Barn & Home

Things to consider when choosing your horse barn

Maybe you’ve been thinking about it for years or are just getting started, either way when you’re ready to build the horse barn or equestrian facility of your dreams, there are a few important factors to consider:

Equine Safety and Comfort
Your horses are going to be spending the most time in your new building, and it is important that you put their safety and comfort first. Many people build beautiful equine facilities with their own personal needs ahead of their horses needs. Always remember your horses are the ones who have to live in this building, they just let you use it. Choosing a builder who has experience in constructing horse barns is important because housing live animals has its own issues. You want to choose a builder who will keep your animals safe and comfortable.

Ventilation Systems
Ventilation in a horse barn is one of the most important design features that will go into your building. Without good ventilation your building could be filled with hot, moist, stale air. When hot, moist air gathers at the peak of the building, it can actually rain back down on you in some cases. Good ventilation will remove the hot, moist, air from the building, keeping it dry year round. It is important to remember just because your center aisle and rafters have good ventilation doesn’t mean your horses’ stalls have good ventilation. Ammonia is a toxic gas given off by your horse’s manure. Long exposure to strong ammonia fumes can cause several respiratory problems in horses. A well designed ventilation system in your barn will remove toxic air within the stalls and bring fresh air in. It is important to make sure ammonia gasses that linger around the lower areas of the stall get properly vented out. Vented partitions and vented stall doors along with ceiling fans and exterior stall openings can help keep your horses’ stalls well vented.

Interior Layout Design
It may sound easy to decide on the interior layout of your building, but in many cases what looks good on paper may not work with your normal day-to-day needs. Working with an experienced builder can make all the difference in this instance. They can help you design an interior layout that will meet all your needs now while allowing for future growth if necessary. For example: you have a 36’x10’x72’ stall barn, in your design, you put the tack room in the first bay of the barn- right as you walk in. Do you really want to drag all your tack six bays down to the end to saddle up your horse? By thinking about these simple things, like moving the tack room or feed room to the center of the building, you could save yourself a lot of unnecessary work.

Building Component Design
The typical stall size is 12’x12’, when designing your stall barn you need to take into consideration the type and size of your horses. Larger horses need larger stalls. If you’re going to have brood mares you might want to consider removable partitions so you can give mother and baby more room to move around. It is important to make sure whoever designs your stalls provides bite guards on all exposed lumber corners. You don’t want your horses to have the option of a feeding frenzy on your new stalls. Features designed for your convenience can also be included in your stalls: automatic waterers, swing-out feeders, swing-out water bucket doors and feed holes are all options that can make your daily chores easier. The partitions you choose can also be important: do you want solid partition with tongue and groove lumber all the way up, maybe a vented partition with gaps between the lumber to allow better ventilation without giving up the full partition or do you want a partition with pipe section in the upper half. All of these serve a purpose; you just need to decide what is going to work for you and your horses. An experienced builder can help you make all these decisions so everything will work for you and your horses.

If you’re going to have your building company provide the stalls for you it’s always a good idea to ask who makes the stalls. Does the building company manufacture their own stalls, or do they have someone else make them and they just install them? This is important to find out because you’ll want to know who to turn to if there is a problem with your stalls. If you use a building company that manufactures its own stalls there is only one place to go if something goes wrong- back to the building company.

Complete Construction Services
Choosing a reputable builder who you can trust to construct your building is critical. Selecting a builder who can work with you from concept to completion allows you to work with one point of contact, taking the hassle out of your construction project. Builders who offer complete construction services can work for you throughout all phases of the construction process, right down to finishing the interior of your building. Some companies can provide you with tack rooms, wash stalls, stalls, and tack room equipment- everything you need so when the building is done and you are handed the keys you can move everything into your building- horses, tack, feed, and supplies. You can start enjoying your new barn right away without having to tie up lose ends before getting back to enjoying time with your horses.

Builder’s Reputation
If you choose a larger company, it is always a good idea to look into how they do business. Do they manufacture and sell the building materials to outside contractors who assemble the building, or does the company employ their own crews? Companies that employ their own crews have better control over the quality of their buildings, because the company is able to train them on the construction methods they find to be the best- which results in a better building for you.

Structural Design
It is important that your building be designed to meet your areas snow and wind load requirements so your building can withstand anything Mother Nature throws at it. At some companies, every building they produce is designed to meet the local load requirements at no additional charge to you. Designing buildings to meet your local load requirements is something your local builder may not be doing or may not be able to do without getting an engineering firm involved, which means additional money for you. It is important to find out a company’s policy on structural design up front to avoid problems down the road.

Building Type and Style
Consider what type of building you are looking for. There are several types of building styles to choose from including: gambrel, monitor, traditional gable, clear span buildings and rafter style buildings. You need to choose the building that is going to meet your needs now and in the future. What do you plan to use your building for? Is it strictly going to be used for housing horses or do you plan on storing equipment or hay in the building? Do you need a hayloft or do you have another building where you plan on storing feed. These are all things that need to be considered when choosing the type of building you’re going to have built.

A warranty is only as good as the company that supports it. Some companies offer long warranties on their buildings, which is a benefit as long as they remain in business long enough to honor their warranties. This is where it pays to go with a builder that has a reputation for standing behind their work. Choosing a company with a strong history is important; companies that have been in business for many years and have done hundreds of equine projects are going to be able to handle almost anything you can dream up. These companies are also more likely to be in business long after your building is completed.

Talking With Past Customers
Talking with past customers and touring their building is just as important as researching a company. When you go to a builder ask them to take you to projects they have done in the past and talk to the owners. Most equine owners are more than willing to show off their building. Take notes on the different things you like and don’t like and never be afraid to ask questions. The more you know about the builder and the buildings they have constructed, the more comfortable you will be in making decisions about what will work for you and your horses.

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