Barn Foundation Repair

Looks good from here. (Note: click on photos to enlarge them)

Looks good from here too.

The Background
The seller's realtor met us at the door and said, "the problem with this place is the barn foundation. It's falling in, so no one wants to buy this place." Hmmm, strange selling technique.

So we bought the place, but only after getting the buyers to come down, factoring in the estimated foundation repair. As first time home owners, friends and family reactions varied from, "just let it fall down, don't waste your money..." to "only retired people have the time and money to fix old barns..." to "there are people out there that'll tear it down for free, because they want the barn wood..."

So we hired a commercial contractor to fix it! I'd rather not mention the repair cost, but to be complete, I must reveal. $23,000 smackers! We justified that, by telling ourselves, "that's what we got the sellers to drop the selling price by..., repeat, and repeat" My wife still wonders what else we could have done with that money.

The ground around the foundation sloped down to the barn. In the cold climate we live in, water would collect there, freeze/thaw, freeze/thaw, and each time it did this, the wall would be pushed in a little bit more, and the "negative slope" to the barn became greater.

This shows how far in the wall was pushed. The foundation should, of course, be aligned with the barn sill above.

This photo, taken in the basement, doesn't look as bad as it was, so please picture this, then worse.

The other wall needed repair too, but had the opposite leaning problem. The top was fine, but the bottom was pushed in. Again, the photo doesn't do it justice.

So back to the story. We hired a commercial contractor (Pine Brook Corporation) who had done some very large commercial jobs around town (Kittery Trading Post), figuring, "if they could handle those jobs, then they certainly can fix our foundation. We were such newbies, we never cracked the phone book for "foundation repair", or "barn restoration". After the contractor talked the job over with me, he instilled confidence by saying, "we fit little jobs like this, between our regular work". So no, we didn't get enough quotes, or even barn foundation experts, but we wanted to move fast, so we hired them, and they did a great job.

Step 1

Excavate foundation wall. The conduit is a electrical line running to the garage.

Step 2

Post lots of warning signs, bring in tons of scaffolding, and lots of scrap lumber.

Step 3

Construct 6 horizontal ramrods and bracing, to push the wall out. (And you thought they would jack the barn up. I did too. Nope.) What they did was create this ramrod city with two lengths of steel shafts per ramrod that met in the middle. There, they placed jacks and slowly, over two weeks, they pushed this wall back in place, using the other wall, that had not been excavated yet, to push against.

See how the 2 shafts meet in the middle? That's where they placed their jacks (one for each ramrod) and they strategically pushed. Every day, I noticed more and more bracing around the ramrods. I think there was concern, that under such pressure these things could break loose. You don't want big steel pipes flying around, so wisely, they erred on the side of caution.

Hard to see, but down the end are two of the super heroes on the job. Once this first wall was back in place, they added rigid insulation panels on the outside and then back-filled with appropriate dirt. They then added anchors to the barn sill (photos to come) and a footer to the base of the foundation to keep it in place.

Step 4

Once that first wall was done, they excavated and pushed out the bottom of the opposing wall.

Here's the second floor. There's a basement, a first floor, a second floor and a loft. I'm often asked what I use the barn for.

Step 5

Party! More on how to turn your barn into a dance club in a posting to come. And more photos are now posted below.

To them, it's a nice place to play horseshoes. To me, it's a foundation still holding.

Click here for my article on French Drains and how I built them to catch rain water from the roof and dug a swale to divert surface water from coming towards the barn.

New Hampshire Preservation Alliance
HILTI US (used to anchor sill to barn foundation)
Pine Brook Corpration (Contractor that did the work)

See More Barn Party Photos Below

DoverProjects - View my 'Barn Party' set on Flickriver

Disclaimer: This is what I did. This does not mean this is the best way, the right way, to building code, or even safe for your needs. So you are on your own with your project. I make no promises about the information presented here. I'm just a do-it-yourselfer, not a professional at all, sharing my story. So if something goes wrong with your project, you are on your own. Good luck, and have fun!

All content and photos, copyright 2008, Dover Projects.

My Other Articles


  1. Beautiful barn worth saving. Great job.

  2. The post above is from my mother. Thanks Mom!--Peter

  3. Mark, please do not put link backs to your site simply to gain traffic to your website/business (I deleted Mark's link to his site). If you have valuable content or comments to add, please do so. Thank you.--Peter

  4. NEW!!! DOVER PROJECTS ON FACEBOOK! Join in with your DIY spirit! Click on the BIG blue box for "Facebook, Dover Projects" in the right column above! See you there!--Peter

  5. Thank you for doing this blog. It is a great help


Please leave your questions or comments here. I love to get feedback. You can do so without an account or user names and passwords, etc. Just select "Anonymous" next to "comment as". Thanks!--Peter