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The wife and I are considering a new construction home and are negotiating the terms with the builder. The town we're buying in has an ordinance that basically prohibits storing RVs/trailers on residential property unless they're inside a detached garage/barn. Of course, there are a million restrictions on the construction/dimensions/etc. of said "accessory structures," so I am requiring that the builder deliver the home with the barn already constructed (with permits pulled of course). But I need to tell him exactly what features I want and I have basically zero experience in these matters, so I'd like to get some input from those of you who've had these things built (or built them yourself).

I want the structure to be large enough such that it can house the largest fifth wheel or class A motorhome conceivable with slides out and still have room to walk all the way around, but anything over 30x60 ft is probably going to violate the municipal coverage limits. I plan on having a concrete floor and a 100A/240V electric panel, fresh water, sewer (this will probably require an ejection pump), natural gas, and CAT6 network cable for a WIFI access point. I think I also want a half-bath and a utility sink along with a natural gas furnace (and small water heater, probably 10 gallons or so), but air conditioning is probably overkill and not worth it. I know I'll need some kind of exhaust fan and inlet vent to keep it from becoming an incubator during the summer. Beyond that, I'm pretty much clueless. So...

What are everyone's thoughts on the foregoing, and are there any features you have in your barns that are especially worthwhile? Anything you wish you realized after the fact that you wish you had? Anything to avoid? In particular, I'm wondering about door height: does a nominally 14-foot door mean that a nominally 14-foot tall vehicle can fit through it? Any thoughts on insulation, vapor barriers, etc.? Overhead hoists?

...Sorry for the stream of consciousness.

Below is a quote I got from Pole Barns Direct that is about the size of what I think I want. Including labor and prep I expect the total cost (i.e., the price below plus additional materials/labor/etc.) to be around $50-$60k since I live in northeastern NJ which is a very expensive area (unfortunately); if that's way off the mark please let me know.

Thanks in advance for everyone's thoughts.


Building Size:
30' W x 56' L x 14' H
Doors and Windows:
Man Doors: 9-Lite Door LH
Windows: No Windows
Split Slider Doors: No Split Slider Doors
Garage Doors: 16w x 12h CHI 2283 Insulated, 16w x 12h CHI 2283 Insulated
Features:
Overhangs: 12" Overhang All Sides
Single Bubble Vapor Barrier: Yes
Wainscot: No
Post Decay Prevention: No
Liner Panel Metal Ceiling: Yes
Liner Panel Metal Walls: Yes
G-10 Metal Downgrade Option:
Cupolas: No Thanks!
What's Included With My Building Kit?
- FREE Building Plans and 3D Renderings
- FREE #5 16D Framing Nails
- Wood Trusses (4/12 Pitch, 4'OC, Agricultural Load 25/5/0/5)
- Simpson H2.5A Hurricane Ties
- Treated Posts 8'OC
- Double 2 x 10 Eave Beams
- 2 x 10 Treated Skirt Board (1 Row)
- 2 x 4 Roof and Wall Purlins 2'OC
- 2 x 4 Temporary and Permanent Bracing
- 29 Gauge Painted Steel Roofing and Siding
- Color Matched Screws and Trim Nails
- Vented Ridge Cap

Kit Price: $24674.16
Delivery: FREE!
Sales Tax (If Applicable): $0
Grand Total: $24674.16
 

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If you could ever get a 5er or large Class A MH then you should make the height tall enough for at least a 14' high roll up door. The maximum height of the new 5ers is 13'6". Im not certain the normal height of the MH but it is close to that too.
 

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If you could ever get a 5er or large Class A MH then you should make the height tall enough for at least a 14' high roll up door. The maximum height of the new 5ers is 13'6". Im not certain the normal height of the MH but it is close to that too.
Agree with this - 14' door is a must to fit most (and certainly the largest) toy haulers and coaches. Which means you will probably need 16' walls.
 

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I have built or had built several barns here. My main barn (42wX84L) is 16' inside clear so I can pull trailers inside and thru the barn if need be. I had mine roll insulated, and if I built one today it would be with sprayed foam (open cell). It strengthens the building, is very efficient and is costs effective. If you can, I would use an insulated roll-up door. Maybe 14-15'.
Put the water heater, furnace, bath and sink in a room and you could heat it with the furnace, and cool it with a small window unit mounted up close to the ceiling.Make sure you have gutters installed and if there are trees close, put the leaf guards on-- believe me, it will save you a lot of time and trouble. Carry the water into a common drain if possible to get it away from the slab. Amazing how much water comes off the roof.
If I read your specs correctly, it is with a personnel door with windows. I would suggest a metal door and frame with no windows-- keeps thieves from looking to see what you have inside.
Are you going to use this as a shop as well as RV storage? Maybe run some spiral pipe ducting down the center of the building from the furnace to keep things from freezing.
 
