Sam Rayburn, a Texan who served as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives for 17 years, once observed, “A jackass can kick a barn down, but it takes a carpenter to build one.”
It takes even more skill to rebuild one that’s in danger of falling down.
Not long ago, Mark Miller, the owner of 3G Construction in New Castle, was asked to give an old barn a new lease on life. The barn, located near Grand Junction, probably dated from about 1970 and was built in phases. Three different buildings had been covered by a single old roof that was so bowed that, in Miller’s words, “it looked like a well-ridden horse.”
Crooked and unique, the building had been vacant so long that raccoons, birds and mice had largely taken it over, and in many places, the supports holding it up were bowing to gravity. Before its remodeling, a jackass might indeed have kicked the old barn down.
Today, it’s strong enough to not only to hold a horse named Dandy, it also offers a tack room, a workshop and storage for a ride-on lawn mower and a Rhino utility vehicle. Safe, secure and clean, the barn still offers a certain period charm.
“We re-used and saved as much of the existing structure and material as possible to keep the cost affordable,” comments Miller. “We re-purposed the old roofing sheets, a used window, security-window bars and trusses, plus beams from previous jobs that were not needed.”
Miller, a licensed general contractor who has been in the construction industry over 30 years, says, “We started our 3G Construction LLC over 10 years ago and our projects range from new home builds and remodels to commercial and agricultural projects. We aim to tailor-fit to the client’s personal needs.” He notes that his firm’s name, 3G, stands for “Giving God the Glory.”
The barn’s reconstruction required the demolition of an inside soffit “where the critters had been nesting” plus the removal of the old electrical system. The outdated and cut-up “system” consisted of nothing more than wiring draped over rafters!
Next came a complete re-structuring of the roof. At the outset, the sway-backed structure consisted of nothing more than thin aluminum sheeting tacked onto two-by-fours laid on edge in between the rafters. Miller built stable supports and then added plywood sheeting to the roof’s exterior. The old aluminum panels that were removed from the roof were used to cover the walls of the barn’s two horse stalls and the equipment bay.
To create a clean—and cleanable—interior, new floors were built for the workshop and the tack room. To the delight of both Dandy and his owner, new Dutch doors were added to the horse stalls. Modern electrical outlets, switches and lighting were installed to provide a safer and more usable facility.
By adding a dormer at the front of the building, Miller was able to raise the roof high enough to allow a vehicle to be driven into the breezeway. “Now there’s a place to saddle and curry Dandy out of the sun,” he says, “and possibly room for a barn dance or two as well.”