Friday, December 29, 2006

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Excitement today

IMG_0023, originally uploaded by bendalepix.


Still more...

IMG_0028, originally uploaded by bendalepix.

Still more pics...

More still...

IMG_0031, originally uploaded by bendalepix.

Still more pics...


Sunny and high 40s - as near perfect a day as one could hope for at the end of December. Although scheduled to begin tomorrow, we received a call from our builder (Bud) saying that he was on site with the excavator and ready to begin. We quickly assembled the kids, grabbed a bottle of bubbly (apple juice) and headed over to the site. What a thrill to see the excavator working away, roughing out the footprint of our house.

Being able to break ground this late in the season is near-miraculous when one considers what the weather SHOULD be like at the end of December. The fact that the temps during the days are in the 40s still (and supposed to hit 50 next week) means that we will be able to work all winter long on the house, thereby finishing sooner. This is adds up to considerable savings on our part...IF we can sell our house in this market. If all things go according to plan, we should be pouring the foundation next week and then raising the frame sometime in mid-January...

...Of course, that's a big IF!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A late Christmas present

We were supposed to have a newly-issued building permit in our hands Friday...but the official who needs to sign the permit decided to cut out early for the holiday weekend. The nerve! Anyway, all that is lacking is said official's John Hancock, which we are told will be given first thing Tuesday morning. Our builder has the excavator lined up for later that week. Wednesday the surveyor will have the corners of the house staked out and Thursday morning we close on the construction loan. So, it looks like we may have a hole in the ground by the end of next week! A great Christmas present even if it is a little late.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Building Permit

Just a quick update for those who are following closely: our builder has submitted the application and fee for the building permit to the town. It could take two to four weeks for the permit to be granted...and then there are the possible "snags" to anticipate (count on?) While we almost certainly won't be breaking ground until the Spring, I would feel a lot better entering the Winter season with the lot cleared, permits in hand, and the restored barn loaded back into the trailer for shipping as soon as the snow melts. That way we can hunker down for the Winter and try to recouperate some savings in anticipation of the big push in the New Year.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Clearing the Lot

It was one of those perfect late fall days - sunny and just shy of cold, high 40s. Although Dad and I got a late start, we made short work of the many bushes and small trees that populated the level part of our lot. I am not an experienced chain saw-user and was quickly winded by the exertion. So we switched off and took turns dragging branches and stacking logs. With each bush and small tree that came down the view got more and more open and the lot looked more and more like a building site. As you can probably see from the images we are quite high up in elevation (at least by eastern Massachusetts standards) and with the leaves down, there is a pretty view of the hills to the south and west. Really, this is more than I could have hope for, given the limitations of our resources. (I feel a tangent coming...) For me, there is a spiritual lift that comes from any increase in elevation. The higher up I am the "loftier" my feelings become. The idea of building a house on some sort of rise has always appealed to me. When we stumbled across this lot I knew we had found something special. Anyway, after a few hours of sawing and dragging, we had cleared everything we could by ourselves. There is one large tree that needs to be taken down by a professional, and some large limbs off another. At about 2:00 our architect, Noah, showed up. He came bearing good news: the set of plans that had been stamped by the engineer had arrived from ENER. This means we are nearly ready to submit the permit application. After Dad left, Noah and I staked out the footprint of the house - which was also very exciting. Physically locating the house on the property sent my imagination to work and I could begin to visualize just what this house would look like next year. At the end of the day I was able to survey a clear lot and four tall stakes sticking out of the ground where a house will soon grow.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


All renerings ©Jasonoah Design Build

We have had a long period unseasonably warm days this November...which makes waiting all the harder! The plans have been waiting for the final stamp of approval by the engineer - a process that has been held up largely due to the fact that no one cares about our project as much as we do! The builder cannot apply for the building permit until the plans arrive and the bank cannot approve the builder until THEY get their stamped copy of the plans as well. So, I have been told that the engineer has finally been motivated to stamp and that the plans SHOULD be in the mail...set to arrive early next week. And so we wait, each beautiful late-fall day a reminder of how great it would be if we were already underway.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

New Photo Album Launched

The entire collection of photos pertaining to the Bare Hill Barn House are now available to the public through my Flickr page. If you want to view photos detailing the barn prior to dismantling, during the dismantling process, and all stages of the project, visit this site. Whenever I post a new batch of photos on Flickr I will make a brief announcement here. The link to Flickr is located under "Links" to the right. Enjoy! (And please feel free to comment!)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Good News (at last)

