How to Build an Awesome Smoker Shed
Who hasn't wanted a smoker shed - a storage shed or barn or smoke house or whatever one calls it - a place to engage in a hobby, store tools, create a man-cave, a she-shed or simply have more space to store the things accumulated over the years. In a nutshell - an awesome shed for your smoker!
A couple of years ago, my desire for a storage shed took on more urgency. Black Betty, my Lang smoker, was home on the patio, but she took up more space than expected and really needed her own home. Also, she was always in the elements, as was the wood, and smoking accessories were not close at hand. I had long desired a barn for multiple reasons, but now a home for Black Betty was pushing the agenda.
Before I continue, indulge me a minute:
Strategy for breaking down the will of your partner (slightly tongue in cheek, slightly valid)
Start by using the law of first mention to break down objections. "Someday I think I'm really gonna ______ (want/need) a _____ (barn/shed/smokehouse) because ________ (reasons)". Usually this is met with resistance, but strategy calls for patience (unless you are one of the lucky ones whose spouse gives you a blank check, wants it as much as you do, etc.).
Begin the process long in advance. After first mention, don't say another word for weeks...maybe months. Then bring it up again. Then wait another few weeks and mention it again. Remember...each time you say it, say it wistfully, looking up and to the left...like, "Man, I would really love a barn. It would be so helpful and I'd be out there making things, fixing things and keeping busy. I know it is more than I could ever hope for, but maybe, someday..."
If your spouse has even half a heart, they'll think, "Hmmm, I remember my sweetie talking about this a while back...must be important." The hook has been set. All that is left is slowly and carefully reel it in. Don't rush it, don't push or panic, but if it is in the cards and you are careful and wise, you may find not only are they accepting of the idea, but supportive.
*Disclaimer: don't spend kid's college money; make sure to have other important things in order, like food, gas and insurance.
**Wise words: Understand your spouse and timing and let the process unfold.
***Emergency help: If you are getting excessive resistance, allot a chunk of cash for your spouse's favorite project first, then go back and start the process over.
While in the Desire and Patience segment of this process it is important to do your planning. It's a great time to do your research, answer important questions and keep the fire burning (pun intended). Where will the barn go? How big? What style and materials to use? What's the approximate budget? All important questions needing answers and all unique to your specific situation. The more you focus and research, the better chance it becomes reality.
What follows is my plan and how I executed it. Learn from it and apply whatever fits to your project.
My backyard has one area higher than the rest (my property slopes down from back to front) and was naturally the best location for the barn to be built (see pictures below). Putting the barn there also kind of enclosed my backyard and gives me a great view when sitting under the overhang.
Next, I needed to get specific. Budget is critical, and from there the rest of the decisions flowed. Example: I wanted a steel roof, but when I priced it out...well, let's just say I could not in all good conscience spend $6,000-$8,000 on a 12' X 16' barn roof. I ended up shingling with quality shingles and spent only $1440 ($840 on materials & $600 on labor).
I researched storage barns like crazy because I had a picture in my mind and couldn't find what I wanted. I ended up purchasing a blueprint and adapting it to my desires.
Questions to answer
- How big should it be?
- What is my overall budget range?
- Should it be on gravel with a wood floor, or concrete footing and floor?
- Should I purchase a premade unit and have it delivered, or do I want it custom?
- Can I find a blueprint of what I want, or will I need to create something custom or modify a plan?
- What materials do I want for the:
- Outside walls
- I wanted it custom and was able to find plans I could modify.
- I wanted it on concrete, wanted it to compliment the house and yet look like a real barn.
- I gave myself an approximate budget of $25,000. I knew I would have extra expenses in grading the area, the concrete would be thicker because of property slope and I had to remove of a couple of trees, but hoped to come in under budget.
- I wanted a 20' X 20' concrete base with a 12' X 16' barn and a 4' overhang on one side and 8' overhang on the other. The 4' overhang was to cover my wood racks and the 8' overhang would be the front where I could sit and where Black Betty would be.
- I wanted it extra tall inside and would insulate it.
- I wanted an overhead door on the backside, plenty of electric and lighting, and room to update as I needed in the future.
