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  1. #1
    Silver Member Waldershrek's Avatar
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    Default rebuilding 1800's barn

    Well the project has started after a couple years of convincing parents it's the way to go (They wanted to let it fall down and build a Morton building).

    Backstory on the barn, was build in the mid to late 1800's. Is 30x64, post and beam construction. My parents house originally went with this barn and some other outbuilding back in the day however when they bought it in 1984 the house was sold seperately from the barns and land. All they could afford was the house. A man who lived down the road had moved from NYC was buying up everything in sight and he bought the barns and land along with several other farms that had gone up for sale around the same time. Anyway, the owner rented out the barn to a local farmer who wasn't the best upkeeper of things. He left barn doors open for many years, random junk was all over around the barn and in the barn and he had let heifers run loose in the downstairs portion of the barn. in 1998, the owner got cancer and had to sell a bunch of property to pay for treatment (didn't have health insurance) and my parents bought the dairy barn, a smaller horse barn next to it and 16 acres of field/pasture. The downstairs had about two feet of manure that had dried into a rock hard "**** concrete" over the years, there was junk EVERYWHERE inside and out of the barn and there was thousands of bales of junk hay in the loft. It took awhile to get everything cleaned out of the barn enough to where they could even use it. They have never really used the barn for much other than a little hay storage upstairs and storing lawn mowers, atv's etc downstairs. Over the years the roof has gotten progressively worse, one of the main beams upstairs broke and fell, the foundation on one side is crumbling partially due to the wonderful slurry mix they called concrete when it was built (ie creek gravel mixed with sand) and partially due to years of dirt and debris collapsing up against that side of the barn and then freezing and thawing many times per year.

    Pretty much all the surrounding land around them has been bought up by Amish and my parents have really gotten along good with them. There was a stave silo next to the barn but earlier in the year the Amish were in need of it and so dad worked out with them they could take the silo if they would provide the labor and know how on fixing the barn and they agreed. My father works out of town and is only around 2 days a week so it's been a little slow getting everything going....last week we had a guy come with an excavator and dig all the debris and dirt away from the side of the barn. To say that side is in bad shape would be putting it nicely. The whole foundation is broken and crumbing but still standing, the sill plate is nonexistent, the whole wall on that side is either rotted or missing. He also got with one of the Amish guys who has a saw mill and ordered eight 6x6x12 beams for use as vertical beams in the hay loft as well as two 10x10x16 beams to replace the broken main beam. We spent the first part of this week moving stuff out of the downstairs of the barn and disposing of years worth of stuff (old lumber, building materials and other stuff collected over the years). The roof also leaks like crazy and as a result has caused rot in quite a few spots on the loft floor as well on some of the main beams in the loft so to fix this we will be putting a new metal roof on the barn (it is currently shingles that are barely there).

    Our first priority is going to get the broken beam replaced. Obviously the barn isn't going to stand for long with a main load bearing beam and most of it's vertical beams gone/rotted.

    With that said, I am wondering about a few things......

    1. After the beam is put in, should we move to the foundation or the roof? My father seems to think they need to get a roof on asap. I think that the barn may not hold the weight a metal roof with that foundation on the one side of the barn basically non existent. I am trying to push for the barn to be jacked up on that side, foundation knocked out, new block wall put in, new sill plate, set barn back down and then worry about the roof once the barn is structurally sound.

    2. We need to straighten the barn. it's leaning towards the "good side" of the barn. I know a popular method is attaching cables to the barn and then into the ground somehow and then winching the barn slowly back to straight. Has anybody done this to a building before? I'm not sure how the Amish normally go about this. I know they have done similar repairs on barns they bought around here but I don't know the specifics. More or less just looking on suggestions on how to handle this part of it.

    I'll try and get some pictures taken tomorrow of the various problem areas and progress so far. Wish me luck, gonna be quite a project

  2. #2
    Platinum Member deezler's Avatar
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    Southeast MI
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    Cub Cadet 7305

    Default Re: rebuilding 1800's barn

    Cool, can't wait for the pics.

    I would have to agree with you fully - the barn needs a solid foundation to sit on before you go adding weight to (and standing/working on!) the roof. You could build some very solid anchors into the new wall you construct to add cabling, too. So that you can tighten the building back towards that side....?

    My dad tried for years to save an 1800s barn at our old house in Pennsylvania. All the walls were falling outward, so he strengthened the center post and cabled everything back in. It held up great for an extra 10 years, until a massive snowstorm buckled in the roof and the new owners just bulldozed it.

  3. #3
    Gold Member
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    Arlington, VA
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    None (yet)

    Default Re: rebuilding 1800's barn

    Would it be possible to disassemble the barn, fix the foundation solid, then re-assemble, employing new materials where required? With so much wrong it kinda sounds like whack-a-mole trying to repair it in place. Start replacing the main beam but the foundation crumbles, trying to straighten it, main beam collapses, doing the foundation causes the whole thing to come down. Like trying to restore a car while driving it every day.

  4. #4
    Gold Member
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    Southern Oregon
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    Kioti DK45SE Hst

    Default Re: rebuilding 1800's barn

    Awesome thread. I'm also eager to see pictures. It makes me sick every time an old barn falls down. The new metal (Morton-oid) buildings sure are ugly. Anything to save one of the historic treasures. Of course, if it's too far gone... Maybe you need to at least talk to someone who's rebuilt these old barns, or maybe that's what you were trying to find on this forum.

