A Lancaster friend has a bunch of growing boys, which means he’ll need barn space for more horses. The last week or so he’s had a local carpentry crew at his place putting an addition onto the barn (this is not to be confused with the “pole barn”, which is a different building where visitors from Poland sleep while in town).
The work crew is also Amish and consists of a few fairly young fellows; my friend’s sons, who work on construction crews as well, pitched in to help while I was there. I took a few shots of the guys at work which you can see here.
Each morning a driver provides the crew with a ride, dropping them off for the day (they bring along a trailer with their tools as well). This crew had at least 2 jobs going on at the same time.
They estimated the barn addition would take at least a couple of weeks. I brought the guys an egg sandwich-and-hash brown breakfast one morning but that was the extent of my contribution to the venture.
Construction is one of the big industries among Amish in general and in Lancaster County in particular. Amish builders do work in both the residential and commercial arenas, for both English and Amish clients.
Lancaster County has a lot of homebuilders and remodelers which is in part due to the large market and demand for construction in the region, with its relatively dense population and proximity to large urban centers like Philadelphia and Baltimore (see here for a list of PA Amish roofers in Lancaster and other parts of the state, or search PA Amish construction companies).
There are also a number who specialize in barns and outbuildings, including doing restoration work on the old stone barns found throughout the region. It would be interesting to hear if anyone has had experience with Amish construction crews.
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Lancaster Amish Construction Crew
That is very interesting. I really enjoyed the pictures. The two pictures are like the best are of the horses (of course) and the trailer.
About using the Amish as contractors......
Good morning Erik and supposedly the home that i live in was in part built by some of the Amish in my area of Lebanon county. I know and have seen this particular builder use some Amish craftsman, and in fact saw some involved with a project that this builder was doing very recently. I could see them (Amish ) from my window at times in the freezing cold on a roof with the wind kicking-up as well, needless to say only one of the Amish men was wearing a straw hat because of that! I asked the companies supervisor when i saw him one day because we sometimes talked about using the Amish as contractors for his company, and he said that they use the Amish from Lebanon and also Lancaster because they are such great workers and know what they are doing. Richard
"Pole" barn, indeed!
Ha-ha, Erik! You crack me up!
Are the Amish guys who work construction in any way “under contract” with their employer (construction company) or the English who hire them to build? I would guess they don’t enter into contracts (written, anyway). Maybe I’m wrong.
Also, is their pay comparable to (the same, less, more…) than English construction workers? I’m guessing the buildings must meet local/state ordinances…is that any problem?
I sure could use a few hard-working Amish guys to rebuild my compost bin and help clean up my yard. Actually, what I could use is a Dawdi house, at this point in my life—maybe they could build me one. My husband & I are past our do-it-yourself days (health and strength wise), but it’s so expensive to hire people to do it for us.
A “Pole” barn wouldn’t work for me—not in tornado country (do they have tornadoes in Poland, Erik?) Speaking of which, I’m sure those poor folks in Harrisburg, IL and other tornado-devastated towns could use some Amish muscle to help rebuild (and they’re calling for more bad weather). Let’s keep them in our prayers.
Thanks for the photos, Erik.
Alice Mary, I live 30 miles from Branson, one of the places the tornado hit. We just had the rain and high winds. But another bad storm is suppose to come thru here Fri. We had tickets to a show there Tues night but I didn’t feel good. So glad we stayed home, would have been out in it coming home.
So many towns hit. They all need prayers
Amish worker pay
Amish construction worker pay is probably going to be a notch lower on average due to not participating in Social Security. However there are circumstances when even Amish do need to pay it for their employees, such as for unbaptized workers. Depending on the owner money that would otherwise go for SS might be redirected into some other sort of benefit. On reluctance to sign contracts that is probably going to vary by the group with the most conservative Amish most likely to balk. However Amish businesses do work under formalized agreements.
I am amused that the “visitor from Poland” gets the pole barn, but the horses will get a building better built that most Americans’ suburban houses. (They don’t really sling a hammock in the barn for you, do they?) You should apprentice to that crew, and pick up a new trade.
Magdalena and Alice Mary, the “Pole barn” gag is a running joke in some parts of Lancaster 🙂 And no, I only have to stay in the pole barn if I act up…usually I get a normal bed!
The Taco Bell here in Crawfordsville, Indiana, was remodeled last year. There were young Amish men on the construction crew.
