Tearing down a barn?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Willowynd, Apr 4, 2010.

  1. Willowynd

    Willowynd Well-Known Member

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    I have the opportunity to tear down an old barn (and I do mean old) which I plan to use its frame to build my own barn. I realize this is going to be a big project and have some questions.

    First, the owner is asking how long we expect it to take. He wants everything we take off to be hauled away the same day and I plan to take a pick up load (full sized 4 x 4) each day working 2-3 days a week. How long do you think that will take for a 18 by 32 ft 2 story barn (sitting on concrete foundation not responsible for concrete removal)?
    Second, this is a 2 story. Ideas about saftey measures when working on the upper half?
    3rd is there liability insurance available and if so is it expensive? My major concern is that it borders a narrow alley with he neighbors barn right across from it. People drive in the alley and cars are parked not very far from it. I am wondering if it is too much for 2 people- my 20 yrs old son and I, who has never done this before? We have built sheds and coops and such, but never torn down anything large.
     
  2. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    I think it's going to be an experience you'll rmember for your lifetime. It will probably take a couple of months or more especially trying to work a couple of days a week and trying to haul everything with just a pickup.
    First step is to get a tetanus shot if yours isn't up to date.
     

  3. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If the beams are over 6x6 at the largest you will wish you'd never seen that barn. Old barns had hardwood frames. HARD is the key word here. You won't be able to drive a nail into them, but that's not the big problem. You'll have to tear it apart one piece at a time starting at the top. Dangerous to say the least. Most of what you will hall away will have to go into a wood pile. You won't be able to get the longer beams in a pickup. You won't be able to lift them if you do get them taken apart. If you get it all hauled home, you will need to buy most of the material needed to put up your new building. It would be unusual if at least one trip to the Emergency Room wasn't included in the project.
     
  4. Micheal

    Micheal Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Me thinks this is an "opportunity" that best be left as a thought or idea. A project of that size is not for 2 people and a pickup; specially if it's an "old" barn.......
    I helped a 3rd/4th cousin take down an "old" dairy barn as he wanted to sell the lumber. Well, the sides and roof went quite well as he did have scaffolding to get to the peak. Boards were 1x's of varied widths and lengths. To give you an idea on age of the barn the nails were square and maybe forged iron?
    The frame work was a completely different story - it was held together with wooden pegs/dowels. The pieces were very "rough cut" 2x4's going up in size to 12x12's, varied lengths from 4-5 feet to over 30 feet. Heavy doesn't even come close to discribing the weight. We broke a 5/8ths inch rope more than once while using a block&tackle to move some of the rafters. We ended up using a chainsaw, a 75HP tractor and tow chains to take down and move the largest of the beams.
    Injuries for a crew of 6 - beside the many, many cuts (some required stiches) and scrapes, there was one broken finger, 2 sprained ankles, and a wrenched back. And we think we did well considering......

    Sorry forgot to add: We started in May ended in Oct, working some odd days, but mostly Fri nights and weekends. We also had use of a flatbed tow-truck; bigger than a pickup and way easier to load..........
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2010
  5. ErinP

    ErinP Too many fat quarters... Supporter

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    My dad tore down a barn about that size by himself (well, okay, I helped but I was five. lol). He worked most weekends, dawn to dark, and it took most of a year.
     
  6. BetsyK in Mich

    BetsyK in Mich Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Glad I checked out this post. There is a beautiful barn near me, just a gable roof but it has louvered windows and wonderful molding and trim on the outside, extra things you wouldn't expect to see in a barn. Other than that it is a post and beam barn and going down hill fast. The present owners have not done a thing with it, roof coming off and they really don't care about it. I remember the barn when it was cared for and a beautiful building. It would be to big a project for me and sounds like just to expensive a project just to save my memories.
     
  7. motdaugrnds

    motdaugrnds II Corinthians 5:7

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    Well, I (female in 50s at the time) tore down an old school house; anything you want to badly enough can be done.

    You might ask the owner of that barn if he carries any type of home owners insurance that covers you while you work on "his" barn; also check with your own personal insurance company to see if you & your son will be covered should something occur.

    I, too, would suggest you first get tetanus shots or at least make sure they are up to date. You will need good balance and a 4' prybar with a 2' (flat) prybar; also a regular hammer and a 2 lb sledge hammer. (Hope you aren't afraid of heights as I was .. "was" being the key point here. You don't accomplish something like this without working through a fear of heights.) You really need a lengthy trailer to haul off what wood you are saving as I suspect much will be too long for your pickup.

    I suggest you not rush this job. Tell the owner you will need a little more than you think you might need. (It is always best to get done quicker than the owner thinks you will.) You will need "space" below to toss what you take off; so you might need to make some arrangements with the property owners nearby so as to have that alley blocked off during the hours you will be working.

