I have always loved timber frame structures. I love the aesthetics of these structures, and I marvel at the fact that traditional structures built in this manner do not have any nails in the frame. Not requiring nails in order to stay standing is not just cool, but it makes these structures unique.
Because these structures are not tacked together like modern homes, the frames of these structures can be taken apart like a puzzle and then reassembled elsewhere. For the person with a little imagination and spirit there are opportunities dotted across America’s landscapes to turn to the old into the amazingly new.
The Reclaimed Barn Wood Home not only preserves some of the country’s heritage, but creates a truly unique dwelling that can be cheaper than a building a new home from scratch.
Finding the Perfect Project
Depending on where you are in the world, finding the perfect reclamation project can be very easy. If you have traveled anywhere in New England or in farm country throughout the Mid-west, I am sure you have seen a barn or two sitting alone in a field.
Where I am, in the Green Mountains of Vermont, there are idle barns melting into the landscape everywhere. Opportunities abound for anyone willing to make the effort to inject new life into them.
Usually the owner of the property where these barns stand have little use for the structure anymore. I have talked to people who have almost forgotten that their old barn even exists. More than a few of these barns are a burden on the owner.
Often they would be happy for the structure to be removed, and if you’re game for a little bargaining you can find someone willing to give you the reclaimed barn wood in exchange for taking the structure down and removing it.
The Barn at Backcountry Wealth
The headquarters of BackCountry Wealth is a reclaimed Barn Wood home. We found a traditional Yankee style barn that was no longer in use. We approached the owner and found that he was more than willing to let us keep the reclaimed wood if we were willing to take the old barn down for him.
He told us that he had always planned to restore the old structure, but that he just had never gotten around to it. Eventually it was too far gone, and he had given up on the idea.
He loved the thought of the old structure being re-purposed as a home and part of a regenerative farming project. For less than $1,000 we were able to procure the entire frame for our home and headquarters.
We hired a crane and operator for a day at $650 to help remove the beams in the upper levels of the old barn. The rest was sweat equity, and more than worth the effort. Not only did we save thousands of dollars, but we gained an amazing story that we will be able to share with visitors for years to come.
DIY or Seek Help?
If you’re handy, have some equipment and friends who are willing to work for beer, you can find a project that can provide the basis of a reclaimed barn wood home for dirt cheap.
If you don’t have those resources you can still save thousands of dollars by finding a structure on your own, negotiating the swap and then hiring out for the majority of the actual work.
If you’re willing to spend more money you can find companies out there who will handle the whole project for you from start to finish. They will find you an old barn, take it down, deliver it where you want it, and put the whole thing back together.
Whatever your level of expertise, you can find a way to bring an old barn back to life. As with anything the more you do yourself, the less money you will have to lay out to get your project completed.
Diamonds in the Rough
Don’t be scared off by rough first impressions. Even if an old barn looks completely dilapidated at first glance, there is a good chance that there is a good amount of reusable wood to make the project worth it in the end.
As long as the structure is not laying flat on the ground the wood in the main structure is likely to be in good shape. You can also find some amazing relics in these structures as well. With a little exploration you can find true gems hidden in some of the ugliest of exteriors.
The main thing you’re looking for is that the frame is of a post and beam or timber frame construction. Is the barn looks old enough there is a good chance it will be. If the main beams aren’t lying flat on the ground they
Finding a Willing Partner
The most important factor in this process is finding a property owner who is excited about your project. The initial approach is important. I find it best to approach cautiously. People are easily put off if you show up unannounced and start probing about taking something off their property.
I generally approach an owner as an old barn enthusiast, and ask if it would be OK if I took a couple of pictures of the structure. This usually offers a pretty soft landing for the owner, and it’s a good way to get a look at the structure without much prying.
If you like what you see, you can ask about the history of the place and let the conversation flow from there. If you think it’s a good prospect you can offer to email the owner some of your photos.
The Finishing Touches
If you are planning to build a reclaimed barn wood home, you can create nearly any style home using the reclaimed wood. The barn home we created at BackCountry Wealth is a 5,000 square foot mixed use structure.
We reassembled the frame exactly as it had stood in its prior location and then built out the interior to accommodate for a living space and other activities and events. You can also opt to reconfigure the layout of the frame if you choose, it just takes a little more work.
Once you have the framing together you will have a lot of options when it comes to floor plans and etc, but you will already have the charm of the wood, and the story of the structure as a jumping off point.
The whole process is pretty amazing, and if you pay attention, you will start to see these old structures hiding in broad daylight.
As always feel free to leave comments with questions, and I will be sure to get you an answer.