How to Tear Down and Get Rid of an Old Barn, Plus How NOT to Sell the Wood!

How to Tear Down and Get Rid of an Old Barn, Plus How NOT to Sell the Wood! | Whole-Fed Homestead

We’ll call this one a “learning experience.” (I generally hate those, by the way) If you’re wondering how to sell the wood from an old barn, if your old barn wood is worth any money, and how to handle the process… I hope you can learn from our experience.

That is to say, selling our old 1800s barn turned out to be a pretty terrible experience. Everything worked out in the end, but the good news for you? We learned a LOT. And if you don’t have an old barn but want to hear a story about the ridiculousness of some people, then please, enjoy!

We didn’t want to get rid of our beautiful old barn. In fact, it was an incredibly hard decision that we went back and forth on for a long time. And on the day that it finally came tumbling to the ground in a pile of beautiful old barn wood, it felt like my soul was crushed right along with it.

How to Tear Down and Get Rid of an Old Barn, Plus How NOT to Sell the Wood! | Whole-Fed Homestead

It was so run down and unsafe that we didn’t even really use it ourselves, but that barn had so much character and so much presence on our homestead; it was the centerpiece, and it belonged here. No doubt that it was once the bustling heart of this homestead for many others- and you could feel it. The hand-hewn beams, the perfectly weathered siding… it had stood there since the property was first inhabited. I loved admiring it.

Towards the end of summer the back side of it caved in during a storm and we knew we had to make a decision: either let mother nature take it down slowly and painfully over the coming years, or try to salvage what we could and give new life to the beautiful old barn wood instead of watching it rot in a heap.

How to Tear Down and Get Rid of an Old Barn, Plus How NOT to Sell the Wood! | Whole-Fed Homestead

We knew we couldn’t/wouldn’t/shouldn’t take it apart ourselves, so we started looking for companies who take down barns and salvage old wood.

How to Find a Company to Take Down an Old Barn

If you’re not taking down the barn yourself, this is the first hurdle: finding the right people for the job. If you are taking down the barn yourself, then good luck, it won’t be easy. Let me clarify- demolishing it with heavy equipment is fairly quick and easy, salvaging the material is an entirely different story.

I found the most useful information by googling: “reclaimed barn wood Wisconsin.” If you are within an hour’s drive of any other states, make sure and search the same terms for those states as well. Many companies that salvage old barn wood were willing to travel up to an hour (and sometimes a lot more) for the right barn wood.

Once we had a list of companies that were within reasonable distance from us, we started calling them. It turns out that getting people to answer their phone or call you back was a real problem. We’ve found this to be the case with construction-type companies and contractors in our area in general. We called a bunch of barn wood reclamation companies multiple times and got nowhere fast.

We talked to one company (well, pretty much just a guy) that would come and remove what he could easily take, and would pay us for it. But he didn’t have equipment or the ability to actually “take down” a barn. This wasn’t what we were looking for.

As luck would have it, the following week we were attending our local beekeeping club summer picnic, and when we arrived we noticed that the hosts of the party had a barn that was half torn down. We asked them about it and they gave us the name of the company who was taking down the barn. A recommendation and a phone number: yes!!

We called the company, and a few days later the owner was here assessing our barn.

We had no idea what to expect- would they make us an offer? Would they be charging us for their service? Undoubtedly it was going to be a lot of work. We knew that the beautiful 100+ year old barn wood was worth money, so we were hoping to get something for it. We wouldn’t have had someone take it down if it was going to cost us money… but since we didn’t know what to expect, we had to start somewhere.

The Offer: Is My Old Barn Wood Worth Money?

We wanted four things:
1. for the barn to be safely collapsed by someone who knew what they were doing
2. for the rubble to be left in such a way that with no equipment we could get rid of it over time
3. for the beautiful wood to be given new life and not just sit there and rot
4. for it to not cost us money to do this demolition

The owner of the barn reclamation company, who I will here on out refer to as “The Barn Guy” (which is a generous title, as I am resisting the urge to call him something less favorable) ultimately made us an offer on our barn. Yes, this story does get interesting.

The Barn Guy looked all around the barn, inside and out. He was friendly and talked about his love of turning old barn wood into beautiful furniture and structural accents- awesome!

