Barn Repair & Rehabilitation Toolbox

Image of modest repair made by Trillium Dell Timberworks at the 2010 Kansas Barn Aliance/ NBA conference

Image of modest repair made by Trillium Dell Timberworks at the 2010 Kansas Barn Aliance/ NBA conference

Fixing up an old barn is more often a labor of love than one of pure economics these days, but there is a lot of information available on the web that can steer folks in any number of directions.  From DIY to hiring a contractor and from roof repair to adaptive re-use, the NBA encourages everyone to do their homework and learn more about the options available to restore that old barn!

Our friends at the New York State Barn Coalition have done a great job of compiling a list of technical repair bulletins from the National Park Service and other resources which address the maintenance of specific features of barns (i.e. painting, window, roof, and foundation repair).   This is a great place for anyone trying to do barn repair work themselves, but also anyone looking to learn more about what it takes to maintain historic buildings.  Another great resource, available from the Preservation Trust of Vermont, is a webpage “For Barn Owners” with tips for basic barn care.

For those looking to do a serious overhaul of their barn and who want to preserve as many of the historic features as possible, it may be worth reviewing information on the Federal and State tax incentives for historic preservation.   Obtaining the historic tax credit requires going through a three-step process that includes a lot of paperwork and patience, but the amount of your credit (anywhere from 10-25% of the cost of work) can often be used to help get a little extra funding from a lender or to line your pocketbook after the work is said and done!

On occasion, it may become necessary to move a barn in order to save it….  NBA Board Member, Charles Bultman, an architect from Ann Arbor, Michigan, shared his thoughts and experience with saving, relocating, and re-adapting old barns into houses, retail and office space.  His article is posted on the NBA blog and gives some great advice on re-adapting old barns.

Other resources on barn re-use may be found in a variety of places on the web.  We are compiling a list of informational resources that might be of assistance below.  Please send any suggested additions our way!

“What to do with the barn? : financial aspects in the re-use of ancillary buildings at three non-profit historic sites as non-interpretive, revenue generating entities : a look into historic Bartram’s Gardens, Lyndhurst, and Shelburne Farms” (Corette 1999).

 Barn Adaptive Reuse Summaries for the Wisconsin Barn Preservation Initiative (Law 1992, revised 1996).

Adaptive Reuse of Tobacco Barns (Preservation Maryland 2010).

National Park Service – Technical Bulletins:

No. 10: Exterior Paint Problems on Historic Woodwork

No. 20: The Preservation of Historic Barns!!!

No. 31: Mothballing Historic Buildings

No. 39: Controlling Unwanted Moisture in Historic Buildings