Barn on a Budget
2008 Cherry Hill ©
wants to save a dollar and you're no different. How do you keep a tight
rein on your barn building budget? You'll find the answer in this article
but first let's circle the issue a bit to get a proper perspective. The
cost of building a horse house can range from $5000 for a small run-in shed to
well over $30,000 for a home-style equine palace. When planning your budget,
be sure to consider the various meanings of the word cost. The initial cost
is relative to many factors.
thinking of the cost of the barn, consider immediate, short term, long term,
maintenance, and associated costs as well as potential savings in each of these
categories. Immediate costs are the initial costs of materials and labor
to construct the barn. Short term costs (or savings) include replacements
that will need to be made in the first year or two of service such as flooring
that was a poor choice or wooden rails that weren't protected from chewing.
Long term costs (or savings) are replacements made after the barn is several years
old such as replacing the shingles on the roof or gutting the stalls to replace
dangerously deteriorated or damaged stall walls. Maintenance costs (or savings)
refers to regular upkeep items such as painting and weatherproofing as well as
to the amount of bedding that is required daily. Associated costs (or savings)
include the amount of feed wasted or optimally used due to feeder or stall design.
A significant associated cost (to say nothing of heartache) can be veterinary
bills due to management-related mishaps such as colic (automatic waterer malfunction
or horse escaping from stall and getting into grain room) or injuries (unlined
stalls, dangerous projections in aisles).
So, before you start trying to cut building costs, re-examine the reasons you
are building a barn. What specific purposes is your barn going to serve?
Whether you are building a Budget Inn or the Equine Ritz Carlton, the building
should be safe,
healthy, convenient, efficient, and legal. The structure must be strong
and well-designed to prevent injuries. It should provide a horse-friendly
environment with proper drainage, ventilation, sanitary flooring, protection from
the elements, and be comfortable. It should be designed for convenience
in performing the daily tasks of feeding and watering and stall cleaning.
The building should make efficient use of space, providing optimum stall space
for the size horses you have and plenty of room for feed, bedding, tack, and tools.
And last but not least, the structure should comply with local zoning regulations.
Become informed about these issues through books specifically dedicated to horse
facility and barn planning. Visit your County Extension Agent to learn about
local soil and weather considerations and ask your agent to visit your proposed
building site. Contact your County Planning Commission and Building Inspector
to find out how you can get a copy of the building codes that pertain to horse
barns. Ask friends and acquaintances who have had barns (or homes) built
recently which contractors (excavators, electricians, plumbers, builders, finishers)
they used and how they would evaluate their work.
The more knowledgeable you are about the requirements and features of your barn
and the barn-building process, the more able you will be to make dollar saving
decisions. There's the answer. The more you know, the more you'll
DON'T TRY TO CUT COSTS
there are exceptions to every situation, there are certain places in a barn where
it is best to spend the money necessary to "do
Be sure the site is level where the
building sits and well-drained with grading so water flows away from the building.
Have a soil evaluation performed by your county extension agent to determine the
percolation rate of your soil. If you find the soil is very poorly drained,
you will have to consider extensive excavation and fill or choosing another site.
If possible, after excavation and fill, let the site sit idle and settle for one
try to mix batches of concrete for large areas in a small, home-sized cement mixer.
It takes too much labor, time, and electricity to be cost effective. And
you'd have to mix many small batches to pour a large pad so would likely end up
with a patchy and inferior pad. Order your cement delivered in a big truck.
You might be able to save costs by having your own crew help. (See SAVE
2 x 6s not 2 x 4s for stall framing and any areas of the barn that horses will
contact. 2 x 4s are just not strong enough to withstand horse force.
Rough-sawn (RS) boards are full dimension boards. When you ask for a 2"
RS plank, it is 2" thick. Planed boards are smoother and thinner.
When you order a 2" planed board, it is actually 1 1/2 inches thick.
RS boards are rougher and vary somewhat in thickness and width but they are stronger
than planed boards.
Don't cut costs by not lining your stalls. An unlined metal barn is an invitation
for some of the nastiest wounds, not only from a hoof punching a hole through
the wall but from a pawing or rolling horse getting a hoof caught under the sharp
bottom edge of the steel wall. Stalls should be lined at least four feet
up from ground level. Don't use 1/4 inch plywood to line your stalls or
you might someday find your horse with his foot caught between the lining and
the wall. Two inch thick boards are best.
All hardware, bolts, hinges, handles,
latches and locks should be of the very sturdiest materials available. Many
latches and hinges are too light for use in a horse barn and can result in your
horse's getting out of the stall and into the grain room, out on the highway,
or tangled in the neighbor's fence. If you can't find the hardware you want,
seek out a local blacksmith or welding shop to have them made for you.
For anti-chew strips, don't use dry wall corners. Get 14 gauge or heavier
angle iron from a metal fabricator, sheet metal, or welding shop.
AND SAFETY FEATURES
tack room should be very secure to deter theft. It is best if the tack room
is windowless and that it has a strong door with a secure lock. Be sure
the tack room is designed to satisfy your insurance requirements.
grain room should have a horse-proof door.
Fire prevention materials and equipment should be installed and fire control methods
should be employed.
Aisles should be uncluttered and designed so the walls have no dangerous protrusions
(hooks, latches, faucets).
a package deal for a "lower price" if the layout is not what you want
or need. Don't accept a building plan that features narrow aisles or doors.
you have a good deal of plumbing experience and access to wholesale plumbing supplies
and tools, you should hire a professional to install water pipes, drains, sinks,
washers, wash racks and so on. With plumbing, it is more difficult for an
amateur to do things right. There is much to consider: the slope of the
drains, plumbing codes, what materials you can and can't use, depth of pipes,
various means of planning for freezing weather. It is best to rely on recommended
professionals because they are familiar with products and methods.
your electrical needs, don't scrimp on the number of outlets, switches, or light
fixtures both inside and outside the barn.