I have never built a barn, but I would love to! So when I saw this article, I thought it was probably a good place to start gathering information…
I’m sure that many of you have built a barn! Would you like to share?
Please comment and tell us the most important thing(s) you learned when you built your barn… I’m sure it would be really helpful for many of us!
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I appreciate all of the guidance that’s been provided on how to properly build a horse barn. The first point that was made is something I feel is super important but may get neglected. Having ventilation in your barn is necessary to keeping all of your animals happy and healthy.
Ventilation! Take time to determine the prevailing breezes on your property barn site. You want the through flow of air constantly so there is no ammonia build up in the stalls or paddocks (but always apply PDZ to the floor anyway). Don’t be so fast to build your barn that you don’t stop to identify and consider the prevailing breezes for both horses and human’s daily comfort.
This made all the difference to my boarding facility as the barn ‘breezeway’ had a constant flow a light air moving in the barn for the horses. It also helped tremendously with creating a cooler climate in summer heat.
We also put in water spray misting throughout the ceiling of the barn to cool down the stalls. At first the horses were spooky about it but in the high heat they learned to stand right underneath the spray. So did we!
Lightning rod…I insisted that this be done. The architect laughed as we lived in Sonoma County and not a high lightning strike area. Then right after the barn was completed we had the worst lightning storm on record. He rang my up shamed faced and apologized for scoffing at my request. He now puts them on every barn he builds, especially those with metal roofs.
And as PVC fire systems are so cheap now, put one in to save your new barn and beloved horses.
If you do foaling or are just nosey to watch equine antics, put in a barn camera system that connects to your house. Nowadays you can hot spot the cameras and watch live. Very cool.
Burglar alarm on the tack room. Hunter cameras at least inside and outside the barn. (We just had hay stolen, now it’s all camera-ed up!)
@ Sarah – Yes, I’m talking about roof gutters. I wish I could describe the type of soil I have here…it’s called Loess Soil – basically glacial dust. It drains well but if you get any type of run off…it runs off…the dirt I mean. There is a slight slope from the barn to the edges of the work pad so I don’t get seepage. I also laid gravel along the barn sides to “breakup” the water. RE the trees leaves and such…no trees in the immediate area and any trees are “below” the barn…we sit on a hill….the only thing that can collect in the gutters is the dust…yes, when the wind blows…it can get a bit dusty…you should see the interior of my house. I wish we could post pics so I can show you what I mean.
Mary – re the gutters you mentioned, surely those weren’t roof gutters you were thinking of? Because you really do need very generously sized roof gutters no matter what kind of soil you have but especially where the drainage is terrible, because rain sheeting off the roof will run back into your stalls or, when soil becomes supersaturated, you’ll have water seeping up through your stall floors. If it was roof gutters that were left off you can still install them after the barn has been built, get the kind that are super big AND spend the extra money to have the “covered” kind or you’ll be endlessly scooping leaves, twigs, birdnests, yellow jacket nests, etc. out of them. You can install french drains to wherever leads (eventually) to a ditch/culvert – if you have a driveway to the barn there usually was good drainage put along the driveway when it was built and the roof runoff can go there. In one state that I know of, Washington, any square footage of roof space over 5,000 sf (not as big as it sounds, btw!) you have to pre-arrange water runoff management before you can obtain a building permit. Actually in the wet wet wet Pacific NW west of the Cascades (please, California, PLEASE take some of our water. PLEASE!! You need it more than we do!!) there are some consultants on managing wetness (rain, runoff, flooding, mud), there is one really good consultant that works with equestrian organizations, commercial ag facilities (like big boarding/show barns) and counties, I think it’s called “Horses for Clean Water”. Incredible strategies for pre-planning for control of wetness.
Great comments from Mary and Sarah. My comment is whatever you choose to do and build, make sure there is good access to everything. By that I mean access for deliveries using large trucks on the outside and if you plan to use bulk shavings there has to be good access for a big truck and a place out of the way but handy to get to with cart/wheelbarrow or whatever you plan to use. Remember shavings blow in the wind. Make sure your barn aisle is big enough and wide enough to drive at least a large pickup and/or tractor in one end and out the other. It will save hours of time unloading supplies and removing manure. It will also give you the option to bring things like the farriers truck in during bad weather so they don’t have to pack all their equipment. Make sure the ground slopes away on all sides and water has somewhere other than into your barn to go. If you have big overhead doors at both ends be sure to add a regular door also so you don’t have to open the main doors in bad weather just to get in or out yourself.
