The Top Ten Reasons To Choose Modular Over Stick Built Horse Barns
By Nikki Alvin-Smith
Contemplating a new horse barn build? There are lots of choices out there and many builders more than happy to take your hard earned cash and complete the job. It’s important that you make the right selection to save yourself not just money, but also to ensure you place a barn on your property that will give years of great service and that the whole purchasing process is as stress free and easy as possible.
Here are the top ten reasons to choose a modular horse barn over a stick built structure:
1. Defined Price Point
Regardless of how many custom options you choose in your barn build the price should be a ‘to the penny’ quotation. Many stick built contractors will give you a contract, but there is almost always an ‘out’ clause to cover them for increases in material prices, or other unforeseen issues. Tried and tested favorites such as, “ I misspoke,” are bandied about is, “ That isn’t included. That’ll be extra. You misunderstood.” Unfortunately even a written contract won’t protect you from extra or hidden costs if the contractor determines they wish to charge you more than the quote or estimate.
The sincere advantage of working with a proven, experienced modular builder is that their contract will include an accurate price that defines the details of the project and includes delivery and set-up.
2. Quality of the Build
It’s difficult to monitor quality of craftsmanship out on site. While a site foreman might be in charge of the crew, the crew members may task jobs they are not especially experienced doing and may or may not do the job right. Missing components such as the right length lag bolt or lumber size may be overlooked as the materials on site are only as good as the accuracy of the deliveries made and the initial ordering process by the contractor.
Modular building on the other hand are made in factory. This means quality control is easily handled, crewmembers often do the same or similar job time and again and they have the right tools and materials at hand.
3. Materials Used
The type of wood or metal, the quality of the siding and roofing should all be defined in the contract and this should include details of manufacturer warranties if applicable.
Out on a worksite the materials may not have arrived, a supplier may have substituted certain items due to lack of availability or the contractor may have orchestrated a substitution to save money.
At a modular company all the materials are already on hand and in stock. The carpenters are familiar with their correct application (which is important to avoid voiding the manufacturer warranties), and all are defined in the original contract.
Modular builds will usually deliver a consistent quality product in both craftsmanship and materials used.
4. Minimal Mess Equals Less Stress
An influx of a construction crew with their various trucks, noisy tools and equipment, may cause disturbance to both the daily rituals and routines that presently exist on the property as well as worry the homeowner who is away for the day working hard to earn the money for the new barn project, and who has to necessarily leave other pets home and perhaps horses turned out nearby.
A stick built structure will require deliveries of materials, perhaps multiple times, which can create a muddy driveway access or tear up lawns and pastures.
These deliveries will bring with them a certain amount of mess in the form of leftover plastic or paper wrapping, discarded packing materials and lumber. The construction crew may or may not be attentive to securing the garbage from blowing around, or to removing it in a timely fashion to maintain a neat and safe environment. You may even be left to clear it up yourself!
With modular construction the mess made is minimal and a good modular company will leave the property immaculate with just the new barn building in place.
A major stress for horse owners is the hazard of nails being dropped on and around the building site during construction. While a sweep with a large magnet broom may pick up certain nails, aluminum nails such as those used particularly during roofing and to apply metal siding, may escape detection.
During modular construction the major part of the build is completed off-site in the factory. That translates into significantly less risk of erroneous materials being left behind for your horse to find.
5. Site Prep All Set
Both the stick built and modular building will require some sort of site preparation.
With a modular structure the excavation can be planned well in advance, and even guided by the modular building company directly with your hired excavator to avoid any miscommunications. As the requirements for the structure are clearly laid out in the plans that the modular company provides, the chance for errors is mitigated.
As the building is placed on the site by ‘mule’ or machine, the modular or prefab option will simply be maneuvered into position and attached to pre-dug and concreted pillars.
With a stick-built structure, the site prep that is initially completed to level and fill, and application of drainage materials across the pad of gravel and stonedust will necessarily be disturbed by the digging in of poles, and for larger building the chains and bracing for trusses is applicable. These will require concrete footers be placed in excavated center portions of the building to secure the trusses pending roofing.
6. Expertise in Teamwork
When you work on the same team everyday, you soon create an efficient rhythm in working together. In the factory setting the defined jobs, access to proper tools and materials, excellent lighting and lack of weather issues interrupting construction, means the modular building offers the crew an excellent work environment. There is no wind to worry about that might blow a construction worker off a ladder or roof, no disruption of schedule by lack of material availability, or other issue that might otherwise cause the building to be constructed in a rush or with shortcuts.
The instant nature of the modular build is quite spectacular. Naturally there may be lead times applicable during busier periods of the year, but the delivery dates are usually on point and the actual delivery and set up can be done in 1 to 3 days, depending on the size of the project.
The stick-built option on the other hand, will be done when the contractor has finished their previous job that may have been delayed for one reason or another. Those delays usually involve poor weather or missing staff. Once on site, the construction crew is still subject to mistimed material deliveries and weather variances. For example, it’s not the best idea to paint or stain your new barn siding in wet weather.
Timelines are especially important for horse business owners, who need to have their barn operational sooner rather than later and minimize the fuss caused by construction crews on site.
8. Maximum Choice
In today’s modular building world you can have your choice of siding and roofing materials and colors. As materials are sourced nationally and kept in stock at the factory, you are rarely limited by what is available at local dealers that supply the trade. As modular/prefab builders construct many structures each year, they have buying power that they can leverage to obtain lower pricing.
The stick built or pole build will rely on locally sourced materials, and the contractor may or may not have much experience across different material brands depending on their proven history building horse barns. Old-fashioned and traditional building approaches are fine if that is what you want, but the use of the best materials for the job that a company has proven across an extensive genre of building structures will be more likely to produce a better result in terms of longevity and also gives you lots of options for customization.
9. Planning Help
Resourcing the team at a proven modular barn building company can not just help you cut costs and stay on budget, but also bring fresh ideas to the project table in terms of design, as well as provide advice on permits and planning and perhaps offer financing too.
You can often also visit and chat with their past customers for references, and as larger companies cover more area with their builds the chances are you’ll find someone close by who has built a barn of similar design to the one you are planning, that you can visit in person to enjoy a one-on-one discussion as to how the build actually went as well as see the quality of construction first-hand.
A local construction farm may do a variety of types of work and a horse barn may simply be one of many types of structures they offer. Their input and experience in the world of horses may thus be limited.
Overall, the major advantage that a modular horse barn has over a pole or stick built structure is convenience. Life is busy and stressful for most folks these days, and the new barn-building project can be daunting especially for the first time buyer.
Leading modular barn building firm Horizon Structures, based in Atglen, PA shares lots of advice on their website that you can capitalize on by reviewing. When in doubt always ask a proven professional. After all, you don’t know what you don’t know and a company with proven integrity can make the whole barn purchase a truly pleasurable experience from start to finish.