Restoring an old barn- worth it?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Leah IL, Aug 15, 2004.

  1. Leah IL

    Leah IL momto6

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    Hi, I'm new to these boards. My husband and I just bought a 5 acre farm in Illinois. We'll be moving in 2 weeks and we are very excited to be embarking on this adventure with our 4 kids! We are complete novices, my husband was raised in Trenton, NJ and I've always been a suburban girl myself, but we are determined to change our lifestyle and give our children the kind of life we think they deserve.

    The property we bought has a big old beautiful barn on it, but it is in need of some serious work. The roof on one side is very damaged and some of the beams have rotted. The other side is in better condition but would still need a new roof. We found a guy that will tear down the old barn for $2000 if he can keep the wood. He'll haul away all the debris, break up the concrete foundation and bury it for us. This is a good deal from what we can tell, but we both feel so sad to tear down the old barn. Does anyone know what we'd be looking at as far as costs to restore it? We're probably just being romantic about it, but we hate to see it go.

    Thanks-
    Leah
     
  2. moopups

    moopups In Remembrance

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    What size timber do you need to replace? How much square footage of roof material do you need? What can you get the material for? Calculate the cost includeing the disposal of the rotted lumber, the question may answer its self. Wood is very high right now with no drop in sight.
     

  3. CraftyDiva

    CraftyDiva Is anybody here?

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    You might want to check the going rate for "Old Barn Wood" before you sign anything. What's the cost if you keep the wood?
     
  4. mikell

    mikell Well-Known Member

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    Get an estimate to fix it and figure the cubic feet of area to replace. The old barn may not be as bad as you thought. I spent 6k for repairs and a new barn would have been 25k.

    mikell
     
  5. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    "A BIG OLE BARN" can vary in size a whole bunch. I have an average ole barn that it 56 x 48 We had some concrete foundation repaired, A couple new large doors built. Painted metal pole barn siding with white trim all around. A new metal roof on a 16 x56 part of the roof. One end needed some heavy frame work which we salvaged from another barn that we removed the haymow from. That was two years ago. Metal has went up since then. Total cost was about $8000. It was either that, or watch it go to ruin. We needed the space. Am glad we done it. It really upgraded the looks of the property.
     
  6. Hoop

    Hoop Well-Known Member

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    I too would shop around to see what it would take to resurrect the barn. Perhaps it will cost far less than you think......and you'd have the ambiance of an old barn plus all that storage!

    Should you decide to keep it, count me among those who think nothing but a metal roof should be used!
     
  7. shakeytails in KY

    shakeytails in KY Well-Known Member

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    It's hard to say without actually seeing it. A lot of times if the roof is history the rest of it isn't worth saving but not always. We have an old barn on our place that's a bit too small for what we want to use it for. DH and I were thinking of reworking it to meet our needs. This barn looks good from the outside, but when we really looked at it, we realized that it wasn't structurally sound enough to bother fixing- rotted posts, etc. For us, since we do our own construction, it will be cheaper to bulldoze the old and build new. I must say that our old barn doesn't have much "character", if it were a big old bank barn or had a gothic arch roof I'd spend the bucks to save a little piece of history. If you really like the barn, call around and see what it would cost to repair it. If there are Amish in the area they might be willing and able to fix it as well. I know there are companies that specialize in this type of work, check state and local farm publications.
     
  8. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

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    I'd sure rethink giving away that wood, if you do tear the barn down, what with prices what they are these days. I've been using all kinds of old wood that came from this place --- some of it, in fact, taken from an old barn I'm tearing down myself (not nearly the size of yours and lacking in any character, I might add).

    Right now, I'm using some old posts and beams to build raised flower beds. I've used other wood to finish off a grape arbor and a deck. I have other wood that will become a part of my back-porch-to-be. All in all, I'd guess at least several hundred dollars worth of wood, if not more.
     
  9. mysticokra

    mysticokra Well-Known Member

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  10. Gary in ohio

    Gary in ohio Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Condition repairability are the issues. How big is the barn? When it comes to barns people often have a distorted view on big. If it proves to be to expensive to repair, I WOULD NOT pay someone to take it down. Around here you can usually find someone who will do it for free for the wood. If thats not the case call the local fire dept and ask if they want to burn it down? I would keep that as the last resort. Give people the chance to get that old wood.
     
  11. Leah IL

    Leah IL momto6

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    I just wanted to edit this post. My nice husband made these links better below, so skip the ones I did here and go to his. Something about jpg vs bmp :eek: I don't know. He is "unregistered" a few posts down.

    http://home.comcast.net/~kth818/barn1.bmp

    http://home.comcast.net/~kth818/barn2.bmp

    The first picture is the "good" side of the barn. The second one is the side that needs work. Both have concrete structures and stalls underneath.
     
  12. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    1. In the future, you might consider using .jpg file format for your web photos. I about fell asleep waiting for those 2 large meg bmp's to download - would have only needed a few seconds to download a jpg. Was ready to forget it & move on, but they finally got loaded - coulda made popcorn.....

    2. Barn could have been saved about 10 years ago. Big holes in the roof means there is major damage all the way through to the bottom concrete. You would be in for a large materials bill, and an even bigger labor bill. Me, I'm all for saving old buildings, and would like to suggest that yourestore this one.

    But, it will be $30,000 to get it sort of back to shape. Double that to make it really good.

