About Dano


I guess I was always fascinated with barns, even as a child. As early as I can remember back in the 50's my folks would pack up the Nash Rambler and go for long drives through the country roads of Northern California and I'd sit up in the back seat and watch stuff go by. I'd always get a thrill if we drove by a ranch or farm with a barn. It seemed that there were so many of them then. Some were in good shape and still others were in various stages of collapse. Some still even had the silo standing. I'd see a really nice looking one and wonder, as a boy, why would the people want to live in that crummy little house instead of that great big beautiful barn. I guess it was the style and character of these old buildings that impressed me, even as a kid. Well, I've grown up since then.


I got older and I found I still liked that sort of thing. I've been building, remodeling and restoring houses, barns and out-buildings since 1970 and it's funny, I never got tired of it.

The old Commodire Potts mansion in Vallejo, California

In 1972 I bought the old Commodore Potts Mansion in Vallejo, California. Potts was the last Commodore commissioned to the United States Navy and, as the story goes, was best friends with Admiral Chester Nimitz. "Chet", as he was referred to, visited the commodore often at his Vallejo home. This and many other fascinating stories about the house's history were told to me by Sarah Laughton, Potts' 91 year old grand-daughter who lived in the house from the time she was a little girl until the late 50's. Unfortunately, the old home, built in 1864, hadn't been taken care of for many years and by the time I found it, it was condemned and ready to be bulldozed.

Well, it was love at first sight. The same kind of excitement I felt as a kid seeing those neat looking barns. I took it over and went to work. First we jacked-up the whole house and put a foundation under it. Then we tore out the old lead plumbing and the knob-and-tube wiring and upgraded. A cedar shake roof and a trendy period paint job and she started looking pretty good.

The interior was a challenge as well. With 37 stained glass windows, 4 ornately trimmed fireplaces, and 3 huge crystal chandeliers the emphasis was on authentic restoration, which we did.

I was happy just to live in this beautiful old home, but on a Monday night in the summer of 1975 I was invited to City Hall where the city council presented me with the California Architectural Heritage Society award for the most beautifully restored period home for that year. The home was subsequently logged on the California Register of Historic Landmarks.

Not long after that, my desire to live in the country over powered my love of this beautiful old home in the city. I sold it to some very nice people who share my pride and are taking good care of her. She ought to have at least another 130 good years left.

I relocated in Napa Valley, California, bought a little chunk of country and set out to do what I had wanted to do since I last sat in the back of that Nash Rambler. Design and build a barn. But not just any barn. I wanted to build something "just a little bit different". Something that would stand out. Researching several various designs, I kept coming back to one in particular. The Gambrel Roof barn. I've seen quite a few, but something was always wrong with the way they looked. Either the top was too flat and the sides were too steep, or visa versa. With some, the proportions of roof to building were off, so they looked top heavy or bottom heavy.

An old barn

So I sat down and calculated the formula for what I like to think is the geometrically perfect Gambrel Roof pitch. I drew it and it worked. So, I built a four foot model (dog house) and it worked. So I built the real thing and, by golly, it worked. It worked real good. So good, in fact, that within only six months of completion I had sold 6 sets of plans to perfect strangers who would simply drive up to my house and ask if the plans to that barn were for sale. I said "YEP!"

Those folks have gone on to build their own homes, garages and barns using the same plans I started with to build the basic structure, then adding doors, windows, walls, plumbing and electric to personalize and customize the barn to their own specific needs.

Since then I've designed and sold barn plans all over the world and people are still asking, "Hey! Are those barn plans for sale?" And I still say, "YEP!"


Believe it or not, you guys have been reading this little bio for the past 20 years. Well, that's my story and I'm stickin' to it! But hey, I think it's about time for an update, don't you!?

Some of you remember when we started BarnPlans over in Hawaii back in 1997. Believe it or not, we're still in touch with some of our old charter customers from back then!! Kosty, Mickens, Ching, Macler and a handful of others. That was 20 years and way over 6000 barns ago! Careful what you wish for!!

At the time of this update (2017) and the current publication of our new web site, we'll be celebrating 20 years in business at BarnPlans, Inc. as well as 40 years of building barns....Yikes!! It's hard to believe it was 40 years ago that I designed and built that first little 20x30 Gambrel Barn up in the Napa Valley. Well, I'm happy to report that we're BOTH still standing!

Hawaii Barn Complex

We finally finished building "The Compound" over in Hawaii and soon after that, in 2004, we relocated from Hawaii to the South Coast of Oregon in the little town of North Bend, retaining the Hawaii Home for the occasional visit to the Islands. We purchased our own little mountain-top hideaway and set up our new office in the Gambrel Garage/Shop Conversion project that you can see as one of our Barn Showcase features

Barnplans Central, in Oregon

It wasn't long before I decided to build yet another Barn House.... JEEZ, somebody STOP me!! Well, we finally finished it up and we're celebrating THAT by showing you the project in an awesome three-part Barn Showcase feature right here on our brand new web site!! Check it out!

We sure have a lot to celebrate! 20 years in business....40 years of building barns....new Barn Office, new Barn Home, new web site!! Some folks might call it a lotta work....well, it is! But more than that, it's a LOT of FUN! If you don't have fun doin' what you're doin' for a living, you're doin' the wrong thing!

Thanks everybody....talk to you soon!!


The BarnPlans Cast & Crew

Dano building a barn

Dano EI/EIO — Master Builder and Barn Designer

The webmaster in a mohawk

Dan Brizuela — Web Meister and "Last of the Mohicans”

Fred on the beach

Fred Cooley — WA and ID Structural Engineer and AutoCAD Drafting

Steve in the snow

Steve Miller — CA Professional Engineer and "Gangster of Calcs”


Greg Riley, MCE, S.E., P.Eng — Licensed in every State

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