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Barn Builder Problems

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  • #21
    Oh. My.

    Do not pay that "builder" another dime. If you gave him a check, stop payment. Get thee a lawyer and a good inspector with zero ties to the builder.

    Is that "entrance" picture concrete? If so it doesn't look like healthy concrete. No rebar? Seriously? It's neither expensive nor difficult to place rebar or reinforcement wire as is common building practice. And who the heck builds on top of forms?

    Just wondering, does your builder have a seeing eye dog? After looking at the crossbucks on those dutch doors, I'm thinking he might be blind...


    • #22
      Considering they did such a horrible job on the stall doors, I'm really wondering how the entire thing is standing at this point.

      I have no advice to offer seeing as how I don't have any architectural experience...but perhaps that does help because even my untrained eye knows that that is horribly wrong!

      I hope you can everything situated and fixed!
      Originally posted by katarine
      I don't want your prayers, tiny cow.
      Originally posted by Pat9
      When it's time for a horse to go to a new person, that person will appear. It's pony magic.


      • #23
        Originally posted by ReSomething View Post
        The doors look seviceable but pretty darned odd, the X's are in some strange places and not consistent thruout.
        Because I know practically nothing about building barns, this was the first thing that I noticed. And if a contractor cannot even properly frame the "x" in the middle of your dutch doors, I wouldn't feel to confident taking their word on the structural integrity of the building!


        • #24
          Jingles ~ locate an expert to evaluate ~ I'm sorry this has happened ~

          Jingles ~ please locate an expert to evaluate !

          I am sorry this has happened
          Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "


          • #25
            Looks like you needed to have much more earth work done before anyting was built. In my experiences with barns being built the builder is not the one responsible for preparing the building pad, that's a seperate contracter (just as the electrician and plumber usually are).


            • #26
              Originally posted by delcastillo View Post
              Many thanks to everyone who took the time to look at this and reply. I did not expect to see so many replies in just a few hours.

              I’ll try to answer a few of your questions. Feel free to ask more.

              Contract – Regarding site preparation, there is not much detail beyond “site prep” and the amount of 4” concrete (3500 PSI with fiber). (Turns out that 3000 PSI was delivered.) We had discussed the additional cost of dirt during earlier phone calls, but when we met to review the site and sign the contract, we removed “site prep” from Exclusions and added it to the Scope of Work. Since this followed a discussion of whether dirt would be needed and my desire to minimize variable costs beyond the contract price, I assumed that “site prep” included any leveling and/or dirt. They now claim that was not their intention and that the legal definition of “site prep” in Texas does not include the cost of dirt. So they want more money for this work and the dirt, plus even more to bring in additional dirt around the forms.

              Concrete – There is a 4-inch concrete slab on top of the fill dirt. There are no concrete footers. There is no rebar. There is no concrete on the stall side (from the aisle toward the Dutch doors), although the 6x6 poles are supposed to be in concrete. So the wood forms are retaining mostly dirt, along with the 4-inch slab.

              Workmanship – Contract states that work will be done “in a workmanship like manner and in compliance with all building codes,” but the county apparently has no codes or inspections for barns, although a permit is required.

              Overhang - The posts are 4x4. They are supposed to be in concrete, but I've only seen dry concrete at the surface.

              I really appreciate everyone’s help for a new guy here.

