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 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

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.

Finalist in the
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    82 Discussions


    3 years ago on Introduction

    I would like to do that except . . . I have a budget.


    5 years ago on Introduction

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

    Strawbale Shop

    6 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

    Strawbale Shop

    6 years ago on Step 3

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


    6 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 ?

    2 replies

    7 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?

    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.
    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

    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


    9 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!

    1 reply

    Reply 8 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."