Converting an old barn to a shop

Ted Calver

Moderator
Staff member
Messages
7,519
Location
Yorktown, Virginia
Although there's no denying the fact that this building has survived 100 + years, and may be typical of barns of the region, it appears to my untrained eye that there are some structural issues being telegraphed by spreading walls, sagging roof, and bowing and unsupported columns that extend above the first floor. I'd be tempted to pay a timber frame designer to have a look and give you a range of possible corrective actions. (What I'm seeing might just be photographic distortion. If it is....never mind :unsure:)
(The above opinion based solely upon having watched every episode of "Barnwood Builders":rofl:)
 

Don Baer

Moderator
Staff member
I have to agree with Ted and Larry looking at the picture several thing are very scary to my un-trained eye. Besides the leaning walls, crooked vertical supports and the rotted supports the ones where they have sistered in support columns really scare me. It sorted reminds me of a house of cards. I hope it no one big Jenga game where if you take out the wrong piece the whole thing would collapse.
Barn 2.jpg1606068247172.png
 

Charles Lent

Moderator
Staff member
Messages
512
Location
Central North Carolina
There is a time when the cost and time of repairing becomes more expensive than pushing down and starting over. Not sure on the cost, but for time savings alone this barn might have passed that point years ago. It might be nostalgic to save it, but very dangerous and likely cost more, at least in time spent, to try to save it. That is one very tired barn. I would opt for building new.

Charley
 

Darren Wright

Administrator
Staff member
Messages
18,186
Location
Kansas City, Missouri
Thanks guys, I do appreciate the reality check.

I'd certainly not tear into this without taking some additional safety precautions of adding A LOT of cross bracing (which it honestly has very little of), shoring up areas being worked, and working in in small sections at a time.

The structure itself is not the "Timber" frame I'd hoped for. To be quite honest it's a stick, "balloon" framed, structure put together with nails. It just happens to be mostly oak which probably still pretty green at the time of building it. :)

I'm actually surprised the roof weight hasn't spread the center out more than it has, given there really aren't any collar ties or much cross bracing other than in the corners to prevent racking. The only ties are the one the hay track is mounted on, and probably for that purpose. The taller center posts are actually supporting an L shaped strong back, and each rafter is two pieces lapped/nailed over it.
rafterdetail.PNG

My wife and I have had the discussion that this may need to come down, it's not the direction she wants to take, but understands if it must.
 

Vaughn McMillan

Administrator
Staff member
Messages
33,951
Location
ABQ NM
Add me to the "I think I'd start over" crowd. I suspect the deeper you get into trying to refurb the existing structure the more problems (and associated costs) you'll uncover. I'll bet you'd save time and money by just starting again from the ground up. And if you save as much of the exterior siding as possible, it could still have the old barn look while being a modern, safe structure.
 

larry merlau

Member
Messages
18,634
Location
Delton, Michigan
if it were me i would have a crew do the dismantle save the tin perhaps and the lumber then have a group that is familiar with timber framing do a new frame and use all the demo material you can. new framing on a new foundation would be a very good start.
 

Darren Wright

Administrator
Staff member
Messages
18,186
Location
Kansas City, Missouri
if it were me i would have a crew do the dismantle save the tin perhaps and the lumber then have a group that is familiar with timber framing do a new frame and use all the demo material you can. new framing on a new foundation would be a very good start.

Well, again, other than a few of the larger corner and support posts, it's not really a true timber frame, but would salvage as much of the wood as possible. The location isn't quite where I'd rebuild, so I'm thinking just a newer pole barn structure next to the existing garage would be my preferred option. There is a relatively level spot that is high enough flooding shouldn't be an issue. The well and electrical are next to the garage, so will be easier access for those also.

Depending on how soon we move, I may temporarily use the garage, but it needs some work also.
 

Paul Douglass

Member
Messages
4,399
Location
S E Washington State
Modern pole building are really nice, and go up quickly and I bet would be a lot cheaper than what would have to be invested this barn. With a new pole building, you could be using your shop in a few weeks verses a year or more hard work on the old barn.... Just my opinion..
 

Ted Calver

Moderator
Staff member
Messages
7,519
Location
Yorktown, Virginia
Just for the sake of discussion, what could be done to stabilize the structure to prevent further damage while you're pondering its future? Reinforcing the columns holding up the roof by sistering heavier timbers would be my first priority. Locate a local sawmill and see what they can provide. At the same time, chains and ratchet binders would go a long way toward keeping it upright... and help pull the walls in to take some of the load off the columns. RR Buildings has a video on how he uses the chains to stabilize his post and beam frames and those techniques would be very helpful.

Even if you don't want to sink the money into a total rehab, a safely stabilized barn could still be used for barn stuff, like equipment storage, animals, hay etc.
 

Darren Wright

Administrator
Staff member
Messages
18,186
Location
Kansas City, Missouri
Yeah, Been thinking about that. I'd probably start with sistering up some of the rotted posts on the first floor to pickup any downward load on them, then adding cross bracing to the outer walls from the center posts, then move to the upstairs, adding cables across as well as cross bracing. I'd also most likely do some collar ties at the top of the outer walls to the center post and ties between the post tying the width of the building together across the span.
 

andy fineran

Member
Messages
25
We lost a similar barn when a storm loosened the entire end wall. In hindsight I would make sure the point where the eave meets the end wall is reinforced. I am not convinced the connection between the end wall and the long sides was all that strong even when new. I wish I had made a corner bracket from 7 GA steel 8"wide and 4ft. Long bent 90 deg in the middle (bent the easy direction) and bolted inside each corner with all thread. Before we had a problem. The tenons stink when the wind loads them in tension most often the wooden pin does not shear, the end of the tenon rips out from the pin hole. Its impossible to inspect the end of a tenon. Best to assume it is bad. The height of the structure at the time gave me shrinkage to work on it. Now days I would just Rent a tow behind boom lift for a weekend and make it happen. With a lawn tractor you can set up a portable boom inside or out and get more done in two hours than a full day with Ladders.
 
Top