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Suggestions wanted: Converting Large (100' x 70') barn into a home?

 
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I own a farm with a big barn built in 1980 that's 100' by 70' and 40' high at peak. It has a wooden frame with metal siding, doors and roof. The barn is in generally great shape - better than many barns I've seen that are only 15-20 years old, which I suspect is due to being built out of better lumber.  

Any suggestions for converting this into a multifamily home?

My main concern is heating and cooling efficiency. This is in a 6a planting zone that sees fairly average Ohio temperatures that usually hover in the teens to 30's and 40's during winter and 80's to 90's during summer.

The floor/ground is very compact dirt, so I'm not sure what to do with that and plumbing - particularly sewage.

It has some shielding from hills on the northern and southern sides, but it's in a fairly open valley to the west east. This makes me a little worried about wind. We've never had a tornado come through in 40 years, but it's possible. This has me a little concerned since with it being an open barn it was a little more resistant it would seem to air and air pressure differentials.

I've seen that some people suggest using earth pipes for a cost effective geothermal heating arrangement, but not sure how that would work exactly.

Also someone mentioned burying or insulating the sides near the ground to prevent heat loss during the winter instead of having the edge of a building flush. The remarks were something about how most heat loss occurs due to the foundation not having protection from the cold - but I'm not clear on what that would entail.
 
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It has been many years since I have encountered this.  The last time was in northern IL in the late 70's.  The individual ended up having to do so much work on the barn that, of the original barn, he kept only part of the framing.  Your mileage may vary.
 
Greg Payton
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John F Dean wrote:It has been many years since I have encountered this.  The last time was in northern IL in the late 70's.  The individual ended up having to do so much work on the barn that, of the original barn, he kept only part of the framing.  Your mileage may vary.



What could cause you to not be able to reuse all of the framing? In this case it doesn't seem as though anything would need to be removed. Upon inspection there don't seem to be any integrity issues or significant water damage or rot....
 
John F Dean
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Damage to the timbers that was not visible until the work began.  To multiply concerns, there were significant building codes in the county.  The punchline is that the final product cost the owner a fortune and had none of the charm of the original barn.
 
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It's a beautiful vision.  It also has the same concerns as cob house, earthbag dome, log cabin, etc, which are:

1) Code.  How are you going to get a barn up to code?  Answer? $$$$

2) Insulation.  I expect insulating a 100' x 70' x 40' barn will be quite pricey.

3) Plumbing/sewer.  Compost toilets? Humanure?  See concern #1.

In addition to those things it seems like you'll have an extra concern with keeping rodents/roaches out and also you'll essentially have to build a house inside the house to get the rooms/upper floors.  

I commiserate with you. For years I have been dreaming about an earthbag dome house.  I would never get it past code here unless, just maybe, I got an architect's stamp on it to circumvent the code office.  That will be very expensive unless I come the party already prepared with very detailed floorplans/plumbing/wiring/etc.    I can't do that unless I have land picked out with a site plan in hand.  Around and around I go.

Incidentally I have some experience with what you are attempting.  In the 70's my dad, sister and I built a huge barn on the top of a mountain in the blue ridge mountains.  It had a stream for water.  Our family was going to live there.  But lots of things happened.  Hornets got in and stung my dad a million times.  Despite having a large wood burning stove inside, the interior was frigidly cold in the winter. He ended up selling the mountaintop and we moved into an A-frame.
 
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Hey Greg, that sounds like a sweet barn!  What style framing does it have?  Is it big timbers with posts around the floorplan or is it totally open with modern trusses?  

I suspect that the easiest way to convert it would depend greatly upon that answer.  

Keep in mind that the footprint you're describing is 7000 square feet.  Maybe 3 times bigger than a "standard" US house.  Plus you have 40 feet of height to fill up which could be 4 stories.  I'm guessing the local officials would get rather interested if you turn it into a 28,000 square foot complex with 35 bedrooms.

A lot will depend on code and officials.  I'd probably build just part of it into a house starting at a 70' end so that you can have windows out on three sides.  The other part of the barn could be any manner of interesting indoor things.  Greenhouse, paintball course, bowling alley, barn, etc
 
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Apartments built inside of the barn is the way I would go.
How many families are you thinking of?
How big are the families?

 
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Try barngeekcom. Maybe able to assist with a plan.
 
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