Tuesday, January 17, 2012

We Bought a Barn

From the very beginning of our home building experience, we had a very clear vision of what we wanted.  Luckily, Ryan and I were (for the most part) on the same page on the house decisions.  We knew we wanted to use a lot of reclaimed and salvaged materials, and when those were not available, we wanted to use local products as much as possible.

The idea surfaced very early on that we wanted the house to look like an old barn that had been added on to and converted to a home.  We played around with that idea in many different incarnations and tried to express that desire to our architect when forming the plans for the house.

We started keeping our eyes open for local barns that were falling down or in disrepair.  We put the word out to local farmers and friends of friends that we were in the market to buy a large amount of reclaimed barn wood.  We perused Craigslist and the classified ads in the newspaper.  We went on many "adventures" to scope out possibilities, but it seemed like we could never find the right one.  We determined that the amount of wood we would need was going to be quite a bit larger than most of the structures we were looking at.  Especially since many of them were already falling down and not all of the wood was usable due to prior damage.

It's fairly easy to find barnwood for a project like this, but we were being rather picky.  Many had been repainted too recently and didn't have the patina we were looking for.  Others were an odd color or the wood was not in good shape.  We found several that seemed perfect, but the price was too high for us.

We toyed with the idea of buying a barn and tearing it down ourselves, but ultimately decided that it would be worth it to hire a professional for the job.  We found a company with a location in Indiana that sells reclaimed wood for building projects.  We made the two hour trip to their office and checked it out.  The wood was beautiful, but it was expensive.  Ultimately, we decided that wasn't for us.  We then got in touch with a team of college students who tear down barns during the summer and resell the wood.  They gave us a couple of options to go look at.

At first glance, we weren't too keen on this barn.  The red paint looked too new.  It didn't have that time worn look that I wanted.

But, it was BIG.  This was a much larger barn than we'd seen before.  My cell phone pictures don't really capture it, but it was very tall and had a large side section that had been added on at some point.  The original structure was built in the 1890's and the inside wood was exactly what I wanted.  It had a beautiful worn finish and the old exterior was a faded red with beautiful wood peeking through.

The barn had sustained storm damage and it was going to cost over $50,000 to have it fixed properly.  The owners were instead choosing to have it torn down.  After doing a lot of measuring and figuring, we agreed to buy the barn, hoping that we could use all of the inside pieces to achieve what we wanted.  We also wanted the beams inside the barn to use in our house.

Here's what she looked like with about 75% of the wood taken off.  We ended up making multiple trips to go get the wood and bring it to the building site.  Our framers were ready to start working on the exterior before the barn was completely down, so we would take a trailer an hour north to the barn, load it up, and bring it back to the house so they could work while the rest was coming down.

Watching the tired, injured barn being transformed into something new was even more magical than I expected!

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