Fire Engine Barn

March 5, 2018

Alongside the family car, an antique fire engine and more

Many years ago, when our client was 4 years old, the fire department responded to an emergency in his home.  A generation later, when the old fire engine was retired and auctioned, our client bid $4,000 on a whim and won, necessitating the construction of a six figure barn. Our client’s wife agreed to the construction as long as an actual garage for their cars could also be part of the plan.  The barn’s upper story now houses an informal concert space, with the raised auto lift bay serving as a stage, and the upper bay housing a fitness studio.

I received a copy of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” this year for Christmas. Two of the main themes of this book are the search for the definition of “quality” and the value of embracing the process, not just the end product. This made me think quite a bit about the quality and process of building our two barns. It is almost impossible to universally define quality, but one can certainly recognize it when it is presented.

And what is good, Phædrus,
And what is not good…
Need we ask anyone to tell us these things?

The quality of the buildings is immediately apparent and has been commented on by everyone who has visited us since completion (and even during the build process). The additional details that are not immediately recognized deepen this quality experience; the drip edge, soffit details, and hand rails are perfect examples. Wanting to be conscientious stewards of our property that dates back to at least 1790, we are thrilled by the durability, construction and design of our Geobarn—all signs of the quality we had hoped for.

Although our overall experience with the build is very positive, our experience with the concrete work done prior to your arrival was not very encouraging. My wife and I were disappointed with the quality of work and dealing with the contractor in general. At this point in the building process we felt conflicted and grew more concerned. Our mood quickly changed as we got to know John, Ryan and later Dan. What a transformation! Here were craftsman who obviously enjoyed their work and took pride in creating a beautiful product. We were both excited to take part in the build process and thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it, even if we sometimes doubted our abilities as carpenters. When we were not able to be home, the daily updates allowed us to continue to feel a part of the build and were enjoyed by all whom we shared them with. We also valued the time spent with you and the crew and took great pleasure in our spirited discussions.

Although we expected to have quality buildings and to enjoy working in our completed barns, we did not necessarily realize how pleasurable the process would be. We had what could be considered a Zen experience with the Art of Barn Construction.

Thank you,
Garth and Michelle