Barn: Part 5

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By June of this year, our barn foundation looked like a giant planter box, filled with weeds, wildflowers, and black raspberry canes. The next step in the project was to parge the outer surface of the walls, so we just let the vegetation on the inside grow through the summer.

Parging is another term for what is more commonly known as stucco. In addition to strengthening the wall and making it more aesthetically pleasing, the 3/8-inch thick parge coat helps to seal the walls against moisture. As with everything else in this foundation build, it was new to me until I picked up the tools to perform the work. Learn as you go and hope for the best.

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After the parge layer had cured it was time to backfill the foundation (above) along three of the walls.

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In September of this year we began another two-month long push to get the first floor deck built. Before we could start assembling timbers, however, we had six more footings to build. Four of them will support the forebay section of the barn. Two more, in the interior of the foundation, will support the support beams that frame the drive bay.

I’d originally thought I’d dig the holes for the remaining footings by hand. Earlier in the summer, I’d envisioned digging one hole every couple of weeks, having them ready for forms and concrete by fall. Let me just say by the time the July and August sun was at its hottest, I lost the motivation to dig the series of four-foot-diameter, four-foot-deep holes. Another rental from Welch’s Hardware was in order. Excavation for the forebay footings took me less than a half a day from the seat of that John Deere backhoe.

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Then, there were the interior footings. No escaping the shovel there. Marion and I each took on a hole, digging side-by-side.

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The footing form, in the foreground of the photo above, consists of a cardboard tube screwed to a Bigfoot footing form. I cut and lashed together the rebar that will reinforce the footings and placed them inside the forms (below). Additional 4-foot lengths of rebar were inserted in the concrete as we poured the piers.

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Unlike the main barn footings, this pour would be mixed in small batches on site. We needed 60 bags of ready-mix to do the job. At 80-pounds apiece, it took multiple trips to the building supply store before we could start mixing. (14 bags is the limit of what I can safely carry with the truck.)

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Finally, we were ready to make concrete (above) with another Welch’s Hardware rental, the mixer.

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With 5000-lbs of lifting to do that day, I needed all the help I could get. When pouring the forebay footings I had to put the mixer up on a palette to gain the height I needed for emptying the drum directly into the tube. To load ready-mix into the drum, I used the palette forks on our tractor to lift the bags and me to a position above the mixer.

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Once the piers and footings were poured, we inserted 12-inch-long j-bolts into the wet concrete. They will be used to locate the posts and hold them secure. The black plate atop the concrete (photo above) will keep the ends of the wooden posts from contacting the concrete and wicking moisture into the end grain.

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The final step before we could begin to raise the deck frame was to install the framework for the root cellar door (above) and the pressure-treated sill boards atop the foundation walls (below). In the photo below, the hurricane straps are visible. They will wrap up and attach to the inside faces of the 8×8 timber sills.

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