Jan Corey Arnett


Barn Decision Making

People often need money to fix their barn. Ideally, there would be lending institutions that would offer low-interest loans, recognizing the unique character and needs of heritage barns. Barn Believers Project Fund (www.barnbelievers.org) has grants of up to $5,000 available to nonprofit organizations for barn-related projects.

Some states have barn organizations which, through endowments or partnerships with foundations and sponsors, award and monitor grants to private barn owners. A real asset to the world of barn preservation, would be an association for people who do barn repair, that would do training, establish certification, and set clear indicators of the skill set needed to work on heritage barns. Such an association could work in collaboration with academic and career-training centers.

One of the worst problems is that barn owners tend to let their barns go until what might have been a small, modest repair turns into an expensive, difficult project. It is the small hole in the roof that grows larger while inside, the frame and flooring rot. It is the vines climbing, the roots tearing and the branches scarring. Allowed to continue, the barn dies. Don’t let your barn go, at the bare minimum get it stabilized and STOP the damage, until improvements can be made.

Sadly too, good barn contractors are often booked well in advance and, like so very many employers, have trouble finding good help. When repairs do not require a barn expert and can be made by a good carpenter, don’t delay!

Old barns

Many years ago, I began compiling a list of the many uses being given to barns that had once been used for animals. That list now exceeds 70 adaptive purposes. Here are just a few: offices for architects and advertising professionals. Special suites for dental practices and vet clinics. Open spaces for party places and car collectors. Cozy condos and man caves. Antique shops and hair salons. Breweries and wineries. Homes and happy places. Gymnasiums and classrooms. The list goes on and on. Think out of the box to think in the barn!

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