12×24 Barn Style Gambrel Shed Construction Photo Series

37-tall-barn-style-shedGary built this 12×24 shed near Albuquerque New Mexico using my barn style gambrel roof shed plans.

Gary is the creator of the website “RuralSouthwestLiving.com“. It’s a blog providing how-to’s and tips on a variety of topics related to living in the rural southwest. He calls it “Lessons From The New Mexico frontier”.

He wrote a great description of the process of building his shed and posted it on his website, and gave me permission to repost it here…

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I needed someplace to store my tractor and the dozens of items that were “trespassing” in my woodworking shop. Suitable building space on my property was limited to 12′ x 24′ and living in a rural area with visibility from the road necessitated the structure fit with the surrounding landscape. A barn-style shed was what I wanted. What I needed was to find a detailed set of plans since I’d never built such a large structure. Up to this point, 4′ x 8′ cabinets were the biggest thing I’d built.

I checked the internet and found cheapsheds.com. The site’s videos were very thorough so I anticipated that their plans would be as well. I ordered the plans and received them almost immediately. Nice! I was not disappointed. The plans were thorough and well thought-out along with great drawings providing additional details. I printed the entire set of plans and put them in a 3-ring binder that I kept at the job-site for quick reference. As detailed as the plans were, I still had questions. I emailed Phil at cheap sheds.com multiple times over a few months and each time the response was prompt and he answered my questions.

Foundation

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I followed Phil’s suggestion of attaching and suspending the 4×4 posts from the skids, over the holes dug for the piers. Good idea! I placed one pier on each corner and one additional pier mid-way along the skid’s length. The center pier was separated from the corner piers by (2) concrete cinder blocks on either side. In other words, the sequence along each skid was; (1) corner pier, (2) cider blocks, (1) center pier, (2) cinder blocks, (1) corner pier.

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Since my tractor weighs about 3,000 lbs, I used (4) rows of 4×4 skids rather than (3) and lined-up the (2) center rows so that the distance between them was the same as the width between the center-line of my tractor’s tires. That assured the weight of the tractor would rest directly over the (2) center skids. This spacing kept me from having to further reinforce the floor beyond the 3/4″ t&g plywood.
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Floor

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Framing the floor wasn’t difficult but this is where being square and level is critical! I came to appreciate when it’s acceptable to be out-of-level a little bit and when it’s not. One of those times when it’s not acceptable is when leveling the floor framing.

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Being out-of-level by only a 1/4″ over a 4′ level, ends-up being 3/4″ out of level over 12′! Also, double-check the accuracy of your level before you start.

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I’d suggest buying a new 4′ level regardless the age of your existing level and check several at the store before purchasing the one that you’ve confirmed is accurate. An extra $40 spent on a level that you know is accurate could save you hundreds later on…not to mention frustration. Live-n-learn as they say. Good thing I was able to go back and fix my error before it became a real problem later.

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Trusses

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Constructing the 23 trusses was pretty simple by building a giant “square” using 2x4s and following the square edges of the shed floor. The plans show you exactly how to construct the jig.

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The trick was finding a place to store the trusses for a couple weeks while I built the walls (and waited for help to arrive).

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Framing a gambrel end truss.

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End truss covered with sheeting.

Walls

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A dilemma I frequently encountered was deciding what would be “faster” vs “do-able” for a one-person job. The plans suggested framing, siding, painting and erecting the side walls, lower end walls and gambrel end walls as finished pieces. That approach would definitely be faster if I had a crew of people but lifting a 12′ long side wall or a gambrel end wall by myself would be very difficult, not to mention unsafe. A downside of rural southwest living is that there’s not a lot of friends close-by to offer assistance.

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If you pre-build all the walls, you’ll need space for a lay-down yard to store the materials and finished pieces. Getting the trusses in-place and square with each other was tricky but not a major problem since I had a good friend to help (or maybe I was helping him).

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Keep in mind there’s a lot of climbing and ladder-work involved in this project and hanging trusses was just one example. Once all the walls were erected and the roofing trusses were in-place, I realized that this structure was no longer a “shed”. It was a barn….and I loved it!

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Finding a friend to assist with lifting the side walls wasn’t a problem but lifting the upper gambrel end walls….that was a challenge! In addition, since I needed the door opening to be at least 74″ high to clear my tractor’s roll-over bar, I had to build the header into the upper gambrel end wall and not into the lower end wall.