After about two months of searching, we have hired a builder. His name is Bud Haworth and he is a local who has been working with timber frame structures (including barns) for many years. You can view his website here. We have wanted to hire Bud from the very first due to his expertise with antique timber frames as well as his interest in our project and willingness to work with us creatively to make it happen. Over the past two months we have gone back and forth about how, exactly, we were going to get Bud's price down to where we could say "yes" . In the end it was a combination of open-mindedness, flexibility, simplification of the original plans (which included some cuts), and a transfer of a number of tasks from Bud's crew to me. That he would be open to me taking such an active role in the construction and finishing of the house is another reason why we were eager to work with Bud. Many builders, I'm told, don't want the owner anywhere near the jobsite. Currently we are in the permitting process, awaiting bank approval of Bud as our builder and of our loan application...and hoping that we might have a mild December. If we do there is a chance we will have a hole in the ground and a barn raising before the end of the year. If not, it will have to wait 'till the Spring, which as I mentioned in the last post, wouldn't be all bad either.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Budget-driven design

Here is a hard pill to swallow: we can't afford to build the house we want to. At least, not now, not all at once. As builders' bids come back (this has taken more time than we had anticipated) it is becoming clear that we simply cannot afford to build the house we have envisioned. Call it bad luck, lack of planning, will of God, whatever you like, but we did not anticipate this project would cost as much as it has. Perhaps I didn't spend as much time carefully researching and projecting costs. Perhaps s*** just happens and this is the way it is. Either way, here is the set of realities we now are facing:

1. We will not be breaking ground this fall. Most likely we will have to await the thaw in March or April of '07.
2. We will not be able to complete the project in one phase. We will have to move into an incomplete house - barring we come into some grand inheritance or win the lottery between now and next year.
3. We will be making some pretty steep loan payments once we DO spend whatever we've got (which we knew all along).

So, here's the thinking right now: we hire the builder who seems to be the best match for us and get "as far as we can" given the funds we have remaining...hopefully this will get us as far as an occupancy permit (it's GOT to!). We move into an incomplete house and pick away at completing the project as we can. This frees us to sell our current home (COME ON REAL ESTATE MARKET!!!) and thus pay off one of our mortgages and, market willing, our loan as well. Our budget is not off by so much that this will mean years of waiting and "picking", but certainly months and perhaps a year or so.

On the bright side, having four or five months off (i.e. not writing big checks to architects and restorationists) might allow us to replenish the dry well that is our savings account and prepare ourselves for taking on the higher payments that will come once we close on our construction loan and as we max out the home equity line. Also, it always pays to take one's time with these kind of things; to rush is to make mistakes. So the quiet winter months will permit us to reflect on the designs, research additional cost-saving methods, and be really ready once the time arrives.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Evolution Last? (Read previous posts below FIRST!)

All renerings ©Jasonoah Design Build

Here you can see the most recent (and PERHAPS the final) set of elevations. Notice how the barn door idea has been modified by the architects. It's simpler - the double sliding door panels have been reduced to one. (This was partly driven by code: my sliding panel would cover an egress in the "open" position). I like it.

Another important modification: the "tree motif" is back (yea!) You can see it most clearly in the east elevations. This is a much more satisfactory solution than the first version.

On the left is the original "tree", on the right the most recent. Recall the architects' justification for the changes quoted below: "The reason we believe the new approach is more mature is that it lets the building, it's geometry, it's massing, it's material and it's function be more natural- more about itself. " There was something limiting about the first tree. Perhaps it divided the facade just too neatly into two halves. Perhaps it was too...simple? Or maybe it was that it reinforced the traditional geometry of the "barn (or house) shape" just a little too much. The new "tree" is even more abstracted than the original, its asymmetry more pronounced. It also compliments the NEW shape of the barn in a more agreeable way. For me, it just "fits".

Evolution of an Elevation, Pt. IV

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Door position 1

Door Position 2

The most prominent feature of the last set of elevations is that triangular slab of barn board that juts out just over the entry stairs. I refer to this as "the wing." The following is from an email I sent to the architects late last week:

"I wanted to share with you an idea I had...I like the way "the wing" creates a kind of intimacy of scale just prior to entry into the house...or the stairs, anyway. But it just felt like it kind of "flew" out there in space, almost as if it were going to fly right off the house (or poke a really tall guest in the eye!) Then that strong horizontal of the bottom edge of the wing reminded me of the horizontal track that ran across the side of the original barn along which the barn door slid. So I got to thinking: what if we dropped a sliding panel from the end of the wing, putting it on tracks so it really moved, cut an opening in it as a human-scaled door and left it there, requiring people to enter the house through this door. It's almost as if the traditional barn door had been retained or remembered as a kind of transitional space but in a new location and with a new effect. I think it could heighten the sense of transition and entering as well as provide a nice dramatic "moment" for the guests as they pass through it. In this sense it functions similarly to that wonderful screen you had on the very first set of hand-drawn schematics - the one you had to walk around to approach the stairs."

