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I live in MN where the temp can range from -20 to +90. I am considering building a building to store several vehicles. I know that climate controled is the best option but since the budget will not allow that, I'm wondering what style of building and types of materials will work best to minimize moisture problems. Any suggestions would be welcome. Thanks

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Include 2 inch thick High Density rigid foam insulation (Owen-Corning Foamular 250 rated at 25 psi) under the slab and along the inside of the foundation. Do this regardless of what heat method you use. My suggestion is concrete radiant heat using pex tubing inside the slab. You can use a Takaigi Tankless hot water heater and a simple circulator pump. Even if you ran it at 45-50 degrees it takes the chill off the building contents with minimum expense. For hot climate, simple vent fan to move the air/humidity.

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In my home garage in Iowa, I had foam put in under the concrete, plus a layer of plastic to help keep the moisture out, I insulated the building top and sides, installed a vent system for the summer heat.

On an average day in the winter, the building will be 15 -20 degrees warmer inside than the air outside.

In the spring time, the floor stays much drier and doesnt sweat too bad.

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Your budget will factor heavily on the type of building. There are many options each with pros and cons. If you do not intend to heat in the short term, but maybe in the long term you will need to decide that as well so you can weigh out the cost.

For basic dry storage, metal pole buildings as we call them here, offer the best value in cost per sq.ft, are maintenance free, and they go up quick. They can be more costly to insulate to higher R-values vs frame construction should you decide to do that after the fact.

The suggestions above to insulate the floor are excellent and you should do that no matter what for the simple reason can't do later after the floor is poured.

For storing cars I prefer a type of construction that is tight without small openings rodents can get in. Rodent control is very important and often taken too lightly. A concrete floor with maybe 2 or 3 courses of block above grade then standard frame construction will suffice for that. Depending on the type of pole building and how the concrete floor is poured at the perimiter, they can be tougher to seal up tight at the ground level where most critters get in. An option is to do the short block wall with a seal plate then start the metal on top of it. But that requires a footer which adds cost compared to a standard pole building that does not require a footer.

If not heating all the time or at all, you want some ventliation but no so much that the inside temperature changes quickly with the outside such as when you get a drastic temperature swing from night to day. Drastic swings from cold to warm will make everything sweat. The more stable the inside temperature the better and accomplishing that usually means insulating the walls and ceiling to some degree. For example, coming out of winter, we recently had a series of days where it was in the high 20s at night and 50/60s in the day. As much as I wanted to open the big garage doors and let the warm air in, I knew everything would sweat profusely so kept them closed. Typically in a fairly tight building, a small ocillating fan(s) kept running all the time to keep air moving is enough to keep mildew at bay and minimize oxidation.

If I had the money I'd do a short block foundation, then 2x6 insulated exterior walls with higher quality insulated doors and windows and an insulated ceiling. Consider useing roof trusses that will provide some second floor storage for parts and what-not. A small change in truss design offers a big advantage in storage space cost per sq.ft.

Also consider ceiling height in the event you decide to install a lift someday for maintenance or simply stacking cars.

Edited by JZRIV (see edit history)
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