15 by 20 Granary to "Art Shack" conversion in SE MN

Started by Annie, July 12, 2010, 11:17:51 PM

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Hi all!

If men get their Man caves and Man sheds, a woman can have an art shack, right?

I recently bought this building intending to do just that.

It is an old wood granary covered in tin that a nearby farmer needed gone so he could build a huge modern grain bin.  As you can see, it is already sitting on a trailer for moving, which was included in the purchase price.  I have to get the site prepared first.  I have been spending a lot of time reading everything on this site (so many wonderful builders here!) to educate myself on how to do that.  Did I mention that I have no experience in building? 

The man I bought it from says to just build up the ground about a foot and then put 4 inches of crushed rock and set her down.  He is willing to do this for me for about $750, including the rock and building swales as needed to help with drainage.   The building inspector I spoke with agreed that is a viable option, but suggested a floating concrete slab instead.  I also thought of putting it on 6x6 skids sitting on top of the gravel bed as suggested above. The inspector seems open to other possibilities.  So am I, if anybody has any suggestions.

The problem with all of those options, as I see it, is how then to insulate the floor?  The building already has a wonderful wood floor that I would like to use as the finished floor.  I would have to insulate from below, which would be impossible if the building is sitting on the ground.  I don't think even sitting on the trailer it is high enough to get under, if they would allow me to insulate it before moving.  Hmm, may have to explore this further.  Maybe I could rent jacks to raise it higher than the trailer, install the insulation, then lower it back?  Hmmm. 

So that is about where I am so far. I could take some shots of the building site, if there is interest in that?  I'm lucky in that my permanent home is already my getaway.  A nice old farmhouse on 10 acres.  The art shack will be about 50 feet from my front door.   I will have a dedicated place for my looms, spinning wheels, and fiber, and a place safer than my kitchen to dye fiber.  I will install electricity, but not running water.  It is close enough to just run a hose or carry from the house when I need water.

I have a partially caved in out building that I would love to scavenge for wood to finish off the inside, but will have to see if any of it is usable.  I love weathered old wood.

John Raabe

It might be possible to build either a beam and pier or concrete crawlspace foundation and get the building up on to it. But at this point you probably don't know what the spans of the joists are (is an interior beam needed?) and what kind of shape they are in.

In such a salvage project it is very easy to start spending money and very difficult to stop. It might be more practical to assume the floor is less than perfect, and not worth replacing. In that case forget about insulation, wiring and plumbing in the floor and go for the gravel pad which will try to keep the existing structure dry and extend its limited lifetime. Use the building as is with a few puttering around enhancements but don't turn it into a money pit. Remember that such a building probably has a negative future value so don't spend good money on it.

If, on the other hand, you want a solid comfortable studio with a lifetime longer than a few years, then invest in a new structure that can be properly insulated, wired, plumbed and heated and will, with normal maintenance, remain dry and rot free for 100 years or so. That will have a positive future value to your property.
None of us are as smart as all of us.


Any other pictures? that place looks in rough shape from the outside. You might be better to just build a small shack for yourself. The cost isnt that high for materials for a simply building like that one.


She may not be pretty, but she's mine!  I don't need or want a palace, just something that will keep warm and dry when I need it to.  I won't be running water to it, so no need for plumbing or electric for that matter underneath.  However, I do need insulation. 
Look behind the dogs to the right (west) of the existing shed.  That old truck will be moved, fencing reconfigured, and the new building will be near there.  The long side will be on the south side, with the door on the north.  That isn't the best scenario, but what I have to deal with. Or I could close off that door and put one on the east side. 

These are bad pictures, but all I have for now. 

From the door, this is looking to the left.

And to the right.

Since they were designed to hold several tons of grain, these little buildings were built stoutly, with strong floors and care taken to keep them dry, since water would also ruin the grain stored inside.  The higher beams/cross braces (I don't know the correct terminology!) run the width at about the 5 or 6 foot level right now, to help the sides not bow out from the weight of the grain.  The two lower lengthwise ones are at about the 2-3 foot level.   I'll reconfigure things as needed once the building is in place. 

glenn kangiser

Cool project, Annie. I like seeing the old stuff saved and put back to usefulness.  Artist are able to take buildings like this and make a place with a lot of character.  I am working with an artist on some old restorations in Fresno once in a while.

They do sometimes cost more to restore than building new but new has little soul.
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

Glenn's Underground Cabin  http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=151.0

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Thinking outside the box, what about doing the gravel bed, build a wooden box that exactly matches the dimensions of the shed (possibly cross-braced) on top, poly in the bottom of th box then fill it with loose-fill cellulose.  Drop the building on top of the box and strap it down.

No clue if such a plan would work, but it would not be costly....

Making order from chaos is my passion.


I'm glad your doing this project.  Looks like it could be something really cool.   [cool]

Look forward to reading about it :) 


I found out a few more details.  The floors are doubled-up 2 by 6, 2 foot on center.  The walls are 2 by 6, one foot on center.  Still haven't made any decisions regarding the foundation.