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Author Topic: Re-using Barn Timbers  (Read 10420 times)

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Offline ballen

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Re-using Barn Timbers
« on: October 22, 2010, 07:35:37 AM »
For various reasons, I am hoping to dismantle an unused barn and use the wood to build a house. I have seen many candidate barns in my area but have not found a configuration that would exactly form the bones of my planned home.  My question is: If I find some really nice 100+ year old wood but need to move the tie beam connection 3' down on the posts for example, am I kidding myself that it will turn out ok? I realize there are a lot of technical details about the strength of any particular modification. My question is more general in nature. Have many people done this successfully?
Thanks
Bill

Offline Bridgewright

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Re: Re-using Barn Timbers
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2010, 08:33:52 AM »

Anything can be done, but I think it is always best, if re-purposing a barn in a home conversion to put your life into a barn , than it is to do major strurctural alterations such as you describe.

Dropping a Tie the distance you suggest is a nightmare scenario, and would require creating trusswork or some other loadpath to redirect thrust away from the plates.

Barns do not have 3' kneewalls for a reason !

Offline ballen

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Re: Re-using Barn Timbers
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2010, 09:45:08 AM »
I just missed getting the barn shown in the pic below.  It was 150 years old and had 7 1/2' knee walls.  It would have been perfect for a 2 story house.  Was it just lucky to have survived so long?

 



I was hoping to find another like it locally.  I have found barns with varying heights of knee walls but the one I currently considering has a very short distance above the tie beam.  I guess it's more common to make the major tie beam the ceiling of the second floor rather than the floor of the second floor? 

I would love any additional comments and/or experiences regarding barn to house conversions.

Thanks,
Bill

Offline Bridgewright

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Re: Re-using Barn Timbers
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2010, 03:26:24 PM »

Nice, I'd not seen an example with kneewalls near that high, but there is your redirected loadpath, through the Canted Purlin Post / Plate and its Struts.

I'd be reluctant to drop a tie, and reconfigure a frame to do this. The empty mortise still weakens the post, and there are still forces being imparted to the kneewall even if most all of the thrust is captured (requiring a well designed joint and/or a vigorous fastener there to do so) at the Purlin Plate.

It would be best to keep looking for another like example, or to build one based on the one you photographed.

-- Will

Offline Rooster

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Re: Re-using Barn Timbers
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2010, 08:12:44 PM »
Bridgewright brings up a lot of good points.  Imho...If someone wants to relocate or repurposes a timber-frame barn into a house, there are at least four different ways to go about it.

1. Find a barn frame that will fulfill the major design / layout of the intended house.  It maybe hard to find one that does that, but there is less work to convert it.

2. Find a barn frame, and then customize the design / layout  to fit the frame.  This way is easier to find a frame, but limits the builder or the designer.

3. Find a barn frame that then can be altered to fulfill the design / layout or the intended house.  This also has it's limitations, but increases the chance of fulfilling the needs of the overall house plan.

4. Find a barn frame and use the pieces to frame a new structure...possibly using many of the exisiting jointery and frame components as they were originally intended.

This is a photo of the barn that I recently relocated.  The tie-beam was originally set very high, and the sidewalls were 18ft tall.  I added a lower, second story flooring system which was set at an elevation that allowed a typical 8ft ceiling on the first floor, and  enough clearance under the tie-beam (7ft) on the second story loft.  I didn't have to move the tie beam, I just added the lower framing as I was pre-assembling the bents before the raising.




A couple of other solutions to the "short knee-wall" problem could include adding a ridge beam and interior posts to help carry the roof load, thus preventing the walls from being pushed out...and the other would include walling off the space near the knee-wall by adding an interior wall to close off that area. This would reduce the size of the living area, but it could also be used for storage since most of these TF barn /homes don't have attics.

Happy barn hunting!

Rooster

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Offline LarryRB

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Re: Re-using Barn Timbers
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2010, 06:46:43 PM »
I restored a barn a few years ago and learned a lot. You can see some of it at restoredbarn.com. If you have any question get in touch with me

Offline ballen

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Re: Re-using Barn Timbers
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2010, 11:05:04 AM »
Thanks Larry,
Here's an interesting approach I hadn't considered:  Creating pedasals for the frame to sit on to raise it high enough to walk under the first set of girts.  See the pic below.  Has anyone done this (besides the house in the picture?).  Whats the best way to accomplish it in a code friendly manner?


 


Online beenthere

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Re: Re-using Barn Timbers
« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2010, 11:29:58 AM »
ballen
I would have guessed the pedestals were a result of having to remove decayed wood from the previous structure.  Prolly from animal manure piled up on the posts.
But maybe it was a hay barn where the girts were low.

Nice looking re-build.
Reminds me of my school days when we would hunt live pigeons at night. Crawling up on the frames to pick pigeons off their "roost" in the dark, with a flashlight. Dusty and dirty, and a few trips falling into the hay below. Gee, could sell live pigeons for 10Ę each then.
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Offline ballen

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Re: Re-using Barn Timbers
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2010, 11:57:06 AM »
Beenthere:
I was out barn scouting, climbed the stairs like in the above pic and came face to face with a raccoon sitting on the tie beam. Luckily friendly and was more scared of me.

Offline Rooster

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Re: Re-using Barn Timbers
« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2010, 10:07:57 PM »
Bill,

After looking at the photo that you posted, I think I can identify the frame as a three bay, bank barn with a threshing floor in the center driveway mow/bay.  The bent that is pictured, with the built-in mow ladder, has a girt or a horizontal beam which supports the bottom of the ladder. This girt would have been about 3 ft. above the surface of the threshing floor and would have been the top of a short wall, covered with boards, that helped keep the hay and wheat separated into different mows during the threshing process.   I believe that the designer wanted to have a very tall ceiling in this area of the house, and also wanted to keep the mow ladder intact without have the horizontal girt disrupt the openness of the rooms.  The bottoms of the posts that now rest on pedestals, would have originally set on top of a lower tie-beam or sleeper that connect the sills on the sidewalls.  The roof load was originally transferred from the purlin, to purlin post, to the tie-beam, through the interior posts, to the lower tie-beam, to posts in the parlor/basement, to the stone pads below grade on either side of the alleyway.

