Whether you’re a novice or an experienced equestrian, at some point you’re going to ask, “How much does it cost to build a horse barn?” Answering that question requires understanding all the areas that influence the cost, and truly defining what kind of horse barn you want.
To help us to put the cost of a horse barn in perspective, we reached out to Tom Craun, a Wick Builder in Basehor, Kansas. Tom has been building horse barns for 34 years. An accomplished equestrian himself, he has the inside track on what equestrians look for in a horse barn.
In this interview, Tom walked us through some of the key items to consider as you put together pricing for a horse barn.
Cost Consideration Tip #1: Functionality
Everything starts with defining the purpose for your horse barn. Are you planning a large arena for training, or a smaller stall barn just to house the horses? How will a change of seasons impact your usage?
Tom notes that you shouldn’t think about this project just in terms of today, either. Consider what types of needs you’ll have down the line.
Cost Consideration Tip #2: Look at Building Codes, Homeowners Restrictions and Zoning
Before you can begin drawing up plans for your horse barn, thoroughly explore all the building codes, homeowner’s associations restrictions, and city or county zoning issues regarding your horse barn.
For the newbie suburban equestrian, you’ll want to start looking into any homeowner’s restrictions in your neighborhood. Even if you own a large piece of property, restrictions vary by neighborhood, county and city.
Tom recalls a customer telling him that she wanted to build a 2-stall barn on her 175 foot wide lot. She didn’t realize that the zoning restrictions in her town required a 100-foot sideline setback. Construction on the barn would have required a variance.
Based on where you live, you’ll need to check for restrictions and guidelines from:
- Your neighborhood homeowner’s association
- Your municipal planning commission
- Your municipal building inspector (permit, guidelines)
Cost Consideration Tip #3: Look at the Property
Where do you plan on putting the horse barn? The location of the horse barn on your property can influence the water runoff, the airflow surrounding the barn, and how snow might build up during the winter.
Location can also impact your utilities. Your electrical and water line costs can significantly increase based on how far away they are from your supply source. “If burying your electrical wire underground costs $15-20 a foot, moving it 200 feet away from your home could add $3,000 to the overall cost,” Tom noted.
After you’ve established where you want to build the horse barn, be sure to consult with your gas, electric and water utilities. Even the DIYer needs to call utilities for buried underground hazards like electrical wires or gas lines.
Cost Consideration #4: Think About Size and Number of Horses (Today and Tomorrow)
The size of the horse barn isn’t just based strictly on the number of horses. The size of the horse can influence stall size, and that’s based on the breed. Draft horses are bigger and may require more space, but quarter horses are average-sized. Every breed is different.
You’ll also want to consider how many horses you may own in the future. If you’ve just bought your first horse and think that’s all you’ll ever want, Tom believes you’ll be kicking yourself if you don’t plan for growth.
“I’ve had customers who never thought they’d want another one,” Tom said. “Then they wind up moving because they eventually change their mind and need to build a bigger barn for more horses.”
Cost Consideration #5: Think About Features
There are a wide range of features to consider with each horse barn — some aesthetic, some functional. Tom recommends checking out different stall manufacturers to pinpoint your favorite options, as well as visiting different horse barns to get a sense of what you’ll need.
Here are several items you’ll likely consider:
Overhangs, soffits: Many people think they don’t need them, but they provide good ventilation.
Condensation barriers, insulation: Do you want a warm, dry horse barn? You’ll need to factor in condensation barriers and adequate insulation or the combination of moisture and temperature could lead to problems.
Doors: Both for the stable and the arena, you have a variety of options. The details are important — even for the pedestrian door. For example, Tom recommends a 4-foot pedestrian door: “It’s a minor additional cost, and you’ll love it when you’re carrying a saddle through it.”
Cost Consideration #6: Auxiliary Areas
Novices typically don’t think about areas beyond the horse stall. But you’ll need to plan for areas like a tack room and wash area, and storage areas for feed and bedding.
Once again, these areas will be largely dependent on how many horses you have and your intent for the space. If you’re a trainer, for example, you’ll want your tack room and separate areas for different supplies (hay, feed, bedding, wheel barrows, etc.).
Cost Consideration #7: Safety
Safety considerations are the last thing people think about — until something goes wrong. For example, the grill (stall dividers) section in the stall may be too big and may allow a horse to put a leg through (go with a 3-inch vertical center). Or you may have wood edges exposed, which horses love to chew.
Cost Consideration #8: Extra Building Fees
Tom rattled off a number of fees that many people don’t even consider as part of the construction equation, including:
Building permit: Your municipality should provide you with costs.
Dumpster fee: Call waste management companies for estimates.
Porta-potty fee: Every construction crew needs one.
Driveway: Factor in gravel, concrete, or whatever surface costs you’ll need.
Cost Consideration #9: Think Long-Term
At the beginning of the post, we shared with you an audio interview Tom gave regarding the importance of site preparation. Be sure to listen to it; it’s one of the most overlooked part of the construction process.
We’ve also included a brochure from Wick Buildings for equestrian barns, which adds in even more features to consider. Click here to download the brochure.
Finally, take your time with this process. Once your horse barn is built, it’s built. Think long-term, even if that means stretching your short-term budget. Your horse(s) will thank you for it!
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