The Barn Raising

May 27, 2017

Today a group of friends came out to kick start construction.

My son had started his own little construction site nearby. A bit less organized, but likely a bit more fun.

I started inventory while people arrived. Peter finished that up for me, nothing appeared to be missing.

The plans were surprisingly dense and unhelpful. More of a description of the end result than a step by step guide.

Peter, with a background in drafting, was also very helpful in helping me read the plans.

This is the sort of detail work I really should have done before anyone arrived.

Before we could put up the first column, we had to clean up the rough spots where the bolts were sticking out.

Most of the steel members were light enough for two people to lift and maneuver.

The first section to go up was the far end, so we moved materials out of the way and started assembling the end rafters and columns on the ground.

I’m confident this is not how these structures are typically erected. This was quite dangerous actually, but it did work.

We lifted the assembly into place with the help of the forklift.

It was hard to know if the wood supports were doing anything at all until we removed the forklift, which was quite the moment of truth.

We then added bracing so the structure wouldn’t fall when we moved the forklift away.

I didn’t even own a ladder tall enough to reach this point yet. Just another example of Adam saving the day.

Bolting the center column to the rafters 20 ft above the ground was very challenging for me. Adam volunteered to do it, shot up the ladder like a bolt, man-handled the beam into place and came back down just as fast. Very impressive.

Peter’s ability to read plans and remain calm proved critical to the operation.

Something seemed off, so we measured a few things and discovered some of the bolts in the concrete were misplaced. We had to cut them off, drill holes and place new anchor bolts. Adam, who was far more prepared for this job than I was, thankfully had the tools and bolts in his work van.

The rafters were bending quite a lot as we lifted them. It’s actually pretty amazing how strong these parts are.

The next section went up similarly to the first. However, it being a clear-span section, the steel was much heavier.

In hindsight, I really should have measured the bolts and discovered these issues months ago.

More bolts were in the wrong place. It turns out the concrete guys removed the bolts when pouring the concrete and didn’t put them all back correctly.

This is not an OSHA approved work platform. He did have a harness attached to the forklift at first, but found it was getting in his way and making him feel less safe.

To stabilize these columns and rafters we needed to add some purlins. We were able to use a ladder for the lower ones. The top purlins, however, were quite a challenge. Adam volunteered to install them while standing on a pallet held up by the forklift.

The upper girders on the end wall are suspiciously angled downward. There must be something wrong there.

We also added some girders, which went up quickly.

We were able to get all the purlins for the first section in place before dark.

I used the forklift as an extra support. Probably not needed, but it made me feel a little less nervous.

Lots of issues cropped up throughout the day. Most were avoidable if I were more prepared. I got pretty stressed out at times, but thankfully I had a lot of good friends to step in and help me out. Adam, Alvin, Andrew, Brett, Dave, Joe, Lindsey, Liz, Macy, Mark, Marybeth, Melissa, Peter and Will; thank you all sincerely for the help.