Updating an old fireplace

Another issue is how to create an energy-efficient and weather-tight home while preserving the barn structure's character.A popular solution is to sheathe the exterior with structural insulated panels, sealing and insulating the barn from the outside.But right now it's dangling in midair, temporarily relieved of its duties while Tom performs surgery."About half the posts in here were five inches too short," says TOH's general contractor as he sets the saw aside.

But incorporating all the elements of a house into what is essentially one big blank slate of a room, minus the stall walls and hayloft, presents particular challenges.The timbers themselves — particularly the rafters — are also vulnerable to water damage.Cracks in the roof boards let in rain, which runs into the walls and causes them to warp and bulge over time.Because barns have usually been nothing but barns throughout their life, they have aged both with use and with the slow-moving effects of time and weather.