Does Your New Home Have An Old Barn? Here’s What To Check And How.

Homesteading is catching on with city-livers from all over, but even if you don’t have goats or cows to house, a barn still has hot potential. Many have been converted into party halls and guest rooms; sometimes they’re even turned into full-on homes. And while Pinterest is getting more and more pins of ideas, some of us are still using them as they were originally intended. A bar or a guest room may not be in the barn plan for homesteads and mini farms (although that’s not a bad idea…..), but it could still use a few updates. Here’s what you should consider.




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 many of the farms here in America. The method made some strong barns, but over time these barns develop wear and lose 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.


Check The Foundation

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. On top of water, foundations can be damaged by tree roots, frost, and clay soils. If your barn is exposed to any of the above then a thorough check is a must.


Inspect The Framework

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.


Investigate The Exterior

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.


Consider The Function

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.

Ash Stevens

A writer and wannabe shaman. When not being serious writing or talking family and relationships on her blog, she’s listening to stand-up comedy and soaking up some sunshine.

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