Hands on


Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

building a barn

After building a straw-bale house for his family, Dr Ken Martin of Graceville Dental Practice in Queensland has now completed a rustic timber barn on his property.

“Our 18-acre property is located in the western suburbs of Brisbane. Having owner-built a straw-bale home to accommodate our large family, I decided we would benefit from the addition of a barn. I’ve always had an interest in alternative design and building structures with unique qualities. I really like to be hands on, so after years of planning, the project began in 2018 when the slab finally went down. 

“In 2019, the erection of the internal timber frame went up and then the hard work really began. Prior to starting the build, I completed an owner-builder course and enlisted the help of my builder friend Dave. We worked every weekend and every one of my rostered days off to complete the build.

“The building incorporates large cypress pine framing using old-school mortise and tenon with hardwood pegs. Once the internal frame was completed, the external framing, lining, flooring and joists were done. In fact, I designed the floor around a parquet flooring system that clips together. I was able to lay that myself and the finished result looks wonderful. The barn has living accommodation upstairs and is a working barn downstairs. 

“My longstanding interest in building has taken me into previously unchartered territory, stretching the limits of my abilities and the depth of my pockets. I’ve also acquired an enviable number of tools along this journey. The whole process taught me many new skills and has brought me an immense sense of pride in my achievements. The real enjoyment is in nutting things out and finding solutions to all the various problems. In all honesty, without the help of my builder mate, I could have been in a lot of trouble. He brought his experience to the build which enabled me to learn alongside him as we tackled the intricate jobs. 

“A project of this scale doesn’t come cheap. On the other hand, when it’s shared with family and friends, and wonderful memories are created, cost factors little in the outcome. Our barn has recently hosted our daughter’s wedding, which was pretty amazing. This building generates interest from a lot of people, and everyone seems keen to take a look at the finished product. As a result, I’ve lost count of the number of people who have asked, ‘Can I live here?’ For me, those comments are very gratifying.” 

To see the barn frame erected, search ‘Pullenvale Barn’ on YouTube.

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