Saturday, December 25, 2010

Turning A Curing Barn into A Small Log Cabin

All across North Carolina and Virginia you see them, old log curing barns and other structures rotting away. For some time I have toyed with the idea of saving one of these historic structures by giving it new life. Perhaps three years ago I rode around making a count of all the ones I could find. In winter even more of the ghostly buildings could be found after leaves had fallen and vines had lost their foliage. Each chance I get I ride by several of them to check on their condition and sadly to say, many of them are beginning to lose the battle against the elements, with the majority of damage starting at the tin roofs that have been damaged by winds leaving the structures exposed to rain causing rotting rafters.

Searching the net there are few sites with information to changing these relics into hunting or vacation retreat. I know of two larger homes built from timbers reclaimed from old curing barns and beautiful places they are. One is in the mountains of Virginia and the other belongs to a friend not more then fifteen minutes away. But those are both good sized places, much larger than my vision for an affordable - read that as cheap and cozy -  place to get away to write, or perhaps a place for someone to live. Now mind you these Tobacco barns I speak of are not the huge barns but rather the smaller, perhaps 20X20 square, units. Two of them together side by side or stacked would be enough room for a person or two to live full time though my vision is not as grand as the current factory made homes many search out today. Those huge log homes with prefabrication , all the fancy hardware and status symbolism are not for me. No mine is more towards preservation of older established cut from old timber quaint structures that have a history already.  Not to mention the green aspects of using an historic structure by giving it new life with 95% of recycled timbers. This could be very affordable living for persons these days. The size is just right, the heating and electrical cost minimal and with solar panels and a metal roof next to nothing in a short time for a residence. And in some cases a preservation/historical grant issued to further lower the cost.

My friend built his larger home in this way and surprisingly many farmers who heard of his endeavor actually gave him the old barns to use provided he cleaned up the whole site. He and his wife abounded with artifacts found in them that were part of the clean up deal and put to use in their new/old home.
I have already had contact with a magazine (Mother earth News) who would relish my doing an article on the process as they have never heard of anyone doing this before. If only I could find someone to donate a mere 1/2 acre in North Carolina or Lower Virginia I'd already be contacting the owners of some of the structures to find one suitable for my purpose. One day perhaps, one day.

Note: I need pictures, I should go take pictures.


RecycleBill said...

I've seen dozens of these. My first wife's father built a home this way. As he was in the grading and demolition business, he also built the foundation for his log home using broken pieces of concrete sidewalks using no mortar. The Guilford county building inspector refused to pass the foundation and sub floor until my father-in-law parked his bulldozer on top and said, "Let me see you do that with any foundation wall you ever allowed to pass your inspection."

The inspector then signed off on the entire house before the wood was even placed on the walls and never came back.

Years later a giant hickory tree fell on the roof. The trunk was so thick it required a Guy M Turner crane to lift it from the house. The tree was such a giant we thought for certain the roof was destroyed. He replaced one piece of tin roofing not because it was broken but because it was slightly wrinkled and faced the front of the house where passers by might see it. Then he used the wrinkled piece of tin on a shed out back.

WooleyBugger said...

I guess driving a bulldozer on top is one way to prove a point when they won't listen 'eh.