I recently left the company I’d been working for in favor of a loose partnership with Brent, a fellow I’ve worked with on and off for the past 15 years. We went to look at a remodeling job last week, one that will keep us busy for a few months. There is no formula with remodeling, and every job is, as my old boss says, a prototype. Trying to do as green a job as possible adds another layer of difficulty in both design and execution.
The original structure in this case is an English-style barn, about 30 x 20 with a hay loft under the roof and the main doors on the side. The house it’s associated with was built in 1795, and the barn is probably the same vintage. It’s one of the older farmsteads in the Norman-Rockwell-ish town I live in, and although the property has been gentrified for probably close to a century, the barn is still rough around the edges. The timber frame is hand-hewn, but square-rule, that is, the joints are laid out with a framing square instead of being individually scribe-fit, one indication that a timber-frame isn’t much older than the late 18th century, which reinforces my guess at its age. A 20th century lean-to addition extends the back side by another 10 feet.
Like a lot of old barns, empty mortises and layers of newer framing testify to how much this one’s been hacked and modified and cobbled onto as its role in people’s lives evolved. It’s currently used as a garage, and its future use is going to be as a nicer garage with a man-cave in the loft. Based on my experience, it’s not surprising that the bits we’re going to have to demo and rebuild are the…