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Take hard look at floor heat with a new shop

Don Villwock never intended to build another shop. Villwock, Edwardsport, and Jason Misiniec, who does day-to-day mechanical work at Villwock Farms, both liked their former shop. But a public utility liked it more. With the threat of eminent domain in play, the Villwocks settled, moved houses and built a shop from scratch.

You’ll see it if you visit their farm on the Indiana Farm Management Tour June 28 and 29. The Indiana Prairie Farmer/Purdue University College of Agriculture Master Farmers will be recognized and participate in a debate on farm management tactics during the June 28 evening program.

Key Points

Necessity forced the building of a new shop.

In-ground water heat provides a great working environment.

Shop is not suited to heating by conventional methods.

The new shop is 104 feet by 80 feet, divided into two sections: one measuring 72 feet by 80 feet; and the other, a wash bay, that’s 32 feet by 80 feet. A wide door allows entry from one section to the other and provides cross-ventilation in the summer.

There’s also a 24- by 80-foot office and utility complex on the west end.

Work in progress

My first visit to the Villwock shop in April of ’08 let me see a work in progress. The part that now houses the office and utility area was just undergoing construction. Bare rafters were still visible. Villwock and Misiniec made sure things went together as planned. Even then, it was obvious it would be a quality building.

The area under construction turned into offices for Villwock and Misiniec, with an entryway and utility space, plus storage room. When visitors walk inside, the entryway creates a good impression.

Plenty of heat

One of the first features Villwock talks about is the heat in the floor. Propane gas powers the hot-water system that consists of thousands of feet of plastic tubing buried in the concrete.

“It was more expensive up front compared to conventional furnaces or gas heaters, but it’s inexpensive to run,” he says. “We would do it again.”

With 20-foot-tall ceilings and 26-, 20- and 18-foot-wide doors — with 18 feet of clearance — that must be opened occasionally, heating the shop with wall-mounted heaters would leave it cold on the floor.

“It’s very comfortable working in here,” Misiniec says. “In fact, it’s tough to get it much below 65 to 68 degrees F.”

Glassboard easy to clean

The shiny walls inside Don Villwock’s shop aren’t shiny by accident. Instead of installing plywood or particleboard, they installed glassboard for the walls of the shop.

“It’s only about $2 per sheet more compared to our other alternative,” Villwock says. It features a protective covering over C\v-inch fiber-type board.

“The big thing is we can clean it easily,” he says. “We can take a power washer to it and clean it right up.”


Comfortable workspace: Don Villwock says the hot-water, in-floor heat system (the power unit is located behind him) makes the shop comfortable.

This article published in the June, 2011 edition of INDIANA PRAIRIE FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2011.