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Raise the roof

11/11/2013 @ 12:26pm

After more than 30 years raising hogs, Alan Adams watched the last hog leave his Vandalia, Missouri, farm in 2000. When son Andrew joined the operation, their equipment quickly outgrew a small Quonset-shed shop that was 12 feet at its peak. 

Not far from that Quonset sat an empty 60×208-foot breeding and gestation barn. “It was a great building,” Andrew Adams recalls, “but for one thing. Its sidewalls were only 9 feet tall.”

Leave it to a pair of farmers like the Adamses to conceive of a make-do solution employing commonsense engineering. First, they gutted the interior of the building, removing the feed system, crates, and concrete slats. “The building already had a ceiling, lights, and insulation,” Adams says. 

Then they devised a plan to literally cut the building’s wooden frame (sidewalls and roof) crossways into four sections that were each 52 feet long. In the meantime, they built prefabricated sections of new supporting stud walls from 2×6-inch boards, which, when stood on end, were 11 feet tall. 

The Adamses hired two high-lift cranes to literally raise the roof on the building. “We had to talk the crane company into taking on the job,” Adams recalls. “They had never done anything like this.”

Enjoying the two dead-calm days (“We had to have no wind to pull this off,” Adams says), they positioned the cranes on either side of the building, attached the mast cables to two 55-foot-long I-beams positioned to support the building’s trusses, and started lifting. 

Finishing touches

Once each section of the building was airborne, the Adamses, supported by a construction crew, tipped the prefab walls up into place and secured them to the concrete foundation wall. The building was gently lowered onto the new sidewalls, and the cables were removed. In two days, all four sections of the building had been lifted and reunited, resulting in a structure with 20-foot sidewalls. As a necessary finishing touch, the Adamses added a 24-foot-wide overhead door on the side of the shop and a massive 44-foot-wide hydraulically swinging door at the end of the structure. 

The cost of the entire project was just $72,300 in cash, which purchased nearly 12,500 square feet of shop and machinery storage area, as well as a 16×16-foot office.

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