Tia dreams of horses and after finally getting enough land to support them, we decided to construct a barn. This section looks at the overall project and it’s progress. Hopefully we’ll learn something, the project succeeds and we can save comeone else the hassle when they build their structure.

  • The overall project
  • Phase 0 - Planning, initial drawings and ideas prior to breaking ground.
  • Phase 1 - Breaking ground and pouring cement. The low level stuff.

Phase 0

January 18, 2004 - Day 1

We’ve almost decided to build a barn. After hemming and hawing on various projects, we decided to look into a barn. So I called a couple contractors from the paper, left a message for one and spoke to another. He gave me some hints on things to check, HOA guidelines, etc. and said he could do an estimate. I left notes for Tia and she called around.

Since our house is stucco with a concrete tile roof we were concerned about having to match, but the HOA said it just had to be close. One thing down. Some other items we learned about:

Site inspection - prior to going to the architectural committee, we need to staked out so they can look at it.
Plans - Need to provide plans, including materials to be used for the committee. They only meet once a month, so that's a deadline of sorts.
Sightlines - Since we live near the mountains, neighbor's views are a consideration.

** January 21, 2004**

Tia had a couple guys come out who’d returned my call and they looked at the neighbor’s barn and measured it. 30’ x 40’ and did an estimate. They called her and said about $16,000 and would drop off a proposal. I said we still needed 1 or 2 more estimates, but that sounded good. I guess we’re building a barn. Here’s a look at our neighbor’s plan (roughly): (image lost)

His barn has a garage door that leads to a long space behind the stalls. The stalls are roughly 15’ x 15’ with a slightly smaller tack room.

January 23, 2004

The proposal looks good, rough drawings, somewhat itemized list of expenses (wood, concrete, doors, windows, roof, etc.) They left brouchures for some products they want to use, windows, metal roofing that looks like tile, etc. Basic resumes for the builders, a list of references, and their current project. A nice spread. The 2nd guy still hasn’t sent in his bid yet. We talk about seeing their current project or at least talking to the guy who contracted it. We do some rearranging of the design to make it more usable. If we’re spending $16k, then I want to have garage space. So we start to redesign, looking at moving one stall to the west side and one still on the south, but then getting a 2 car garage in there. So we rework like this: (image lost)

Note: The barn is roughly a 30x40 space, with two stalls on the west and doors for horses. A large open space, with a west garage door and human door.

But then Tia doesn’t like the west only entrance. It’s a not recommended thing to do, so we’re reworking again and decide to move the garage and things then fall into place.

January 26, 2004 We got the second bid. Like $32k v $16k. I get worried but Tia thinks the 2nd guy is marking the hell out of things and subcontracting like crazy. Based on what others have told us, it seems that $16 is a little of a deal, but $32 is a rip off. Tia likes the first guys and she called their current project owner and he was pretty happy. The 3rd guy we contacted doesn’t have time, so we’re going with Dave and Craig. Since they’ll be on this project, I might as well put some names down. After some debate to ensure that we cover some bases, I decide to call the city for permits. I check their website and it appears that our county charges $5.50/sq foot. With our 30’ x 40’ structure, that’s like $6k!!! Suddenly I’m thinking I need to break the news to Tia we’re not getting a barn. We call Dave and Craig later and they laugh at us. It’s going to be a few hundred, but not a few thousand.

Whew! A relief and we decide to move forward.

January 27, 2004 I get to meet Dave and Craig. In a rare moment of weakness we allow the kids to watch TV on a weeknight, mostly so we can talk about the barn.

First we present them with our plan. Knowing that some things are going to change and the overall price might change somewhat. This is the final plan, maybe a few windows, exact door sizes TBD, but for the most part, this is it.

We’ve decided to line up the garage with our existing turnout and then have the tack room on the North. The garage and tack room will be drywalled, mostly to seal fumes and things from the horse areas, which will be open to the elements. The horses can go out through the central walkway or from each stall, though we’re thinking to close the stall doors most of the time. We talked about a sink in the tack room as well as a spigot outside. We’ll stub another one towards the right side of the barn, but since we’re not sure what to put there, we’ll leave that. A few other things that are worth discussing:

  • Electrical - Plenty of outlets (4) in the garage (all quads) GFI outlets on 3 sides, a few in the tack room.
  • Lights - Floodlights outside, a couple in the garage, one in each stall, two in the walkway. A number of these will be 3 ways so we can switch them on from multiple places. The floodlights will be 4 way so we can get them from each side of the barn as well as the house.
  • Plumbing - Drains will be into sediment, so no non-bio degradable stuff. Will prevent cost creep trying to tap into the septic system.
  • Pitch of roof - Since height may be an issue, try to watch this.
  • Windows - Tentative placement of a few after the meeting.
  • Grading - Since the land slopes, want to be sure that the structure is level and the horses can get outside easily, not step downs. Also drainage items around the structure.