Much to my surprise, the architects really seemed to latch onto this idea - which I consider an honor and a testament to how open they are to idea-sharing. As you can see, the barn door concept made it into the most recent set of plans.

The Evolution of an Elevation, Pt. III

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Our architect sent us this colored version of the then-most-recent elevations; it's nothing more than a black and white print-out filled in with colored pencil, but what a DIFFERENCE color makes. What you can see nicely here is the coloration of the MDO paneling (more on that later) and the way it's smooth texture contrasts with the roughness of the weathered barn sheathing. I look to these drawings as being an important step (for me) toward embracing these elevations.

I like the height of the west end of the house. Whether or not we will be able to afford the retaining wall remains to be seen, however. Notice how the old barn sheathing has been raised out just a bit from the side of the house and the way this creates an interesting play of light and shadow. Maybe you can see this, maybe not, but these new elevations are less staid than the first ones. The slight asymmetry and shifting of panels sets up almost a sense of movement in the geometry of the design. The "box" has been broken...or set free?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Evolution of an Elevation, Pt. II

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(If you haven't read the previous post, do that first.)

The loss of the "tree motif" and the symmetry of the original elevations on the east and west facades was just TOO far a swing for us. We asked if there could be some "homage" to that initial iteration of the plans. The top image is what came back in response. Here's what the architects had to say about this version:

"Here's another pass at the elevations. There's not huge changes here, but we feel that this direction is ultimately more in keeping with the panel siding. While it is not as "symmetrical" as the original elevations, by removing the random edging of the barn board sections, a traditional house shape is more easily readable and defined...

...On the east elevation, there is a continuous line from one side of the tall window to the edge of the barn siding up to the roof. While not exactly in the center, it helps break up the large plane and alludes to the symmetry of the building.

...We think the "random" play of window sizes and placements fit well with the siding. We've tried to fit the windows to edges or corners of the siding panels to even accentuate the panel pattern rather then denying or hiding them. This will help keep the facades orderly and less random."

The bottom elevation came in just yesterday. Here are the comments:

"We have tried to incorporate your...concerns about order and symmetry while developing this new and what we believe is better and more timeless approach to the issue...The original elevation layout was fine and good, though we think that it was more of a matter of trying to use geometry for visual purposes as well as trying to disguise both the large, massive shape of the building as well as those huge sliding doors. I now see it more clearly that what we sort of ended up with was more of a curious blend of forms and masses (curious vs. beautiful?). The reason we believe the new approach is more mature is that it lets the building, it's geometry, it's massing, it's material and it's function be more natural- more about itself. Designing a "facade" is always difficult and dangerous, and by keeping things more simple and functional, you'll always end up with a more timeless result. Just the same, there is sort of an inherent facade element to a project like this, so the less curiosity and more beauty the better...

...On the east elevation, we have taken the barn board element to its logical next step. Since the barn board element is really like an applied panel on the facade, we've celebrated and extended it to both break the confinement of the barn shape and create a more dramatic procession to the entry. The panel "slides" out over the entry to the stairs like a modern gateway, or portico without columns (would that be called a nonastyle?) This could take other forms if the pointed end is too severe - though I think the simple drama is in keeping with the simplicity of the barn shape itself. Again, this is not there to just be a funky visual thing (though I believe it's important to create something interesting on the public or street side of the house), but mostly as an experiential element as you approach, pass through this implied threshold, and into the private zone of the entry, and again upon leaving the house. By having this gateway a part of the building itself, you don't need to create it in the landscape-though let me be clear that you now have a cool opportunity to play off this in the landscape as you live with the house over the years."

I have to say that one of the reasons this process has been so satisfying for me is that it has been an intellectual as well as an aesthetic challenge. As an art historian I am as fond of art theory as art itself - this process has been an opportunity to "think deeply" about the space that we will call home. Having said that, I am aware of the fact that my spouse doesn't interact with architecture on this theoretical level with the same glee as do I, and as the architects wrote, "it's one thing to intellectualize this whole thing, but it's another to be able to visualize and embrace it from a purely aesthetic sense." It is not an option that my wife live in a house with which she doesn't feel fully comfortable. (Same goes for me!) And so the process continues! Do YOU have an open mind? How far would you be willing to let the process go before stepping in and saying, "enough is enough"? Can you live with the uncertainty that comes with this stage of the game?

