Twenty-First-Century Barn Raising:

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In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in some areas of the rural United States, whenever a barn was needed, it was normal practice for the farmer to call together his neighbors and, over the course of a day, put up a rugged, spacious barn that would serve its owners for decades. The practice made a difficult and lengthy task easy and fast as it forged a bond among members of the community.

That practice disappeared long ago in many areas; the building of barns and houses became the province of professionals, the knowledge to do so confined to specialists. Unless you happen to be Amish, thereÂ’s not much chance youÂ’ve experienced a real barn raising in your life.

That is changing. With the recent popularity of a variety of shelter kits, amateurs again have the ability to create their own barns, storage units, garages, and even homes. Designed so that people with little or no carpentry skill can assemble them, kits come complete with directions, all necessary materials, and sometimes even the tools required.

A Kit for Every Need

Do you need a simple shed to store off-season items like bikes and skis, or utilitarian items like ladders and power tools? Maybe you need a way to keep your winter cordwood dry, or a full-size barn for horses, cows, or farming equipment. Whatever your needs, a growing number of companies offer kits which allow you to build your own structure. Barns are available in a number of different designs, including post and beam and pole structures, and with a variety of materials.

Building your own barn or storage shed has a few distinct advantages; one obvious one is the price. Buying a kit with pre-cut materials allows you to put your own “sweat equity” into the project at substantial savings. Another advantage is the ability to adapt the design to your own needs. Many companies offer a variety of options with their designs; others will work with you to customize the design before they produce your kit for you.

Assess Your Needs

Before you settle on a barn or storage shed kit, figure out just how you plan to use your structure. Is it really for storage, or are you going to convert it into living space – a guest house or a home office? What sorts of utilities will you need in the structure – running water, toilet facilities, electricity? Do you foresee changing the building’s usage at some point in the future? If you’re storing large equipment, are the doors large enough so you can move the equipment in and out of the unit?

It’s also sensible to discuss the amount of customer support provided by the company who supplies your kit. We’ve all had the experience of trying to put together a piece of furniture we bought in a kit from Target or K-Mart, and ended up nonplussed at the process – imagine experiencing that in the middle of building a barn You need to know you have access to expert advice in case you run into trouble; you also need to be able to ask advice on how to prepare the site for the intended structure, and whether any heavy equipment will be needed in building the structure.

With a little foresight, some research, and planning, you can save a lot of money by building your own barn, garage, storage unit, or home. What’s more, you get an additional benefit – the pride of workmanship you get from knowing that you built the structure yourself.