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Need some help for cost comparison of kit shed vs strawbale shed

 
Thomas Nielsen
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I recently bought a new house with a half acre lot. Yes its not much by the standards of some people here, but its way bigger than my previous space and I am super excited about it! But I need some help. I am planning on building a shed approx 12'x16' to house my pottery studio and store the extra stuff that accumulates when you have 2 kids, and more hobbies than you know what to do with! Most kit sheds I am looking at cost between 3,000 to 5,000 dollars. I was perusing this site for ideas in gardening my newly acquired suburban oasis, when it struck me that I could potentially build a strawbale shed instead of buying the kit. This would also allow me to keep "potterizing" when its gets colder in my utah winters (especially if I build a rocked stove inside it!) I did a quick search and established that it would cost me about $400 to buy enough straw bales for all the walls with some left over for other projects. I can also estimate the wood costs for the roof, doors and window sills relativley easy, but what I cant figure out is how to estimate the cost of plastering the walls. I have never done anything like that, and dont really know what the cost is going to be. I am operating on the assumption that I will have to buy most of the raw materials to plaster the pottery shed (although I may end with some good material after excavating my pond) So I would need enough to plaster walls on a building that is 12' by 20' and about 7'-8' high. How do I go about estimating the cost for that? I need to come up with a good estimate to convince my wife that this is a good cheap viable alternative. Any sort of quotes on how much your personal projects cost to plaster are greatly apprectiated. Thanks Permies!
Tom
 
Dave Dahlsrud
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Location: North-Central Idaho
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Even if you spend a 1000 bucks on plaster you will still come out quite a bit ahead. Your real difference is going to be in the amount of time you spend putting the shop/she'd together. The straw bale structure will likely take quite a bit longer to finis up. If you're not paying some one to do 8 t for you and time is not an option I'm sure you will be much hapier with the bale structure.
 
                    
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Location: AR ~ozark mountain range~zone7a
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You might try something like this basic steel frame carport, I don't remember the name brand of the one I bought. http://www.carport.com/?gclid=CIG67vzDisICFeHtMgodZisArw


I have had one for about 10 years now, and it is still in good shape without any maintenance expense. A 2 man crew came out in a pickup-truck towing all the parts in a trailer, they had it installed in about 6 hours. It helps if you have your ground work well prepared before they get there tho, no trees, or unlevelness, mine just sets on dirt. If your site is on a slope, you might want to chop out that area to make the floor sill square tubing, lay level. Truly consider drainage around or thru the shed area, a metal roof the size of mine will shed a great amount of rain...and it has to go somewhere! (you might notice I have modified mine over the years and now it collects rain from the house as well as half of the carport. It cost $595 (back then) for my 16 X 20 installed, I think mine is about 9' tall at the peak. I got the 'green painted roof' and all the steel frame structure is galvanized, a few of the screws that hold the sheet iron on, have rusted. If I get around to replacing them, I will coat the new screws with some silicon or tar. We have had 2 tornadoes in that time, that came within a few miles of my place, and the carport had no problems because it is anchored into the ground with about (8) rebar anchor rods (each about 3' long). For a sound roof structure I would recommend this set-up as economical & sturdy. And it would be easy to fill in the sides with bales if that is what you want. I fill in the sides of mine with firewood every year, (it makes a sturdy firewood rack...what can I say). lol

I would make mention of the use of natural light, one or two 20' X 3' piece of sheet iron on the roof could be replaced with one of those nearly clear fiber glass roofing panels, which would allow a lot of light in your shed, but might not hold to snow or hail. You might be able to get the carport company to have the 'sunlight panels' installed, I think they will build them just about any way you want it. And depending on how your going to set-up your doors & stuff, you might want the thing oriented in such a way that sunshine can get in the shed when the doors are open. Remember sunshine is nearly free, and light bulbs (now a days) commonly cost way to daMn much.

If ya look around locally, you might be able to find one used, but one the size of mine, would have to be disassembled to move...it's just too heavy & bulky.

james beam
carport 001.JPG
[Thumbnail for carport 001.JPG]
firewood rack & Aussie rain gutter!
 
