Saturday, October 24, 2015

A small barn for the summer house.

My wife came up with a really nice suggestion this fall.
She suggested that we could build a shed at the summer house next year.

Since Gustav is going to have his confirmation this next spring, we could use a low budget holiday, and spending it by building something at the summer house is actually pretty close to my idea of a great summer.

My idea is to make a small barn like structure with a gambrel roof. I want to make it with some sort of a timber frame, and I plan on milling most of the wood myself.
I wanted to make it as large as possible with my own timber, which means that it will be 14' x 14'.

In order not waste my time by making a construction drawing of a small barn, only to find out that I can't build it due to regulations, I did something a bit unusual:
I started by visiting the building regulations department at the town hall.
Much to my surprise I was able to find a friendly person to discuss the case with, and she looked at the various regulations and said that as far as she could see, I could go ahead with my project based on the information that I had given her.
The Danish building regulations are changed regularly, and especially in summer house areas they can differ a lot compared to the general regulations, because some special local rules may apply.

So I have brought some paper and and a mechanical pencil with me to sea this time. My idea is to make the drawings out here, and then submit them for approval once I am done.
For the final approval, we need to establish where the barn will be placed on the property. As far as I understood, that information can be submitted later in the process.

I saved some of the old roof tiles from our house when we had the roof renewed a couple of years ago. I plan on reusing them for the the barn. I want to make it with a solid sub roof covered in tarred paper (which isn't paper anymore by the way).
The Danish code of good building practice concerning roof tiles made out of burned clay, describes the minimum pitch/slope of a roof to be 25 degrees. I found an excellent tool on the Internet, that helps designing a gambrel roof:
You can alter the calculator to suit the roof you are designing. I found out that a 40 degree sweep angle made the top part have exactly the 25 degrees of pitch that I was looking for.

I started milling the wood before going back to sea, so I have already made the wood for the lower frame of the barn. That will be made by some 7"x 7" lumber. I plan on making the rest of the timber frame out of 6 x 6, that way I can hopefully handle it myself with out having to use a crane. I do suspect that some ingenuity will be required, but that is part of the fun.

The project will also need some windows and a door etc. which is all stuff that I hope to be able to make during the winter.


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  2. Thanks for the gambrel roof info..A neat book that might be helpful with your project Is Jack Sabon's book " Timber Frame Construction: All About Post-and-Beam Building"

    1. Hi Suzanne.

      Thanks for the tip on the book, I think I'll put that one on my wishing list for Christmas.

      I got a couple of books on the subject already:
      "The timber framing book" by Stewart Elliot and Eugene Wallas.
      "A timber framer's workshop" by Steve Chappel .
      "Advanced timber framing " by Steve Chappel.
      I Also have a book called Das Zimmermannsbuch, an old German book that tells you just about all you could ever want to know about old building techniques. I made a review of it last year:

      Brgds Jonas

  3. Thanx for the link to the gambrel framing program. Gambrels are my favorite roofs and now I have something to play with.

    1. Hi Ralph
      Gambrels are my favourite roof type as well.
      My wife's cousin is a bricklayer and he says that one of the problems of today is that it is very costly in man hours to lay up such a roof, so very few people do it. But it makes such a good looking building.

      The lady in the building regulations department frankly looked puzzled when I told her that I wanted to make a shed with a gambrel roof.
      I told her (which is the truth by the way), that I had long wanted to build something with a gambrel roof, and here was a fine opportunity to do so.

      I called it a shed because in Denmark barns are associated with larger buildings.

      First she asked for the area of the shed and then about the height, that was when she started to look puzzled. Normally sheds are kept to a height of maybe 10 feet, but often sheds are built as low budget as possible, so that sort of rules out a gambrel roof with tiles.

      I just hope that I will be able to make it work.


  4. In my area, you do not need a permit if there is not a poured foundation or plumbing. Electrical is a bit more touchy. Technically in Pennsylvania a homeowner does not need a permit to do electrical work on their own property, but a professional would need licensing, permits, and insurance.

    So in this region if you are putting up an unheated shed you would not need a permit unless it was somehow obstructing your neighbor's view.

    Like you, I love the gambrel roof. A dream of mine is to have a barn/workshop such as this: Maybe one of these days it will happen. Good luck! I'm sure it will keep you very busy.

    1. Hi Bill.

      That is one good looking barn that you have found there. I really like that it is such a high building. The prize seems very reasonable, but I guess it will take some man power to erect it.

      I actually queried if there was any problems with me pouring a foundation, but that didn't matter at all. The local code has basically got restrictions to distance to the outer limits of the property/neighbors, height of the building and size of the building.
      In addition to that they care about the purpose of the building. If I wanted to build an annex to live in, It would have to live up to even stricter requirements. Plus I would have to apply for a different type of approval.

      If the shed was only 10 sqm, (107 sqf), I could build it without any permits at all. But I would be restricted to a maximum height of 2.5 m (8')

      Off course there are some rules regarding materials as well. You can't use lead for the roof trimmings or material containing asbestos etc.

      You can do some electrical work as an unlicensed individual, but it is very limited. The same goes with plumbing, but it is often so that the trades person is willing to let you do some of the work and he can do the "difficult" parts. And then it is still his responsibility. E.g. you can put up all the wiring and the junction boxes, but the electrician will do the actual connections.

  5. Hi Jonas,

    Thanks for the link to the blocklayer website. That's fantastic and I'm sure that I will be using it in the future.

    I built a barn/shed with a gambrel roof a few years ago. You can see some pictures of it in one of my blog posts here:

    I built mine using commercially bought 2x4 materials and made all my own trusses. I've always wanted to try timber frame construction, but I almost always work alone and don't think that I could handle all those large timbers solo.

    I really look forward to seeing how you do this.

    All the best,


    1. Hi Jonathan
      That is a beautiful barn you built there! Thanks for posting the link.

      I still have some of the larch logs left from the last two purchases of logs, so a nice big project that requires a lot of wood should help me put it all to good use.
      The handling of the timbers is going to be one of the biggest challenges in the project. But I am usually pretty good at overcoming such difficulties using a couple of chain blocks or some securing straps.
      I pretty much work alone as well, except when one of my boys help me (ages 9 and 13), so the heavy lifting is still my job.
      I found out that I could lift a 7x7" x 14' post around with my bare hands. Those will form the lower frame. The posts will not be nearly as difficult since they are only 6x6's
      The hardest part woodworking wise will probably be to get the girts and plates lifted up and mounted in place. But maybe I'll pre mount those on the posts and raise an entire side using chain blocks. I think that should work.
      The pouring of the foundation will be a lot of work, but not that difficult.

      A thing I am a bit anxious about is mounting the roof tiles on the steep sides. That will probably take some time as well.

      I just tried to check out you chicken coop progress, but our Internet connection is not too happy with too many pictures (it is slow..), so I couldn't see the finished project. I'll try again when we are back in port.