January 28, 2004

We meet at lunch to stake out the structure. Conincidently the window guy was there as well. They paint out a first guess, we decide to move nearer the house, align the gable perpendicularly with the house gable. They stake it out and we decide that it’s too close to the fence.

Craig repaints, then starts moving stakes. Then Tia wants it closer to the house. Craig is saying he only brought one can of paint, but we walk around, look at the angles, the distances, lots of fun in the snow, but as they said, this is the time to change things. Once the concrete goes down, not much is changing. Finally we get it set and agree to start moving. Tia’s scheduling the site inspection and we should have final drawings by Friday with a new estimate. I’ll try to get some pictures up tomorrow.

February 2, 2004

Craig comes by with more final plans. Tia likes them and takes them to the HOA contact she has who notices there is no height measurement. Grrrr. Anyway the lady says don’t worry, just schedule a site visit with the head of the HOA.

First charges are due as well. $650 for the permits and $550 design fee to the contractors. Seems reasonable, though not being aware of it up front or it being in the bid is a little annoying. Also we find our cement tile is $300 more than the metal, so we decide to go with that. Or rather Tia decides and tells me, but at $300, it’s not worth worrying about.

I speak to the HOA lady and she puts us on the agenda for the meeting.

February 4, 2004

Heard from the head HOA lady (Nancy). Our contact didn’t show at the meeting and so nothing happened. She gives me the name of someone to take the plans to. Also we need to stake out the corners of the fence and draw it up on the plot plan. No big deal, but we need to make some preliminary decisions to get an approval.

Added a small plot plan below of our land. It’s oriented so the top is South, Left it East, etc. (image lost)

Here’s the additional fencing of the large part from the barn moving west and around that doesn’t exist, but that’s what we’re, or at least I am, thinking. (image lost, but I think this is fencing to allow access to the garage door without going through a fence and connecting the fence to our existing house.)

February 5, 2004 Tia found this article on building a barn and it lists the things you should consider. A few of the things I noticed:

Drainage - 1:12' which I think we have or are pretty close. It might be slightly steeper on the south side, but shouldn't be much.
Stall Structure - 6x6 posts, not 4x4. Glad I saw this.
Height - entries and ceilings should be 8', so we might need a 10' structure. Have to measure the neighbors.
May not want gutters. Have to see if HOA has an issue. They create mud spots.
Hay Storage - generates gas, be careful of sparks, so need to be sure doors seal well and there are vents in the gables to allow gas to leave.
Cleanup - After construction and before horses, inspect and magnet for nails, etc.
Ventilation - Use soffet vents.
Electric - Go high for future needs. GFCI ALL outlets.

If the link is broken, I copied it here

February 12, 2004


Tia called and told me today that she got approved.

Phase 1

February 12, 2004

Well, everything approved, the final plans and bids came in. $20,000, slightly higher, but it includes stucco exterior (required by HOA) and cement tile roof, which we decided to go with. A few electrical things, all in all not a bad deal to me.

So Craig and Dave come and ask for $7000 to start ordering lumber, basically 1/3. So Tia writes them a check.

Then an hour later some lady comes to the door and says the bank won’t cash the check. I wasn’t there, and Tia isn’t too happy. She asks why and doesn’t get an answer and says the lady is kind of rude. I have this picture of some trashy, lady with hair everywhere and a cigarette hanging out of her mouth. Anyway she’s their girlfriend/secretary. Hopefully for just one of them.

So Tia writes a new check and the bank calls. They don’t have 2 forms of ID. So Tia says she can’t help them, they need to figure it out. But she calls me later worried that we’ve just lost $7K with nothing to show for it.

