Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Renovation of Our Old Barn - Phase 1



Three years ago, when we purchased our 1856 Victorian farmhouse, we were drawn to its character and uniqueness. The two sets of winding stairs, the quirky layout, the 3rd floor attic bedrooms, the gardens, and oddly enough, the dilapidated two story barn.

Somehow we were able to look past the barn's rotted wood, the missing windows and quite frankly the entire hot mess and see potential. 
Be dreamers, or fools, we were convinced it could be restored.





As the years rolled by, we got estimates and ideas from contractors to restore it. Many said take it down and rebuild. Others, however, saw the beams and logs that had been standing for over 200 years (the barn is older than the house) and believed, like us, it could be salvaged…at a price. Most often that “price” did not fit our budget. So, the old barn sat. And the more it sat, the more it seemed less like potential and more like a problem




Then this March, we met a contractor through a friend, who specialized in historic renovations. When he came out to see the project, he ran around the barn, almost giddy, excited to bring the barn back to life. He had the same vision as us and wanted to keep as much of the original structure and he would work within our budget. 

We had found our man. The next week, the renovation began.
Step one....parking a dumpster out front of it!




With the dumpster in place, the contractor's first step was to remove the center beam in front and in the middle to make way for stairs. They flanked the center beam with two posts reused from the second story, before removing the beam.

And although there were multitudes of problems with the barn, the two things positive things it had going for it was a concrete subfloor the previous owner had installed and a good metal roof that just needed to be power washed and cleaned.







After the center beams were removed, they began working 
on the second floor and the windows.
We added 10 windows to the new barn. The frames were hand built and we recycled old window sashes we found for $1 each. 




On the second story, the over grown vines were removed and low overhead support beams were replaced with ones set higher to give more headroom. 






When the upstairs supports were reset they then began removing any outside siding that was rotted and could not be salvaged and then made the cutout for stairs.




The stairs were built using 2 inch thick wood treads 
and a rail was put up on the second level.








With the stairs complete, next came the siding. The new siding on the front top of the barn was wood salvaged from other parts of the barn. 






For the side and back, new poplar wood was used. We plan to let the new wood weather a bit and then paint or stain the outside of the barn to make it more cohesive.






Then like any good renovation story, we ran into a problem. 

By June the project that was supposed to take two months was still weeks from being finished and really over budget. In addition, our talented contractor stopped showing up. I would call him and leave messages and when I would finally reach him, he would reassure me that he would be out the next morning. But by the next morning, the barn would be sitting there alone. This went on for months.

Despite the good work up until that point, it became clear that we had to find another contractor. All we had left to finish was some battens and the doors.

In the end, we connected with Lance, and excellent builder who did some renovations on our kitchen.  He agreed to finish the project. Lance was out by the next week with his partner Scott and together they finished applying all the battens, installed a subfloor to the second story with plywood and built and installed the doors for the front.

 Boom. Done.














When Lance and Scott packed up after two weeks, we finally had a usable barn,  It was functional and secure from the elements. Over next spring, we will insulate the second floor and then paint the roof and the outside.

















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