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Building Small Barns, Sheds & Shelters, by Monte Burch - A Book Review: How to Build Agricultural Buildings (Pig Pens)

Updated on July 4, 2015
Barns and other agricultural buildings are easy to build on smaller acreages for small-scale farms
Barns and other agricultural buildings are easy to build on smaller acreages for small-scale farms | Source
5 stars for Building Small Barns, Sheds and Shelters, by Monte Burch

Especially during challenging economic periods of time, even small-acreage landowners are on the lookout for cost-efficient methods of developing their land by building their own outbuildings, or even how to build their own small-scale farm or farming operation. These people are the primary reason that a book like Building Small Barns, Sheds, & Shelters, by Monte Burch, is published.

Buy the book from Monte Burch right here

Building Small Barns, Sheds & Shelters
Building Small Barns, Sheds & Shelters

As detailed in the attached review, this book has an excellent array of building plans for the smallholder farmer. It has options for small-scale livestock production and handling, as well as other forms of food production.


This is the do-it-yourself builder’s bible when it comes to the needs of a small acreage (or even larger parcels of land), and includes the exact steps involved in building useful agricultural structures, as well as different options available for the buildings. Though the book was published in 1983, and therefore may exclude some of the more recent building materials and techniques, it still has plenty of great information for the do-it-yourself builder to make these structures from the ground up.

First, the book introduces the author and gives a short run-down on his experience in both building and farming. Next, each chapter delves into some essential aspect of planning, proper tools and materials, and the building process. The latter includes very specific aspects of building – footings and foundations, framing, siding and roofing, plumbing, finishing details, windows and doors, and wiring.

This is sufficient to allow you to develop your own building plans that are custom-made to your own needs, but Monte Burch also includes a nice catalog of ready-made building plans for agricultural buildings and other outbuildings. These include ideas for root cellars or storm cellars, carports, small barns, sheds, poultry housing, hog housing, rabbit housing, a smokehouse, or fences that include how to build a privacy fence.

Take Smallholding to the Next Level

Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre
Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre

Think you don't have enough land to feed yourself and your family? Think again. This book shows you how to grow an amazing amount of organic food on a very small parcel of land, demonstrating how smallholders can truly benefit themselves and their community.


Picking Small Barns, Sheds and Shelters

This book caught my eye when I was on the hunt for more ideas on good hog housing. I had only ever build a couple of rudimentary hog sheds in my life and wanted something a little more specialized – and was certainly not disappointed by Burch’s detailed plans for regular hog sheds, finishing houses, and farrowing sheds. This was the only section I had particular interest in at the time, though there is exceptional value in other parts of the book, and many plans that gave me some great ideas for developing a planned future acreage. When it comes time to implement our plans for this place, Monte Burch’s Building Small Barns, Sheds, & Shelters will definitely come in very useful once again.

Impressions of Monte Burch's Building Small Barns, Sheds and Shelters

There are nicely detailed drawings and pictures that accompany each section, and these clearly illustrate the lessons that the author is trying to relate. Clear and concise text helps easily convey the information, and the book as a whole can work wonders in increasing an individual do-it-yourself builder’s confidence on their project. It’s pretty obvious that the author is well-versed in these building techniques. Whenever it’s not possible to have a live professional builder to help with the steps involved in erecting a new structure, this book may very well be the next best thing.

In all honesty, with a cover price of only $16.95, I really didn’t expect to find this kind of value. Despite that, Building Small Barns, Sheds, & Shelters surpasses nearly every other book of its kind that I’ve read thus far. Too many “building books” attempt to fill space with superfluous pictures of building examples on unknown countrysides, this book fills up all of its pages with very useful information and clearly demonstrates how that information can be used when constructing your own buildings.

Go Organic and Stop Supermarket Dependence

Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less): Eat Healthy, Save Money, and Live Sustainably in the Space You Have (A Living Free Guide)
Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less): Eat Healthy, Save Money, and Live Sustainably in the Space You Have (A Living Free Guide)

Monte Burch's Building Small Barns, Sheds and Shelters helps you get the infrastructure in place, now this book offers practical information about how to actually raise livestock and crops for profit in very little space.


Remember, this book is meant for people with an acreage, even small acreages, but contains very little useful items for homeowners who happen to have a large backyard. There are certainly better options for those looking to build a dog house, privacy fence, or a small storage shed. However, if you’re looking for a solution for storage, agricultural buildings, and the necessary components of a small-scale farming operation, then you’ve come to the right place. Pick up this book first, then find other books to fill in whatever holes in your needs there may be, if there are any at all. Most likely, this is the only book you’ll need for developing your small acreage and/or building a small-scale farm.


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    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      6 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Interesting, informative and most helpful on building small barns and on Sheds & Shelters. Great hub!


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