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I Forge Iron

Shop size?....How big to start?

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For the past month or so, I've been trying to figure out what's the best way to go as far space needed on a new building to house everything. The 2 options I've found so far is a pre-fab metal carport style of two sizes. One size is 16' X 18" for ~ $1,000 and the other is 20" X 21" but the latter cost about $1000 more. They both have overhangs/soffits so closing them in later wouldnt be a problem I don't think. The other option I have is making a run up on the mountain for locust poles and build my own, which I'm leaning more towards due to the money aspect. I guess being as tight a banjo string is a good thing at times :-)
As of right now, everything is under a used-to-be woodshed and I'm sick of fighting the dirt-daubers over who's gonna have control of every little nook and cranny under the roof.

Has anyone else got out on the cheap as far as their building and if so, any suggestions?
Thanks a bunch

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Basic truths:
#1. It's never going to be big enough.
#2. You'll never have enough light.
#3. You'll never have enough power outlets.

Had we not needed a barn at the time I would've had a pretty nice starter shop when I found a 21' x 24' post and beam garage in Anchorage needing to be removed. It was grandfathered in where it was but it was built in a really inconvenient place and needed to be moved. Anc, Muni code said no, so it had to go. I got it for $1,000 and the time it took to dismantle, move and reassemble it.

Keep your eyes open for those kinds of deals. Maybe talk to contractors in the area who do remodels or demoing a property to build something new. Etc.

I got a killer deal on my current almost finished (Oh yeah, basic rule #4. It'll NEVER be finished. ;) ) shop. It's a 30' x 40' x 14' steel frame building I got for $12,900 FOB Palmer AK. about 25 miles from here so I was able to go get it with my truck and trailer.

The foundation and slab were expensive but I tricked it out with infloor heat, a 2" sq. receiver socket grid on 4' centers and a grounded grid.

When I bought it I didn't think it'd take me better than five years to get it closed in so my original thoughts that time savings would make up for the $ savings over building a pole barn shop. Then again, pricing the materials I would've needed to weather in a pole building turned out to be not much better than the deal I got.

Other options I considered were roofing over a pair of Connexes. Other steel buildings including the Arch (quanset looking) style, steel sided and roofed, post and beam construction, conventional lumber frame. etc.

The important thing to consider after legalities is weather. Snow load, wind, rain, drainage and temperature being the major factors.


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I should be siting the poles for my 20x30x10'wall shop extension Saturday morning.

Poles were freee from the my local electrical CoOp. I dug the holes myself with some help from my friends...Trusses were oldies found on craigslist for $200. Roofing and siding is metal propanel that was removed after a major hail storm dented all the roofs in the local town---also free (got a bucket of selfdrilling screws free too. Front will most likely be doored over with the stall doors my neighbor threw out when he converted his barn into a house. They came with hinges too! (What's a little cribbing to a smithy...)

I expect to have to buy the purlins...

I hope to have the basic shop in place for about $500 and then add electricity as the Habbitat for Humanity re-store and the local fleamarket fill out my needs---oh yes I already have a lot of conduit from a conduit tarp structure that collapsed during HEAVY winds, several hundred feet worth!

Now it helps to have friends and to live in the country where building codes for barns are fairly easy and to be able to stack/store "finds" till you get enough to build with.

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im in a baby barn right now lol (12x16), upgrading this summer 18x20 im hopeing amjor reno on the house too, its gonna be a long season. but i agree you need lots of room to move around as you will quickly run out of it as you fill the place with junk(well , not really junk lol)

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