    Now as for the actual work: Since you & your son have done some construction, then you both understand its process, i.e. what parts to do first, second, etc. If you are unsure, I suggest the first thing you do is visit your local library and find a book that will give you "visual" representation as to how barns are built. This will let you know what to take down first because you take it down backwards to the way it was put up. Remember, you and your son need to work conjointly in a manner that does not set up problems for each other. (You don't want him taking out the end of some board you might be sitting on or be standing below some board he is taking off.) Also, do not do this when a strong wind is blowing. You will need to start your work from the top of that second story, stripping off whatever was used as shingles to expose the roofing rafters. Taking out the rafters would be next and you may need both types of prybars for this because many rafters are stabelized by crisscrossing 16p nails. (Your son will need both as well; so it is best to have 2 sets.) Once the roof is off, start taking off the siding boards; then take off the studs in a manner that encourages them to fall "inside" the barn .. not in the alley.

    By the time you get this far you will have learned more than you know and gained some confidence. Best of luck to you & your son. Taking down an "old" barn is tedious at best; and can certainly be dangerous; so again, go slowly.
     
  8. Willowynd

    Willowynd Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the advice. I see your points and I think I have to agree that this is best left as a thought. If it was a one story building, I would still be considering it, but with it being 2 stories and the amount of space available (very little) around the barn, I am just imagining all sorts of horror stories here. Thanks for the reality check.
     
  9. Mel-

    Mel- Well-Known Member

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    my dad fell through the roof of a barn as a teenager helping take down a barn (he didn't fall all the way through, caught on some of the wood).

    60 years later arthritis is really setting in on the ribs broken and his back was never the same after that (and he grew up in the depression where they worked their 60 acre farm with a mule so he was IN SHAPE).

    my house is about 140 years old. the front part is built from beams of a peg and timber (? whatever you call it) barn that burned down. you can see scorch marks on the outside and uncle is right, nails just bend in it, have to drill all of them.

    my father took the oak siding off his parents home ( the same farm mentioned above) when they died and replaced with cedar siding. what was he thinking ! each piece took two of us to drag it off they were so heavy (teenage girls). it was board and batten. that house was 50 years old when it was moved to the farm 70 years ago. (and that oak would still be there unscathed but the cedar siding my dad put on 25 years ago is really looking ragged).
     
  10. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

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    .................I'd get several of those , long , wide , Yellow tie down straps and run then along the full length on the side adjacent too the alley , then you can anchor them too a trailer hitch on your vehicles which should prevent the structure from collapsing onto the road running parallel with the barn . , fordy:clap:
     
  11. michiganfarmer

    michiganfarmer Max Supporter

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    Id say it will take you every bit of a month, and mabey 2 months. Free is great but moving a building id an imense amount of work!
     
  12. HermitJohn

    HermitJohn Well-Known Member

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    I'd pass because of the close quarters you have to work in. Plus spending a lot of time of keeping everything neat and tidy between work sessions isnt realistic either. At certain stages it would just be impossible to haul away everything you take down in one day. Well unless you have a large crew and lot of available transportation.

    I have taken down a barn and a house and smaller out buildings over the years. Unless desperate, I suggest smaller one story outbuildings are most bang for the buck if wood is still mostly solid. With barn, to be halfway safe you really need to salvage the side boards, then notch the framing and pull it down via a long cable, then salvage what you can of frame and roof on the ground. Walking around on old rotten roof is just foolish. Old houses are a pain as there is so much garbage like plaster, junk siding, junk flooring, and multi layers of shingles and such, verses actual salvagable wood. Simple one story outbuildings, there isnt all that extra stuff to get rid of, most everything is wood. Remove nails with cats paw and voila, you have wood to stack in your truck.
     
  13. Willowynd

    Willowynd Well-Known Member

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    I did pass. Thanks for the advice all. I am sure the right building will come along :)
     
  14. Cheribelle

    Cheribelle Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Well, my dad and I did a 1 story, 20 X 60.... We Both have quite a bit of construction background...
    The bottom line is, a LOT of the wood was un-usable, just due to the weathering and the old nails. Good luck!
     
  15. ronbre

    ronbre Brenda Groth Supporter

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    have done this in past, don't give a definite time line as you will be held to it..just don't..

    remove the building in the same pattern but reverse that it was put up..removing the roofing first, then sheathing to roof, then studs and beams to roof ..rafters..etc.

    then begin with upper areas of walls moving down as you go..

    the property owner's insurance should cover you and any liability..it shouldn't be your place to provide that..only your own medical insurance in case of minor injuries.

    always, and i mean always, use a dust mask and gloves, heavy shoes and long sleeves..do it as soon as you can while weather is cooler.

    never give any guarantees, written or verbal..and tell them you cannot