Many folks ask me what are the qualities to look for in an antique barn frame when you want to build a barn-home conversion. Some are for aesthetic reasons and some for engineering reasons. Of course, the aesthetic reasons are primarily a matter of my own personal preference and tastes.
Here are some of the primary components of a great barn from my point of view:
~ High side walls - 16' or more - 17' or 18' best, for more adequate 2nd floor (perhaps even 3rd floor) and loft options
~ For home conversions, I prefer English barns over Dutch barns, as they usually have much higher side walls, although Dutch barns can be very stunning
~ Large hand hewn timbers - posts and tie beams 10"x10" or larger for overall look, strength, beauty and feel
~ Large purlin system and large tie beams, or double connected tie beams, to help the roof system meet house engineering standards
~ Proper foot print size for your square footage requirements. Typically 1/3 to 1/2 of the first floor space will be cathedral ceiling
~ Existing Tie beams at good height locations for 2nd floor loft
~ Space between tie beams sufficient to walk between if you desire a "cat walk" connecting 2nd floor lofts or an extended balcony and stairs.
~ Good bay sizes (distance between bents or walls) for your application. At least one large bay for a "Great room" is a plus
~ Moderate pitched roof (6/12 to 8/12--my preference) for ease of construction and not exceeding the overall height restrictions that are in place in some parts of the country
~ Adequate knee braces and girts to stiffen the timber frame and provide a more interesting look
~ Little rot and damaged or removed timbers to minimize repairs and replacement parts
~ White pine, hemlock, or other soft wood species that tend to be more stable - my preference
~ Have some interesting and impressive special features like a "Swing Beam"
~ Good honey brown patina - my preference
~ If you are lucky enough to find a barn with the large ridge beam, that's a plus. You can always add one to help with engineering and they also have a great look
~ Large rafters at 2' centers (somewhat rare) for stress panel installation and structure. Typically barns have 3' center rafters
If you are going to go through the trouble, effort, and expense to convert a barn frame into a home, you might as well start with a really spectacular one. All your labor and materials from the barn frame on will pretty much be the same, and there is a huge difference between an average barn frame - as nice and intriguing as it can be - and a really stunning barn frame. We specialize in finding the best ones for homes.
This is the short version of what makes a good barn for a home conversion. If you would like more information, please feel free to call me, I would be happy to talk it over with you.
Dale (315) 286-4847