How To Keep Your Horse Barn Building on Budget
For the horse owner the excitement of building a new barn cannot be overstated. The vision of deeply bedded stalls, the smell of freshly sawn wood, the beauty of the shiny black hardware and the anticipation of many happy hours to come spent with our horses are all moments we savor. Even though I have a perfectly good barn, when I stroll through barns on display at events such as The Equine Affaire, I try and find an excuse to buy one!
However, as horse owners we know we must be practical and if our new barn project is to come to fruition, it is important to stay on budget and compromises may need to be made.
Fortunately, many of the ‘must haves’ come standard in modular barn building, so there are no expensive upgrades needed to enjoy a lovely barn that is functional and safe for your horses.
A great way to plan your project is to start with three lists.
The first list would be your ‘must have’ list. These items might include the size of stalls you need, the number of stalls you need and the style of barn that will fit most comfortably into your budget. Obviously a high profile center aisle barn with a loft, an overhang on each side and Dutch doors, is going to be more expensive than a shed row with overhang design that you can add to later or a run-in shed that you can enclose at a future date. An overhang is in fact a great substitution for a center aisle as it will provide a dry space for the vet and farrier to work, room to tack up your horse and even an additional storage area. Check out this blog on the ‘overhangs’ for more information on that topic.
Your second list would be your ‘would like’ list. For example, you might like upgraded windows, cupolas for additional ventilation and visual appeal, a metal versus shingle roof or a special color maintenance free siding option.
Your third list should include options for things you might be able to add later. If you purchase a three stall shed row barn, it would be easy to add another three stall shed row barn alongside it later as your horse housing needs grow. And we all know more, horses are always in our future!
Here are a few tips from one of the leading modular barn building companies, Horizon Structures L.L.C.. Based in Atglen, PA this company manufactures and delivers horse barns (and indeed other structures too), of all types nationwide. Their team of experts have helped thousands of horse folks realize their dream of owning their own stables. We spoke with Jill Siragusa, Chief Marketing Officer and Denise Chesnet, Project Manager, to find out how best to keep your horse barn building on a budget.
Catskill Horse: What is the most common item folks change their minds about design wise when they start putting together a custom barn?
Denise: Usually, when folks make changes after an initial quote before making a purchase they are looking to save on cost. So the most common things to eliminate are overhangs, cupolas and glass in the aisle doors. Customer will also add or eliminate paint or stain later in a project.
Jill: The first quote is usually the "dream barn" with ALL the 'bells and whistles' so, as Denise said, when they make changes it is usually to cut costs. And, that may mean going with just the standard features. Other elements they may change would be stall size or loft versus no loft.
Catskill Horse: What advice could you give to someone working on a tight budget that wants to leverage the most ‘bang for their buck?’
Denise: This really depends on location but typically Low Profiles offer tons of versatility at a great price.
Jill: When working on a tight budget, I would tell people they can save money by having a local contractor add extras like the electrical system for example. I agree with Denise, a low profile or doublewide barn is a great value. Or, a shed row barn with an overhang that they can modify later themselves - such as enclosing part of the overhang to create extra storage or another stall.
Catskill Horse: What is the most common upgrade people want?
Denise: Dutch doors in stalls- this is for modular and shed row barns
Jill: Upgrading stall windows (which are included as a standard feature with ALL Horizon Structures barns) to Dutch doors. There are several benefits to this: another avenue to access the stall, increased ventilation, horses enjoy putting their heads outside for sun & fresh air.
Catskill Horse: Where is the best area of a new horse barn project someone can save $$$ without compromising on the usefulness of the structure?
Denise: Eliminating metal roof, wash stall, cupolas (replace with a less expensive ridge vent), glass in aisle doors.
Jill: Try to anticipate future needs rather than buying only what you need right now. Add as much storage space as you can afford. Get 3 stalls even if you only have 2 horses, etc.. It is 'cheaper' to pay for these types of things to be built into your barn than to try to add them on later!
Catskill Horse: What are the main ‘must have’ features you’d suggest folks shouldn’t overlook?
Denise: Ventilation, hay storage and Dutch doors. Most of the must have items are standard features in our barns. The most important item not included is ventilation. This is really the only option I stress as an absolute must have.
Jill: I agree with Denise... most 'must haves' are included as standard features in our barns. If a customer has extra money to spend I would highly recommend additional ventilation and gutters. Moving water away from the barn is very important to the longevity of the structure and the wellbeing of the barn occupants.
Whether a customer gets it from us or has it added after the barn is delivered, an electrical system, especially lighting inside and outside the structures, is essential. Another vital component is running water in the barn. This is not something you would purchase from Horizon Structures but it is absolutely necessary.
Something else that I consider to be money well spent would be a cement center aisle or, if purchasing a shedrow barn, a good, solid surface that will stand up to high horse traffic outside the stall doors. Finally, properly prepared stall 'floors' - good drainage, stall mats, etc. before moving horses into the barn
There are other areas that may affect your budget particularly if you operate a horse business. You might be able to afford to spend more on your barn if you speak to your accountant about the possible amortization of the barn expense. Any interest paid on finance charges may be tax deductible too. As a barn is considered a capital purchase these tax benefits may offset some of the cash flow issues you might otherwise experience when buying the barn. Additionally the purchase may facilitate your business increasing its revenue through additional boarders utilizing the stalls immediately after the structure arrives which is a great way to fund the monthly payment while providing the opportunity to garner additional dollars from lessons and show services.
Another factor you should consider in regard to ensuring you keep your barn build on budget, is that when you receive a ‘to the penny quote’ that includes the building, its set up and delivery from a modular barn building company, you will have peace of mind with an accurate final number. Sadly, with stick built on site construction project cost overruns are rather common, and delays in the construction caused by poor weather can negatively affect your timeline to fill those stalls with horses. This may cause you to incur unexpected livery expenses for extended stay of your horses elsewhere, extra costs for blankets, or loss of prospective boarders when you have already marketed your availability of horse accommodation in advance of the forthcoming winter weather.
Whatever horse barn you choose it is imperative that the building company offers warranties on the structure both in terms of workmanship and products utilized. When my husband and I built our home we used a relatively new siding product and trim product on the advice of a local building supply company. Within a few years both products had failed. The product warranties allowed us to recoup some of the money spent through Class Action suits. Thus I would also advise you to go with an established barn building company that will use tried and tested products and offers an experienced team of high quality craftsman that work as professional carpenters.
All too often construction crews are put together at the last minute based on who is currently available to the contractor. This team may or may not be experienced at barn building. Their learning curve can cost you money.
One of my pet worries about having a barn built on site is the casual nature by which nails are dropped on the floor and not picked up. Aluminum nails used for metal roof and siding installation are a particular trial, as these cannot be located afterward with a magnet sweep.
In conclusion always speak with professionals who can guide you through the barn design process and are able to deliver on price point, advise on factors you may not have considered and can offer a variety of barn styles from which you can choose.
If you would like to reach out to talk with Denise Chesnut directly, please give her a call at 1-888-447-4337 or request The Perfect Barn Buying Guide and Price List.