- I decided on vinyl siding, composite roof (dimensional, 30 year shingle), aluminum soffit and aluminum sleeves on the exposed 4" X 4" supports.
- I wanted fans in the soffit, so I could keep cool in the summer or move smoke if needed.
- I wanted can lights in the soffit that I could control from my phone and change color too.
- I wanted the look to be very "barn" in color and design, but fit with my existing backyard and house. The color I chose for the siding I wanted to be the perfect red...not too bright, not to brown, but the exact red one pictures when you say "barn red".
- I wanted windows in the front and an overhead door in the back for bringing in the riding lawn mower or other larger items.
- And my wife added, "I want it to look cute". I knew what she meant.
- And lastly, I only plan on doing this once, so I am doing it right...all the bells and whistles.
My dad was a builder, so I am familiar with a hammer, nail gun and more. But, I am not a contractor and would have screwed up many things without professional help on this project. Ed, one of my best friends, is a licensed builder and said he would help me and take the lead with the project. He also has connections with subcontractors that proved very helpful.
I ordered the plans and emailed them to Ed. He submitted them to a roofing company to update the roof line and engineer the trusses. The blueprint I purchased had no overhangs, so they had to add those to the plans and create the truss plan. It was not cheap, but it was a very important aspect for me.
When it came time to frame the barn, Ed, Karl and myself spent 2 8-hour days on it. Nate, my neighbor, also helped for a good chunk of one day. So, with the 4 of us, we had a barn framed, sided and roofed in 2 days.
August 10, 2020 7AM - truss and wood package arrive.
August 12, 2020 5PM - crack a beer and relax...for a bit.
The next step was the shingles and then the siding. The electrician was there before, during and after everyone else. The overhead door was installed after roof and siding were installed. My son Riley helped me insulate the barn and install the OSB ceiling. I did the inside walls myself.
Notes on what I all did in the barn:
- Had a truss package engineered, trusses made and delivered. We lifted them ourselves without using a crane - saved about $400. Also, Ed had us put OSB on the end trusses before lifting in place. It made them much heavier, but it is much easier than installing OSB on top of a 12' ladder to the peak of the trusses.
- Increased height of walls from 8' to 9'.
- Installed pulldown stairs to store stuff in "attic".
- Insulated the inside walls and ceiling with pink insulation batts.
- Used 9' sheets of OSB for inside walls and 8' for ceilings (rented a panel lifter to do ceilings...best forty bucks of the whole project). All OSB is screwed in, in case I ever need to access for wiring, etc.
- Used scrap OSB to floor the attic.
- Brought in 100 amp service from the house.
- Plugs on all walls, most low with one wall higher for possible future work bench height.
- 4 - LED shop lights to light inside.
- 7 - LED can lights in soffit on front and side of barn.
- 2 - ceiling fans in overhang.
- 7' overhead door with garage door opener.
- Motion sensor light by overhead door.
- Gutters and downspouts for front and side overhangs.
- Landscape all around.
- Built a 4' X 6' wood rack by overhead door and 8' X 10' under the 4' overhang.
Before: Lots of space taken up by Black Betty, charcoal grill and gas grill.
Sketch to show desired changes to trusses.
Pad poured and barn was framed, roofed and sided.
Siding and shingles installed.
Finished barn and landscaping (I didn't add landscaping in my budget PDF, as I redid all my landscape around the whole house. It had been 25 years and was in need of a makeover).
Back side of barn with overhead door (racks are stand alone, not attached).
What it looks like on an early smoke day.
What it looks like from my patio chair (notice how it being a little higher turned out really wonderful - I was worried about that, especially when the concrete pad went in). Also, a lot more room with Black Betty and my charcoal grill up by the barn.
The whole backyard (you can see it still has some upward slope toward the barn)
Me in the winter, smoking it up like never before!
If you have any questions about the entire process or what I learned or did or would do differently, comment below.
Interested in the barn plans or engineered truss plans, contact me.
Budget notes: The miscellaneous or not noted items are everything from screws to lights to drill bits to brackets. The main items are noted accurately and as you can see I was decently under my budget.