After spending a couple of hours studying the barn, he had some good news: The damage wasn't as severe as first thought. The original estimate of $25,000 was way too high, and the actual contract would be for about $14,000. Hilker thinks it would have cost at least that much to raze and remove it.
"I've seen some a lot worse than this," crew leader Gary Krom said Tuesday. "There was one that was leaning 32 inches per 8 feet [of height]. This one was [leaning] only 6 inches."
Then there was a barn that was so wobbly it could tell you which way the wind was blowing.
Krom has been doing this work for Woodford Bros. for 18 years, so there is a comfort level he imparts to visitors as he works with confidence on the second story of a rickety barn that is actually moving as it is ratcheted into an upright position.
"First we'll get it plumb," he said, as crew members John Gowing and Ryan Mosher used a come-along to pull several cables taut across the width of the barn. "Then we'll put in the diagonals and brace the uprights."
Cables were attached to second-story posts, run diagonally through the floor and tied off at the bases of the first-floor posts on the opposite side. Once the cables were tightened to bring the barn upright, braces were installed.
If Krom is convinced by week's end that the bracing will stabilize the barn, the diagonal cables can be removed.
The barn may not be an architectural masterpiece, but its original portion was stronger than the addition. The original part, with its heavier lumber and better craftsmanship, was leaning hardly at all compared with the addition. Krom pointed out that the addition's interior posts were braced, rather than those in the exterior walls--a situation he was at a loss to explain.
In just a couple of hours, the cabling had straightened the old barn and it was ready for bracing. The contract also calls for the crew to remove the warped and rotted boards covering the front portion of the addition. Hilker will re-board the barn herself when the weather warms.
Hilker's plans for the barn are uncertain, but she'll think of something.
"The idea was to stabilize and preserve the barn for now. That was the important thing. We can decide what we're going to do with it later," she said.
Krom's crew is one of several Woodford Bros. has working in a territory that covers the nation's northeastern quadrant. Once they complete work in Hartwood today, Krom and his crew will take their panel truck and minivan back to Syracuse, in a region where snow is measured in feet, not inches. Then they're off to Rhode Island next week.
"We'll take all the work we can get around here," he said, despite the inclemency earlier this week. "This is nothing."