But thatís just a guess. ;)

Timberlinx could be used to fasten a frame to the top of concrete or block/brick pedestals...  which seems like a lot of work for just an aesthetic thing.

Rooster
"We talk about creating millions of "shovel ready" jobs, for a society that doesn't really encourage anybody to pick up a shovel." 
Mike Rowe

"Old barns are a reminder of when I was young,
       and new barns are a reminder that I am not so young."
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Offline nas

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Re: Re-using Barn Timbers
« Reply #10 on: October 29, 2010, 07:07:27 AM »
My dads barn is like the one pictured, and the lower tie beam is about 3' off the floor.  So I think they put the whole frame on pedestals to get enough headroom under the beam.

Nick
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Offline frwinks

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Re: Re-using Barn Timbers
« Reply #11 on: October 29, 2010, 11:01:07 AM »
how are your engineers/inspectors looking at these re-errected structures? 
I wanted to use some re-claimed timbers in my frame, but the inspector said it's up to the Peng., the Peng said it's up to the grader, the grader never showed up, but said on the phone barn beams are tough to grade and 90% don't make it.... so I have a pile of barn beams which one day will make for a great gazebo, stairs, shed, etc. :D
I did end up sneaking a 14x16 hand hewn post into the basement to support one of our crucks with only two small wall stud mortises in it...
ballen, you mentioned code friendly manner, so I'm assuming you'll have to go through the "process"...   

Offline ballen

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Re: Re-using Barn Timbers
« Reply #12 on: November 07, 2010, 11:16:23 AM »
Yes, my project is remote but I want to do it the "correct way" and do all the neccessary paperwork.  I'm afraid I will need both Pro Engineers stamp and have all the old timbers graded.  Does anyone know a grading service that covers NE PA?  Why didn't your pass?  In most cases, the grain in old growth trees is so much tighter and stronger than what's available today....go figure...

Offline frwinks

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Re: Re-using Barn Timbers
« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2010, 04:08:14 PM »
After he told me how he felt about reclaimed barn beams, the grader never made it out to inspect them.  The $700 inspection fee, paid for a few new pine sticks ;D and left me with some huge barn beams that I can use elsewhere

Offline ballen

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Re: Re-using Barn Timbers
« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2010, 01:26:02 PM »
Here is the frame of the barn I am working with.  To maximize solar collector capture, the roof would have to be at the angle shown by the lines (right is south).  Has anyone ever framed a non-symetric shape like the roof line shown by the two lines?
 
 



Thanks,
Bill

Offline Thehardway

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Re: Re-using Barn Timbers
« Reply #15 on: November 19, 2010, 09:59:03 AM »
Wow, you just upped the ante a bunch!  You've created Frankenstein, :o and it will be hard to predict what the outcome will be.  You've increased both wind and roof load, increased overall building height, increased rafter span. Can it be built?  Sure but at what price and with the added difficulty of using reclaimed timbers and trying to get it all approved and stamped.... Might want to re-think this from a different "angle" :D.

How much solar collector area do you need and what type of collector are you using? What is the weight of the system?

Could you tolerate moving to a gambrel style roof?  This would allow you to have symmetry, get the correct angle on the lower portion of the roof,  use canted posts close to the current position, and still have something that looks closer to a traditional barn.   
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Offline ballen

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Re: Re-using Barn Timbers
« Reply #16 on: January 14, 2011, 11:28:45 AM »
...progress report and question:

I have successfully dismantled the 1840's frame pictured above.  I am now to the point of designing the floor systems for both the first and second floors.  I want to use traditional joinery and I plan to try my hand at drawing it up before passing it by a professional engineer.  Are there any guidelines for weight bearing to help me plan the floor system?  I am using old, hand hewn eastern hemlock and have various sizes at my disposal.  Not quite sure where to start. Suggestons appreciated.

Bill

Offline Jim_Rogers

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Re: Re-using Barn Timbers
« Reply #17 on: January 14, 2011, 11:41:43 AM »
You could have an informal conversion with the building inspector for your area.
And ask him what code that the house would fall under? Then we can look up that code and get the first floor "living area" code in pounds per sq ft, and the second floor "sleeping area" code and get that pounds per sq ft amount.

From there you need to figure your spans and then we can figure your pounds per joist and work out the spacing until we have a size that works.

If you have an engineer picked out as someone you can call and ask these things that would work as well.

My last project was under the direction of an engineer. She wanted to know what code, but beyond the code she wanted it directly from the building inspector who would be granting the building permit.

Her comment was from a previous conversation with a building inspector who said: "....I know what the code says but here we use this....." So, it's best to get it directly from the granting authority.

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Offline ballen

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Re: Re-using Barn Timbers
« Reply #18 on: January 14, 2011, 12:29:03 PM »
Thanks Jim,
I have had that conversation with my local inspector and he says they use the International Residential Code.  I do not have access to the IRC but maybe someone could share the figures you mention?  My professional Engineer is like a lawyer and will charge for his time (rightly so) for a call if I ask him.

Offline Jim_Rogers

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Re: Re-using Barn Timbers
« Reply #19 on: January 14, 2011, 02:58:53 PM »
That's ok, don't call him now that we know it's the IRC.

I'll do some research on the IRC code and see what I can find out.

Jim Rogers
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