The Story of Historic Barn Frames
Our barns range in age from 125 to more than 250 years old. Many predate Captain Cook landing in New Zealand in 1769 and the Treaty Of Waitangi signing in 1840. The first barn frame which we raised in New Zealand dates back to 1780.
Dutch Barn Part 1
Dutch Barn Part 2
New World Dutch Barn
How to date a barn
Our relationship with Heritage Barns gives us access to an inventory typically exceeding 30 different historic barn frames at any one time. Click here to view the current inventory of available barn frames. We often have a barn frame in our yard in Hawkes Bay for viewing or you can visit one of our completed projects.
Popular Frame Sizes
We have had a lot of interest in the smaller barns from 90 to 160 square meters. A barn of this size have a lot of versatility and provide some affordable mezzanine spaces for bedrooms, office or craft space with 3 to 5 bedrooms. Lean-to wings can also be added to create additional ground floor space. Another popular option is for clients to use the barn frame as the main living/kitchen/dining space with link-ways to other sections of the house. Having a bedroom wing built conventionally with some character elements and a garauge wing with mezzanine loft is another popular concept.
One of the early steps in designing a barn home is securing a barn frame. Each frame is unique and a frame can be here today and gone tomorrow, so the first step is to identify a target floor area and then work with us to find an appropriate frame. Please note that tie beams that run across the width of building can be lowered or lifted to meet your target mezzanine heights. We can also add or remove girts which run between posts and lift or shorten posts to meet your requirements. These adjustments may be part of the barn cost or additional depending on the level of changes required.
We offer a full architectural service and have builders available in some areas that can price and build your dream home for you.
Each barn frame comes with a full set of drawings showing the layout and all timbers included in the purchase. See below for an example.
Making a barn frame into a home: We offer a full Design Service
Re-claimed timber design and construction is a unique construction type. Designing and building projects from concept to completion is an exciting way for us to explore the large number of options available in a re-purposed custom space.
Barn Homes in NZ
Building With a Historic Structure FAQs
You probably have many questions about how to go about moving, restoring and building a barn into a home or other building. We’ve compiled the following questions and answers in order
Pricing & Shipping
How much does a barn home cost?
This question must ultimately be answered along with the related question:
”And how much does it cost to build a barn home in comparison to building a regular custom-built home?” Our first answer to this question is that price depends on what you put into a barn home. Hardwood floors cost more than carpet or stained concrete floors. Stone on the outside walls costs more than cement board siding. Custom-built wooden kitchen cabinets cost more than melamine cabinets.
An easy and approximate way of working out construction cost is to look at the project like building a custom home and adding the price of the historic timber frame on top of this price. (Though the timber frame itself is often structural and therefore not as much new roof framing is needed.) To build a typical custom non-character home costs about $2500 to $3000 per square metre of floor area which includes all floor space added together, including the second floor if any.
All three of the following examples use the same barn frame, but the per square meter cost drops as more living space is fit into the same barn footprint size by adding a second floor or loft.
So, if it costs around $2500 per square meter of floor area to build a regular custom home in your area, this would translate into these prices:
– If that same 9m x 12m building has only one floor, the floor area is also 111 square meters.
And a 111 square meter home x $3000/meter + $160,000 barn frame = $493 000 = $4441 per square meter of floor area.
– If that same building has a full first floor and a half loft, it has 185 square meter of floor area.
And 111 square meter home x $3000/sq.meter + 74 sq. meter mezzanine x $2000/sq. meter + $160,000 barn frame = $641 000 = $3464 per square meter of floor area.
We have worked with builders in different areas of the country over the past 12 years who have incorporated post and beam work in their projects and have a good idea on pricing in some areas. We also have relationships with skilled builders that can help complete your build in some areas and are looking for more builders to work with going forwards.
What is included in the price of one of your barns?