The Evolution of an Elevation, Pt. I

All renerings ©Jasonoah Design Build

Every time I receive an email from our architects that has a little paper-clip icon next to the subject line (which always indicates drawings are attached) I get palpatations - the good kind. The email I received 09.08.06 was no exception. As my eye moved across the screen I saw the sender's name, I saw the paper-clip, and then I saw the subject line: "RE: Some major revisions- free your mind." My heart really started thumping.

If you have been reading this blog for the past few months you, like us, have grown accustomed to the elevations that have been on the table since April. When we opend the email and saw the revisions, we were taken aback. Gone was much of what we had grown attached to: the soaring, vertical band of windows that "bloomed" just under the eaves into the two triangular windows; gone was the overall sense of symmetry and order to the facade, and in its place was the image that you see second from the top.

We hired architects for a reason, and that reason was NOT about a desire to simply pay someone to turn OUR pre-determined vision into a reality. We hired architects, who are artists who shape space (as opposed to clay or stone or paint) and we gave them creative license to invent, to shape a space for our family to reside in. Yes we let them know our hopes for this space, but we never intended to tell them how to conceive of this space. Speaking for myself here, I have been and continue to be thrilled by watching the design of this house evolve. I chose to let you all in on the process (I have been tempted NOT to let anyone see anything but the final version) precisely because I think it's such a fascinating thing to watch unfold. Keep this in mind as you look at these elevations. THESE ARE NOT completed works but works in progress, each one representing a searching, a probing for the RIGHT design. Few artists leave us record of the PROCESS that took them to their masterpiece. Michelangelo was one of the few; he gave up on many of his projects because he was a perfectionist and so we have a record of some of his unfinished works. These reveal as much or more about his genius than the final versions we have grown so familiar with.

Let me quote the architects' email to give you a sense of their justification for these changes:
"We’ve been thinking that the previous layout of windows and shapes are somewhat severe on the ends while more (randomly) or casually laid out on the longer sides of the house. In the new proposal, we’re softening the severity of the long tall and angular windows by adding a more intellectually playful positioning of the windows in the wall. The windows are more random in size and function. Some can be colored, some operable, some fixed. The kids can make special overlays or inserts for the small ones in the loft or other areas...

...To create a bit of relief from the tall, flat fa├žade, we propose furring out the upper corner section just a little bit more than the large expanse and contrasting it with random width and random length weathered barn boards that will slightly overlap (without touching) the smooth painted panels behind. It’s a small but important “moment” of architecture, texture and interest and helps remind you of the breed of this structure. The end result is expressive of the hybrid between Barn and Farm House. Like if the two had a kid."

Someone said to me building a house is like giving birth to a child. Yes, I think that's pretty accurate. Right now we are feeling the labor pains - it's good, but it's work. The main thing is that I am loving the process. PROCESS. So often it's not about the destination but the getting there. Certainly that's where we grow most. In this case though, the destination might be just as much fun!

To be continued...

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Barn Skin

I have given a lot of thought to the exterior sheathing of the barn. From the beginning I have had pretty strong feelings that it should NOT be "housey", i.e. clapboards or even shakes. Since we are building a contemporary home (that also happens to have old "bones") I have felt that the barn's "skin" should be something, well, modern. One of the qualities I have always admired about contemporary architecture is the way the exterior shell of the building has been stripped of all "frills" - trim, filigree, mouldings, etc. - and is left with a simple, often smooth surface that emphasizes the geometry of the structure (think of Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater or Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye).

While searching for possible solutions to this problem, I happend to come across this remarkable barn-house in one of our books. It was built by an architectural firm called Alchemy Architects who are located in St. Paul, MN. The Spencer Barn is a new construction (meaning, it does not employ an antique frame) with an even more contemporary nature than our own, but I LOVE it.

