contributing something here! I'm pretty excited about getting the plans. It's reassuring to see so many people on the Country Plans forums doing exactly what we are planning to do. I've done some FREE AutoCAD training (thanks to, and I have the basics down. I'm not sure how much value this will have at this point though.

I've made somewhat of an art of finding the best prices on Cheap Chinese Tools at Harbor Freight. You need to know what to buy, and what to avoid. I've gotten some great deals and acquired an arsenal of tools that will be essential for home building. I've bookmarked several threads on such sites as Garage Journal and HF Reviews. We will definitely need a table saw, a framing nailer (luckily I have a gas powered air compressor already), another circular saw, etc.

We got some cheap pallets to play with. The idea is that we get some for free, plane them (need that planer!), and use them for flooring. With a router table, I can probably even make them tongue-and-groove. Sounds crazy? People do it! More to follow...

A few things have happened

I posted more indepth on my sister blog and I apologize for those following that I didn't do it here. I forget that some things are actually farm/homestead related more than my general BS I put on the other site. I'll try and sumarize best I can and add more than what I posted there.

We've been contemplating going off grid, if it's do-able and the benefits/cons on it all. I think I definately want some solar power, possibly convert some appliances to propane and definately have a wood burning source of heat. We're just not sure if that's all we'll have. Remember, we're in FL. It's hot, AC is a must.

I bought a Kill A Watt meter yesterday off Amazon so we can go around and figure out what is being a major energy drain both on and off. We can then decide about keeping the item, limiting the use or replacing with something more efficient. If we find things that have high drains during standby there's a nifty little thing called Bye Bye Standby which is a remote "switch" that you plug in and it'll turn off/on your stuff. Brilliant. And cheap.

In other news we bought our house plans! has very nice, practical, inexpensive plans that have actually been built by actual people. Not contractors or builders. On weekends. With no mortgage. Seeing the progress of the homes done sometimes by people that have no building skill at all is amazingly inspiring. We chose the 20x34 Universal and will lengthen it to 38' with a living attic. We're still working on the floor plans right now. I have a 3D home design software coming too so we can work out the interior layout more specifically.

We're also planning on the shipping container delivered and land to be cleared later this month. What's holding us back is figuring out how we're going to get up there to do this. It's a three hour drive one way. It will most likely be a 2 day project. Do we rent a hotel and then one of us just hang out with the kids there or do we possibly buy a used RV trailer and bring that up with us. Problem with the RV trailer is that anything large enough to sleep all of us is too large to be pulled by either of our vehicles. Going with a self propelled model gives us another motor to worry about. We were going to go with converting a used school bus but the cheap buses you could find years ago have apparently disappeared, finding anything in the 40' range below or around $2k is almost impossible. Then there's the work on converting it. Something that won't happen by the time we want to get the container delivered.

But we've come this far and something will fall into our laps that will be the perfect solution to what we need to get this done. If it takes a few extra weeks, that should be okay but we have materials that are sitting that we'd like to get moved over that way.

Cross your fingers for us and if anyone is in Florida and has a trailer, shipping container or school bus for sale send us a shout!