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A Building to Live, Work, and Dream in

Topic: Construction

If slow and steady wins the race, then the Cochran men of Arley, Ala. are champions of woodworking, meticulously crafting wood furniture from salvaged trees acquired at national forests in South Alabama and Florida.

When it came time to build a woodworking shop and home for Dylan Cochran, part owner of Wood Studio, he and his brother Keith and father Randy chose an arched steel structure that fit their criteria as artisans. The result is a haven for the family to live, work, and dream in together.

Brenda Welch talked to Keith Cochran about his plans to build a family woodworking compound, and why they chose to build with steel.

BW: What is housed in your steel building?

KC: Inside the building is our shop and Dylan's house. The front and rear of our building is split into two floors, and the apartment is in the back of the building with a kitchen, laundry room, ? bath downstairs and living room, full bath, and bedroom upstairs.

BW: What made you decide to purchase a steel building?

KC: We chose a SteelMaster Building, and we did so because of the shape, durability, material, and cost. The cost was nice, but I liked [SteelMaster] out of all the manufacturers and the sales folks were great. A big reason we chose our particular steel building was also because we could build it with minimal assistance. We usually had between four and six folks working and it took about nine days in order to get the SteelMaster up. Then it took Dylan and me about another week to get all the bolts in and tight. Another big reason we chose SteelMaster is because once it was up, we were covered and able to work in the dry to frame up the inside and exterior walls. This was very nice! Anything else you would have to frame up and roof all in the elements, which could have taken us a whole lot longer.

BW: When did you start the building process, and when were you finished? Was it difficult to add the wood element, and what type of wood did you use?

KC: We started attaching the footers to the slab in December 2004, and we finished in January 2005 with the sky lights and all bolted together tight. We did it while celebrating the holidays as well as being hit by two major storms. One hit a week after the building was delivered, and another small one hit when we had about three or four loose sections up. We lashed everything down and suffered no consequences. For us, the wood element was easy to work in, but we are all master woodworkers. The wood we used was mostly longleaf pine for the framing, which was salvaged and harvested from the two storms and sawed locally. The interior and exterior were sheathed with exterior grade ?" MDO plywood. The exterior siding is eastern red cedar. The window casings and interior and exterior frames are all cypress. The doors are walnut and white oak, the back decks are made of treated yellow pine, and the big door frames are salvaged heart pine beams.

BW: Did the building turn out the way you envisioned? Would you do anything differently if you had it to do over again?

KC: It is pretty much like I envisioned, but I did a lot of envisioning. I would have done a couple things differently, but you live and you learn-I wouldn't change anything significant.

BW: What kind of reaction have you gotten from people who have seen the building?

Everyone loves it. I even had the insurance inspector tell me I should stop building furniture and build these buildings. The reaction is always positive! The place is more than just a building to us-it is a place for us to kind of show off and build some cool stuff for ourselves. So we use it as somewhat of a Wood Studio show house of sorts. I have plans for many more SteelMaster projects in the future at this location, financing permitted. We love our SteelMaster and will use them again to add on to our family's woodworking compound. I hope in the very near future!


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