              Now that you have explained things a bit better I, like you made a couple of assumptions.
              Mainly I assumed the forms were still left on from when the foundation was poured. Odd way of going about things but there are a lot of odds things going on with the project. So now that I know it is of “pole” construction was it bought as a “pre-engineered” “package” barn? If so these are designed and engineered with certain “assumptions”.
              The building footprint/sire is suitable for this type of construction. It is relatively level, the ground is not boggy, sandy, etc. If the site has to be leveled and graded is this being done by grading/cutting to level or as in your case being back filled. Pole construction is just that the building is being built and held up by “poles”. Instead of being “stick framed” up from a level and squared concrete foundation where all of the “load”, downward forces are being shared by the walls and spread across the foundation. With a flat roof the load is always being directed straight down. A “pitched roof” the walls carrying the load is subjected to down and out forces. Because pole barns use far less framing material and by design the loads are carried by the poles. So it is very important that the poles used are of sufficient size and material to hold the structure up and also be able to resist wind and snow (if applicable) loading that it will be subjected to from time to time. It is also very important that the poles are set far enough into SOLID ground (some are placed on poured concrete footers) so as not to settle over time or move out of plumb which will change their engineered “shear” strength. When a couple of poles sink or move out of plump it will have a dramatic and detrimental effect on the rest of the structure. With a pole barn package all of the poles will be of the same length and size unless otherwise specified. So I hope the poles used on the “exposed” ends were at least longer then the ends/sides that were set “on/in grade”. You didn’t say were you are located so I don’t know what “forces of nature” you have to build for. The roof is low pitched from what I can see so I assume snow is of a minor or no concern. Looks like raters were used instead of pre-engineered and built roof trusses. They look to be of sufficient size but wind loading is a concern just about everywhere so I hope the builder didn’t “cheat” and not use at least “hurricane clips” securing them to the header/top plate.
              The overhand is a bit a concern also. I am assuming you don’t have to deal with snow loading. But I still don’t like the size of the header boards, (the ones the rafters are sitting on) but what I like even less is the fact they didn’t use longer boards. Too short with too may “breaks” (where one board ends and then next one continues) If this structure is 40’ long I would have used 2, 20’ footers leaving only 1 “break”. Which offers far more resistance to movement over time. Though the 4X4s post most likely will do the job they are rather long for their size and will most likely warp with time. They also not of sufficient size to withstand a horse let alone being “knocked” by a car or tractor. 4x6 IMO would have been a better choice and it would “look” better. From what I can see I don’t like the way they are attached. Looks like they have been “toed nailed” to the rafters instead of using pre-made attachment plates used in decks and such. But you need a lot of back filling anyway so to do the job better and more efficient use of time they should be removed anyway and reset after that work has been done. From what I can see there shouldn't be any structural worries in the brief time this will take. I also assume posts will be set on both ends.
              Personally I don’t like metal siding. I don’t like the look but more importantly it is prone to being dented and looking shabby due to wear and tear. The color fades with time and it does not hold new paint well. It also rusts with time. Which is why it should be placed at or below grade. And unfortunately that is what is going to happen when this is back filled. Usually a pressure treated “skirt board” rims the entire building with several inches of it being below grade and the siding is applied just above grade.
              The doors are a joke and strongly suggest the rest of the job is “suspect”. But they would be the least of my concerns.


              • #27
                Originally posted by Renae View Post
                Looks like you needed to have much more earth work done before anyting was built. In my experiences with barns being built the builder is not the one responsible for preparing the building pad, that's a seperate contracter (just as the electrician and plumber usually are).
                There are a number of ways of having something built. Generally those without knowledge of the process hire a Building Contractor. Building Contractors will look at the building plans, and the building site. They will go over the details of the building plans discuss the details and costs of preparing the site in addition to the cost of building the barn. Based on the needs of the owner they will figure up material and labor costs and submit a bit to the owner. As the name implies they oversee the entire process. Hire, contract, all of the subcontractors, i.e. the people that grade and prepare the site, the carpenters, the electricians, plumbers, roofers, landscapers, etc. They all work for the Contractor and are paid by the contractor. Though there are Contractors that have all of these under “one roof”. The Contractor is responsible for the quality of their work. The owner only has to deal with the Contractor.
                There are variations on the above but this is generally how it is done. When hiring a contractor it is important check them out. How long they have been in business under the same name, ask for a list of names and contact information of all the projects they have done in the last couple of years. Check with the building department for complaints. Check the BBS for complaints. Try and determine if the business has any real assets more then just the truck they drive around in and operate under an LLC. So if any real issues come up there is something to go after. Most states require them to be licensed.
                As I said above most Contractors pay the subs but this not written in stone. I would advise owners to insist on paying the subs themselves after reviewing the work and invoice. Or work out something mutually agreeable. I worked as subcontractor for a couple of years and did not get paid or was underpaid a time or two. I went to the owner and was shown that the contractor was paid for my work. Work that I ended up doing for free but had to pay the people that worked for me. Unless things have changed it is very easy for a subcontractor that was not paid by the Contractor for services that the owner paid the Contractor for and file a contractor’s lien on the property. So the owner ends up paying twice.


