The smartest 1800s barn
Using technology in order to get away from it
Unbeknownst to Fernando and Rachel Zorrilla, in 2006, their future home, a dairy barn, was en route from Livermore Falls, ME to Barryville, NY.
To move the structure from Maine to Upstate New York, it was first tagged and measured, and then dismantled in sections, lowered to the ground and then shipped on a flatbed trailer. “It remains for the most part in its original configuration, with the exception of the removal of a big door on the western face that was closed up for a drive-through garage,” said Hall Smyth of Lumberland Post & Beam, LLC of Pond Eddy, NY, the contractor in charge. “On the opposite end, a large glass wall and wood stove occupy the location where the door would have been. The biggest change to the building’s configuration is that the building was lifted up on posts and perimeter knee walls to provide greater headroom on the main level beneath the lofts, which was only six foot in the original construction.”
In its prior location, the basement serviced cows; the lofts and upper levels stored feed. “The frame design is typical of a barn from Maine designed with an enormous central corridor and hay lofts on either side running from one gable to the other,” says Smyth. “Barns in New York typically access from the side. Basically, all the major finishing work including floors, interior layout, heating system and deck were completed at the behest of first owner, musician Matthew Dear.
The Zorrillas are the second owners, responsible for the interior decor, exterior landscaping, boardwalk and for making the home “smart.”
“We began by retrofitting a Lutron Homeworks lighting system to recall low-energy-consumption lighting scenes, manage timers while away and enable remote visor control as the car approaches after dark. Almost every lighting fixture was converted to LED. I even repurposed a vintage industrial time clock and connected it to the Lutron keypad for control of the lighting system,” says Zorrilla in speaking about some of his home’s extraordinary smart features.
As founder and CEO of Cloud9 Smarthome, Zorrilla is concerned about the environment and makes a practice of not taking more resources than he feels he’s entitled to. For example, the car he uses to get to his Barryville home is electric, and according to his website (www.cloud9smart.com), “Every piece of electronic equipment [in his barn home] was considered for its low consumption rates. No cable or phone service was ordered, only internet, with Wi-Fi extending down to the pond for tranquil, remote work days.”
In the spirit of sourcing locally, the interior wall surfaces of the Zorilla home are a combination of materials from barns all over Sullivan County. And the timbers of the original Livermore Falls Barn, including the floor joists in the lofts, are all fully exposed. “There’s no sheetrock; all the internal reclaimed wood and beams are exposed,” states Zorilla. On the exterior, the house is covered in modern structural insulated panels (SIPs) for optimal insulation and structure support. According to Zorilla, “The outline looks like a barn shape, but it has modern siding and finish color.”
When asked if there was anything about living in a recycled barn that is better than an old farmhouse, Zorilla replied, “The fact that this barn was modernized during re-assembly makes it super-efficient, with a great flow from room to room and lots of open spaces not typically possible in a farmhouse.”
As for the décor, much of the furniture came from the Brimfield Flea Market in Massachusetts and some of the art work from Narrowsburg, NY. Most of the wood, figures and door came from salvaged buildings in the area, and all the steel was sourced locally as well. Wondering what happened to the sign outside the old Narrowsburg Roasters? You’ll find it here.
Acquired by the Zorillas in 2012 (through Beryl Veasey Oles from Global Property Systems Real Estate), this 5,000- square-foot converted barn is indeed their dream getaway, especially for Mr. Zorilla, who commutes daily from a full-time New Jersey residence to his job in Manhattan. The secluded and very quiet town of Barryville, the river and neighborhood, and the house with its fresh-water pond and lots of empty surrounding acreage is where they’ve summered and spent weekends with dog and kids.
“The barn sits on a property that was originally a 100-acre farm,” explains Smyth, who managed the original building project including slate and wood choices for floors and some of the layout that defined the barn’s bedroom and closets from open space. “The [general] property has been re-imagined as a shared forest preserve of eight lots and 50 acres of common land. The preserve includes a centralized two-acre pond and wetland leading to a winding stream that flows between a beautiful deciduous and coniferous forest. Future development would include hiking trails throughout the property.”
According to Smyth, the property was purchased to protect the land from “cookie-cutter,” five-acre development lots and modular housing that were popular in the late ‘90s and early 2000s. The vision was to create a community of “barn homes” that shared common land and benefitted from conservation zoning—homes where the developed lots were smaller and therefore less suburban and the impact on the natural land and native species reduced. The Zorilla barn in particular was designed and constructed as a “spec” home by Lumberland Post & Beam as part of an ongoing development to put several barns in the area.
Moving a barn to make a home
If you’re hankering to move a barn and make it into a home, here are some tips from Smyth:
1. Choose a barn that’s already standing so that your contractor can assess its “as-is” condition. Most existing barns have repair work needed. Knowing exactly where these flaws are is helpful in budgeting and scheduling.
2. Have the building professionally measured into CAD files, and assess the structure again for condition before it is taken down.
3. If the barn is intended to be used as a heated building, use SIP panels to insulate. It is the only way to provide significant building rigidity, phenomenal insulation value and full exposure of the original timbers. Plus electrical chases can be run through these walls for switches and outlets.
And one more bit of advice from the smart home CEO, Zorilla himself: “Be creative with the layout, avoid sheetrock, and use local materials for finishes.” For a more in-depth look at the Zorilla home visit www.cloud9smart.com/project/vintage_barn.