What first attracted me to it was it's "skin" and the way it simplified the building to its basic geometry. For a while I was determined that this should be our solution. Then I did some research and saw the price-tag. The material is called Parklex. It is a resign-impregnated engineered wood panel that comes in 4' X 8' sheets like plywood. Except, unlike plywood which runs about $45 per sheet, parklex is $400. Still, it is a beautiful product that I would love to use someday. (Someday!) Instead, our architects have some up with a solution that is comparable in price (and effect?) to Parklex. It's called Medium-Density Overlay (MDO) - let's call it "poor-man's Parklex". It is also an engineered plywood panel, in this case it has a resin-treated fiber applied to both sides, it can be painted, and it is suitable for exterior uses. In fact, it's the material used to make a lot of road signs! Once applied it will create a smooth sheathing "skin" much like Parklex (I hope). Whether we paint it or stain it or leave it natural, I don't know. Just another exciting possibility on the road to move-in day!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Another elevation

All renerings ©Jasonoah Design Build

This is a view of the interior of the south-facing wall of the second floor - the living floor. (To orient yourself, click here.) This view highlights one of my favorite design elements of the house: that unbroken horizontal that originates in the kitchen with the countertop, passes unbroken into the dining area and then in the living area drops down to become the built-in bench. This horizontal theme is mirrored by the strip of windows above the countertop-bench line, and then above that by the 36' long beam (called the rafter plate - see this diagram). It will also be repeated elsewhere in the house, for example, the reclaimed barn siding (which will be used for wall surfaces in places) will be replaced horizontally as opposed to its original vertical orientation. It's subtle, but the effect will be harmonizing and unifying (we hope!)

Kitchen details

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This top image shows a floor plan of the kitchen with all the cabinets spec'ed out. We have chosen IKEA cabs for two reasons: they fit our budget and they fit our inclinations toward contemporary design. If you have been keeping up with the evolution of the plans you will see the work island that has replaced the partition wall in the earliest iteration (see this earlier post).

The second image shows an elevation of the kitchen. What I like about this view is the sense of height. There is NO ceiling on our kitchen! Just a soaring view up to the rafters - 18' up!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Sunlight through trees: our future home

On a number of occasions this summer I have driven over to the site and tried to imagine what it would be like to LIVE there. Slowly "beating the bounds" (as the Brits say) I came to appreciate the beauty of this small patch of earth that we will soon call home. There are some very tall, stately trees on the property: strong oaks, broad-shouldered maples, and numerous small trees vying for sun. The ground is covered with fallen leaves and scattered vines and underbrush. I know for a fact that there has never been a house built on these grounds: true virgin wilderness! Towards the top of the site I caught a glimpse of the view that we will one day enjoy. With a little judicious clearing this will be even more prominent, especially from the second floor.

We have been in the planning stages for so long that sometimes I just can't quite believe that we will really be building a home here. I am craving some action! It is nearing the time to put dreams and plans aside and begin the execution. There is still hope that we will be able to break ground in October - and with luck have the frame raised and closed in by the time the snow falls. Come this time next year, I hope to be enjoying that view from inside our barn home!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Restoration begins at ENER

Recently I traveled to N. Stonington, CT to Early New England Restorations, the company which built my parent's family home back in the early 80s and is restoring our home's barn frame. Up until now the frame, plank, and sheething has been packet carefully in a box trailer. For the visit last week, the the trailer had been unpacked, and the workmen had begin the process of assessing the frame by actually setting it back up, bent by bent, flat on the ground. This is what you see in the bottom two images.

When we purchased the frame, Scot Hanning made it clear that only AFTER dismantling can one tell conclusively what kind of shape a frame is in. It became clear after the ENER folks began re-assembling the frame that there would be some repairs required, as is revealed by the third image up. Here you can see the bases of one the posts...rotten after years of exposure to moisture. No problem, we're told. They will simply cut off the rot and splice on a new segment of timber of the same dimension.

The top image is cool. This shows one of the marks made by the barn's original builder used to indicate which timber connected where. Today we use computer-printed tags, applied with staples!

For now, the folks at ENER will continue the assessment and eventually come up with a list of needed repairs and adjustments. The architects are working on the final set of drawings, and we are beginning to contact prospective builders. If all goes well, we MAY actually break ground before the snow falls!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

An update...

Many people are asking, "What's happening with the barn house?" So, here's the scoop:

The approved schematic plans, completed a couple of weeks ago, are in the hands of the restoration folks at Early New England Restorations. They are working with their engineer to see whether our plans are compatible with our barn frame. This is is critical step. The vision of the architects needs to match the structural realities of a nineteenth century barn frame. It could be that there will need to be some changes to the plans as a result. We are keeping our fingers crossed! Once the engineer gives the OK to the plans, the architects will then be able to proceed with drawing up actual constrution documents. Once we have these, we can begin getting bids from builders. And so the timeline continues to expand. I'd be pleased if we are able to break ground by August at this point.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A look ahead.