Apart from the regular sized doors , my barn has none of these things and it makes for so much more work and inconvenience. On the other hand my barn is very old, (1938) and has tons of character, but requires a huge amount of work to make it convenient and accessible for modern day living.
Wow! This is great! Thank you!
Short term investment, long-term savings: build a separate shed for hay and bedding supplies. Here’s why. If you store your hay in your barn, your increased fire insurance premium will be an unwelcome surprise to your project. Storing your hay in a separate building will in the long run save you a great deal of insurance premium money. If you plan to have hay and bedding delivered most delivery vehicles are pretty good size so be doubly sure your solid-footing access can accommodate either a dump-bed truck or a push-bed truck – bedding suppliers have one or the other and if you don’t plan for both you may miss opportunities to have bulk bedding delivery.
My other suggestion is to plan ahead during the building process for security issues, including putting wiring in place or siting wireless reception for security cameras even if you don’t set a camera grid up right away. If necessary have a security alarm company familiar with agricultural facilities consult with you and your building contractor in the early planning stages.
And don’t ever hire a contractor for even the teensiest project whatsoever unless you first check that they are registered/licensed with your state’s construction contractor board – and they have to have insurance in order to be registered/licensed with the state. Hiring an unlicensed uninsured contractor is a fast track to being left holding the bag when they screw up!
I wish I had seen this prior to building my barn but I did do it right…
While I was in the Air Force, it was my dream to have land, barn, and a house…in that order. 2012 my dream came true…I had a Morton building built to my “specifications”…
It is a 6 10X12 stall barn, 4 stalls on the outside wall with 10X20′ runs/2 inside, heated tack room, hay storage, and a small 60X60 indoor arena. There is a trench drain down the main aisle that makes it a wash rack (How many “wash racks” end up being storage areas and doing the trench drain gave me the 6th stall). The building pad was built so I can drive completely around the barn or turn around in front of the barn….makes it easier for manuevering trailers. The hay storage area had “drive thru” capability…along with the center aisle..can drive right into the arena. The arena has 2 12″ doors on the north and south side and a humongous 32′ door on the west end, ventilation is great. The arena has what they call a sky belt…instead of using skylights in the roof…which, if it snowed wouldn’t allow light through, the belt allows light in from the side. I have 2 water hydrants…one inside the stall area and one outside by the south arena door (that’s one thing the article didn’t mention…water hydrant placement.) I can use a hose to water all the stalls plus the arena. Every stall has an outlet where I can plug their heated water buckets in w/o overloading the circuits. Stall floors are compacted limestone with mats on top. The electric lines are enclosed in metal conduit and the type of lights I have are really bright.
I am very happy with my results but, of course, now there a a few things I would “change” or do a bit different…
1. I wish I had a “personel” door put in arena…when it snows, there are times I can’t open the sliding door to go dump manure for a couple of days if the weather is bad (arena makes a good dump place). Morton will add one, just have to get them there.
2. Wish I had looked at the placement of the stall doors…because I added a hallway between the stall area and hay area, the doors are offset…made it hard to put in a cross tie…had to be a bit creative.
3. Mats, they put a “bar”across the center aisle but it’s in the middle of one of the stall doors…should have made it to the front or further back.
4. Wish I had a bit more natural light in the stall area…wonder if I could have had them put the skybelt material in the door. I have great electrical light…bright as daylight in there.
5. Sometimes wish I had them put gutters in…but, with the type of soil I have…don’t know what I would have done with the run off…It’s one of those things I can add on…
6. I wish I had a 10′ overhang on the stalls instead of the 8’…2 reasons, 1. It looks weird, 2. More shade. The designer was worried that it would be a bit low and horses could hit their head…toss up on that one.
I’m glad to see I aligned the barn correctly according to article. The barn runs east/west with the horse stalls on the south side. With all the doors I have, I can catch a breeze thru the barn no matter which direction the wind is coming from.
Two of the most important things I found is:
1. Make friends with your building crew…they will do just about anything extra for free and make sure it’s done really right. There was only 1 thing I demanded, DEMANDED, was a sliding door between the tack room and the center aisle…couldn’t be glass but no door maker would make a sliding door w/o glass…so, the guys improvised and used the tack room paneling to cover the glass…you wouldn’t know there was a door unless you really looked. The other bennie to this is that inside the tack room, I can use the glass as a “white board”…course, I wish I knew what they were going to do…would have painted the back of the panels white…
2. Make sure you have your design set…making changes again and again really makes it difficult for the building crew.
Sorry for being so long winded…you can see I take great pride in my barn… :) My farrier/trainer loves the design and keeps saying he’s going to come up and move it to his place. LOL