The Barn Studio. a Complete Re-build.




Introduction: The Barn Studio. a Complete Re-build.

About: My first reaction to needing something is to make one. It's a self-reliance thing - so, of course, the house is full of half finished junk :-)

I'm not a builder but I have re-built our three homes over a thirty year period and to a reasonable standard - ish;-)
A couple of years ago I decided to push my life's dream project to the top of the priority list - I'm not getting any younger.  I've always played in bands and had a, spare room, cellar, loft or shed, in which  to indulge my hobby of song writing and recording and this is to be my dream studio. Indeed, my retirement home;-) The only professional help I've had is from my 14yr old son and his buddy.(they have learned a lot).

The concept is an open space with a small chapel resemblance. Open to the eaves, white-washed, lavished with the honey glow of a solid pine floor and frames etc and capped-off with Welsh slate.
This was my first attempt at a traditional "cut" roof . Not one that's been delivered on the back of a flat-bed truck. Each piece is cut and joined in situ, comprising an; A-frame (or gable frame), purlins, rafters and battens.
The quaint chapel design is going to prove problematic later on in respect of acoustics, which obviously isn't a good thing, when it comes to recording instruments etc and monitoring the results. So,  there will be lots more to do in the acoustic treatment department. This will entail the construction of  "bass traps", muffling panels and other such devises with which to sonically condition the environment.

I've tried to photograph the project at each significant stage of the build and I will endeavor to follow it through to fruition and I plan to finish off with a music video to celebrate the fact.

PS. This is in no way intended as a "How To" guide but merely a "How I Did it".

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Step 1: Remove the Modern "improvements".

Ok. This property was built in the 1860's as a school room and the part I'm now restoring was a small cow-shed.  It is of a traditional undressed, cobblestone and lime construction.
Back in the 1970's the then owner decided to make some "improvements" - raising the front elevation with concrete blocks by some 5ft and covering it with a single pitch Asbestos roof - yuck!  I intend to restore it to it's original form - unfortunately, due to funds and a lack of traditional masonry skills I have regrettably used concrete block to close the large opening and (re) erect the gable end.

Step 2: Lowering the Wall to It's Original Height.

This part was tricky. The previous "improver" had used 9inch solid blocks laid on their sides. Removing some 4 tons of concrete without disturbing the stonework beneath it, took some patience:-)  (Thanks, Lloyd, for your muscle)

Step 3: Aahhhh:-)

Very satisfying.

That's the boring parts out of the way.

Step 4: Footings.

I'm assuming that The Barn had been converted into a garage as the rear opening was around 12ft wide. This opening needed to be closed and to have a narrower doorway.
A 9inch deep trench had to be dug out and back filled with concrete as footings for the new elevation.

Step 5: Closing the Opening.

A simple case of blocking-up the opening with a cavity wall - tied-in to the existing masonry.

Step 6: Floor Slab Installation.

A 4inch concrete floor slab with sub-insulation and damp proof membrane.

Step 7: Gable/Pine End.

Re-erection of the gable end.

Step 8: Tradtional Cut Roof.

I love working with wood. This is a job I've always wanted to tackle. This method is more expensive than having trusses delivered but is more in keeping with the character of the property, plus, I intend to keep it open to the apex, internally, which isn't possible with a modern trussed roof as each member has a horizontal brace.

The first part of this stage is to fit a wall plate to the top outer edge of both the front and rear walls - these have to be parallel, otherwise, problems will arise when cutting the rafters. A small amount of tolerance can be achieved with the overhang (at gutter level). A consequence of not obeying this premise is that the pitch of the roof will alter over it's length.  The front wall, after removing the blocks, had then
to be capped with concrete to give a flat, level and strong platform for the wall plate to sit. The wall plates were fixed with 6" proprietary frame fixings.

Step 9: Ridge-board and Rafters.