Bill Bradbury
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Location: Richmond, Utah
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Hi Tom,
I would not ever buy a pre-fab shed! They are pure junk!
I like straw bale buildings if they are well detailed, but I would recommend to you light straw clay as infill for a timber frame on rubble trench and random rubble foundation.
Plaster is very cheap, this is the least of your worries. Clay sourced locally as possible can be mixed with lime and masonry sand to form a very long lasting and beautiful exterior for about $100 in materials for this sized project. If you live in northern Utah, I can come out and give you a hand since there is a lot of technique involved.
 
Cj Sloane
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Bill Bradbury wrote:I would not ever buy a pre-fab shed! They are pure junk!


I'd like to start a thread on this but I'm not sure where to put it. Do you feel the same way about pre-fab metal buildings? I bought a shelter logic and it collapsed after 2 year. My husband fixed it but the metal tubing is poorly designed. I'm considering a pre-fab metal building with square tubing which seems much better. If I make a new thread I'll add a link...

OK, here the thread I created.
 
Thomas Nielsen
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@ James Beam; I like the idea of the steel structure, it sounds easy, however I want to add a barn style roof for a storage loft. The more I think about it though, the more I like how easy your plan sounds!
@Bill Bradbury; So is the timber frame with straw infill basically a normally frames house with walls and you just use loose straw instead of store bought insulation? I may not understand but it seems that this would be harder and probably more expensive, however if you are willing to drop by and help it could certainly be more doable. I live in clinton.
 
Cj Sloane
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Thomas Nielsen wrote:@ James Beam; I like the idea of the steel structure, it sounds easy, however I want to add a barn style roof for a storage loft.


They do sell metal ones like that:
 
Kat Green
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I have 3 of these steel structures for 10 years now. A 20x30, 20x26 and 12x30. The 12x30 is actually about 15 years old and has round tubing. I live in an area that gets high winds, some snow. No problems except when I had two moved and the workers damaged the metal sheeting by bending, cutting and making additional screw holes. I also had 2 10x20 of the type that are made for fabric/plastic tarps for roofs. I added corrugated aluminum and they held up fairly well. I do anchor them to the ground securely and raise them on cement block or bricks to get them off the ground to avoid rust. The metal tubing on the 10x20 tarp roof type is round and thin walled. I still have some of the tubes. I am going to reuse those two for a frame for one greenhouse one of these days. I highly recommend the square tubed type and you can also get them in a heavier gauge steel which I did. The metal sheets are also heavy and I reused them for strong, solid fencing. The frame for the largest I will be using to build my new house with earthbags for insulation but covered on the outside with Ondura for the walls and the new roof. Ondura is a 60% recycled corrugated sheet that is impervious to weather and I have it on my roof on my current home for the last seven years now and I like it so much that I will never use anything else.
You will find that some people on this site refuse to consider alternative methods, materials and combinations. I would like to think we are on this site to be open minded. Creativity is the mother of progress.
 
Thomas Nielsen
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@Cj Verde, i like to look of those barns. I think they may be a tad too big for me though. I need to keep the shed around 200 sqare feet to avoid having planning a zoning come down on me!

I am kind of torn now, I really like the ease of having the metal building frame, but I am not too keen on the appearance. I have much to think about!
 
Kat Green
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Here is a site that will give you a price quote: http://www.carport.com/
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Kat Green wrote:You will find that some people on this site refuse to consider alternative methods, materials and combinations. I would like to think we are on this site to be open minded. Creativity is the mother of progress.


Hi Thomas, et al,

First if you give me specifics I will address them the best I am able. I think you would be much more satisfied with a Timber frame and straw bale infill structure (or related natural build) than you would in general with a "mass produced" industrial product like a metal building. It is clear that there is subjective views all around on the vary points of architecture. What I find myself reminding folks of as a forum moderator for some of our Permies.com forums is that this is...first and foremost...a permaculture site. In as such we are not a DIY for just any style of architecture but those that have the smallest carbon foot print as possible, and that support the foundation principles of sustainable architecture within the natural/traditional format. While there may well be (I haven't found one yet) a metal building fabricator that uses 100% recycled materials and does not come from a grossly industrialized industry, until then...these are seldom going to be the primary architectural form recommended by the body of our forum participants.

With that said, if anyone feels a metal building fits the needs of a project and will facilitate a viable economic service life, while fulfilling the "best function" to the project needs then, by all means, consider one of these.

