The Bitter-Sweet of Mud Season Barn Restoration

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Mud Season – the bitter/sweet time of year.

While the temperatures have at long last inched their way above the zero mark, here in rural Vermont the ground is still solid. Timber framing in the famous mud of New England’s spring beats the challenge of working in snow squalls and sub-zero temps, but it’s still not for the faint of heart!

Sure, our winter coats and work gloves have been shed but now we must muddle through our work area.

Mud Season in Vermont Building restored barn homes

Proof that mud season has arrived

As more snow melts, the damp ground slowly releases the grip of winter, churning out a soft, murky surface under our feet that you can sink into up to the ankles.

Construction continues nonetheless, so we throw down a carpet of hay to make the work area easier to traverse. Timber Framing in the Mud Vermont

There is, of course, a wonderful silver lining. Not only is old man winter behind us, but best of all, mud season means the maple sap is flowing! Cold nights and warm days bring the sweetness of spring.

Sugar house in maple season_Stacy Birch Photography

Sugar house in maple season – Photo by Stacy Birch

Timber Framing: Captured on Video!

Green Mountain Timber Frames is now of video!

But before I show you the video, let’s take a look at this before and after shot.
Antique Timber frame before afterYou may remember back in 2013 when I wrote a few times about the timber frame we had restored and erected up at Sissy’s Kitchen in Middletown Springs. A gunstock timber frame, it was built over 250 years ago.

For this project, we erected the restored frame with help of the one and only Vermont Jeepgirl (otherwise known as Crane Operator extraordinaire, Sue Miller.) Luckily for us, she made a video recording of the raising day!

Hats off to Sue for capturing our madness!

Vermont Crane Operator_Vermont Jeep Girl

Vermont Jeepgirl Sue Miller

It was a great crew that worked on this frame. Here we are, standing proud in front of the restored timbers.

Construction experts from Green Mountain Timber Frames

Construction crew from Green Mountain Timber Frames

This frame – even before it became a new storage barn – saw a lot of good times! For a couple months, the erected frame stood on the beautiful lawn behind Sissy’s Kitchen in Middletown Springs, Vermont.

Test Barn Raising of Timber Frame Barn Home

Test Barn Raising of Timber Frame Barn Home at Sissy’s Kitchen

While we waited for the right buyer, the frame housed many a dinner party and afternoon tea, just around the corner from the workshop of Green Mountain Timber Frames.

Summer evening party at Sissy's under antique post and beam frame

Summer evening party at Sissy’s under post and beam frame

I want to send out a huge thank you again to Sissy for letting us have all this fun, right in her yard!

Timber framer Dan McKeen and Sissy in Vermont

Have more timber frame projects worth capturing on video? Let us know! We would like to hear from you!

First Light of Day After 55 Years

We spent five cold and snowy weeks preparing this 1770s gunstock barn frame from Ira, Vermont for dismantling.

Slate roof on Old Barn in New England

Gunstock Timber Frame from Ira, VT

Historic Old Barn with Slate Roof Removed

Temporary roof on Ira timber frame

With a great team of five fellas, we tallied 370 hours clearing out the interior of the old barn of horse-drawn contents and everything else imaginable.  Removing the 40 square (a square is a 10′ x 10′ surface area) of slate roof took another 80 hours. We then put on a temporary protective roof, seen in the picture above, so the spring rains won’t damage the roof boards and timbers.

At times it wasn’t easy, given the freezing temperatures and the mounting piles of snow. Here is a picture showing the take down of the slate roof in the snow. Half the slate is still on the left side of the roof.

Removing slate roof from Timber frame and braving the New England Elements

Part of what made this project particularly interesting is that the barn was full of antique farming equipment. As we shoveled out the old hay and debris from each of the barn’s five bays, we got to inspect the equipment closely.

