4 Ways A Structural Engineer Can Help With Your Old Barn Restoration Project

Posted on: 23 July 2015


Sometimes a barn is too far gone to save, but many old and classic barns dotted across the country are still worth saving. These structures were built with sturdy lumber and tough tin roofing, but structural damage needs attention even when the exterior of the barn still looks good. Save a building with history while gaining more space for storing hay or boarding horses by hiring a structural engineer to handle these four tasks.

Non-Destructive Tests

Most testing methods to discover what's wrong with the structure of an older barn involve cutting open beams to check the advancement of rot and insect damage. Imaging devices, thermal measurements, and careful drilling with tiny cameras all help you discover what's wrong with the barn without committing to a complete replacement of the tested material. Only a structural engineer has the equipment and knowledge to provide these kinds of non-destructive testing options for a historic or antique barn.

Bracing Sagging Walls

Don't forget that changes in the soil around the barn's foundation often leaves the stone or concrete walls cracking or bending. Sagging foundation walls begin pushing outward or inward, which weakens the support for the walls above the base. Hire a structural engineer to oversee the correction and stabilization of a damaged barn foundation to make sure the bracing efforts don't do more damage to the rest of the building in the process.

Beam Bracing Designs

When cracking and termite damage is visible and obvious on major barn supports, it is usually necessary to stabilize the place with custom designed steel braces. Engineers have the experience to understand the different loads on each part of the frame and how to redistribute the weight without causing further damage. Other common old barn framing repairs include

  • Sistering rafters and floor joists with two pieces of lumber sandwiching the damaged sections
  • Strapping intact but sagging beams to straighten them out again
  • Removing decayed and rotten wood and replacing it with filler materials that resist rot.

Solar Panel Supports

Is your barn out in a back field where it would cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars to connect a power line? Putting solar panels on a barn in a sunny location is a smart way to get power while saving money, but only if the roof is strong enough to support the panels and the racks. A structural engineer is the most qualified person to inspect the rafters or trusses and determine how much weight the lumber can support.