Farmtek Clearspan “Buildings”

DSC01634.JPGWe bought one of those temporary ‘tent” garage things from Farmtek to store hay in. This was pretty much an act of desperation because we weren’t here to do anything else. We finally got it assembled today and a hay drop is scheduled for Sunday.

DSC01520.JPGIn our particular circumstances I have to give it a mixed review. It’s a 14 by 28 tent basically. Including truck freight from Iowa it cost us right on $1000. It took two people (Lisa and I or Jeremy and I) about 20 hours to assemble. Experience could have saved a few hours of that, but not too many. The basic scheme is to assemble the pipe skeleton, secure all the joints with self drilling screws, and then wrap the tent cloth over it. It’s pretty straightforward but there are a couple of gotchas: first, you’re supposed to put together several of the subassemblies on a flat surface. Clearly they tested these directions in Iowa, not New England. If I had a flat surface that big it would the be concrete floor of a barn and I wouldn’t need the tent. Second, a noticeable fraction of those screws just won’t bite for some reason: you could sit there all afternoon with your drill (power screwdriver) spinning and nothing would happen. Fortunately they send extras and you can just discard the losers. Alternatively, a pilot hole works.

When you’ve finished, you have a really good kite: I’d estimate a 40 to 50 mile an hour gust will send the thing off to Oz. Farmtek recommends attaching it to big chunks of concrete set below the frost line, or failing that, they’ll sell you 6 auger type anchors which are also to be set below frost. Neither sounds very likely in Marlow. We build a wooden platform, strapped the tent to it and then piled on two tons of hay. So far all has been well.

All that done, it works fine: the hay is dry, and we can keep the trash can of sheep pellets out there too. So why the mixed review? For most people I’d say this is a good way to go: You get everything except a roll of ductape in the box, you couldn’t buy alternative materials for less, and as long as you don’t set those concrete blobs in the ground you can explain to the tax assessor that it’s just a tent and thus personal rather than real property.

We’re a special case however. We own a sawmill, a tractor, and we have hundreds of pine trees of all sizes cluttering our future pastures. We’d still need a few hundred dollars in materials. mostly metal roof panels and some hinges, but with 30+ person hours of labor committed to the tent, and $600 or so in avoidable expense, I’d say that next time we’ll just invest an extra Saturday and build it out of wood, on either skids or blocks. Wooden buildings only go to Oz in a real tornado, which are pretty darn rare around here, and the tax assessors from Nashua assess everything based on how well it would drop into an upscale development.

8 thoughts on “Farmtek Clearspan “Buildings””

  1. How is your FarmTek fabric garage holding up? I have a similar structure from a different manufacturer. I can tell you that you may need more than just a platform to hold it down if you get a sixty or seventy mph wind gust like we did earlier this year. I had anchored my building by boring post holes in the ground a setting the anchors in concrete. It didn’t fly away. But, it sure got bent awfully bad and some of the support welds broke.

    So, I repaired the building. Only this time, I planted some pressure treated four by fours in the ground at the corners. They stick up about four feet on the inside of the structure and I tied the frame them. It doesn’t bend in the wind any more. Now, my brother wants to buy a very big FarmTek structure to store his combine and tractors in. I hope the thing has a sturdy frame.

  2. I was planning on putting fence wire on an economy cold frame building, instead of the plastic, as an enclosure for geese and ducks. Farmtek assured me that it would hold up in a blizzard or heavy snow but now after reading a dozen reviews or so, I am not sure that it will.

    What do you think?

    • I’m not sure I follow what you have in mind. If you just have fence instead of plastic, there will effectively be no snow load, so it should hold up fine. But you are also giving your birds no shelter, so you’ll need to set up something inside the enclosure.

      • I felt the same way and am building trusses on a knee wall with wire in order to hold the snow load. Some friends in Michigan and Wisconsin have built very small hoop houses, like 9×12, using cattle panels for the side walls and hog panels for the hoop part. Those do hold up well in snow. I do not know if a solid side like that would support an economy cold frame enough so it would not collapse with a snow load. I do not have the money to afford to have that happen so I have to go with the wood framing with a few posts down the center to be sure it stays up. One bad blizzard can take down a lot.

  3. My husband and I bought a Farmtek Clear Span arena. It’s big–120×73. We talked to different manufacturers of these kinds of buildings and also considered a traditional pole type building. I have to say they had a good salesman who gave me all the pros and cons of owning one of these types of buildings including that it cost less than a pole building, was easier to maintain, had special tax advantages and won’t rot, rust, shrink, split or swell. WELL–two years later the cover tore. It happened the night of a storm but we aren’t sure if the storm did it or it was defective. Either way, we had been told it had a great warranty so we were confident Clear Span would stand behind it. And they did. EXCEPT they decided the entire cover needed to be replaced and guess what, the installation is NOT included in the warranty. Mind you, once completed, we had about $100k into this building and again,it is only 2 years old. We were absolutely astounded when they told us the cost of installing the cover would be $10k!!! Yes, you read it right–$10,000 for their crew’s labor, travel time and renting the equipment (i.e. boom truck) to install a new cover. No one at any time explained to us the potential cost to install a new cover if there were any problems with this one so all I have to say is BUYER BEWARE. Obviously I was extremely upset at which point they told me I didn’t have to use their crew–I could hire my own. Believe me, had we known, we would have put up a traditional pole barn. By the way–there were NO tax advantages for this building. The tax assessor came out and taxed the smithereens out of us the minute it was completed– so very thoroughly check with your local tax assessment office if you are considering building one of these buildings for a “tax advantage.” PS. We also bought a smaller 30 x 60 building from Clear Span for hay storage and a cable came loose in it. Fortunately we were able to repair that ourselves.

  4. Decades ago We put up a FarmTek garage and lined it with Priefert stall panels over a rubber flooring that bolted to the stall. The structure was on a rocky hillside and 4 people put it up in 3 days. It had only the anchors provided and on the extra fabric ( we shortened it) we placed large 17″ or so stones just on windward side. It has been a Beautiful structure and except for a hole from a big branch falling on it ( which we plan to fix) it has come thru 120 mph winds common 80+ mph winds, hail, heavy snow, with out a blemish. We faced the door South ( our winds come from West or North.
    We lowered the zippered door to trap heat inside so it was just tall enough for the horse to walk under. It solar heats from the white area down the middle. The whole structure is shaded by a giant Cottonwood Tree. It is so beautiful inside my fondest memories are of lying down in clean straw with my horse munching hay listening to the Howling wind and peppering of snow hitting the fabric. Now I look forward to sharing this with my new horse! Our experience has been Magic!

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