This stage will have "real" builders choking on there bacon butties:-)
For the life of me, I couldn't calculate the timber layers, particularly the launch height of the A frame, so I proceeded in reverse order. The one aspect that remains constant is the rafters, so, I started with them and worked backwards, sliding the purlins into place under the rafters and then built-in the A frame last.

Step 10: Rafters.

Fitting rafters takes a degree of accuracy to maintain a good level across the span of the roof. Keeping them parallel to one and other with 400mm centers is the order of play. The only tricky part is the "bird's mouth" cut which is the joint that fits onto the wall plate.

Step 11: Purlins.

The purlins support the rafters and are of a heavier timber - in this case, 6"X3".

Step 12: "A" Frame.

The A frame, in turn, supports the purlins and is of a heavier timber again than the purlins, being 10"X4".  They are seriously heavy and as I'm working alone on this project, it took some ingenious methods to achieve. A series of props and hoisting straps were necessary to get these beasts into position. The two pieces are joined at the apex by way of a half-lap joint, achieved by rip-cutting (along the grain) with a hand saw, in situ'. A fine way to earn a hearty lunch. They are then joined with coach bolts at the apex and secured at the base with galvanized brackets to precast concrete pads built into the wall. A cross-member brace was then stretched across to resist any spread.

Step 13: Roofing Membrane and Battens.

This procedure warrants no explanation, unless, you're interested in the spacing between the battens, which is a complete subject on it's own involving the pitch (angle) of the roof, the size of slates to be used, climate and weather conditions, amongst a myriad of other calculations.
Rather than consulting an "expert" on the matter I carried out my own survey by hustling my way into the barns and out-buildings of friends and neighbors armed with a tape measure and camera. This, I felt, gave me a more practical understanding of the subject.

I should mention at this stage that before any of the roofing timber work was undertaken it was necessary to fix a led flashing system to the house wall to which The Barn adjoins. It's impracticable to do this after the fact.

Also, the membrane is of the modern semipermeable type. This allows for ventilation between the slating and internal covering.

Step 14: Internal View.

An internal view of the roofing timbers before the slating work.  Nice:-)

Step 15: Slating

As mentioned in a previous step, slating has some quite involved aspects, and I don't pretend to be an expert. I would like to mention however, that, all the materials for this project have been sourced locally and the slates are of the reclaimed Welsh kind.

Step 16:

At this point, childish impatience and enthusiasm got the better of me. As the roof was now on, I decided to crack on with the interior - telling myself that I'll have the summer to finish the exterior work. I do, however, keep writing 'gutters' on my memo pad;-)

Step 17: Inside

As the roof is now on, it made sense to fit a door.  Out of curiosity, I checked around the usual suppliersand was astounded by the cost. Okay, it's not a 'standard' size, being slightly over a meter wide, but I saved around £500 by making it, and the frame.

I modeled the Gothic shaped window to resemble a couple of originals in the main part of the property.
I need to add a few more details to complete the illusion but it can wait.This window will be the only source of natural light but it does face South East. The morning is always a good time of the day to notice the dust, coffee mugs and beer bottles.

Step 18: Internal Walls.

Here, I'm faced with a multitude of varying surfaces and each of the four walls requires individual attention. Mainly comprising stone and concrete in all states of hotchpotchery.
The ceiling, which is open to the apex, is a doddle. 70ml of insulation between the rafters and plaster-boarded over. I've used the beveled-edged board so that I don't have to skim the whole room - just skim the joins:-)

The walls. In the interest of heat loss and sound insulation, I made the decision to lose a small amount of area. So the three peninsular walls were studded-out with timbers and filled with insulation boards. This method maintains an air space in the wall cavity which is vented through to the space between the slates and the ceiling boards.  In effect, it's a room, within a room, with external ventilation between the two. Healthy:-)

The fourth wall adjoining the house is of a bare stone construction and it's staying that way. It needs a bit of work, some pointing  and some disturbance for a log burning stove to be fitted.

