FromPasture

Here are some pictures of the barn metal siding going up. Now it’s really starting to look like a barn! We are in that inevitable stage that every building project hits- we are ready for it to be done. There are the early stages, where you oooh and ahhh over each little step- holes dug, poles in, roof taking shape, sides, windows, loft, stairs. And the first couple of panels of colored siding are certainly dramatic. But then, you crest over the edge of knowing what the whole thing is going to look like, there are no more visually dramatic steps left, just tedium of finishing this and that.

We are getting a little weary of the chores associated with having something built- the endless strings of decisions you have to make, some trivial, some hard. Should the windows slide to the left or the right, or a mixture of both? How high should they be, exactly? Where do you want the toilet and hose bibs? Where precisely to put the doors and which way should they swing? How are you going to frame the bathroom walls? What kind of bracket to use for the hay doors, this one or that one? How many stairs above and below the landing? And on and on.

BarnSidingAll of these little choices you have to live with for years or face re-doing them later, so each one weighs on you. And then there is just the monitoring- any smart homeowner managing a building project should come home from work every day and go over the work, looking for anything that wasn’t as-agreed, or doesn’t meet your quality standards. Making sure everyone knows what tasks are next, what dependencies exist, and who’s coming and going, what things need to get into the queue. And then communicate, communicate.

It’s a labor of love, and worth the effort, to be sure. But I will be so glad when that last check box on the permit sheet is signed off and there are no more contractors parking all over the place and no more ditches and mud and mess. And we can mooooove in! Open-mouthed smile

One little lesson-learned that has come up on the metal siding…. The contractors started with putting in 2” faced insulation on the walls, then screwing the siding down over the top of that. Nothing hugely exciting about that, we’ve all certainly seen many pole buildings with that white-plastic-faced insulation puffing into the interior, it’s a fairly standard method. Because we’ve seen it in other buildings we previewed, we didn’t think anything of it written into the bids that came from the contractors, we just unconsciously assumed all pole buildings were done this way. We didn’t dwell more than a moment on the salesman’s pitch that this particular outfit uses “better” insulation than some guys-thicker- a whole 2”. The conversation never came up, is this stuff needed, value-added, or does it have any drawbacks? We were too focused on other design details.

FrontFlawsWell, it turns out, the answer is no, and yes. It’s only an R-value of seven, so it’s virtually useless. And it does have a drawback, a huge one- especially when you use this thicker, 2” stuff. It makes lumps under the metal siding. Which apparently “really show” when you use red siding. Worsening the fact was the front of our barn has a transition- the first story has plywood-sided walls which we had insulated with 6” batts (so no need for the 2” stuff) and the second story had this transition into the puffy 2” stuff over the girts. So, big horizontal line where the change takes place…

By day two when we had the first chance to see the siding in the daylight, we were horrified and dismayed to see dozens of dimples, bows, dips, waves and transitions in the metal. It looked… terrible. At least in our eyes. And of course once you notice a flaw like this, you just can’t stop noticing it, your eyes are drawn to it every time you look out the window. This kind of thing can reduce you to tears- it costs a lot of money to build a building like this, and it’s been more than a year’s effort to bring it to fruition. So to have it come up with a drastic cosmetic defect like this was distressing, to say the least.

SideFlawsAfter multiple discussions it came to light that the company owner typically recommends against using the insulation because of this issue, and because the insulation has so little R-value anyway. But somehow that didn’t get communicated to us, in fact, we were led to understand from the salesperson the opposite, that this 2” insulation was a recommended industry “best practice.” But in reality, the “real” best practice is, if you want to insulate your pole building, duh, have commercial girts installed (which we already did) and go spend $500 or $1,000 bucks on 6” thick fiberglass batts and insulate it right, and then finish the interior with sheetrock or plywood.

So, that is what we did. We abandoned the silly 2” stuff and had them put a vapor barrier on the exterior of the rest, and metal over the top of that. And we will insulate and sheet the entire inside ourselves, later. And it looks much better on the sides where they did this- perfect, in fact. As for the sides with lumpy insulation, the carpenters have worked and worked to correct it, and have gotten most of the defects out. The key was to carefully smooth each and every tiny lump in the insulation from the inside, and then manually adjust each of hundreds of screws to make sure that it’s neither too tight nor too loose. So, that was a learning experience for all, I’d say.

We have the plumbing done and are hoping it’ll pass inspection tomorrow. Then it’s time for concrete pouring. Yay!

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