After he saw what he needed to, we chatted for a while and he made us an offer right there on the spot. He offered us $1000 cash plus a custom built furniture piece- he suggested a dining table, from our barn wood. I liked the sound of that! I hadn’t really considered having a piece of furniture made from it. I mean, we already have shelves and little things we’ve made from some of the wood… but to have a beautiful, professionally made table in the center of our home that would serve as a reminder of our gorgeous barn that was once the centerpiece of our homestead sounded perfect.

The prospect of having a table made from the barn wood was a huge comfort.

We made a trip to The Barn Guy’s store, where we learned that his barn wood tables sell for between $1000-$1500. So the total value of his offer was around $2500. Going in, we really had no idea what to expect or how much a barn was worth- so I hope this is helpful to you. And after seeing the amount of work it took to get the wood out of there, this did seem like a reasonable offer when all was said and done.

It’s worth noting that different types of barns are likely to get different prices in different parts of the country. I know he also took into account how much of the wood was salvageable- there was quite a bit, more than half, that was too far gone and rotten to use. This barn was approximately 30X60 feet.

How to Tear Down and Get Rid of an Old Barn, Plus How NOT to Sell the Wood! | Whole-Fed Homestead

We weren’t really sure if that was a fair offer or not. But it was all we had, and his unique offer of the custom table sealed the deal.

The Barn Wood and Barn Demolition Negotiation

The Barn Guy talked about the process of tearing down the barn and even showed us a video of a different barn his crew tore down recently. He explained that they would remove the siding first and then carefully cut relief notches in the upright timbers so that the barn would tip how they wanted it, and then they would bring in a big truck to pull the skeleton down. And once it was down they would remove timbers and roof boards.

He asked how flexible we were on the timeline from start to finish, and that if we absolutely needed them to, he could have it torn down in about two weeks time. Of course we were reasonable people who were somewhat flexible.

Karl and I thanked him for his offer and told him that we would talk about it and get back to him by the end of the week.

Okay, let’s do it! We decided to go with The Barn Guy for a couple reasons:
He came with a positive referral from a fellow bee club member.
He was the only on that called us back.
He offered us a custom barn wood table.
This was his actual business, not just some guy on craigslist that did this on the side for fun.
He obviously had actually done this before many times (evidence on his business Facebook page).
He would leave the rubble in a such a way that we could deal with it without any heavy equipment.
He was insured.

We called The Barn Guy and let him know that it was a go. He said that he would email us the contract, and that him and his crew would be able to start in about two weeks.

The Barn Wood and Barn Demolition Contract

You may know this about us, or you may not…. but Karl and I both pay strong attention to detail. We also watch Judge Judy every night with dinner. So, you know, we’re pretty much legal experts.

Long story short, The Barn Guy does NOT pay strong attention to detail, so we basically had to re-write the contract he sent us to include all the details of the project. He obviously doesn’t watch Judge Judy either, as she taught us that once you have a written contract ALL the details need to be in writing. Nothing verbal holds up once there is a written contract, so we wanted to make sure the contract was very thorough.

Things we thought important to make sure were included in the contract were:
A project end date, including when our table would be delivered.
The monetary compensation we would receive, and that it was to be paid upfront.
That we would receive a table, built to our specifications from the wood taken from our barn.
Which materials they would be taking, we specified: siding, roof boards, and timbers from its frame.
That the material left behind would be left in small, manageable piles.

The Barn Guy all but rolled his eyes at us, I could tell. But that didn’t stop us from making him sign a contract outlining all the details. He was supposed to bring this new contract with him on the first day he arrived to work, but surprise! He had printer problems and didn’t have it. Yeah… right. No worries, we had a printer! We printed it out and he and Karl both signed it.

This probably should have been a red flag for us. We figured that his job was to destroy, and if it were the other way around and he were building a barn or something, we would have been much more discerning.

We also made sure to get proof of his insurance and not just take his word for it. You should know what type of insurance they have- liability in case they drop a board on your garage? What happens if a worker is badly injured? Will your homeowners insurance be on the hook if something happens?

Old Barn Tear Down

The Barn Guy showed up by himself for that first week and started by removing a couple big boxelder trees that were in the way. Then he worked with ladders and a small scaffold to carefully start prying off the siding boards. We removed a few pieces ourselves for a project when we first moved to the homestead, so we know the amount of finesse and care it takes to get the stuff off in one piece without cracking it.

