There’s nothing quite like having the infrastructure you need to farm, especially for those of us who farm in colder climates. When we first purchased our farm, the barn was in desperate need of renovation. The previous owners used it to store old farm equipment, junk, and well, more junk. The mice also turned it into their personal cabin getaway. It was hard to imagine it would ever look clean again...
In this video, I share with you the before and after of our barn renovation, go over our budget, the scope of work, and give you a barn tour!
The Barn Renovation Checklist
I knew we needed to get the barn renovated before the winter so it was high on our priorities. Our hens needed somewhere warm, dry, and protected so this barn had to be ready come November. The barn didn’t have plumbing or electricity so we decided that getting electricity rigged out there was most important for heated waterers and interior lighting. Plumbing would have to come later. Honestly, carrying water to the barn all winter was not all that bad and my arms look great!
Our barn renovation scope of work included:
With the barn dimensions being about 20’x50’, my budget for the entire project was to keep it at $3000. The price of lumber was just insane throughout 2020 (and still is!). While pricing definitely made me wince, alas, we needed that barn to be done before the snow came.
The Barn Renovation Begins
My incredibly generous [retired] father offered to get started on the clean-up and demolition of the barn while we were still working on selling our first farm in Milwaukee five hours away. For two weeks, he cleared out old windows, moldy lumber, and mountains of mouse droppings. He ripped out the poor excuse for a chicken run and swept up broken glass. He bagged up loads of garbage that would make any homeowner wince. Did I mention Dad of the Year goes to my father?
Once cleaned out, my father started reframing so we could install six inexpensive slider windows. The barn is west facing so I wanted to get as much light as possible into the interior as well as increase ventilation. We went with the cheapest windows we could find at Menards (link), and I will say one of them did crack through the winter on our coldest day - womp womp.
Once windows were installed, up went the plywood on the exterior. Again - lumber prices just pummeled us, but the existing siding was not structurally sound enough to screw metal siding into. Additionally, the plywood added a barrier to keep drafts to a minimum. You could basically stick your hand through the old siding!
From there, we decided to bring in a load of gravel and regraded the sides of the barn. Since the barn is nestled into a hill - which is great for protection from the wind and snow - it’s ultimately not all that great for drainage. The regrading definitely helped keep the water from melting snow from pooling against the sides of the foundation.
Then we built, painted, and installed our new barn doors. I absolutely love this Dutch-style door my Dad built. I can just see four future goats peeking their heads over the side!
Next, the metal siding went up. Corrugated metal siding is the best for outbuildings because you can pressure wash it and typically it never needs paint. I love low to no maintenance exteriors.
Lastly, we installed the interior coop stuff - like chicken roosts and nesting boxes. We found these metal braces that allow the roosts to slide in and out without having to unscrew them. It makes mucking the barn a total breeze.
Psst! If you love these three-seater nesting boxes pictured below, we built them from one piece of plywood. You can grab the plans for free by signing up below.
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The Barn Renovation Before and After
What a difference! It’s hard to believe it looked like that just three months ago. Renovating our barn was no small feat and we wouldn’t have been able to do it without the help of my amazing dad. All in all I spent $3000 so I was right on budget - a renovation miracle.
We’ve got lots of future ideas on how to finish up the interior of the barn so be sure to tune into our video blog (embedded above)!
Thanks for stopping by Green Willow Homestead! From chicken rearing to composting, we've got our hands full and we love sharing what we've learned along the way. Follow along as we turn the 80 acres we call home into a farm that serves its community and a homestead that nourishes us throughout the seasons.
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Favorite Books of 2021
2. Braiding Sweetgrass
3. As Long As Grass Grows
4. The Small Scale Poultry Flock
5. The Zero Waste Solution