Tips for Building or Expanding Shops

10:16AM Mar 20, 2020
IversFarms-ByLindseyPound 3-10-2020 (2)
Whether you're building new or making do, find out what makes a good farm shop.
( Lindsey Pound )

Whether you’re erecting a new shop or adding onto an old one, there are a few things you need to consider.

"We know from history that new equipment isn’t getting any smaller, so one of the challenges of building is estimating what size you need today and what will work for the foreseeable future,” says Dan Nyberg, Morton Buildings training manager. “It includes thinking about what is the transition plan for the farm.”

Here are a few tips for building or expanding shops from experts:

  • Consider a staging area. It’s an extension of concrete or gravel pad out from the shop that you can park equipment while it waits to get in the shop. Nyberg recommends the staging area is at least as wide as the shop.
  • Create the floorplan well in advance. You might have some last-minute changes, but things like a kitchen, bathroom and other major plumbing or electric additions should be made ahead of pouring the floor, says David Luff, who sells Butler buildings in west-central Missouri.
  • Adjust the roof ahead of adding solar panels. Solar panels need a steeper pitch than some steel buildings typically produce, so you’ll need to have that discussion with an engineer before assuming you can add them later, says Alex Carey, who builds American Building Company products.
  • Measure your machines. If you want to fit every piece of equipment through the doors, whether it’s for storage or maintenance, you’ll need to make sure you pick a wide enough door. Consider, too, if you prefer bringing heads in on combines or if you’re ok with a narrower door that you bring the pieces in separate.
  • Weigh door options. “It’s better to spend a little more money on doors—I went cheap and wish I hadn’t,” says Doug Lindstrom, who farms cereal grains and oilseeds in Canada. Bifolds lift slower but have less maintenance, overhead doors are good for lifting and lowering a lot, but you lose headroom and slide doors are cost effective but can freeze or get trash in the tracks, he adds.
  • Think ahead. Your farm will likely change in the life of the building you put up and it means you need to pay attention to the flow of traffic around the building, space to add on or add additional buildings and so on when the farm inevitably evolves, Nyberg says.
  • Ready the building for additions. Some companies offer expandable buildings. What that means is instead of putting a half load frame at the end of the building, it’s a full frame so you can easily remove panels and the wall to expand. It’s a little more expensive to do that upfront, but much cheaper if you do add on later, Luff says.

There are often financing options or step-plans that can help spread out the cost of a new building, Carey says. For example, you could erect the building and add the concrete—about 1/3 of the cost—later. Talk with your supplier to see if you can build in steps.

Farm shops are the hub of many operations—is yours as efficient as it can be. Talk with your team to figure out the best configuration for your situation, whether it’s building, adding on or reworking your current set up, make a game plan for success.

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