How to Tear Down and Get Rid of an Old Barn, Plus How NOT to Sell the Wood! | Whole-Fed Homestead

A few days in, he knocks on the door to ask about electricity, “The barn isn’t connected to electricity, is it?” “Well I sure hope not!” I replied with sarcastic disbelief. We were told by the owners when we bought the place that the electricity had been disconnected, but if I was the one up on a metal ladder with metal tools ripping down boards, I sure as heck wouldn’t take anyone’s word for it. That seems like a question you ask before you start, and not something you rely on someone’s word of mouth verification for.

After a few days, The Barn Guy brought another worker with him.  They finished removing the siding and loaded it all up on his trailer. They exclaimed to us more than once that they actually couldn’t believe the barn was still standing on it’s own, based on the way the structure underneath looked.

The next step would be tipping the barn skeleton over.

A few days later the crew showed up- this was The Barn Guy, his dad, and one other worker. They came with a semi truck and a skid steer. When we first talked to The Barn Guy he described cutting “relief notches” in the frame in order to make the barn fall how he wanted. We kept a pretty close eye on him and never saw him do that- but hey, he’s the expert, not us. They hooked a big cable to the center post of the barn, hooked the other end to the semi, and drove the semi away to rip the post out and collapse the barn frame.

Long story short, the post came out but the barn didn’t fall. And then they repeated this with a different post, and a different post, and a different post. It looked like the top half of the barn was practically floating on air!


How to Tear Down and Get Rid of an Old Barn, Plus How NOT to Sell the Wood! | Whole-Fed Homestead


Old Barn Wood Material Reclamation

Once the barn was collapsed, they removed the layers of shingles to get at the roof boards underneath. The shingles largely disintegrated as they were scraping them off, but they did leave them in piles for us to dispose of. Asphalt shingle disposal probably varies in different areas- here you can’t burn them, bury them, or throw them in the regular garbage. But you can put them in special dumpsters or pay a fee to dispose of them by the bag or truck bed-full at our local dump.

Next they pulled out the timbers, and finally the floor joists.

They completed all of this with a skid steer and semi, which is also what they used to pull some of the huge beams out. I believe The Barn Guy had multiple other barn demos in various stages going on at the same time, so this was all completed over a couple months time. He would show up randomly, and the project was much longer and drawn out than he initially led us to believe.

The crew also spent many days taking hundreds of nails out of all the boards and flinging them around. Karl thinks the more appropriate and professional thing would have been to at least try to throw them in a bucket or something. We had to buy a magnetic nail picker upper to clean up the area after them. We even found a pile of nails under our boat sitting nearby.

The Barn Guy had set aside three beautiful lightening rods from the roof along with some big rusty cable that came down with the barn. When he left for the day we took them and put them away for safe keeping and to get them out of the way. The next day The Barn Guy asked us where they went… because he wanted to use them on his chicken coop.

Um, no.

This is why we explicitly outlined exactly which materials he would be taking in the contract: the hay fork hanging in the top of the barn, the lightenings rods, and any other treasures that basically weren’t wood = ours. This put him in a bit of a mood. Me too!

This is about the time I started to see that he wasn’t just some hardworking, blue-collar barn demolition specialist, but a sneaky snake.

Our goal from the beginning was to maintain a good working relationship with this guy. Karl and I are kind, reasonable people, and up until this point we had put up with a lot of crap from him very tactfully (helping himself to some other boards on our property near the old barn but not part of the barn, not showing up for weeks at a time, letting deadlines pass) … I’d almost say we were push-overs. We were in an odd and unfortunate situation in that we needed The Barn Guy not to hate us because he had to make us the barn wood table of my dreams!

On the last day of work they loaded up the final semi with all our beautiful wood and then they drove away with the heart of our property.

The Afterparty: Barn Demolition Clean Up

The Barn Guy actually took very little of the barn. He knocked it down so that we could reach it, and the things he and his crew had to move to get at the good stuff were in piles, but there was a LOT of barn leftover that they didn’t even touch, for us to deal with after he was done. We thought we’d get rid of it slowly over time, but I don’t think we knew exactly what we were in for. There was also a partial basement under the old barn so it ended up being a lot of rubble teetering over a very dangerous pit.