Antique farm equipment from post and beam frame

Corn Chopper

Much of it is in great condition and we dragged all of the equipment out into the field around the barn. Imagine the fun of cleaning up and inspecting equipment that had not seen the light of day since 1959! When these machines were last used, they were harnessed to horses and pulled to the fields nearby.

Farm Fleet from Old timber frame barn in Vermont

Corn chopper and hay rake.
Pallets of slate in background.

With the barn emptied out and the rugged beech timbers sighing relief from 15 tons of slate removed, the next step is to dismantle the antique hewn beams and truck the frame to the shop for restoration. We’ll dismantle the frame in late April. First, we have to get rid of two feet of snow and survive mud season!

Here are some more pictures of the treasures we removed from this antique timber frame.

Antique Farm Equipment from Tmber Frame Old Barn

Hay rake being removed from the barn

Removing equipment from old barn for sale in new england

Sled for carrying a maple sap barrel or timber

Cultivator from Old Post and Beam Barn

Cultivator/planter for seeding hay

Moving antique timber frame for restoration

Delivery of horse drawn equipment its new owner in Northern Vermont

Antique Farm Equipment Vermont

Antique Farm Equipment sees the light of day

Phase One is accomplished!

Clapboard removal from antique timberframe

Finishing up clapboard removal.
Removal of sheathing boards will have to wait for Phase Two.

Stay tuned for Phase Two. We’ll let you know when we start dismantling this Vermont Republic frame from Ira!

I’ll leave you with a fun fact: This little Vermont hamlet is named Ira after Ira Allen, brother of Ethan Allen, of the famed “Green Mountain Boys”.

Got a question about old barns?

In 30 years of working with timber frames, I have learned a lot  – not only about timber frame construction itself, but also about the history of colonial America.  So I decided to add a Frequently Asked Questions section to the Green Mountain Timber Frames website. There, and on my blog, I will be sharing some of the knowledge and techniques I have acquired on the job. I am happy to answer any other questions that my readers have, so please feel free to ask them and I will do my best to respond to them on this blog.

Beautiful New England Barn Frame

Here is one of the questions from my website:

How much does it cost to renovate an old barn?                                             

When first approached by customers interested in buying an old barn or renovating a historic timber frame, I am often asked about the costs involved. When creating a proposal for a prospective client, I work hard to make timber frames affordable  and to use every piece of wood the structure has to offer.

Today’s going rate to have experienced craftsmen take down, restore and erect an old timber frame ranges from 50 to 80 dollars a square foot. This includes the cost of purchasing the vintage frame from its original owner. When you purchase a post and beam frame from Green Mountain Timber Frames, we provide all of the wood that comes with the frame, such as siding, roof boards, flooring, etc.  Our prices also include the cost of installing the roof boards when we erect the frame, a bonus not often provided by our competitors.

If you are interested in pricing out a timber frame or finding a historic barn frame in a certain price range, please do contact me! We can explore the options available for realizing your vision of living in a historic barn home.

1880s Vermont Vintage Barn for Sale

Exploring a new old barn is always fun for me, but it’s especially nice when the frame is a local one and needs little restoration. I do this work because I am passionate about preserving the heritage and craftsmanship of New England. Each barn we are able to rescue feels like history is saved, at least another 100 years or more.

While I’ve been doing this for decades, I still feel the same thrill each time I find a vintage barn in reasonable condition, restore it and transform it for a new owner who will enjoy it for decades to come.

This post and beam barn, dating from the 1880s, comes right from my hometown of Middletown Springs, VT.

middletown springs vermont barn houses

1880s Barn for sale from Vermont

The vintage frame measures 18’x30’ and is built from sawn 8″x 8″  timbers. The person who built the barn used traditional post and beam joinery and the timber frame structure features 4 bents and 3, 10 foot bays.