Our historic barn frame prices are comprehensive and include:
1 – Delivery from the original location in the US or Canada
Safe deconstruction of the historic barn frame from its original location in either the US or Canada. Transportation of the beams and all the barn parts including labeling all the parts, heat treatment of the historic timbers in Auckland and getting them safely to the restoration yard in Kimbolton, Manawatu
2 – Repair and restoration.
We repair and restore our barns using original wood that matches the barn frame in species and texture. Our restoration joints are also done with original tools to make for an authentic finish.
3 – The beams to do these repairs.
Our price includes all the beams needed for repairs.
4 – De-nailing, washing and cleaning.
Every frame needs removal of nails, gentle washing and careful cleaning.
5 – Fumigation and/or Heat Treatment
This is perhaps the most important step in restoration. Small bugs make for big problems if they go untreated. Barn frames for NZ clients will be heat treated in Auckland on arrival from overseas which is the recommended treatment for large timbers to kill any small bugs that may affect the frame or NZ agriculture. The NZ Ministry of Primary Industries oversees this aspect.
6 – Scaled drawings.
These are necessary for an accurate restoration and rebuild. We can provide your architect or builder with CAD drawings and save them lots of time in measuring and drawing.
7 – Delivery to the building site.
Barn frames are heavy and potentially dangerous to move. We provide all the heavy equipment to carry out this process safely.
8 – Crew and equipment to stand the frame on location.
Our experienced crew works safely and efficiently to get your historic timber frame stood in a timely way.
9 – Support and Follow up
We are also with you through the project, even if we sell you only the barn timber frame. Our affiliated company, Heritage Barns in Texas, have completed over 200 barn home projects and you, your architect or your builder can call on us at any point along the way to ask questions about how to do or where to get something.
We also offer all kinds of antique materials to go with our barns, which are priced as extras.
Historic Timber Frame
Will my finished home smell like a barn?
All of our barns are completely washed and heat treated during restoration. We have never had a problem with residual odors.
Are there differences in the framing of barns?
One of the wonderful things about these barns is that no two are the same. While each frame follows one of several basic traditional designs, the variations in a barn’s overall size, species of wood, girth of the timbers, etc. are as diverse and unique as the farmers who used them, the craftsmen who built them, and the resources of the region in which they were built.
How do you know the ages of these barn frames?
The primary clues that give away the original time period of a barn’s construction are the tools and construction methods used to build them. The types of tools used are known by the marks they left on the timbers. As the Industrial Revolution of the 1800’s began to influence agriculture, changing its focus from self-sufficient homesteads to larger, agri-business farms, it likewise affected the construction of barns. Also useful, but not always available, are historical documents, oral traditions, or family histories that give a date to the building’s construction. Watch our video below for further detail
What work have you done in New Zealand
We have been working in traditional post and beam construction for over 15 years in New Zealand through our previous business Timberworks in Nelson. We sold the business about 3 years ago to diversify and focus on meeting the market shift toward heritage material and heritage themed furniture and buildings. We have raised two historic barns in Auckland to date with another scheduled for 2018.
Can we view the barn before we buy it?
You are welcome to view any historic barn frames that we currently have in New Zealand at our base in Kimbolton. For other overseas barn frames we have a good range of pictures. Most clients buy from these photographs or we can provide additional photographs of either the timbers, the original standing barn or similar barn frames fully restored and erected as part of a new build. We can also arrange for you to visit the sites in Texas or Montana where our barns are stored by our partners Heritage Restorations.
How long does it take to build a barn home?
After the foundation is prepared, we can deliver and erect your barn frame in one week. Once the frame is erected, Structurally Insulated Panels (SIPs) can be installed, depending on the size of the barn, in as little as 3 or 4 days. Alternatively prenailed frames and conventional NZ construction methods can be used to enclose the frame. From there, the finish out will take no longer than any other custom home.
What materials are in NZ?
We currently have one barn frame in stock in NZ, together with a range of heritage material. It is best to call us to discuss availability. If you need additional heritage material for your build that we don’t currently stock, then typical lead time is 8 to 10 weeks.
