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Tearing Down Old Barns
In your last issue, you carried an article about tearing down old barns. While the company source quoted in the article does build with recycled lumber, it is my company that actually does the old barn disassembly, including the one pictured in the article. I have been in the business full time for the past 15 years and have worked on between 300 and 400 barns. Taking down a barn is the last option. I encourage people to try to save it. I can forward a list of barn repair companies to those who are interested. If it can't be saved, my company offers an alternative.
Whether your readers are dealing with myself or someone else, there are a couple of things they ought to keep in mind. Recovering boards and beams for maximum value is hard work. It involves hand tools and a lot of labor. You can't scratch or scar the wood or it may lose its value. You can take a building apart and run want ads, but it takes time and effort.
  While there is a national market for barn wood, buyers are cautious about working with people they don't know. I got into it by accident, but have built up my contacts slowly over the years, with most of my wood being sold in the western market.
  Before letting someone tear down your barn, I would recommend you get your money up front. A few years back, a guy in Michigan promised to split the profits with barn owners. He walked out with more than $150,000, and the barn owners got nothing. Secondly, get references from people the firm has worked with. Third, ask to see an insurance policy that protects workers from injury. Last of all, make sure that any waste is handled in a way you agree with. We will pile broken and rotted pieces (there are always some) in a pile on the foundation to be burned or buried.
I live on an old farm site myself and appreciate the wood in these old barns. It is good to see companies like Big Wood building houses out of the wood. Until recently, there hasn't been much interest in that in the Midwest, but it is growing.
If people are interested in learning the value of their old barns, I would be glad to visit with them. (Richard Jefferies, Oakhaven, 14878 594th Ave., Mapleton, Minn., ph: 507 524-4840; email: oakhaven@hickorytech.net)

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2005 - Volume #29, Issue #2