    What would you use it for if it were restored? These old barns have a low 1st floor with a lot of concrete & pillars & low ceiling in the way to use for much of anything. The upstairs is very high, but a thin wood floor means you can't drive anything heavy on it, and rather flamable.

    If you can't define a good use for it (and it's hard to use these for anything but livestock & lots of small square bale storage due to their construction), and if you can't do the bulk of the labor yourself - realisticly this building is too far gone to bring it back. IMHO

    I haven't visited this site in quite a while, but they used to have a 'barn again' section that will help you determine your options. Or suggest ways to dispose of it, or have it reassembled somewhere for historical use.

    www.agriculture.com

    It's run by a farm magazine, & I had issues with their management of the site, so like I say have not been there in a while.

    --->Paul
     
  13. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    I am currently using barns in far worse shape than that one, but granted with more or less intact roofs....well at least in the parts that are still usable!

    That barn appears to be sitting straight, not leaning that I can see. You say there are rotted beams. How rotted? Broken? Are these beams or rafters? Are they still in place more or less? Are internal parts of the barn leaning substantially or unstable (I have one with the whole hay mow half falling down)?

    If this were my barn, I'd patch the roof with some tin and call it good. If I had extra money I might even put a whole new roof on it. If there is internal damage, I'd do some patching and propping.

    I'm sometimes surprised at the good barns that people feel are damaged (not saying this one isn't). I've seen darn good barns destroyed because someone felt their barn ought to be totally water tight, draft proof and pretty!

    Looks like a pretty good barn to me.

    Jena
     
  14. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

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    .....................I wouldn't be in any great hurry to demolish your barn. It very well maybe that you decide to have it torn down. ...OTOH... It looks like to me that the lumber in the Roof portion could be salvaged and Utilized to build a New roof support structure by Lowering the Height down somewhat . I have no idea if it's feasible but I'd sure get to know some of my neighbors and ask alot of questions before I had it torn down. Even ....IF...you decide to have it taken down I'd leave the Cement support walls as you might want to build anew structure in the Future . LOts of possibilities .....fordy..... :eek: :)
     
  15. comfortablynumb

    comfortablynumb Well-Known Member

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    if its still standing and the beam structure is relitivly sound, Id fix it.

    BTW, shop around, weathered barn wood fetches some high prices in the craft/artist world. 2K for a whole barn, this guy is robbing you blind. I wanted to tear down my neighbors barn he said he wanted removed, i said "oh ill do it for free lemme have the wood!" (I wanted to build with it) he laughed and said he turned down 5k for someone to rip it down and keep the wood... he was aiming higher.

    if its really old and the planks and beams are chestnut wood.... mmmmm boy.
     
  16. Leah IL

    Leah IL momto6

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    Thanks for all the input- you've given us a lot to think about. Rambler, I'm sorry if the pictures were in the wrong format. I'm not too experienced with photos and probably should have left them out.

    My husband and I were both very hesitant to just tear it down, so I was glad to get some confirmation of that feeling. We will look into possibly saving it. Thanks for the link to the barn website- I found 3 local contractors who specialize in barn repair.

    The man who offered to take the barn down for $2000 was actually charging that for breaking up the concrete foundation and burying it and hauling away all the debris. He said he'd take down the barn for free for the wood. So if we leave the foundation the way it is, he'll take the wood away for free.

    As far as further detail on the barn, I guess I'll have to wait until we move in so I can look at it more closely. I've only seen it twice, but the man that sold us the property seemed convinced that it had to come down, so we didn't really think to question him until recently.

    It would be a pretty large barn for our needs though. We only want to have a few animals to begin.
     
  17. Karen

    Karen Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I think others can also vouch that there is no such thing as "too big" of a barn! LOL! :) So don't let that be too much a consideration in your decision. Homesteading plans change rather quickly! Also, I think others will agree that in most cases, your barn is more important than you house! :D

    This barn is certainly going to take a lot of money to repair; but on the other hand, they don't build barns like this any more and it might be worth the historical value to keep it if you can afford to do so. It would be a far better value to put the money in that barn than to tear it down and put up a steel building. You loose so much!
     
  18. stonerebel

    stonerebel Well-Known Member

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    Do not give that wood away for 2k. There is big money in old wood like that. If you feel like you can not fix the barn yourself, you can surely tear it down yourself. After you tear it down shop that wood around and you can make enough to pay somebody to build a new one. Vintage wood flooring can go anywere from 8 to 12 dollars a square foot, thats no chump change my friend.
     
  19. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    Old barn wood might be worth something somewhere, but I've never been able to find a buyer for it anywhere near here (central IL). The only ones I found were on the east coast and only wanted certain woods (oak not being one of them). I think they said they'd take the wood, but only if I took it all down and brought it to them (not cost effective).

    I would not get my hopes up for having a fortune in old barn wood. It is not that easy to sell it.

    Barns also ad to your property taxes, which is something you might want to look at when deciding what to do with barn.

    Jena
     
  20. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I was also going to suggest looking into historical barn restoration because, OH MY, if that barn were on my property there's no way I'd let it be torn down!

    What a big, beautiful barn. I hope you'll be able to save it. Here's a few links I found for you:


    http://www.agriculture.com/ba/stateba!.html

    http://www.agriculture.com/barnagain/statewide.html

    http://www.iowabarnfoundation.org/federal_tax_incentives.htm (Did you know there are federal tax incentives for restoring barns?)