                • #28
                  Though I completely understand why others suggest calling in the lawyers. I have found this should be the last resort not the first in this sort of situation. IMO in most disputes. Most good attorneys will/should suggest trying to resolve problems without involving the expense of attorneys and the legal system. Hopefully you had a payment plan worked out in the contract. Unusually X amount upon signing of the contract. In most cases the cost of the delivered materials. Then periodic “draws” against the total budget the amount based on each phase of competed work within the time frame agreed to. A reputable Contractor has access to funds to pay the various subs until they are reimbursed. There are “norms” to how much up front money is expected and how much will be paid as different phases are completed. But there should be a fairly large amount owed and not payable until completed say 30-40% of the agreed contract price. Though changes made by the owner after work has started changes things. Hopefully you have an “ace in the hole” and hopefully it is a pair. Because if you don’t owe far more then the cost to complete the project there is a good chance the builder will just walk away.
                  Suing may or may not get you satisfaction in the form of a judgment. But if the builder has not assets all you will get is a piece of paper. And additional legal expenses. If your state requires builders to be licensed then you have some leverage. But there are plenty of builders that don’t or can’t get a license. They work in rural areas where the chances of getting caught and fined are slim to none. And these types will always under bid licensed builders and take shortcuts. And from the pictures it looks like that’s what you hired.
                  Now, in all fairness to the builder, as fair as I can be from what I have read and see from pictures and not hearing their side, in the brief time I worked construction on the workers side I have seen completely unreasonable owners making completely unreasonable demands and changes not covered by the contract and not willing to pay for them. I don’t think that applies in this case. Yes, you assumed based on “loose” language in regards to “site preparation” that the total building cost included back filling and grading. Most owners would as a given. And if the building site was relatively flat there would not be a lot of verbiage addressing the site. Though you are not exactly building on a hill a reputable contractor would have explained there is a fair amount of site prep and cost besides the cost of the actual structure. This should have been discussed and addressed in detail in the contract. Personally I think the builder knew he could leave this out and took advantage of your lack knowledge of the entire process. Knowing full well there was more money to be made after the fact so they could low ball the bid. This is the pit fall of building in rural areas when nothing more is needed but a building permit with no protection from code inspectors. That’s why it is paramount to only hire licensed, bonded contractors that have verifiable references and assets. At this point I would get a quote from the builder for what it is going to cost to make this barn useable. And get details on how they will go about it. I would then find numbers for excavating contractors who do this sort of work and have them take a look when the builder is NOT around and get bids.
                  Again get details of how they will address the job. There is more to it then just dumping a bunch of dirt around and packing it with the tractors tires. Taking a wild guess and not knowing how you want it to look when finished, how far away materials have to be trucked and the cost of that trucking in your area along with equipment needed and labor costs, $10-20,000????? If you have material that can be used from somewhere else on your property that will cut the cost down. It might be worth the expense of hiring a “consulting contractor” to try and work things out with the builder. Again start with sugar, gee whiz I had no idea, I am almost out of money, how can we work this out? If they are jerks then break out the artillery.


                  • #29
                    Our 60 year old barn was built on a similar site

                    With 12x12 beams and the entire thing goes downhill, but it's rock solid.

                    While the stall floors are flat and level, the aisle has a pretty good slope from the front door to the back. It was not a horse barn, it is a converted tobbacco barn (common in KY). Instead of trying to make a square peg fit in a round hole, we just leveled each stall floor and poured about 5 inches of concrete with rebar right down the 140' long 16' wide center aisle. It is probably a 5 ft slope from one end to the other, we had the concrete "jointed" in the aisle every so often to reduce any stress cracks from the weight and the slope. It is just fine.