What is the resale value of a barn home? If I decide to sell my barn home someday will a unique home like this appeal to a wide range of home buyers?
Barn homes are now highly regarded in construction and design magazines. Architectural Digest (USA) regularly runs articles featuring restored barn homes, and other articles featuring barn homes appear continually in publications as diverse as Victorian Homes and Timber Homes Illustrated. Barn homes have also been regularly featured on programs such as “This Old House.” The uniqueness, rustic beauty and timeless craftsmanship of restored, historic timber-frames appeal to a very wide cross-section of custom home buyers and therefore enhance their resale value.
Of the more than 200 barn homes our affiliated company Heritage Restorations have built, very few have been on the market because the owners are in love with them. The few that have been offered for sale sold readily.
Our 15 years experience with traditional post and beam construction in NZ encourages us that it is a very unique and special project that includes a traditional post and beam frame made from new or historic timber. We are not aware of any of our past clients ever having any difficulty in selling their houses. The constant influx of UK, European and North American immigrants to NZ also provides a steady stream of potential buyers.
Is it hard to design a home using a barn?
Unlimited options are available in designing your barn home. You can use one barn or several, add lofts, and even use conventional framing to make additions to the barn frame. Please take a look at the finished projects on the Heritage Restorations Showcase page to view some interesting and creative variations. We can also give you a link and password to some of our current projects
Computer –aided sketch can give you a very good picture of how your finished barn will look.
How expensive is your architectural service?
While our team has far more experience than any other NZ architectural firm our prices are comparable to the average NZ architectural fees. Our fees are structured so that we can engage in some or all of the concept. For example if you would like us to draw up a basic concept plan in a barn you are considering purchasing then we can do that as a first step. Another key advantage is that our architect team has worked with many builders in finishing barn homes and are able to quickly and affordably detail the barn which saves a lot of time in the design and build phase. Email Greg Godsey if you would like to discuss this option
Do you offer design services?
Heritage Timbercraft can offer complete Architectural design / build services. We work alongside Heritage Restorations Architectural team and/or NZ qualified designers/engineers to produce Architectural and Engineering drawings and details. Re-claimed timber design and construction is a unique construction type. Designing and building projects from concept to completion is an exciting way for us to explore the large number of options available in a re-purposed custom space.
Step 1: Select your timber frame
Each barn in our inventory has a unique history, timeline, scale and form. Our timber framing crew are excellent craftsman and often modify frames in the restoration process to meet specific constraints, or better accommodate a larger design concept. While the restoration process allows much flexibility, a selected frame introduces certain givens for how we are going to approach the overall design. For instance, there might be specific markings on the frame we want to showcase or specific timbers that should to frame a key space. On the other hand, your general design might be more flexible and instead your barn selection is driven by the story behind a specific frame, when it was harvested from the virgin forest, where it was found, or by what species of wood was it crafted. In either case, we find that selecting the right frame is the best place to start the process. We become engaged in your development, considering many facets of the larger building you want to complete and begin making frame recommendations, while advising you of a particular frame’s, history, location, best timbers, and modification options.
Step 2: Program your Building
Once a timber frame is selected our design team can begin working with the givens the barn produces, and gather information from your vision to build a design program that will lead us to a specific design solution. We’ll consider your space needs, space relationships, frame features, and modification options. Sometimes the complete design may be fully contained inside the limits of your historic frame. Other times we’ll introduce a number of conventionally framed additions that are incorporated into the design to offer additional spaces the frame on its own doesn’t accommodate according the developed program. This decision affects the over-all exterior form of the building is defined early in the process. Your involvement is critical and guides us in reaching design solutions that will ultimately meet your needs.
