Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Raising a Barn—Part 1

Trusses all in place. (All photos by author.)

Staging our escape from New Jersey took years of planning. Other people might choose a different route to a similar destination but for Doug and me, planning is in our DNA; it’s half the fun (and we do know how to have other fun, too).

Side of barn away from house and Mount Cardigan. 

Choosing a state, choosing a town, and finding a property was leisurely, if not ardently pursued. (See April 23 blog post, “A little background, part 2,” for a synopsis.) After home site preparation and excavation, building a barn was the next step and made sense to us as a prelude to building a house. Both involve lots of details and expense but the consequences of error are a little different in magnitude and any missteps made might be easier to live with when the building (the barn) is not the place you envision spending the rest of your life. 
View of mountain before windows.

Overhead door frame being put in place.

Early on, Doug assumed the mantle of general contractor and he and I met with many tradesmen (usually over coffee or lunch at Papa Z’s) and reviewed plans for the house and the barn. And, while not explicitly stated, the construction of the smaller and less-complex building gave us an opportunity to “test drive” some (but not all) of the tradespeople who would be working on the house beginning next year. The notable exceptions, the very important craftsmen not involved in the barn—timber framer, plumber, mason, and standing-seam roofer—we will not audition via the barn project but instead will evaluate their work in situ and through recommendations.

Roof trusses lifted into place by crane. 

Richie and Paul securing roof trusses. 

Once Doug designed the barn, we turned it over to Mike at LaValley Building Supply in West Lebanon where the pencil sketch was refined by an offsite draftsman. Doug and I, guided by Mike, chose products and colors—type of trusses, roof material, siding, windows, garage and pedestrian doors. A materials list and price quote was generated. The drawing went through several critical iterations. The Alaska slab foundation was changed to frost wall, and the design was flipped and reversed to suit the site as excavation more fully revealed the land’s contours. We had time, waiting for road postings to lift and for snow to clear, and the process took place over the course of nine months with regular visits from New Jersey.

Roof sheathing being fastened
Like so much in life, there is much more than meets the eye. When done (and it is not quite), the barn will appear a simple, cohesive whole. But the sheaf of invoices from LaValley’s attests to the many layers of specialized product that go into modern, energy-efficient construction. Consider this partial list: blue board, assembled trusses, Raindrop house wrap, gable vents, Parallam headers, drip edge, gable trim, ridge cap, sealer tape, roofing under layment, Grace ice and water shield, Advantech sheathing, soffit, drip cap, flashing, strapping spruce, PVC trim, CraneBoard board & batten vinyl siding, metal roofing, Paradigm windows. And that doesn’t include electrical outlets, switches, lights, doors, insulation, shee trock, or the tons of stone and concrete for the foundation.

Barn metal roof on; ready for siding. View from behind where house will be. 
Dave, Richie, and Paul did a great job. Thanks. The canoes will be safely stored for the winter and Doug and I have a place to hang out on the mountain and watch the storms (and wildlife) go by. 


  1. Love the view from the window! Will you still see that once the house is built? Glad to see you're moving along!

  2. We've designed and sited the house to take max advantage of the view. The view from the house will be even better--higher and bigger. And yes, after spending so much time waiting, we are making great progress.