Planting Sequoias

In which I blog about a life (hopefully) well lived.


Farm Apartment: First Things First (in which we remove the roof in order to raise the roof)

When remodeling old things to make them new and useful once again, you often have to take a few steps backwards before you get to the fun stuff.

In the case of the Farm Apartment we’re building (YES! For real! Click here to catch up), we needed to remove the roof in order to raise the roof. I know, I know, it seems backwards to me as well.

But in order to support the weight of the ENTIRE SECOND STORY, we took the whole roof down. Did I mention that we’re DIYing the whole thing? THRILLING.

Let’s jump right in with a picture. Believe me when I say that this was a WEIRD, WEIRD feeling–being in the building and yet completely outside.


Oh, but it wasn’t as easy as the internet makes it out to be. I just decided to spare you of all of the hard work and the two GIGANTIC dumpsters worth of debris we chipped off that old roof. That, and I forgot to take pictures. The roof was the tar type with about an inch of accumulated tar over the decades. We would use a sawzall to cut through the tar and then we’d chip it off in large-ish chunks with a nifty shovel/prybar thing meant for this type of work. I obviously don’t know the real name.

Once we removed the tar, we removed the roof boards. In today’s construction, 4×8′ sheets of wood are used, but when this barn was built the used individual boards that were about 8 inches wide and a half-inch thick. Since they were all tar-covered and filled with nails, into the dumpster they went!

Next we removed the old joists–in this case, long lengths of 2x8s. In the picture below, you can see one of the two beams that helped support these joists.


Now THOSE we could keep and reuse–which meant removing HUNDREDS and HUNDREDS of nails. But not having to PAY to get rid of them and not having to purchase new wood means it’s worth it! They won’t be reused as floor/ceiling joists, as today’s code requires better support than that, but they can be used to frame the second story outer walls.

Oh, and let’s back up a sec and dissect that picture above. YES, that’s my dad using a CHAINSAW to get that huge beam down (the beam was actually made of three side-by-side 2x10s, not solid wood). We couldn’t reuse them, so the billion pound beam pieces went into the dumpster.

We replaced the 2 old wooden beams with one custom steel beam and three supporting steel poles. Oh yeah, and we had to take out the concrete floor and pour new concrete supports for the beam poles. Currently the floor looks like Swiss cheese–the rest of the floor will come out eventually and be replaced with a fresh new concrete slab. The old slab was too thin and rough to keep. In essence, all we are keeping of the old barn are the cinder block walls–and even those have to be raised a bit to create 8″ ceilings.

Obviously this is all very exciting, and Kenny and I are racking up the miles (and gas $$ used) driving the 35 miles to and from the farm. We’re loving it.