February 13, 2004 There’s a big piece of machinery in the yard, so something should get done. Here looks like the first shot:

bobcat clearing space

I’m not there to see it, but here are a few pictures of the helpers we have on the project: (images lost)

Here’s a look back at the house, from the street where the mighty machine is just getting started. The guys bascially levels out a small area, including yanking up a couple Yucca plants and then dug a trench for the foundation.

(image lost)

From there they also trenched over to the fence and then along the inside of the small yard fence and to the side of the garage. Here’s the trench from the barn coming over:

(image lost)

And then here’s the shot from the garage (west side looking west down the slope of the yard. Some pipes have been laid for water and electrical. Need to be sure that a conduit for wiring, phone, network, etc. gets laid as well. You can see the water pipe coming from the front yard (For the sprinkler). It’s the PVC pipe. The rubber pipe is rear sprinkler that’s going to the street.

(image lost)

February 18, 2004

Hanging out with Tia before she leaves for DC, we spend some time talking to the guys. They’re trying to get everything stubbed in (water, electrical) for cement. Today I watch them start to fill back in some of the trench around the main space and start to plant the plywood forms in there. They want to pour cement Saturday (21st), but snow called for on Thur, so we’ll see. They get about 30% of the forms up on two sides before knocking off.

February 20, 2004

No work yesterday, no change in other words. Still no work yet on pouring cement tomorrow and since I’m at work, I don’t know if anyone came by later. Hopefully they will be a message later.

February 23, 2004

No work over the weekend, but with the snow and threat of rain I understand, however I was surprised that they didn’t come today to get the rest of the forms up. Maybe they’re waiting for the ground to dry more.

February 27, 2004

Getting nervous. Called both Craig and Dave and left messages. No response.

March 4, 2004

Tia called Craig and got a call back that he’d come out and take a look.

March 14, 2004

Tia called Craig and got a call back. Been in the hospital and will call next week. Things are not looking good. Tia and I are talking about recourse and what we can do to move this project forward with someone else. Also how we can recover some of the funds that we’ve paid.

Tia talked to a few neighbors that have had issues and got some ideas, like filing a BBB complaint. I’m thinking lawsuit and leins against future incomes. Or against assets.

We also talked about some things we could have done better. When the basement was done in the old house, we wrote the checks directly for some materials. Helps to minimize risks as well as keep control of the budget. So that’s something that we could do going forward. Also dealing out smaller amounts at a time.

March 17, 2004

Got some of the scoop. Or all of it, hard to tell and I’m a little cynical at this point. Craig called and said Dave is in jail and he’s not working with Dave anymore. Also Dave’s girlfriend has left with some portion of the business $$. That’s not good, but that appears to be the worst news.

Craig would like to continue with the project if we’ll let him. He paid for the lumber, but not the concrete, however he has a friend who will help him and get a deal so he’s not out a huge portion of money. Also he can sub out other work to get the thing finished. He also agreed to let us write materials checks directly to vendors from here on out.

Small snag, he has some heart issues and goes in for a procedure. He may be able to come out Friday with the concrete guy and see what needs to be done and then pour next week. Tia and I would like to slavage something here, even just get the lumber, so we’ll see. I wouldn’t mind tackling some more of this myself, but there are things like plumbing and electrical that I can’t do. But I can nail things, lift things, move things, shovel, etc. so I’ll try to get more involved in this project.

A New Twist

April 20, 2004

A friend brought his barn guy over and I talked to him a bit. He said the site is a mess, not level, the trench is too wide, etc. His recommedation would be to fill it in and start over. Melvin, his name, said he just built one that was about $36-40 a square foot, so around 40-50k. He did give me some things to think about. Said concrete work is like $6 a square foot + materials, so $9k isn’t that bad.

Also said we’d need like 10 trucks of dirt to level things out. Interesting talking to him. Gives me more reasons to bail for now.

April 24, 2004

Amazing. The second partner, Dave, called and said he’s out of jail and would like to explain. According to him, well according to Tia who talked to him, he got ripped off by Craig as well and if there’s anything he can do, etc., etc. She talked for awhile and he’s willing to let us buy materials and pay his helpers, but he would really like to be a contractor in this area and he’s off to a bad start.

What do we do? Who knows. It’s tempting, but at this point we’re thinking that if he can’t do it, then we have to bail for now. If we can control things more tightly, maybe it will work, but we need some detailed plans from him.