                    The indoor arena, which we spent $$$$$$$$$$ on site prep, lazered, leveled, etc (and I looked at from day one and said was wrong) has had a drainage problem from day one inspite of being surrounded by concrete footers on all sides, a french drain and now blacktop.

                    The foundation of your barn looks like a disaster waiting to happen in the photos.

                    You're going to need a LOT of dirt.


                    • #30
                      So after reading Gumtree's assessment, you've had a pole barn built and the forms are merely supporting the fill dirt? There is no perimeter foundation? Slab on one side and just exactly enough dirt to fill the building on the other? So the forms are basically holding up dirt?

                      Well that's just wrong.

                      Pole barns can be a PITA that way though. Our run-in that doesn't work for the horses has a slope inside and turns into a covered mud pit unless we ditch outside, our neighbor had his built with a gap under the walls to accomodate the gravel he was supposed to put in after the fact and for years all it did was let water run inside and make a lovely ice skating rink, in his supposedly nice dry barn. He still doesn't have the built up footing that was supposed to be in there, he fixed his intrusion problem by putting a little dirt berm up outside the walls.

                      There should have been a pad either excavated out by cut and fill like our shop, or brought in as properly compacted fill and it should have been sufficiently large, properly graded and properly oriented so as to be of use. Errors like this do happen though, and if it's a pole barn it's quite fixable, just going to be a pain.
                      Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                      Incredible Invisible


                      • #31
                        Whoa. Whoa whoa whoa. Get thee a stop payment on any funding, and a lawyer. SCAMMED.


                        • Original Poster

                          Thanks again to everyone for your comments and suggestions.

                          Because the barn builder thinks that the only significant issue is that "backfill" is needed around the forms, there is no reason that they should not be properly credited for this construction.

                          Also, I have added two pictures from the first day of work to show the initial site work. All of the pictures are at https://picasaweb.google.com/1090086...eat=directlink.

                          Barn constructed by:
                          Texas Barn Builder (aka Lone Star Total Services, Inc.)
                          College Station, Texas

                          Chris White, Project Superintendent
                          CW White, President
                          Karen White

                          Web sites for Lone Star Total Services:


                          • #33
                            If those sites are contected to your contractor your builder appears to be a franchisee holder of the title of contractor .... back fill around forms is not normally advisable, do you like termites?

                            I would consult local legal advise... if you are in College Station, ask around A&M for their opinion of what has been done as the school has a great engineering department and very good ag department


                            • #34
                              So, the "site prep" photos seem to show some men marking off the perimeter of the barn and then.....what? Did they level? Is that a Bobcat--did they use it to move dirt?

                              We have a pole building, on a fairly naturally level site, but the pad was still built up, leveled and graded away from the pad before any poles were set. We do not have a "foundation" poured around the building (I've not seen many pole buildings here that do, just a leveled, raised pad, poles set, building built and sided. Posts often set in concrete.

                              You really need an engineer or architect to take a look at this, then seek legal advice on their assessment. It looks wrong.
                              Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


                              • #35
                                I can't see the photos. Sounds bad OP!
                                DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/


                                • #36
                                  The first link didn't work, but the second one provided by the OP did. And while I can't comment on the structure itself, those Dutch doors would have me screaming and waving paper and having a hissy fit. Not done right at all.
                                  COTH's official mini-donk enabler

                                  "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl


                                  • #37
                                    Originally posted by TheJenners View Post
                                    The first link didn't work, but the second one provided by the OP did. And while I can't comment on the structure itself, those Dutch doors would have me screaming and waving paper and having a hissy fit. Not done right at all.
                                    I actually laughed out loud when I saw the barn doors. My husband is not a professional carpenter and he did all of our barn doors in our main barn with cross bucks that are mitered perfectly. If I was paying someone, I would expect the same good work. Sorry OP, it sounds like you have far more serious problems than sloppy barn doors - hope all works out with not too much expenditure for you.
                                    Susan N.

                                    Don't get confused between my personality & my attitude. My personality is who I am, my attitude depends on who you are.