Build Your Own Workshop

Introduction: Build Your Own Workshop

Like a lot of tinkerers I've been wanting the "Dream" shop for years. I tried several different shop ideas over the years and was never really happy. So I decided to build what I wanted and I had to figure out how to do it. This project is still in progress as it's being built as I get the money and the time.
This is a real basic overview on my solution

Step 1: Getting the Barebones Up

After the site was selected and leveled, holes were dug for the posts. The first few were dug with a hand post hole digger, than I borrowed an auger for my old tractor.
The wood came from the property and was milled with a WoodMizer bandsaw sawmill. I had always heard that the fastest route to a roof was a post and beam structure...so that's what I did.

Step 2: Going Up

I decided to go with 2 stories because I figured since the roof and the pad were the expensive parts it would just make sense. I also originally laid out a 20x20 area and decided it would be too small so I went 30 x 40. The monster was starting to awaken.
(note: 2 stories are A LOT MORE WORK! and 20x20 probably would have been just fine, but now that the hole was started I just jumped right in.)

Step 3: The Slab

Next up in this abbreviated version of the last 2 years of my life was the slab. Slabs are expensive, but, I saved my sheckles and was able to pull it off. Since I was going to all the trouble of a slab I figured I might as well install a radiant heat system. So I did.
First there was 6 inches of well tamped gravel, then a moisture barrier (plastic sheeting) than insulation, than rebar and reinforcement wire than the pex. Covered in a tasty coating of concrete
Mmmmmmmm

Step 4: Bring on the Insulation

I wanted to wrap the skeleton with straw bales for their amazing insulation factor.
The bales deliver somewhere around an R-40 to 50

Step 5: A Plaster Skin

hydraulic lime plaster is applied to the bales . it acts as a skin for strength and helps the building breath.
Plastering is a lot of work .but, really gives the building a nice surface. I'm still plastering on the interior and this spring I hope to finish the exterior. Part 2 : Working with Hydraulic Lime Plaster is up.
It shows in much more detail how to work with this most excellent material.

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    80 Comments

    0
    jsimp2861
    jsimp2861

    8 years ago on Introduction

    very nice, would love to have a shop that size for welding, auto repair, woodworking and just tinkering

    0
    Strawbale Shop
    Strawbale Shop

    9 years ago on Step 5

    * The extra time you put into a strawbale structure to smooth the walls will pay you back many times over when you plaster.
    File under things I would do differently

    0
    Strawbale Shop
    Strawbale Shop

    9 years ago on Step 3

    The pex used in the floor is 7/8's ID. It was installed in three 300 foot loops

    0
    vincent7520
    vincent7520

    9 years ago on Introduction

    Congratulations …
    Lucky man who has so much space available : would you like to know that your workshop is at least twice (if not more) the size of house ?
    ;D

    0
    tinker234
    tinker234

    10 years ago on Introduction

    could you get free contre slabs from company's that are extras

    0
    ssleeper
    ssleeper

    10 years ago on Step 5

    Wow Very nice job. Would you say the labor involved is more or about the same as a stick built shop?
    How much would you say it cost you to build this building as aposed to a stick built or a pole building?

    0
    Strawbale Shop
    Strawbale Shop

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    No air conditioner here I use an exhaust fan in the morning to pull in the cool air, but pretty much it's just the thick walls of the straw bales.
    Theme?
    Never thought of one....hmmmm...
    "do it yourself"? or maybe "re-purpose/re-use"?
    People who visit the shop think it has an "old" feel. I think it's probably because of the big round walls and post and beam structure

    0
    tinker234
    tinker234

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    old fashiond theme then ever thought of air conditoing where i live it is a must

    0
    tinker234
    tinker234

    11 years ago on Introduction

    wow nice is the foundation safe and could i ask how do you power it

    0
    Strawbale Shop
    Strawbale Shop

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Safe? it's a 6 inch slab of concrete sitting on 4 to 5 inches of tamped rock. Yeah seems pretty safe. The shop is currently powered on the grid, but, I made sure the roof was aligned and fortified for the possibility of solar when the financial gods are in agreement. Thanks for your comment.
    PS: today it's 95º outside and inside the shop is a cool 69º

    0
    coopgrl88
    coopgrl88

    12 years ago on Introduction

     I think it is great you are showing a straw-bale structure.  They don't get enough exposure.  Cheap and efficient homes and structures.  Fire and pest resistant.  They also breathe, so you don't feel stuffy like you can in a modern structure.  Awesome.  I really look forward to seeing your final product and layout of your workshop!

    0
    bowmaster
    bowmaster

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Straw is fire resistant? I was looking at this and thinking, "Aw man, you're screwed if you drop a hot tool, have a sparks from a grinder or something, or anything like that."

    0
    Strawbale Shop
    Strawbale Shop

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    That would be a problem if there were any exposed straw, but, there isn't . All straw is covered by at least 2 inches of plaster.

    0
    coopgrl88
    coopgrl88

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you, you are correct :) The straw being tightly packed and completely sealed in by plaster or cob, this creates a fire resistant environment. Even if somehow fire were to get to the straw, with it being so dense in the wall, it would get snuffed out before damage would be done.

    0
    sabr686
    sabr686

    12 years ago on Introduction

    This is amazing. I am so jealous, though. You could have at least invited me for the spray plaster part! Seriously, I love what you've done so far. I look forward to getting the chance to see what fixtures are going inside. Hopefully as useful and efficient as the outside. You have my respect, sir.

    0
    vestie
    vestie

    12 years ago on Introduction

    Nice Job. Always wanted to do something like this. Really liked the radiant heating, it's a nice ecofriendly way of heating. Awesome design concepts. Is it the lack of oxygen that prevents the straw bales from rotting? What kind of shop are you building? If it where my shop I might have included in wall pneumatic lines. Great job your instructions where very clear. Sorry for asking to many questions. As far as fire goes ultimately it comes down to not being stupid and outfitting a space with adequate fire extinguishers. Most buildings will burn but with 2" of plaster on either side it would have to burn for a long time at high temperatures to penetrate the sides.(unless of course it finds another route. I.E Power Outlets or the posts) and by that time all of the stuff inside would be destroyed so theirs no point in making the structure any more fireproof. (sorry for this excessively long comment)