By Marlee Moore
Some farm kids joke they were raised in a barn. For Shelby and Brody Griffin, “raised in a silo” hits home.
Their parents, Lindsey and Brandon “Griff” Griffin, reimagined and renovated a 76-foot-tall concrete grain silo on the family farm in Bibb County. It took three years, but the Griffins moved into the first two stories of their home sweet silo in 2010.
“The guys kept talking about how the silo would be a cool bachelor pad,” said Lindsey, 36. “I was really into architecture and realized it would be a cool house.”
First step: Hire a structural engineer to ensure the silo’s safety. The silo was built in the early ‘70s by former dairyman Barry Griffin, Griff’s father. The 6-inch-thick walls have rebar every 3 inches horizontally and every 8 inches vertically.
“The engineer said everything we add to the house strengthens it,” said Lindsey, referring to I-beams supporting the silo’s seven floors.
Before renovations began, the Griffins removed 13 feet of silage stored in the structure.
Their do-it-yourself attitude took a detour only when contracting with crews to install sheetrock and pour a concrete slab on the first floor. Lindsey designed each 452-square-foot floor. Barry fashioned the banisters farmhouse table, rounded window frames and custom, curved cabinets.
As construction challenges continually popped up, Barry’s familiar refrain caught on.
“The impossible just takes longer.”
Griff’s engineering background (he works at the Mercedes plant in Tuscaloosa) and metalworking skills brought the floating, spiral stairwell to life, where twisted iron railings connect the four finished floors.
Visitors enter through a solid oak, curved door into the living room. A bathroom and laundry complete the first floor.
A flight of stairs guides guests to a kitchen overlooking a pasture of bison, part of Griffin Farms Pumpkin Patch, the family’s West Blocton agritourism attraction.
That view didn’t come easy. When cutting the kitchen windows from the bucket of a tractor, Barry was nearly crushed by the falling 1,000-pound concrete chunk. Upper windows earned a different treatment. Bucket trucks lifted Barry and Griff, who drilled holes in each corner and in the center. The areas were then bolted and cut.
For now, Lindsey and Griff use the third floor as a master bedroom, with goals to convert the seventh story to their bedroom. Shelby and Brody share the fourth floor overlooking Shelby’s favorite animals — sheep. The Griffins will work on Brody’s future fifth-floor room now that pumpkin season is over.
Every nook and cranny counts in the Griffin household. Space above the stairs was repurposed into a loft library in Shelby’s room. Closets were crafted below stairs, too.
The unusual home was a first for Alfa Insurance agent Brad Rooker. The Griffins were loyal Alfa customers, so when they called wanting a one-of-a-kind policy, Rooker was up for the tall order.
“When I first found out about the house, I was just hoping I could find a way to insure it,” Rooker said. “I spoke to five different people in the Underwriting Department before I figured out where to start. I had to get photos of everything, then I had to get the value of the building, which was a process. It’s a really cool house, and they are awesome folks.”
Although the silo house is near Griffin Farms Pumpkin Patch, many visitors don’t know about the remarkable residence. A couple years ago, Lindsey gave a tour of the house on Facebook Live — which reached 23 million views. The feedback was positive, other than comments such as, “I couldn’t do the stairs.”
In the video, Lindsey addressed fire safety (they have smoke alarms on every floor and fire escape ladders). There’s also a carbon monoxide detector in the laundry room.
When Lindsey and Griff began the project in 2007, there weren’t many silo house designs online, although samples like million-dollar windmill renovations surfaced.
“When we have extra money, we add to the house. Most money gets poured into the farm because that’s more about the future,” Lindsey said. “We’ll stay here as long as we’re able and then pass it on to the kids.”