2012 - Volume #36, Issue #3, Page #06[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
He Finds Homes For Old Barn Lumber
“I live for this because I love old barns. I don’t like to take them down but if an owner wants to, it’s going down regardless. At least if I do it, it’s not burned down or bulldozed,” says Luck.
All salvageable materials are sold directly to contractors or brokers or stored in buildings on his property. Photos of materials for sale are posted on his business’s website and some are listed on eBay.
In his 13th year of business, Luck has stayed busy fulltime working within a 4 1/2-hr. radius of his Wisconsin home. He credits his success to advertising and positive referrals.
“I buy most buildings for anywhere from $50 to $8,000,” Luck says.
He inspects the barn or building to determine the condition and quantity of materials. Sometimes they’re worth saving piece by piece to be rebuilt at another location. With a skidloader and basic tools, that process usually takes 5 to 6 days.
“If it’s minimal work, I’m going to save the whole building,” Luck says. “I have a dozen timber frames (1875 to 1920) and two or three log houses (1850 to 1860) at home now. I have a project now – a barn that’s unique, the only one I can find built like it. I want to take it down to save it. I’d like someone to own it, or I may rebuild it at my own place.”
Other buildings are farther gone and typically take 3 to 4 days to salvage usable material. Luck’s website lists siding, beams, joists, tongue and groove flooring and corrugated tin for sale. His storage includes half a million feet of lumber plus the incidentals left in old barns, from antique equipment to lightning rods to hay pulleys and milk cans.
When a church purchased a property that had belonged to an old bachelor, Luck and his crew got all the buildings and everything in them – right down to food, clothing and personal items like a Bible, WW II letters and family scrapbooks.
Luck preserves it all hoping to find new uses and new homes for the treasures. Customers include chain restaurants in the U.S. and Japan, large companies such as Cabela’s and Bass Pro, and a California company that mills the old wood into sought after flooring.
In addition to farm buildings, Luck has salvaged schools and recently started on a 90 by 100-ft., two-story warehouse.
Besides finding markets, the other challenging part of the job is staying safe. Luck has only passed up a handful of buildings that were just too deteriorated or didn’t have material that he could sell. Whenever Luck and his crew start on a project, they inspect it carefully and plan an escape route in case the building comes down “prematurely,” which it has in a couple of cases.
Still, Luck can’t imagine doing anything else. For some customers, he’s removing a liability – a barn that could collapse and hurt someone. For customers on the buying side, he provides old, but valued materials that can be made beautiful and useful again.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Darrick Luck, Old Wood New Use LLC, 28962 Pebblebrook Lane, Blue River, Wis. 53518 (ph 608 537-2246; www.oldwoodnewuse.com).
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