The interior design is a bit unusual – part corn crib and part something else. My best guess is that the other part of the barn was used as a cheese house or perhaps as lodging for hired help. You can see in the picture below that this separate section of the barn was finished with plaster. I’ll ask around town with the octogenarians, they might remember something from the 30s or 40s.

barn homes vermont - interior

Plastered section of barn interior

While the barn is currently in Middletown Springs, VT, the current owner is hoping that we can find a new owner to enjoy this piece of history. I am happy to help transport it to a new location in New England or New York.

The barn has a beautiful slate roof that is in great condition. It stands 1 and 1/2 stories tall. The floor boards are also in great condition and the half story measures 2’8” making for plenty of head room on the second floor.

vintage post and beam barn

Upstairs interior view of 1880s barn

This old barn is for sale –  – and with 1100 square feet of interior space, it offers lots of possibilities. It could make a very nice first home, a workshop, studio or camp.

For someone looking for a bigger space, we can easily add ten-foot shed additions, which would increase the first floor living space to 28’x38’.

If you are interested, please do let me know! The frame comes complete with siding, roof boards, floor boards, and the slate roof.

post and beam barn for sale

Middletown Springs, VT historic barn for sale

Want to check out this barn or another available timber frame we have in stock, please contact Green Mountain Timber Frames!

Barn Raising – A good week’s work

We had a great time last week getting this vintage timber frame up in Manchester, Vermont. The post and bean frame with hand hewn wood was originally built around 1800, in Middle Granville, NY.

It was a beautiful week and we worked surrounded by the vibrant colors of near-peak foliage and under the watchful eye of Mount Equinox in the background. Thank God,  the weather was perfect!

Here are some pictures showing the highlights:

Manchester VT Raising - Beautifully restored timber frame beams

Beautifully restored timber frame beams

Saturday Restoring Historic Timber frame

Last Saturday’s work – restoring the frame and getting the primary timbers up

Saturday Timber Framing in Manchester VTAfter erecting the main timbers over the weekend, we spent last Monday focused on placing the roof rafters. We also pegged most joints in the frame with wooden trunnels.

Restoring Historic barn in Vermont

With help from a Grade All, and the view of Mount Equinox in the background.

Here we are installing the roof rafters.

Vermont Timber Framing with Mount Equinox in Background

Adding Roof Boards to Manchester Vermont Timber Frame

Adding roof boards to timber frame

Applying roof boards to Vintage Timber Frame

Adding tar paper over roof boards, as we installed the original boards.

Outhouse in Rural Vermont Best Part of Timber framing

An important part of setting up a timber framing work site: moving the outhouse – at arm’s length –  to the proper location.

Finishing Barn Restoration

The completed roof, protected by tar paper.

An Old Fashioned Barn Raising!

Bring Your Camera!
Because it’s time for a barn raising.

On Monday, September 23rd, amid the bright backdrop of Vermont autumn foliage, we’ll be tipping up this beauty of a barn in Manchester, VT.

Originally built around 1800, in Middle Granville, New York, Green Mountain Timber Frames has restored this post and beam gem and will be erecting it on Monday in its new location in Manchester, Vermont!

Dismantling old barn in New York

We headed to Middle Granville, New York to carefully dismantle the original barn piece by piece a couple of years ago.

Restoring historic timber frame

Taking down the historic timber frame in New York

The original barn frame measured 31′ x 51’, but we have shortened it to 41 feet in length, per the request of new owners.

In the photo below, you can see the process we went through to carefully adjust most of the beams. We added in tie timbers where the windows will be placed in the new barn garage.

Renovating Vermont timberframe barn home

Adjusting the timbers and adding in tie timbers for windows

This barn stood beside a house built in 1804, but by our estimates, the barn itself was built several years earlier. Here you can see the majestic, wide beams that make up this historic timber frame.

Huge timbers from 1800s historic home

Interested in seeing a barn raising?  We’ll keep you posted on the progress.

Please contact Green Mountain Timber Frames for questions about historic timber frame barn homes, old barns for sale, barn raisings and more!