For an 8′ wide door opening, I chose a double 2×10 laminated header to minimize any chances of sagging. “Beefy” for sure but it added even more weight to the upper gambrel end wall. Now, how was I going to lift this monster into place?

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My tractor to the rescue!…..along with two friends. We replaced the front bucket with pallet forks, slid the forks through the vent openings, then lifted and “walked” the gambrel end wall upside-down from where it was constructed to the shed (about 30’).

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Lifting the upper gambrel end onto the far-end wall allowed me to drive the tractor forward into the shed. The end wall was lifted in to place with the truss “wings” resting on top of the double top-plate of the side walls. Then with 2 more helpers (now a total of 4 guys), we swung the gambrel end wall in to place using 2×4 “crutches” and secured it. We repeated this feat with the other upper gambrel end wall but this time I had to back the tractor (in reverse) into the shed so that the upper gambrel end wall was the last to enter. A bit tricky! Once all the walls were in-position, the remaining tasks were much less complicated (and nowhere near as heavy), except for maybe the double entry doors.

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Included in the framing plan was my insistence on a crows beak. I remember seeing them on old barns growing up in Indiana and knew I wanted one on my barn, even if it were only decorative. The crows beak required cutting compound miters….definitely tricky! I believe making compound mitres was where the term “head-scratcher” originated.

crows-beak-framingAs suggested in the plans, I fabricated the crows beak frame on the ground and test-fitted it against one of the gambrel end walls that was laid-out.

Lots of trial-n-error cuts were required as I “nudged” my way to the exact compound angle cut. Unless you’re looking for more exercise than this project already provides, I’d suggest positioning the saw as close to the work area as possible. Perhaps a journeyman carpenter could have avoided the numerous back-n-forth trips from saw-to-wall but I didn’t.

Using a rope laced over the flying rafter (the truss on the outside of the structure), I hoisted the crows beak to its approximate position, then tied-off the rope. Placing a 2×12 plank over the side walls and against the gambrel end wall, I climbed onto the roof framing and screwed the crows beak into place. It fit like a “glove”. Perfect! I hollered an excited “YES” from atop by barn roof for everyone (or no one) to hear! After all, my nearest neighbor lives a mile away. It didn’t matter that the joint between the crows beak and the flying rafter was as perfect as a picture frame. Nobody was ever going to see it….except me. And knowing it was perfect, made my day!

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It was a challenge getting the doors to fit perfectly. Just maneuvering them was like wresting with a gorilla. I should mention here that I used heavy-duty piano hinges from McMaster-Carr (mcmaster.com) for the double entry doors.

These are unfinished steel hinges, 0.090” thick x 4” wide x 8’ long, without holes. They come in various lengths if you need shorter or longer. I drilled holes spaced 6” on-center, cut the hinges to fit, removed the manufacturing oil residue, primed and painted. This process was definitely more work than just purchasing several “T-style” door hinges but with each door being 4′ wide x 74″ high, their weight needed additional support. I was concerned that “T-style” hinges wouldn’t be sufficient. These hinges seem to be up for the task.

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Loft

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I added a 12′ long loft (half the length of the barn), using 2×8 floor joists and 3/4″ t&g plywood. I wasn’t sure how much weight I’d be storing in the loft but it seems that I always find things to put up there that I didn’t expect. This combination of materials seemed suitable for storing most anything. The heaviest stuff I put near the edges.

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Roof

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Another “should I do it myself” decision was made regarding the roof. I wanted a corrugated metal roof but thought better of tackling it myself. Between the 14′ height at the peak, the steep gambrel pitch, the potential for gusty winds and my age (not old but no longer young), I decided to hire a roofing contractor. Good decision! It cost me about $1,000 more for a professional to do it but well worth it. My medical insurance deductible is more than that!

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Fiberglass panels act as skylights.

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Summary

This was an enjoyable, functional and very satisfying project. I was very pleased with cheapsheds.com and “Phil, the shed man’s” email help. A 12′ x 24′ barn-style shed is a large project but with help from 3 friends at a few critical points, one person can complete most of the work.

If you’re looking to justify purchasing a tractor, this might be the project. It’s not a necessity but without it, more friends would have been needed. Besides being indispensible in transporting and lifting the upper gambrel end walls, it helped haul material from the truck to the job site and allowed me to accomplish most of this project myself. My tractor now has a new home, my woodworking shop is clear and I have a great sense of accomplishment.

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