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I would say 14' door minimum as well and a slab that is sufficient to support the weight of the camper.

Your electrical plan is good just don't forget overhead lights and lots of them. If I had it to do over, I would have added more lighting. Current technology of LED overheads is pretty stunning.

Another thing to consider is perhaps a auto/truck lift. Wish that I had room to install one.
 
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Jimmy D is correct on the LED's. We put them in a hanger we built for acft. maintenance and they sure made a difference in lighting and the electric bill. Life expectancy is thousands of hours. Put 110 plugs on every post and 220 plugs every 3rd post.
 

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Heated slab, spray foam insulation would eliminate the need for vapor barrier.
Visqueen, clear or black) on the sand before the slab is poured is a perfect vapor barrier. Every slab foundation house I ever built used this method perfectly.
 

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I just had this 60’x80’ Morton built this Summer. 14’x24’, 3” thick insulated door. Tyvek, 6” batt, vapor barrier in the sidewalls. R50 blow in fiberglass in the ceiling. 5 1/2” concrete floor with drain. Plumbing for full bath. Two 60’ run radiant heaters.....100,000BTU each on low and 150,000 BTU each on high. It is 15’ at the sidewalls and I had them use scissor trusses, so it’s 17’6” interior height at the center. This allowed a 14’ door height with a 15’ sidewall height.
 

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Just had a 36x64 built. As others have said, scissor trusses. 14’ sidewalls allowed a 14’ door. I have side windows but up high for security. Floor drains a must. My county doesn’t allow any plumbing. Spray foam. LED lighting for sure.



 

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Couple of thoughts as I did a 50 x 50 all steel about 2.5 years ago. I asked lots of questions and got LOTS of VERY good tips and advice.

Make your roll up doors 14' high - which means you eve height would have to be ~16' at least. Max trailer height on roads is 13'6" and 14" will give some padding.

I did mine at 18' on advice from a friend. At 18' eves, you can build out a 2nd story inside if you ever want or need to. I intend to do so in the near future.

On advice from members of another forum where I posted questions I made 2 of my roll-up doors 14' wide and the other one 12' wide. Makes backing in trailers really easy...

Check into adding a lean-to type cover on one or more sides. Depending on zoning and such, it may not count as square footage in you building. I park my 5ther and cargo trailer under my lean-to and my 2 boats inside. I have the bay with the 12' wide door as a service stall with a 2 post lift. I park my 30 hp tractor there and move it when I need to.

Consider 2 walk-thru doors. I did one on a front corner and one on the opposite rear corner. I also poured a patio at the rear door.

I did a FULL 200 Amp load center on a separate meter from the power company. It does NOT pull power thru my house's load center - totally separate service from the road. On a side note, this was a VERY expensive option for me as my shop was too far from the road to run 240V power and I also did NOT want 5600 volts on poles in my yard (too many trees to have that kind of juice over my head) so I had it put underground. The power on our street is on the opposite side of the road from me so they put a pole up in the front corner of my yard and stretched the high voltage across the road and then underground about halfway back in my yard to a ground mounted transformer that they also installed. (I picked the spot for the transformer) Then they went underground again with 240V back to my shop. Total distance close to 500' and cost to do it was right at $8k.

I have run conduit to everything in my shop from the load center. I bought a used man lift to do it with and with the 18' eves, it's really the only way to do it. I stared at it for months, checked into tall ladders, scaffold rental or purchase and the used man lift has really worked out awesome. Running the conduit has been a good bit of work and a fairly small expense but TOTALLY worth it! I'm still adding stuff as I go.

Ridge vents AND skylights in your roof! The skylights were my idea and I was kind of iffy on them in the planning stage. I an SO glad I did that I can't even begin to describe it. My ridge vents operate via hanging chain and I just close them in the winter.

Probably not necessary to say this for your part of the world but insulate as best as you can afford. There are basically 3 types of insulation out there for these things. The bubble wrap type was NOT recommended by others who have it. Several said they just HATED it for several reasons. The traditional fiberglass / plastic sheeted stuff seems to be preferred and that's what I used. The best stuff out there is the spray-foam stuff but it is orders of magnitude more expensive. I did all my walls and roof with the fiber glass stuff for right at $2k. The quotes for the spray-foam came in at $11k.... but I'd still recommend you at least get quotes on it in your area.

I painted the floor in my service stall. One of the best things I did. I did a couple of months of research on floor paints and ended up going with polyurea on the floor. I want to do the rest of the building and will but I'm basically out of money as I paid cash for all this (I had been saving for several years) and I'm saving down-payment money for a new truck now.