Step 3: Material Selection
In custom Architecture available materials have seemly endless options, we try to determine at a performance level the exterior materials in the design process as they affect important Structural and Architectural construction assemblies. We offer photo real exterior renderings of your building to help visualize the final product as part of our standard design process. As we wrap up the design phase of the project it is important to us how the building performs, Architecturally, Structurally, Mechanically, and Environmentally as well as how it looks. Developing final construction assemblies occurs as you solidify material specifications and approve the final building form.
Step 4: Building your Development
As a General Contractor, your design team is feeding you current construction pricing through-out the design process, so you’re equipped to make educated design decisions effectively avoiding a budget crisis at the end of the Design phase, or worse in the Construction phase. Key areas of interest are determined early so the budget is properly divided offering the areas most important to you an appropriate budget. Our construction team works inside the budget and offers weekly updates in cost and schedule through an interactive area of our website that allows you convenient access to current pictures, drawings, contracts, and costs and give you the control to allow access to family and friends as momentum builds to see your project come to final completion.
The Building Process
Where are the barns restored?
We restore the historic frames here in Kimbolton, New Zealand. Kimbolton is a small farming village approximately 25km North of Fielding in the Manawatu
Can you build additions e.g. entry way trusses with the same materials?
Yes. We are able to work with you to design and build whatever other architectural elements you want to include in your home. Entry ways, verandah posts and diagonal braces, additional trusses for bedrooms and additional exposed rafters are common additions to barn frames.
How easy is it to get a barn home through council?
We have worked with many councils throughout the country through our experience in Traditional Post and beam construction. We can help provide the design and engineering drawings to meet the council requirements. Historic Timber Frames are typically signed off by a NZ chartered engineer. The only time they wouldn’t be is if the frame was completely non-structural.
How long does it take from the time of ordering to the time that barn is erected on site?
If the barn is in New Zealand already then the restoration and raising usually take about 1 month. If it is in the USA then typically these steps take 3 months. Please note that the ordering of the barn would typically precede the design phase which is rarely less than 3 – 6 months. This gives plenty of time to bring a barn frame in from the US if desired without causing delays to the overall project timeframe.
When I purchase a barn home from you are you available to help me through the process even if you are not the building contractor
We commit to being available throughout the building process and are always available to you, your contractor and your architect.
What are the steps in building a barn home?
Building a barn home is not a mystery and anyone who builds conventional homes will have no difficulty building a barn home. To give you an idea of what it takes, we will walk you through a typical process.
1 – Initial contact
Call our office and let us know your ideas. What size home. How many bedrooms and baths, etc.
2 – Plans
You may have a floor plan for your house in mind or you may need to look at plans. Instead of working with our design team, you may already have plans or want to enlist another architect/architectural designer to help you with your plans. We will gladly work with your plans or any architect/architectural designer you choose to work with.
3 – General Contractor/builder or do it yourself
You may have a general contractor/builder or have the skill to be your own contractor. Our barn frame sales contract includes standing the historic frame on your foundation.
If we only supply the frame, we are available to advise your general contractor with whatever questions he may have, since we have built lots of barn homes, start to finish and want your project to be everything you expect and hope for.
4 – Once you have a rough or precise plan, you know what barn will work and whether you want to go ahead with purchasing a barn frame.
5 – Your design team will lead you through a building consent process with the local council. We have never had a problem with this process. Even though building a barn home is unique, it is universally accepted.
6 – You have your land and your builder and your barn frame and you are ready to begin. First the site needs to be cleared and the foundations put in.
7 – The barn frame may be already restored and in storage in our yard, or it may be in the process of being taken down. Preparation of the barn frame is not a delaying factor in most all of our barn projects. We have an experienced crew that is able to meet deadlines. It is also at this time that any alterations to the frame are done to customize it to your plan.
8 – Once the foundation is ready, we arrive with the barn frame. (Now it gets exciting.) In under a week our crew will have your barn frame stood. It is now ready for panels or for the walls and roof to be framed.
