Barns these days serve as animal stalls as well as party rooms; sometimes even houses. Some of us still have a simple and good old-fashioned barn though. And while we may not need to renovate it to include a bar or guest room, it could still use some updates.
If you have an older barn, then it’s wise to give it a check for potential problems. The older and common method of “post and beam” construction was used on farms across America. They made for strong barns, but time leads to wear and changes in integrity. Whether you’re hoping to do basic repair and maintenance or you’re looking to do more intensive restoration, there are some simple basics to address.
Many barns have been built with a foundation consisting of dry-laid stones. These foundations are susceptible to water damage from rain as insufficient drainage can cause stones to shift and loosen over time. This can lead to bulges and dips that can cause the entire barn to shift. Concrete and mortar foundations are also at risk of compromised function, with cracks leading to problems.
Woodwork is vulnerable to water damage and insect damage, so everything will need a thorough check to ensure integrity. Pay special attention to the rafters as they’re especially vulnerable to water damage rafters. The sill is also in need of a good look over as it’s more susceptible to rot.
With the foundation and framework inspected, the next thing to check is the outside. The barn’s siding, roof boards, and shingles should all get a critical gaze. Look for damaged pieces to be replaced as well as loose parts. If roofing happens to consist of older wood shingles, consider replacing them with a more durable and water-resistant option like asphalt shingles or a metal roof.
If you have an old cow barn that you intend to use to stall horses, then you may need more headroom. Raising the barn or digging down into the floor may be necessary if you’re going to need a taller space. You’ll also want to take the seasons into account while you’re at work. Important weatherization precautions will help to prevent bacterial growth, mold and rot, and rodent infestations.
If your barn qualifies as a historic building then you may be eligible for financial assistance. It won’t cover renovation, but restoration efforts may be tax deductible under the federal rehabilitation tax credit.
With the basic check done, repair and restoration can now commence. At this point, you’ll need to determine whether or not to involve a professional. It is possible to do basic DIY projects yourself, and some people are even equipped to handle more detailed barn reparations, but accidents can happen even with the easy stuff. A compromised foundation and woodwork that’s fallen victim to water and insect damage is very vulnerable. It may take just the right touch in just the right place to bring the whole barn crumbling down. Be smart and be safe with your repair, and remember that it’s always a good idea to bring in an expert for consultation or reparation.