Surprises / screw-ups:
I live is south Louisiana and we have flood zones. Even though my house didn't flood (not even close) in the "1,000 year flood" we had here back in '16, I still had to elevate my shop to FEMA grade which was 30" above existing grade. Not sure about other parts of the country but when you live in a swamp, dirt ain't cheap! That was an $18k expense that I did NOT plan for.

I made my lean-to 14' wide. After parking the camper in there and opening the slide-outs, I REALLY wish I'd made it 18' wide.

Here's a link to a full thread on a boating forum that I frequent where I posted a lot of info and also answered a lot of questions and there's even some other advise in there from other members who've done it.

Let me know if I can answer any questions you may have.

https://www.thehulltruth.com/trucks-trailers/851120-my-new-truck-progress-added.html
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Thanks for all the great info, guys. A couple of additional questions:

1) Pole Barns Direct looks like their structures are made primarily of wood, with perhaps some vinyl siding. How does this type of construction compare to a metal building (for instance, https://www.olympiabuildings.com/)? Pros/cons?

2) Are there any pre-fab manufacturers that you can recommend? Any I should avoid?

3) What are the advantages of heating the slab? This was mentioned with regard to a vapor barrier. Is it correct that if the slab is heated I won't need any additional heat sources? Is it even worth thinking about air conditioning (obviously this would require ductwork which would seem to make a forced hot air system more attractive)?

4) Someone mentioned specifying an 8-inch-thick slab. I hadn't thought about the slab thickness before, and upon further reading I'm seeing some folks recommending rebar reinforcement in the slab. Any thoughts on this? I'd like the barn to be able to accommodate a large class A motorhome (which is basically a class 8 bus chassis), so I'm thinking I may need to be specific with the builder about this aspect of the construction.

5) Regarding drainage off the slab, I'm thinking it would be best to have a center "channel" drain with the floors tapered toward it and drainage out the back. Or is there a better way? I'm concerned with having a drainage hole with pipes/plumbing directly under the slab, because any repairs will be enormously expensive.

Thanks again to everyone for relating your experiences and suggestions.
 

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My slab is 6” with rebar which I was led to believe is plenty thick.

I originally was going to do in slab heat but wasn’t worth it for me. The cost of just laying the conduit was more than my whole modine installed. I think the biggest downside besides cost is the fact if you open your doors and it cools way down, it will take quite a while to reheat with in floor alone.

AC I didn’t plan but the humidity was so bad that I just put in a big window unit along with a separate dehumidifier and it kept things cool and dry this summer. For dehumidifying alone, AC is worth it.

Also consider the wall jack (I think they’re called) door openers. Quiet and less hanging from your ceiling. Be sure to plan outlets in the right spot for the type you use.
 

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Thanks for all the great info, guys. A couple of additional questions:


4) Someone mentioned specifying an 8-inch-thick slab. I hadn't thought about the slab thickness before, and upon further reading I'm seeing some folks recommending rebar reinforcement in the slab. Any thoughts on this? I'd like the barn to be able to accommodate a large class A motorhome (which is basically a class 8 bus chassis), so I'm thinking I may need to be specific with the builder about this aspect of the construction.


Thanks again to everyone for relating your experiences and suggestions.
Don't know if this helps you or not. I recently had part of my rear driveway torn out and repoured. I told my concrete guy that occasionally I park my 14k 5vr in front of my rear garage. As such, and in order to be safe, he poured 6 inch (some PSI that I don't remember) with rebar. So far I have had no issues.

As you are considering a Class A motorhome, I recommend to look at what you MAY want to purchase in the future and determine the weight of the bus. Then, have you concrete guy pour according to your worst case scenario for bus weight. This methodology should also cover you for the heaviest 5vr as well.
 
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I think 8” concrete is totally unnecessary for your use. Also, most 6” concrete is actually 5 1/2”, 8” is 7 1/2”, etc. I believe this comes from the days of using wood forms....2”x6”, actually being 5 1/2”. I had 2’ of dirt and clay dug out under my slab and had 3’ of engineered fill(basically sand) hauled in and packed for the base. They lined the perimeter of my building with 4’x8’ sheets of 2” dense foam board for a frost barrier, then put rebar on a 2’ grid throughout the entire building before pouring it.
 

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My slab was engineered. Has footings and such all the way around and they're even bigger where the main beams or joists or whatever they call them bolt to the slab but the slab was formed up with 2x6 wood. The footings have rebar and if I remember right are like 18" deep. There's also reinforcing wire in the whole thing. I had them dig out under the 2 post lift to make the concrete 8" even though Bnedpak says 4" is plenty.
 
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