    If you have that much rot in the loft floor beams, have you checked the rafters/roof structure to make sure you don't have a disaster that could kill you or a family member while rebuilding? On many barns, doesn't the loft help tie the building together and keep the walls from spreading?

    It seems that if I were undertaking this project, the first thing I would do is make sure the whole thing didn't collapse, using generous temporary bracing/ties/cables. Then I'd work on the foundation, then other stuff. Of course, I'm not a contractor...

    Marcus
    Kioti DK45SE HST w/ backhoe, forks, PHD, box blade, chipper. Living off-grid, Listeroid 6/1 backup, masonry stove, thermal mass H2O storage
    "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temp Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." Ben Franklin, 1775
    "The 2nd Amendment is the RESET button of the US Constitution"

  5. #5
    Silver Member Waldershrek's Avatar
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    Default Re: rebuilding 1800's barn

    Well I started taking pictures today but stupidly I didn't think to check the battery level so I was only able to get a few before it died.

    -sdc10475-jpg

    This is the side that needs the most work

    -sdc10476-jpg
    -sdc10477-jpg

    Just some shots of the outside to get a general picture of the building. That goofy red stuff on the exterior walls in spots in like tar paper that looks like fake bricks......been there for years put on by somebody before my parents bought it.

    -sdc10479-jpg
    -sdc10480-jpg
    -sdc10481-jpg

    A couple close ups of the side need most of the work. You can see how years of dirt and stuff piled against that wall has really taken it's toll.

    I'll try and get some more tomorrow

  6. #6
    Platinum Member deezler's Avatar
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    Cub Cadet 7305

    Default Re: rebuilding 1800's barn

    Wow, that barn looks pretty dang straight to me. I've seen a lot worse structures still being used.... haha. But making it safe and sound is definitely still the right path.

    Thanks for the pics.

  7. #7
    Elite Member MotorSeven's Avatar
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    NE TENN (Hancock Co)
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    Kioti DK40SE Hydro

    Default Re: rebuilding 1800's barn

    I would defer to the Amish carpenters....they have lifetimes of experience with this type of structure. I agree to fix the foundation first, then move on to the rest. However, if you can't jack it up to repair the foundation because the structure above is not sound, temporary reinforcements will be needed. I agree with Deez, it looks salvageable to me...pretty straight.
    2008 KIOTI DK40Se Hydro
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  8. #8
    Veteran Member
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    B2710

    Default Re: rebuilding 1800's barn

    Quote Originally Posted by Waldershrek View Post
    ...so dad worked out with them they could take the silo if they would provide the labor and know how on fixing the barn and they agreed.
    If the Amish agreed to provide labor and know how to fix the barn, can you clarify why you're asking these questions. Do you not trust the Amish to fix it?
    Kubota B2710, New Holland CM274 front mower, Toro Zmaster ZTR, Ford 908 bush hog, New Idea manure spreader, Swisher trail mower

  9. #9
    Platinum Member
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    Jinma 354, purchased 2007

    Default Re: rebuilding 1800's barn

    I have a similar barn that was in bad shape when I bought it, I've put a lot of work into it but it's still a work in progress. Some thoughts:

    First, this will not be cost-effective, it will be a labor of love. I was about $30,000 into my barn when I realized I didn't really have a barn at all, I had a roof, a cellar hole, a bunch of sawdust and the idea of a barn. I have to swallow hard when I see the prices for a pole barn or other modern structure.

    Second, the right way to do a project like this is to do all the demolition first, and then all the construction. If you're going to re-roof and re-side you're much better off jacking the frame with the roof and siding off, the building is a lot lighter and a lot easier to move. If you need to straighten the frame you don't really want to do any other repairs until that is done, because there's good chance that work will have to be redone. Unfortunately, the reality is if you are doing the work by yourself or a with a small crew, and doing it in stages, it just takes too long and the building is subject to deterioration while it is open. I found that putting a new roof on early in the process stabilized the deterioration of the foundation and bought me time to fix the frame. The downside is it limited how much I was able to straighten out.

    Third, as you go you will constantly have to make decisions about whether to keep a marginal piece of wood. Looking back, I found that I have never regretted discarding a marginal piece, but I have regretted keeping a piece that could have easily replaced when everything was apart. This despite the fact that I probably replaced 95% of the wood below 8 feet high on my barn.

    Some specific tips:
    Find a local sawmill for your wood, that will allow you to keep it real, and if they're good they should be able to cut oddball sizes for you and save money to boot.

    For my foundation, I was able to stabilize it by making plywood forms and encasing the fieldstone. That was pretty simple, one day to make the forms and one day to pour the concrete. Then I put a pressure-treated sill in, and went up from there with rough-sawn lumber.

  10. #10
    Elite Member Cliff_Johns's Avatar
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    Default Re: rebuilding 1800's barn

    That barn looks pretty good to me. Still, the devil is in the details and we don't see much of those. In most timberframes, replacing the sills isn't as bad as you might think. You have to have the know-how and the equipment though. If there are Amish around, I'd talk to them at least and see what they would do and how much it would cost.
    My SF/mystery-noir Novel is out from Grand Mal Press:
    Walking Shadow by Clifford Royal Johns

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