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Truss Technique Makes Old Barns Useful Again
Do you have an old dairy barn on your farm but no cows? If so, you might want to talk to Dave Ciolek, a building contractor who converts old barns with low-lying lofts into spacious clear-span buildings with as much as 17 ft. of headroom for storage of big equipment.
"When we're through the farmer has a virtually new barn that costs just a fraction of the cost of a new building which, if built, might add as much as $200 per year to his tax bill," says Ciolek.
Here's how Ciolek's barn-saving technique works. First, his crew builds 2 or 3 trusses into the existing barn. Most trusses are constructed at least 13 to 14 ft. off the ground but they can be as high as 17 ft. Building and installing the trusses is tricky because Ciolek must take into account the strength of the existing sidewalls and the weight each truss will carry. "It takes years of experience to learn how to make a successful conversion," he says.
Once the trusses have been installed the crew removes all or part of the lofts below and they're either rebuilt at a higher level or discarded. Then all support posts, walls and anything else obstructing the floor of the building is removed. The last step is to widen existing barn doors up to 20 ft. and raise them to accommodate bigger equipment.
"A 36 by 44-ft. barn costs anywhere from $2,200 to $4,200 to rebuild. That's about 1/4 the cost of a similar size pole building and you maintain the appearance of your farmstead while avoiding any new taxes," Dave points out, noting that the cost varies because of the varying conditions of each barn. Some must be straightened before they can be rebuilt and some must be partially or totally disassembled. If the farmer does part of the work himself - such as raising the lofts - the price can be reduced.
It takes Ciolek's crews about a week to complete most jobs. He has two crews operating full-time throughout the Midwest.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Dave Ciolek, 1940 E. Curtis Rd., Birch Run, Mich. 48415 (ph 517 777-5316).

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1985 - Volume #9, Issue #3