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Here is the architect's concept for the upper level living space of our barn house. Notice how one can see from one end of the barn to the other at this level as well as right up to the peak of the roof. (Since this drawing was made we have decided to remove the square wall separating the kitchen from the dining area so as to gain more space in the kitchen. The benefit of this is also that the view from one end to the other will be even less hindered. We are thrilled by the work done by our architects. Now if we can just pull this thing off...


All renerings ©Jasonoah Design Build

In the process of envisioning what our barn house would look like, I knew that I didn't want to live in a barn that was nothing more than a barn - nor did I want to live in a barn that was no longer a barn, but a house whose "bones" were old (and hidden from view). I also knew that my basic design ethic was modern. The choice of architects was critical in being able to realize this fine balance between the ancient and the modern, the old and the new. These elevations demonstrate how well we did in choosing Jasonoah Design-build. A couple of design-points I really like: the vertical line of windows which "grows" out of the base of the building and "blossoms" into the dual, triangular windows at the peak of the gable end. These vertical windows will bring in light and tie together each floor. I also like the way the stairs rise along the outside of the building bringing up the visitor under the sheltering eaves of the roof and the way one can pause at the top of the stairs and take in the view before entering (the top of the stairs will be up in the trees practically).

Floor Plans

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Here is one very tangible way in which these designs have had to bow to budgetary demands: were we of less modest means we would either have bought a larger barn frame or added a number of "wings" or shed additions to give us more living space. Since we could afford neither of these options, our architects have had to be very creative with filling our extensive list of demands. We think they have done a marvelous job. Looking at the lower level floor plans one will notice that they have accommodated our desire to have a master bedroom with attached walk-thorough closet and master bath. They have also located the office space off the master suite (if you could call it that) - a feature which we rather like. The kids will share rooms, at least until such a time as this arrangement just ceases to work. Their rooms are narrow but tall - 12' for one and 16' for the other - both of which have lofts for added play space. The main living floor consists of a long living-dining-kitchen space. You will be able to see from one end of the frame to the other and right up to the rafters in this space. The loft is indicated by a dotted line. Notice how there are a few steps up to a "library" (movie theater? guest room?), then up to the kids' loft.

Sectional Views

All renderings ©Jasonoah Design Build

The perspective of each section view is indicated on the previous image of the floor plans. As you can see, our architects have developed an interior space that somewhat defies a simple box-like arrangement of rooms. What I especially like about this arrangement is that it incorporates multiple levels. Notice, for example, in section one how the level of the so-called "library" is the ceiling of the first kids' bedroom below. Then notice how the steps lead up to the loft and how the loft floor is actually the ceiling of the second bedroom below. This bedroom is a soaring 16' in height (see section two) and is the only room in the house in which you can see the original barn post in its entirety. This room may be high, but it is pretty narrow.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Purlins/plank sawn and loaded

The top two images (and the bottom image) show employees of Maine Antique Structures sawing planks from old hewn timbers. Planks are boards used for the floors in a barn. Typically it was was cut rough and thick so that it would provide decades of service. The planking in our barn was too far gone to be recycled, so we decided to go to Scot for help. He was able to cut "new" planking for us from old timbers he had in stock. As you can see in these images, the timbers are placed on a sliding carriage and drawn through the saw. The result is thick, sturdy planking with a nice, aged color.

This planking can be seen in the third image down loaded on Scot's truck (at the bottom of the pile). On top of the planking is stacked the replacement purlins for our barn. (See the previous post about the purlins.)

Barn Bones Explained

(Image courtesy of

In a previous post I made reference to replacement purlins provided to us by Scot Hanning at Maine Antique Structures. Since that post and others to come will in all likelihood make reference to the different timbers in our barn frame, I thought a quick primer might make sense. Since the image attached (from The Barn People) has good definitions for most of the pieces, I will simply refer you to this excellent diagram.

So, why did we need replacement purlins? Although you can't make it out in the top photo, the purlins in our barn were in rough shape. This is not uncommon since they support the roof and over the years rain can sneak through and rot them out. At some point in the not-too-distant past someone had set about to strengthen these rotting timbers by attaching sawn timbers to either side of each purlin, not unlike splinting a broken bone. As soon as we began to show an interest in the barn Scot made it clear that he would provide replacements for these pieces cut from old wood so as to match. When our barn is re-erected what will be visible from below will look just like they had been there all along.