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reusing an existing foundation  RSS feed

 
Will Holland
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Many years ago, there was a barn on our property (before we owned it.) and the foundation still remains, but it looks like it was backfilled and partially capped with cement. How would I go about finding out if the foundation was sound enough to build a new structure on, and what are the potential issues with this?

 
allen lumley
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Will Holland : I am assuming that you are in one of those areas within New England where the presence of an existing foundation Grandfathers
any structure you want to build on it ! No Permits or visits from Code Enforcement Officers ! These areas are fast disappearing, and in some
cases you have to prove that the original structure predated current codes, often this is as simple as someones name and date put in the
concrete while it dried ! Look around it is highly likely that you can find a foundation stone still in place that you have already looked at a
thousand times and suddenly there it is, where you could have sworn it wasn't there before, a date carved into a foundation stone !

Outside of that though I don't set much there to buuild-on besides a carport! A local contractor could be called out to estimate a building job,
and give you an onsite opinion ! For the good of the Crafts ! Big AL

Late Note : Even with a grand fathered foundation you still probably will be told you can not have any structure within X feet of the high-water
mark of an existing stream or wetland ! A. L.
 
wayne fajkus
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One of the potential issues would be the hardness of it from age. Drilling or shooting Ramshot loads into it to attach 2x4 plates would be more difficult than with fresher concrete
 
Will Holland
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from what the neighbors have told me, it was a pig barn. the lower portion has a trough of some sort, but this entire part seems to just be a concrete pad. when we were buying the house, there was an old photo of it WITH the barn and up until last week, there was still live knob and tube wiring in one of the bedroom walls upstairs that used to run over the brook to the barn.

The stone walls of the foundation seem to go to about 10' from the road. The grass died this summer in a big square and then I probed with a shovel until I figured out where its boundaries are. A lot of soil settled over top of it, and then the grass grew. It'd take some earth works to expose the whole foundation.

The town where I live also has a good reputation for allowing things they wouldn't normally allow if it's for the sake of farming, which may help for any setback requirement, which my house pre-dates. it's about 10' from the road also. The house has the same stone foundation, but with a section of concrete blocks that the sills sit on.
 
allen lumley
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Will Holland : It may have seen a life as a pig barn, but I am wondering if the trough may not have held diverted creek water ! If the size of the foundation
there is much smaller than the rest of the structure, this could be where all the milking equipment was cleaned up and stored and the trough supplied water
for that, And was a cold water bath for the Milk and Cream Cans !
Depth of the 'trough' would tell us a lot, a bottom sloping into the center would point to its use for pigs ! very shallow less than 6'', was a common area to
contain one or more pigs and make cleaning up after them easier !

Not every farmer was in love with gutters to collect raw cow manure in, but a narrow strip of concrete about shovel blade wide running along the floor would
tell you a lot. I can not tell you how far out from and parallel with the edge of the foundation it would run.

There had to be a path to get to the cows head to feed and water her, and the size/type of cow would also influence how far from the foundation walls the
strip of the old manure gutter would run !

Usually on a working farm, the electricity ran 1st to the barn where the meter was, and then to the house, this is still common at older barns here in New
York ! Local firemen are trained to look for this at a house or barn fire !

I'm glad to hear that your town understands and accommodates its people, your local Environmental Conservation Officer is the one who may not 'go for'
new construction that close to your creek especially with livestock inside it ! Riparian setbacks and being told what you have to grow there and even entire
sewer systems may have to be installed if they get added to the mix !

Hopefully a little common sense and a permit that stats this is new/repair work on an existing structure will allow your Enco.man to look the other way !

For the Crafts, think like fire, Flow like gas, don't be a marshmallow! As always, your questions and answers are solicited and Welcome ! Big AL

P.S. None of this actually helps much and is slightly off-topic, my two cents find a well recommended contractor for an on-siteinspection ! A. L.
 
Will Holland
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Cool. For better or worse, I really like to what - if things to death, so I thought I'd throw it out there and see what info and ideas I could glean along the way.
 
allen lumley
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Will H. : This time the pictures came in much clearer and i believe this was indeed at one point a small cow barn around 8 head !

If we call the left hand side the head wall further to the left was the Haymow for the hay, the drop in elevation is where the farmer walked to bring feed
/hay to the cows and had a water bucket. This is a combined walkway and manger* then the cow stanchions to hold the cows head, especially while she
was milked ! Google Cow stanchion pictures

There is the remaining patch of Concrete covered with 'bedding' while the cows were confounded to the barn and about 3-4 feet inside the righthand wall
is the manure gutter !

It looks like the stone walls forming the hay mow foundation may have been recycled to another job, but keep looking you probably will find a dated stone
if you keep looking ! Big AL

*manger properly means exactly this, look at the stanchions pictures, The term has evolved to include the whole part of the barn with Farm animals in it
instead of just where they were fed ! A. L.
 
Will Holland
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hey allen,

thanks for the great info so far. I'm somewhat familiar with the terminology you're using, but just to be super clear, I'm posting another picture that I (poorly!) marked up just to represent some of what's going on, as it's hard to tell in photos and without being here. I also took some approximate measurements as well.



I think the height difference between the stone wall on the right side and the concrete pad below is about 24" (but I didn't measure that one) and the "trough" in the concrete pad (which is really overgrown and soil has settled on it a lot) is about 12" wide, and maybe 4" deep, possibly a little more. Definitely no more than 6-8" deep.

A lot of fill/sediment/ settling seems to have happened over and around this foundation over the last 30 years or so since they knocked the barn down.
 
allen lumley
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Will H. : yup, looks right to me , downsize the barn to hold no more than 5 cows or less ! At this size most of the cleaning of milk pails etc was
probably done in the kitchen, is there a porch facing the barn !

you might want to take a look at Gabion rock baskets and riprap to protect your stream from erosion especially in the Wing wall area above
the bridge ! Big All
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Allen...I only scanned this one and you seem to be on top of it...I don't think I can add anything at this point, unless you think I have missed something?

Reuse of traditional foundations in general is never an issue unless there is visible signs of "undermining" and/or collapse...which...can usually be repaired in short order. I would put a timber frame on the foundation in the photos without a second thought...but then again I build on such foundations all the time...

Regards,

j
 
Will Holland
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thanks Jay. The first idea we had tossed around was just putting a roof on it (and excavating it of course) and making a root cellar, since we miss the one at our old place dearly. an actual barn would be quite helpful as well, though. we're still assessing our needs too.
 
allen lumley
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Jay ; I am petty much at the point that the next thing I can add is further examples of my ignorance. from here on, I'm here to learn ! Big AL
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Allen...my friend...your comments be anything but ignorant...They are poignant and gave me little to add to this thread...

Thanks for what you contribute to the art and craft that is "permaculture."
 
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