The takeaway here is to have an “after” plan, relatively speaking. I don’t know that you’d find a company to take the good wood and also get rid of the rest of your falling apart barn (without charging you a lot of money to do it). Is there a concrete or rock foundation- what will you do with that? A lot of broken glass? Do you have room for the rest of the barn to be buried? Are there silos in the way- how will you take those down?

The Rest of the Story: Our Barn Wood Table

Wondering how the story ends? Our table was supposed to be made and delivered by January 1st 2017. The Barn Guy needed more time, so we wrote another contract extending the table due date to March- a date that we let him pick (see, we’re kind, reasonable people). April, May, June, and July passed and we still didn’t have our table, and he stopped answering our phone calls and emails.

In August we started the ball rolling for taking legal action against him. My legal counsel (a friend who is a lawyer) advised us to start by sending him a letter using certified mail/return receipt, basically asking when he planned to fulfill his end of the contract in building us a table. This was enough to get his attention. I think he was hoping we’d just forget about it and go away.


When he finally answered our call after threatening him with small claims court, these are cliff notes of our exchange:

Us: Hi, when will you have our table finished?
The Barn Guy: Well, I didn’t have enough wood from your barn to build the table you wanted.
Us: We saw you leave with two semi trucks full of wood from our barn. We have pictures of it actually.
TBG: I don’t have any of your wood left, but I do have one table built that has some of your wood used for the legs.
Us: That looks like a lovely table, but it is not the style we discussed, nor is it the correct dimensions we gave you for our dining space, nor does it have our barn wood used for the top… which is the essence of the table.
TBG: I might have over-promised you in the beginning on what I could deliver.

Yes, he actually said that. He also became extremely unprofessional and accused us of many ridiculous things, and called us names, actual swear-word names!

Even though we had a fairly certain case against him for a lot of different things, we REALLY didn’t want to sue him. We really, really didn’t want to go to court. We also didn’t know what value a judge would assign to the priceless nature of the wood he took that we can’t get back… could have been a lot, or not very much at all- a very subjective number. And even when we did win the case, we would then have to work to collect the money.

This had been stressing us out for a long time and we needed it to be over.

We saw that The Barn Guy had posted on his business Facebook page a couple of different tables he had made- one in particular that I really liked. The top was made from the threshing floor of a barn from a town near ours. It was exactly what I pictured a barn wood table should look like.

The cliff notes of our next exchange are as follows:

Us: We saw you posted a picture of a table that is more of the style we are looking for. We realize it is not from our wood, but is this one available to us?
The Barn Guy: This table is too expensive, much more than I had allotted for your custom table. I guess your precious barn wood isn’t actually that important to you then, is it?
Us: Well you said our wood is gone, what are we supposed to do? And we never talked about a price restriction or value of the table we were supposed to receive, only that it was to be built to our specifications and from our wood.
TBG: You can have this one, but you’ll have to pay the difference from what I allotted for your original table.
Us: No, the amount you allotted is a number you just made up, that we never discussed, and was never in our contract.
TBG: (Expletives. Name Calling. Unprofessionalism. Hangs Up.)

Okay, I guess we’re suing him.

He calls back 5 minutes later after realizing all the incriminating and inappropriate things he’d said. He even accused us of recording the conversation we just had. We didn’t deny it, and gosh we wish we would have recorded it! He expressed that he also wanted this all behind him, so he offered us the table we liked and inquired about…you know, the one that was too expensive, as an even trade to finally end our relationship. Really, he just realized that we weren’t backing down, and that he screwed up and was in some pretty deep poo now.

This! This is the reasoning for the thorough contract!

We went the next day to pick up our table, a little jumpy and scared for our lives- he’s a big guy who takes barns apart all day. But we lived to tell about it and there was no confrontation during the pick-up, thankfully.

How to Tear Down and Get Rid of an Old Barn, Plus How NOT to Sell the Wood! | Whole-Fed Homestead

We’re just so glad it’s over. And even though the table we got isn’t from our own barn wood, it’s beautiful, made with local wood that was once somebody else’s beloved barn, and I will love it for that.

