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We're hoping to buy a small property in the country (Southern Wisconsin) that has no outbuilding. We need a 2-3 car garage type building for bikes, critter-proof storage closets, garden and small farm tools, probably a root cellar, and some kind of mower/snow removal vehicle. We'd like an upper story to be finished later to use as a simple bed and breakfast and a bathroom, also to be finished later, to serve the lodging and the visitors to our small you-pick farm. It's got to go up quickly due to dire need and three small children (we'd rather spend time with them than spend a couple seasons building). Given all this, plus the fact that we aren't terribly handy, we are considering a garage or barn kit. Any feedback? What to avoid? Companies you know are good to work with?

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Well, unfortunately if you want people to live in it (including just short term guests) you are going to need it to be up to local codes. The garage and barn kits generally aren't considered "habitable." If they aren't up to code and someone staying there has an accident you have a HUGE liability. You probably won't even be able to get a license to provide lodging without having a permitted building for people to stay in.

 

That said, there are companies that offer "in-law" kits and you could talk to them about a custom job. It probably won't be cheap though. Your other option is to first do an outbuilding for storage and then later put in another building for lodging.

Just one of the many resources out there for pole-building...

http://www.pole-barn.info/pole-barn-construction.html

Pole barns are Affordable, durable and do-able...ever been to a barn raising?  To build barn:  Gather materials.  Fix a big stew, get some brews.  Invite handy, thirsty hungry people.  Raise barn!

Rachel is right, a residence will have to be up to code, so why not put up a yurt?  They are glamorous, cozy, inexpensive, and down-right cool.  

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