9 – Then you will go through the rest of the process of building, not unlike any other house:
Wall and roof framing or SIP panels, roofing, exterior siding, plumbing and electrical, heating and air conditioning, interior finishes, cabinetry, flooring, painting, fixtures.
And then you move in and realize that it really is a wonderful, unique house. Everyone will marvel at it. You will become a revered historian and local legend. And you will sleep better at night with the thought that some time, hundreds of years ago, perhaps even before Thomas Jefferson sat down and wrote the Declaration of Independence or Washington and his small army crossed the Delaware, or Davy Crockett and his Tennessee Volunteers died defending the Alamo, some early American pioneers built your home’s barn frame by hand with the broad axe and adze from the wild, virgin forest. And they never imagined in their wildest dreams that one day you would be living in it . . . and neither did you.
What type of foundation is best for a barn home?
Barn homes can be built on concrete slabs, on wood-framed floors sitting on piles and bearers, and on full basements. You can finish the floors in anything you like, including carpet, tile, wood or stained concrete. Typically in NZ with a flat-ish site, concrete foundations with a concrete slab will be your most economic option.
What are SIPs?
Structural Insulated Panels, or SIPs, are a highly energy-efficient and labour-saving way to enclose an historic timber frame, and have been used in new construction for decades in North America. They are basically panelized walls, replacing in one step: framing, sheathing, and insulation. They typically consist of two layers of OSB (oriented strand board) or similar with a high density polyurethane foam sandwiched between. Since the Christchurch earthquake they are more readily available in NZ and are becoming a solid option for a barn homes wall and/or roof systems.
Do you have to use SPIs to enclose the timber frame?
No, you can use conventional 90/140 x 45 framing around the timbers and insulate with fiberglass, wool, polyester or other insulation.
Does using SIPs limit the types of interior and exterior finishes that I can use?
Not at all. You can use any type of roofing, siding, and interior finishes available for conventionally constructed buildings. We have finished barns wrapped in SIPs with roofs of metal, slate, cedar shingles, copper, thatch and asphalt shingles. Exterior siding can be stone, wood, stucco, brick or any combination of materials. Interior finishes also can be anything from textured and painted gib board to stone and antique barn wood.
How does the energy efficiency of a frame wrapped with SIPs or spray foamed compare to conventional construction?
SIPs and spray foam have several energy-saving advantages over standard construction methods. Their R values are at least 30-40% higher than fiberglass insulation of the same thickness, but this is only half the story. Their greatest energy-saving advantage over conventional framing and insulating is they create a seamless, insulated envelope around the timber frame.
How are electrical wires and plumbing run in a SIP?
The panels come with wire chases already run in them. You simply tap into these existing chases. If access is needed somewhere off the standard pattern, the panels can be cut from the inside to allow wire and pipe installation, then the openings resealed with spray foam.
Do you need to put a finish on the beams?
You can, but rarely do people apply a finish to the beams. They have a deep, rich patina that has been acquired by years of exposure and they do not need a finish.
Fumigation and / or heat treatment
If there is one piece of advice we give to every barn buyer it is: DO NOT BUY A BARN FRAME THAT IS NOT PROPERLY FUMIGATED OR HEAT TREATED! If you do, you are looking for big trouble from some very little bugs, like powder post beetles. We fumigate or heat treat our barn frames before assembly. Every one of our barns is thoroughly heat treated as it arrives in NZ. The heat treatment has no residual effect.
How do the barn frames handle earth quakes?
We have worked with a number of councils around New Zealand to ensure that the frames we erect are designed into houses that meet the local councils earthquake requirements. Much of the earthquake resistance in a building comes from the bracing elements including wall linings. If the building is going to have a lot of glass in it then extra structural bracing elements will be needed and can be designed into the build
What other antique materials do you have available?
We have a large inventory of antique materials, including weathered barn siding, 50mm thick threshing floor boards, and many other types of materials. We also have hand-hewn timbers, hand-forged iron hardware, barn doors, and more.