Step 19: Solid Pine Floor

The flooring is pretty straight forward.  Firstly, I cross-fitted 2"X1" Tanalised battens with  400mm centers. The spacings can be adjusted at convenient points by adding extra battens to convene with standard lengths of floorboard - this can save a small fortune in wasted off-cuts.  (i've often convinced myself that the waste will make good kindling - but @ £2.per meter X 13cm - nah!)  This floor is 28 square meters and I've lost barely a couple off meters simply by carefully planning the job, first.

Using battens serves many a purpose. Providing the concrete floor slab is fitted with a working damp proof system and has no other planet based issues, it will help in attaining a good level if the surface isn't perfect. it gives an additional healthy air-space beneath the boards.   And of course, the important appearance of nails - screws were never a traditional look. 

It also provides you with the perfect opportunity and conditions for  you to fit under-floor heating. All you need is (in this case) 50 meters of 8mm copper microbore, a box of clips, a couple of radiator valves (one being thermostatic) and a few extra fittings. £200 tops:-)

But! Anyone thinking of fitting under floor heating in a situation like this should seriously consider doing it long  before the floorboards are permanently fixed with nails.  Even kiln dried timber, in a temperate climate, stored in a merchant's shed will still have a high moisture content and the shrinkage, after being exposed to this kind of heat, will be quite significant, which could result in serious gaps between the boards in no time - 4,5,6,,,7mm! That's a 1/4 of an inch in old money - I kid you, not.
It was for this reason that I have decided not to - I'm in a rush.

Allowing for normal atmospheric conditions, the boards still need pressing together, as they are fitted, to avoid too much shrinkage. The gizmo pictured in this step is a home-made version of a tool that can be bought or hired. It's simply a small portable bench vice inverted and used to clamp to the batten as an anchor. A Quick Clamp turned inside out to make a spreader. An 8 inch piece of floorboard cut from the "groove" edge to protect the board tongue and a rubber mallet to apply encouragement. The spreader is then placed between the anchor and board protector. Wear gloves. And squeeeeeze!!!

I've used modern water based mat varnish. The last thing I want is a gloss finish (not acoustically ideal).

Step 20: Electrics. Mains Power.

The electrical work could prove to be quite involved and I'll be coming back to it later on in the project. Standard ring-mains can be problematic in a recording studio as they can create unwanted hum, so, for now, a simple daisy-chain spur system  was dotted along two walls in an L shape where most of the equipment is to be installed. Six double sockets should be enough for my needs.

Step 21: Breaking Through. the Doorway to the House.

The project reached a point  where it became impracticable for me to proceed without firstly removing the "blocked-off" doorway that connects the barn to the adjoining room of the main property. Six inches of solid masonry and a studded drywall had to be taken out without disturbing the stone-work. This is when I would discover whether I'd calculated the floor level correctly between the two rooms - I had -  a welcome relief.
The doorway needed to be opened so that I could finish the flooring, wall studding and wiring. I left this part until late in the project to keep the dust down to a minimum, in the house,  throughout the majority of the work.

Step 22: Finishing Touches.

The final remaining jobs include electrics, plastering, second-phase joinery, fitting a log-burning stove and decoration.

Step 23: Door Made From an Old Church Pew Back.

I was given two pitch-pine pew backs twenty odd years ago (thanks Francis) and I'm thrilled to have made good use out of one.
the general construction and proportions were uncannily similar to a standard door. I had to re-profile the upper pew edge which is now the hinge side and I added the braces along with extra pine board to the internal bottom edge.

Step 24: Move In. Set-up.

The fun starts here.

Step 25: Prostate Blues - by Smudger + Krackpot

Step 26: Finishing the Exterior.

A simple, flat render.

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    5 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    You do a mean impression of being a builder considering you're not one. Nicely done.

    Great job on the DIY project. Especially the roof repair. I have noticed many
    orlando roof repair companies have taken a similar approach in the past. That is why it pays to do your homework when finding a good roofing company in your area.

    Dr. P
    Dr. P

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Nice job! Birds' mouth cuts. Yeah. One of the mysteries of the universe. Great door, too!