And I can only hope that somewhere out there, someone else is loving our barn wood. I know they are.

The Rest of the Story: The Old Barn Rubble

It was a sunny day in April when the snow had mostly melted and Karl and I were just starting to sift through the leftover barn rubble and hauling the rotten wood to a burn pile, which was going to be a multi-year project. Our neighbor, who we’d only met once or twice before, saw us outside and stopped in to ask about clearing some brush on our shared property line, then casually mentioned that he has excavators and bull-dozers and takes down barns on the side.

Excuse me, what? He gave us a good, neighborly deal on the project and the next weekend he was at our homestead with his excavator! He might actually be an angel.

We hired a local Amish man and his son to take down our silos- which they did, on a well-below freezing winter day, with nothing but a sledge hammer and a smile.

We realize now that the leftover rubble plus the basement pit that was left was waaay too much for us to deal with on our own. It would have consumed us for years to do so. And it would have been ugly and dangerous for a long time before it was cleaned up. But before actually seeing it all it was hard to tell if we would need to hire help, or if we could do it ourselves.

If you weren’t going to try to salvage the barn wood, the process for tearing it down and getting rid of everything might look something like the following…

The steps in cleaning up and getting rid of the rest of the barn rubble:

Knocking down what was left of the old barn.
Knocking down the silos.
We paid to haul out 4 dump truck loads of concrete.
We donated the metal to our neighbor’s church’s scrap metal drive (and he donated his time to pick the metal out of the rubble). Less to bury = good.
We had him take out of bunch of brush and boxelder trees while he was here with his equipment.
He piled up all the old rotting wood and trees in the pit of where the barn was and we lit it up in the largest fire we’d ever seen.
He used his excavator to dig a massive hole in the hillside where the barn used to stand and put everything that wouldn’t burn in it, then buried it all.
He came in with a dozer, scraped all the top soil around the area into a pile, spread and smoothed the extra sand from the big hole over the area, and then redistributed the topsoil on top of that.
We planted grass and started a garden in our new ground.
He brought in a load of base coarse to fix our driveway, which got torn up from the heavy equipment in spring.

How to Tear Down and Get Rid of an Old Barn, Plus How NOT to Sell the Wood! | Whole-Fed Homestead

Thanks to our neighbor, the end result of this whole project turned out pretty great. We gained over an acre of space- now a beautiful gently rolling hill that we’ve already started turning into an orchard, a new garden, and bee forage. It’s been completely transformed into something we only dreamed about it.

I really couldn’t find much information on how to sell an old barn when we first started … so I hope I can help you avoid some of the mistakes we made, or help you better protect yourself while selling your old barn wood!

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29 thoughts on “How to Tear Down and Get Rid of an Old Barn, Plus How NOT to Sell the Wood!

  1. We’re in the tri-state area and our experience with contractors for home renovations has been eerily similar. Smart on you to have done the paperwork and to keep on top of it! Thank you for sharing your experience.

  2. I nodded most of the time as I read your story. We have been working for almost two years trying to have our beloved but terminally ill bank barn taken down. Offers that fell through, unreturned calls, you name it. Not glad to hear you had problems, but glad know our experience isn’t unique.

    1. Sorry to hear you’ve had a bad experience too… hoping you can get yours taken care of! :) -Crystal

  3. Thanks for writing this. We’re in a similar situation with an early 1800s Yankee bank barn in New England that we recently acquired. The previous owners let the roof go, among other things, and so now we have a formerly beautiful part of early American history disintegrating in our pasture. We’d hate to see it torn down, but can’t afford to restore it. A little TLC along the way would have gone a long way to keeping it in workable shape. Now we’re left with the same dilemma you’ve described: sell it to someone who wants to move and restore (assuming we can slow the damage), tear down for salvage, or allow gravity and the weather to take it down over time. It’s heartbreaking!

    1. Hi Annie, I am actually looking at a property to buy, up here in VT. Did you ever find a reliable company to help with your barn and were you able to salvage anything of value?
      Thank you.

  4. Thanks so much for your story. We are just starting to find names/companies to salvage and demolish and old house and barn and your story is our biggest fear! Hopefully we can find someone reputable the first time. It’ll be a big enough project without a nightmare on top of it.