Kansas construction crews
Our local Swiss Amish do amazing construction. They generally work by the hour (12-14 bucks/hour in general), for about half of what the “English” folks ask per head. They are skilled at not only barns, sheds, cabins and such, but also at mainstream construction. They know how to work with all types of materials, and with licensed contractors for electricity, plumbing, etc. In fact, they are able to do most of that work as well, but where codes exist it has to have a contractor sign off on what has been done. Our local Amish sometimes work on a preset agreement rather than by hour/head – but more often for deconstruction than for building. They often pull down old barns and buildings, sometimes for pay, sometimes just for the scavanged materials being transported back to their farms, sometimes a mix of the two. Not only do you pay less for an Amish crew, but they manage to accomplish what seems to be twice as much as an “English” crew in same amount of time. The one draw back is that their farms come first. If its planting time, plowing time, market time, butcher time, etc.,or if something happens within the community that requires their assistance, that comes first. So if you want to hire them you get put on the list, but their home projects will take priority. They can usually give you a ballpark of when they will get to you and how long it will take. And it is an honest guestimate. A local Amish construction crew will often be primarily made of younger men who are saving for their own farms, but will usually have an older established man to run the crew, and when milk prices are down, produce isn’t doing well, or there is a lull in farm work, most of the men will take on construction jobs from time to time.
Amish Constrution Crew
I found the article to be very interesting. If I had the opportunity to have a house or anything of that nature built, I would definately hire the Amish. They do a superb job & since my Dad & Grandpa are no longer here to do that type of work, I’d need someone like them that take pride in what they do & do an excellent job.
Our house was built in a development in Medina County, OH 8 yrs ago & when I went by to check on it, there were Amish all around doing the framing. I asked if I could take their picture, and they said I could take a picture of it when they were at lunch!(oh well, wanted it for my family in CA to see Amish building our house). Anyway, once we moved in & continued to see them working on other houses, in the cold, I invited them in for coffee-they politely declined as they had thermos of coffee & fire built to keep warm-never saw that on a construction site.
Alot of builders in our area hire Amish & I’ve seen signs for “Amish English Remodeling” around too. We just had a roof estimate done for our rental & the roofer said he brings Amish to get it done quick (but not cheap!). Well, guess it helps to have a good reputation in this economy.
That will surely be a really nice barn.
I just got word that they are 75% done. The horses are eager to try out their new digs.
I remember someone near where I grew up hired Old Order Mennonites to rebuild their barn after a fire. I seem to remember that it made the news for one day because the barn builders stuck out like sore thumbs. I wish someone had hired the Mennonites to rebuild and save the old house in that same neighborhood that used to be an inn along a nineteenth century stage coach line
Amish construction wages
The book, “An Amish Paradox” takes on the issues of wages. The book mentions that the Amish do not join unions, and in fact virtually all are personally indisposed to them. Amish crews can bid less than union crews do for a job, and occasionally this has led to resentment, or even acts of outright vandalism at construction sites.
Personally, I would imagine there are two other factors that affect Amish construction wages. One is their unwillingness to drive, meaning that transportation must be arranged (for Swartenruber Amish, work sites must be in horse-and-buggy distance). The second is the absolute requirement that they be home with their family on Sunday, which limits somewhat the distance that even a crew with motorized transportation can go.
Personally, I would love to hire an Amish crew if I had some project to do. However, unless a whole lot of things change, I don’t forsee the Amish working on the skyscrapers of Asia anytime soon.
I would like to hire an Amish crew to build a barn near Marysville, Missouri
My stepdaughter is attending Northwest Missouri State University and we bought a small farm (5 acres) and house in Barnard, Missouri. It needs a 36’x 36′ 20′ tall barn with a hayloft and a packed dirt floor. She is an orphan and her animals, mainly horses are precious to her, as she has grown up with them. It is really important emotionally that she be able to keep them. We can finish the barn but we need the structure, footings, dirt floor packed done for us. I am hoping someone will respond and help me out. I am in California but we would like to start soon, so that the construction outlined above can be finished by mid summer. My phone number is 619-262-7669. If anyone knows how to contact Amish barn builders, please let me know!
Need a cabin built
Hello! My name is Chris and I am looking for a crew to build a cabin in Lowell, IN. If you guys are interested, please email me as soon as you can. I will not be looking on this page for a response, so please email me. Thank you!
No one can email you - emails are never shared publicly
Chris, no one can see your email here because it’s not publicly shared (unless you insert your email address into the comment yourself).
You are a lot nearer Amish in Indiana or even Illinois than Lancaster County PA. There should be a number of Amish businesses that do this work in the large Elkhart/Lagrange settlement as well as in the sizeable Arthur Illinois community.
Looking for a builder!
We are in Chillicothe, MO and are looking for a builder for a barn… 20×30 ish… Our number is 660-973-4537
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Looking for a good pole barn crew to install a 30′ x 50′ x 12′ Pole barn, near Kearney MO… I have all the materials, just need a good installation crew that can have it installed by Christmas 2013..
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Amish construction workers
We are in the process of purchasing a property with an old barn on it that needs restoration. Would you be able to steer us in the right direction? I think the barn deserves people who really would care for its beauty and history