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Neni refinement project

As a child, I already spent many hours in my grandfather’s stable and experienced many wonderful adventures there. Already at that time the idea was born, I could convert the barn into a habitable house. How the idea became a project and what happened in the time, you can see in the individual stages.

The following before/after pictures as a first impression for the strong changes.

Real story. Since 1440.

The idea became a project

After a short planning phase and a rapid approval process, the time had finally come. In my project I rely exclusively on regional companies and their craftsmanship. This was a special concern for me personally and so the first excavator soon drove up. In the barn there was neither electricity, water, nor a sewer connection, and there was no talk of insulation. Inside, the small excavator removed the existing concrete ceiling and made room for insulation, sewer lines and radiant floor heating.

The first steps in the outdoor area:
Concrete terraces & floor heating

In the next step, the concrete terraces and the concrete floor for the wooden cube (entrance area and technical room) were completed. The “snakes” for the floor heating were laid in the two entrance areas. After completion, the concrete terraces were ground and embedded with a protective layer.

The old truss becomes the new roof

The next step was to remove the old concrete tiles from the roof. They had endured for more than 70 years. Three large beams were replaced, the remaining beams could remain. A place for the solar installation was prepared.

The existing structure is removed

The siding (wood paneling) was removed, stored on the front patio and reused or installed at a later date. There was no insulation before – now the time had come and the Neni was made fit for colder temperatures. Also, two beams and individual boards from the balcony were replaced.

The wooden cubes are erected

The two wooden cubes serve on the one hand as an entrance area and on the other hand the technology (heating, electrical) found its place in the rear area. The finished wooden structure could be quickly delivered and placed on the specified site. In a later step, the wooden cube received both insulation and a paneled wall.

Interior work progresses

Inside, too, the work progressed rapidly. The floor on the 1st floor was opened to bring more light to the first floor. On the other side, the window openings were made, the wall insulations were advanced and the individual wood laths were prepared for the wood paneling.

Installations proceeding rapidly

On the upper level, the plumbing for the freestanding bath tubs and toilets was prepared. The next step was the panels for the wall heaters. Since the wood planks (original floor) remained in the barn and there was no floor construction, all wiring was installed in the walls. The lines for the solar system also found their intended place.

The roof is newly covered

The nearby locksmith’s shop brought the steel gutters they made. They were mounted with a truck crane due to the weight. On the opposite side, the solar system was lifted onto the roof and installed. The roof was tight and the barn and cubes were covered with protective film.

Two long and hard days

Together we brought in 7 tons of clay from the delivered container by wheelbarrow and had to be careful not to damage the installed floor heating while spreading it. In order to prevent the pipes of the floor heating from pressing upwards, we screwed them to the floor by means of steel grids.

For our work we caught a fantastic summer day with correspondingly hot temperatures. It was so hot that we had to continuously spray the clay with water. I was then allowed to compact the clay with the vibrator. Two long days came to an end, but the result was impressive.


What a dusty job

At that point I thought for the first time, now I do not like. From scrubbing the floor, working with the brush, scratching to different grinder everything came into play. What a job, I was dirty from top to bottom. The dust was really hanging everywhere. 😁

For this it counted out, both the old beams and the wooden plank floor turned out very nice. The subsequent shower was pure pleasure…😂

What a cool view

The large panorama panes were delivered and installed. The original barn remained unchanged on three sides, except towards the garden, the two large windows were installed. In addition, they received a vertical awning with remote control for blackout in the evening. The original beams behind the windows remained and gave & give the whole a cozy flair.

I was looking forward to this part

The first two pictures show the garden after the excavator has worked, distributed and tamped down the soil. Finally, I came back into action and was allowed to free the earth from stones with the rake and vigorously sprinkled lawn seed on the surface. I was allowed to lay the small, round slabs as a nice, matching trail to the Neni with assistance. I built the small dry wall together with my brother to compensate for the difference in height to the fence and to create a space for the dahlias directly in front of the terrace. The dahlias are already 70 years old and still come from my grandparents. They grow up to 1.80 m high and bloom all summer until autumn. The large freestanding stone as a place for the planned garden barbecue.

The garden design was fun

The lawn grew amazingly quickly despite September and so I was able to mow the lawn for the first time after a very short time. Until the winter I was allowed six times with the mower. This was followed by the small cottage garden with herbs, different berries and the remaining plantings such as fruit trees, hydrangeas, grasses and in the foreground the old dahlias. Fortunately, the old pear tree survived all the construction activity and so I fixed the new steel cables for the trellis.

Project data

Initial situation

The barn can be considered of historical, material, craft, semantic and emotional value.

There would be no erasure from the village structure as a result of the reconstruction. Rather, the existing structure is used as source material and thus understood as history “as always having been there” with its own valuable character in a synergistic relationship with the adjacent old farmhouse.

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Procedure

The existing barn, which is correct in its local context because it has grown historically, was used “so” (=pur) for the new function without modification if possible. The new was woven as carefully as possible into the existing cubature and structure. All the materials used were kept to maintain the character (wooden floors, formwork, wooden beams, etc.) and were complemented by natural materials such as clay floor, clay walls, silver fir (wooden panels, wooden kitchen and wooden furniture) and a 200-year-old Montafon table from the family.

The existing espalier tree (pear) remained and was integrated. The existing shell was opened only on one side for lighting, otherwise the barn retained its original shape on the other three sides. The stable received a new “substructure” with concrete and polished terraces and was supplemented by steel boxes (=cube) containing “entrance furniture”.

Domestic craftsmanship as reliable partners