  5. I found only a few of guys who would actually return a phone call and only one that agreed to come out, but never did. I read more bad stories than good and had little luck in getting a realistic offer on the wood. Most said it would cost me up to $2,000 and they kept the wood. So I am now taking in down by hand myself and burning it all as I go. A painful and very physical process at age 53, but it is slow progress in the right direction anyway. Once I have it stripped, I have a local contractor that has agreed to collapse the 2 story post and beam framing so I can disassemble the roof. Best of luck to all and remember that eventually it may be easier to just take things into one’s own hands.

  6. I’m trying to find a deconstruction crew in the Marinette wWisonsin area! I’ve found a barn someone no longer wants but now need a barn removal team. Yes it seems no one works in that area or they just don’t return emails! All I need is the frame for rebuilding but no luck so far. 😑
    PS Matt: would love to see pix of your bank barn!

  7. Sorry you had such a bad experience.. Removing an old barn is such a tough decision and when its treated with such disrespect it’s so unfortunate. You guys seemed so patient and reasonable with him and he took advantage. You were the the bigger man / woman in this unfortunate situation. I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if had been the TBG….

  8. Thank you for writing this article up. We just made a deal to take a barn down on Sunday in west central wi. We have all the excavation equipment and 9 employees on hand. We own a concrete company. I expressed interest that I wanted to find a barn to take down and use the material for current and future projects. Something my husband and I can do together. Well he found me one. :) So we made a deal that we will take the barn down and keep what material we wanted, would dig a hole, push the excess wood in for burning and then the concrete foundation for burying. I’m so nervous as this is our first time and have been doing the research. We have the tools and man power but there is a certain level of care removing an old barn and I don’t want to mess it up. :)
    The contract details were very helpful.
    Because of the travel time, the barn is about 40 minutes from us, my husband estimates it will cost about $8,000 in hauling equipment to location, labor costs, etc. As we have no idea how long it will take us to remove material, etc. Could take us two weeks, could take a month. I’m not sure we will come ahead on this project, but it’s a good start.
    Very much enjoyed reading this.

    1. Wow, that’s wonderful! Please come back and let us know how it went! Good luck to you. -Crystal

  9. I’m taking down a small barn this weekend. It was built in 1900. It’s about 20×30 with a small loft. It has beautiful old hand-hewn beams that I plan on saving, if possible. Right now, the building is halfway down.

    The prior owners used it as a workshop. There was a divorce, and the spouse who kept the property neglected the house and the barn.

    We moved in 3 years ago, and a small hole in the roof had already caused a lot of damage over a 10 year span. In addition to that, someone stole (or was possibly sold) one of the main cross beams from the barn. When we bought the house, the beam was there (I have pictures). When we moved in, it was gone. It was obvious that someone had cut and removed the beam. You could see the sawdust and cut marks. The owner feigned knowledge of the incident.

    In any case, the building couldn’t be salvaged.

    I had a contractor give me an estimate. He verbally low-balled me ($2k), then almost doubled the written estimate (~$4k) when I agreed to the job. He also required that someone perform a site survey and toxic waste evaluation on the building before he would proceed. That was another $500. If anything was found, the price would go up. I passed.

    I’m not looking forward to all the work, but somebody has to do it.

  10. Crystal–I feel your pain on SO many levels! I would like to know the first name of the guy you were working with–because it sounds shockingly similar. And…his business card says: The Barn Guy. Our barn collapsed in the storms. This guy was supposed to clean everything up into a dumpster, burn pile and metal pile. He could have whatever he wanted as long as he cleaned up everything. He came a couple times and then faded into the woodwork. When I messaged him to say: If you aren’t going to finish the job, then you can just pay me for what you took. He got nasty and said that he was going to charge me labor for what he tore out. I replied that I really didn’t need him to pay for anything he took–JUST FINISH THE JOB! Never heard from him again. My husband and I are working at tearing it down ourselves now. Super huge job, but we can’t even get a cement contractor for the new barn until this mess is cleaned up. Very frustrating!