Kat, I must share that some of us are often asked questions about "how to do something" or "...is this a good idea?" and then posters of these query want to debate the response from forum members about there individual responses. I will own my frustrations sometimes and apologies where I need to if I seem short or too blunt. Nevertheless, I am not just sharing an "off the cuff" opinion or always just a subjective view point. I am sharing the views of a professional in multiple fields with strong ties within the permaculture venue that spans almost 40 years of experience within the different disciplines.

Creativity, maybe the mother of progress...from certain perspectives...yet "progress" is a very subjective perspective, and within the confines of permaculture has a certain spectrum of considerations. I love creative concepts in projects, students I teach and in general...I don't care for "reinventing wheels" and wasting time with concepts that those of us with a great deal of "real world" experience try to share with others that the given concept "may not be" such a great idea or as creative as the "thinker of the thought thinks..."

 
Bill Bradbury
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Me, I've built a lot of barns and even one 6000 sq ft indoor riding arena. Most of these have metal siding and roof, but(except for the arena) they are framed inside with wood. I don't take a lot of photos, but I have a couple old pics of a barn build using posts set in concrete and LVL's(beams laminated like plywood) for the rafters. The frame is through bolted together with support blocks below the rafters. The purlins and girts are all 2x6 lumber.
I would not build a barn this way now, but this design could be modified to be fast, economical, sturdy and ethical.
finished barn and drive.jpg
[Thumbnail for finished barn and drive.jpg]
interior barn frame.jpg
[Thumbnail for interior barn frame.jpg]
 
Cj Sloane
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
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Kat Green wrote:You will find that some people on this site refuse to consider alternative methods, materials and combinations. I would like to think we are on this site to be open minded.

I missed this on the original post. If anything, I've found the opposite is sometimes true here - people sometimes refuse to consider the "normal" method. This obviously makes sense due to some of the "normal" methods that are employed in agriculture (spraying, tilling, monocroping).

I'm exploring this a bit in my Shed-barn-critter-food-storagethread and some good points have been raised.
 
Andrew Parker
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Location: Salt Lake Valley, Utah, hardiness zone 6b/7a
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Hi Tom. Another fellow Utahn here. I live on a half acre in West Valley City. 12' by 16' isn't particularly big and the prices you mentioned seem steep (though I haven't really priced anything in nearly 10 years) Sutherlands' 12x16 shed kit is priced at $2012. You ought to be able to build your own with conventional methods for less, especially if you do some scrounging for things like windows and doors.

If you are committed to using straw bales, a simple pole barn will provide you a strong structure.

What are the code restrictions for your property? West Valley has been trying to become more like South Jordan, so neighbors can now have a lot to say about what is built. One of my neighbors put in three containers for storage. Her next-door neighbor complained (can't say as I blame her) and the City forced her to put on a roof and stucco siding. After it is finished, she would have paid less for a garage kit.

I don't know how much you will save by using straw bales for your walls. Sheathing, siding (usually the same thing on a shed) trim, paint and insulation can set you back quite a bit, so start your comparisons there.

The soil here where I live, just off the Jordan River flood plain, is mostly silt. It acts like clay, but with none of the benefits. Test your soil before planning on using it to plaster with.

Have you considered using pallets with light clay straw or chip infill? I am sure your neighbors would love it.

Whatever you decide, I wish you success. You can always count on advice, good and bad, and encouragement, mostly, here at Permies.
 
Dean Howard
Posts: 112
Location: NE ARIZONA, Zone 5B, 7K feet, 24" rain
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I think some people that have built there own will tell you it's about the same...i.e.; Trusses, Roofing, drawings, permits, adobe exterior/interior walls, electrical, plumbing, foundation work and so on...
Some use straw bales as infill, so they frame out the house regardless... Others use a straw-bale-loadbearing wall, and this needs to be well thought out (books, engineering, experience)
You can really save a lot on labor, but then you need to get hands-on some experience, books, help with what is legal for your zoning, architectural drawings even, because the county doesn't understand.
THE BIG BENEFIT, You can save later with the tremendous R-values you will have, taking less to heat and cool your home, and it will breath if breathable coatings/paints are used. If you can scrounge your own materials you can save some there... Good Luck
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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