Barn Stormer

Geoff owns a barn. An old barn. A barn so old, the gravel road that once ran next to it has been successively filled and regraded, and now towers a good four feet above. All that extra weight, and the drainage pattern it creates, spell danger for the barn’s foundation wall.

Geoff hired PERCH to ascertain if the barn is safe to keep horses and store 16 tons of hay. He also asked for advice on any low-cost repairs he could make to stabilize the structure. My visual inspection revealed lots of band-aids placed by previous owners. Two tall reinforced concrete blocks prop up the fieldstone foundation wall that’s bowing from the surcharge of the raised-up road. A cable runs from one gable end to a ground anchor, apparently to resist prevailing wind. Extra posts have been added on the lower level to support sagging beams.

My first suggestion to Geoff was to add more posts to carry vertical load directly to the ground, relieving the burden on the mist critical foundation wall. In particular, I said, the hay should be supported as directly as possible. I also suggested a buried drain pipe between the barn and the road – hydrology is not my area of expertise, but anything to drain water away from that spot will be beneficial. (Geoff believes he already has a drain there, but it’s probably clogged.)


Beam has migrated right and is no longer supported by the column.

Geoff was pleased to implement my suggestions. Engineers assign a smaller importance factor to a barn than a house because of the low risk to human life, but I want to keep his horses safe too!


Inside the barn.

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