    1. Ugh how awful- sorry to hear that. The barn guy we used is no longer in business, so I’m sure it’s not the same one. Good luck and stay safe!! -Crystal

  11. I am in a nightmare ,having my barn taken down. It is horrible and I had a contract. The “Barn Whisperer” (as he calls himself) left me with the roof of the barn and refuses to finish the job he started. It is going to cost me 6,500 to get it cleaned up and I just do not have it. I am so sorry I ever trusted this man. I live in the village and now I am going to be taken to court….

  12. My barn was built in the late 1800s and its down to 3 walls left. The huge rolling door just blew off few days ago. Planning on tearing down myself this weekend mainly because of the stories I’ve heard about some of these characters.beautiful old barn and the workmanship for to be still standing is an achievement in itself 150 years later. building a pice of furniture out of parts salvageable is a nice thought and has encouraged me to do so.

    Thank-you for the inspiration.

  13. A storm removed a huge section of the roof on our barn and flooding caused the barn to shift on its foundation. We’re in the process of researching our options for removing the barn and that’s how I found your post. We’d love to restore it, but our budget will only stretch far enough to make repairs to our early 1900s house. The former owner sold the surrounding land to developers so we’re now tucked in between many new homes. Our barn is close to the neighbors so burning anything left after demolition is not an option. We hope that the process goes smoothly. I appreciate your post about your experience and will use what I learned when writing a contract.

  14. Really interesting article. We have an old tool shed, partially fallen, that’s filled with old farming implements. It’s in upstate NY, and we live in FL and therein lies the challenge. Was hoping to find a company we can trust but really, it sounds like gathering neighbors together is our best option.

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

  15. I’m doing some research on selling barn wood (my cousins). I’m SO glad I clicked on your story! I’ve bookmarked it and I plan to use it as my guide for doing this!

    Thanks again!


  16. Oh wow…we have been trying to get a guy to take our barn down. Emails go un-answered until I finally suggest he’s not interested.

    He “can’t find the pictures” I sent. Dude…it’s a link to an album in my Google Drive! Asks for my address again (it’s in an earlier email).

    Excuses as to why he hasn’t responded, are big red flags waving in my face!

    Thanks for sharing your story!

  17. Sorry to hear of your troubles but so good you had a contract, Judge Judy is smart have a written agreement !!
    WE have a crew coming to do our granary and will write up a custom made contract for them to sign before they start.
    Thanks for your valuable information !

    1. We wrote it ourselves… it is nothing special and isn’t formal, just an outline of what was to be expected from both parties.

  18. Thanks for the story. I am in Canada and have had three experiences over the past 25 years. First one, the deal was to take down and remove all debris from a machine shed. This went prtty much as agreed. Second was an old pig barn that was collapsing much as yours did under a snow load I dismantled that myself over a few months suffering some eduring nerve impingement in the process but in the end I salvaged quite a bit of the wood and stored it in another of my buildings which I was to have taken down a couple of yers ago. Thie fellow I found to take it down worked prtty much by himself, he took all the wood I had prevously salvaged, took down the structure of barn 3 and hauled away wverything of value and seemed to be starting the clean-up process. That was two years ago. He disappered and does not respond to communication. I did not have a cotract other than our email exchanges and I cannot find him now. I am just about to have my final old barn dismantled and will be sure to apply all the lessons from my experience and yours. Sincerely hoping to find an honourable dismantler as this building has lots of good material.

  19. I can not believe I came across
    your story just as I felt uneasy with exchanging messages on Facebook for my barn project. I am 2 weeks into posting an ad on a number of sites, sending messages to who I think may be interested. For every professional reply I get at least 5 barn guys that fall into your guys category. I’m almost scared to continue to reply to a couple as the details I explain takes them off guard and they get short in their answers and offensive. The 3 that I will be dealing with explained the need for a contract. One that we both understood that was to save both us from any misunderstanding. Even told me what to get signed, looked into before deciding on who I hire. I may have scared one when they used the word “demolition” and I let them know this decision of our family homestead, the history and me being the 3rd generation and over 100yrs old of memories was not going to be a DEMO. Although they responded with respectful terms of preserving and sentimental meaning… I still have not heard back from them.
    We cabled the loft in the barn about 20 years ago but didn’t use it ever after that. Thank you so much for sharing as it lets me know that I am not alone with the feeling of being had by some and my attention to detail and watching Judge Judy has put me in a good position going forward with my decision.

    Kirby Hills in Northeast WI

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