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More questions about barn building - plumbing & electricity

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  • More questions about barn building - plumbing & electricity

    First, a mini-vent. The new barn is going up where the old barn was. The old barn has been halfway demolished, the nags are packed into the puny, crappy second barn for the time being, and it rained 1.5 inches yesterday, so everything is a disgusting, muddy mess. The beasties are *not* loving me right now.

    Next questions for barn experts:
    -Did you use a regular electrician to do your wiring, or did you find someone who knew something about horse barns? Did you have to plan it all out for them? And if so, do you have any words of wisdom?

    -Same questions on plumbing. Did your plumber understand what you needed? And any words of wisom? The new barn will have a wash stall and hot water, plus 6 stalls and tackroom. How many water pumps will we need? I'm thinking just 1, plus the wash stall fixtures.

    -Last question - what flooring do you use on your aisle and wash stall floor? I would looove to get rubber pavers, but they're danged expensive. Considering that I've spent all my money before even getting plumbing and electricity, we may be living with a dirt aisle for a few months.

    Thanks for any words of wisdom you can offer!
  • Original Poster

    First, a mini-vent. The new barn is going up where the old barn was. The old barn has been halfway demolished, the nags are packed into the puny, crappy second barn for the time being, and it rained 1.5 inches yesterday, so everything is a disgusting, muddy mess. The beasties are *not* loving me right now.

    Next questions for barn experts:
    -Did you use a regular electrician to do your wiring, or did you find someone who knew something about horse barns? Did you have to plan it all out for them? And if so, do you have any words of wisdom?

    -Same questions on plumbing. Did your plumber understand what you needed? And any words of wisom? The new barn will have a wash stall and hot water, plus 6 stalls and tackroom. How many water pumps will we need? I'm thinking just 1, plus the wash stall fixtures.

    -Last question - what flooring do you use on your aisle and wash stall floor? I would looove to get rubber pavers, but they're danged expensive. Considering that I've spent all my money before even getting plumbing and electricity, we may be living with a dirt aisle for a few months.

    Thanks for any words of wisdom you can offer!


    • #3
      Haven't built a barn, but I do have a comment. I am in a wonderful barn now, but there is an electrical outlet right in front of the mounting block, and something is plugged into it - it is SO tempting for my horse as I am teaching him to stand there patiently - he just wants to reach out to that dangling electrical wire and take a chomp!

      So, make sure that whichever kind of electrician you get, he/she understands that there should be nothing chewable within reach of a horse!


      • #4
        I am not a barn expert but I had an existing pole barn renovated for my horses. My builder and electrician did not know anything about horses so I gave them a plan. I don't know anything about plumbing but I have a few electrical suggestions. Light your aisle from the sides not the middle. My farrier loves me because she can work in the light and not be shaded from the horse. I copied a friend and put the stall lights on a dimmer switch. It is nice not to have to turn on bright lights when doing night check. I made sure to put in lots of plugs for clippers, fans etc. but one mistake I made is that the ones but the stalls were in reach of the horses. If I let them hang their heads in the aisle they can chew the fan cords. I ended up moving those outlets to above the stalls and now everything is fine. Timers on outside lights are also very helpful. Good luck and have fun!


        • #5
          I think a regular electrician should be able to work a barn - building codes count, regardless.
          Make sure to tell him though about the chewing habbits of the equines - run all the wire through conduit!

          Water - same here, if the plummer has installed pipes in outside conditions, he should be fine - remember the deal about the frost! Busted pipes are a PITA, same as ripped off wateres and faucets, have plenty of shut-off valves through the intire barn! How many pumps you will need would depend (I would guess) where your water comes from, pressure and such, hash it over, but one ought to be fine - to much water preassure kills your gasgets in your appliences.

          Floors....Wash stall would have to have concret, I would think it would be best for the aisle, too, but not as important. You can always upgrate to rubbermats and add more concrete as time goes on.


          • #6
            My barn builders were very experienced and they did all the electrical and plumbing...but were not licensed in those professions. Don't know if that would be a permit problem where you are located? Was not an issue for us.

            We have a wash stall with hot/cold (hot water heater right on other side of wall in tack room, adjacent to faucets in wash stall, helps to keep faucets flowing in freezing weather). Also the faucets are recessed so not hanging out of wall where horses or leads could get hung up.

            We only have one other faucet in barn aisle.

            Electrical outlets near cross ties in barn aisle, relatively centrally located, and above each stall (for fans etc). Couple of outlets in tack room as well.

            Also had them run an underground water line to farthest pasture, so would not have to run a hose to fill water troughs. I now wish I had done that to all three pastures and had them run electricity as well. Yhen I could have put an outdoor outlet for lights and for tank heaters etc. Would not have added much expense but would have been a big convenience.


            • #7
              We also light aisle from sides, as well as into each stall...the aisle lights and stall lights are on different circuits so do not have to turn both on at same time. Outside lights also on separate circuit, as are outlets for fans.

              My barn aisles and wash stall are asphalt. Less expensive than concrete. We have been relatively pleased with it. It is rough enough that slipping has not been a problem. I had worried that the heat here in VA might be an issue...that the asphalt might melt...but that has not occurred.


              • #8
                a suggestion about aisle flooring - asphalt! It resists cracking and still has good traction when wet. I can be a pain to keep clean as far as dust settleing in the crevices, but nothing a blower can't handle.


                • #9
                  EVERY electrical thing (outlet, switch) in your barn needs a cover (wet weather location type cover).

                  EVERY electrical outlet (except the one for the electric fence) needs to be ground fault interrupter type (GFI).

                  I would try very, very hard to hire an electrician that is/was a farmer (although not necessarily a horse farmer). He will think of nice little touches that you might not remember--the electric outlet by the hayloft door for the hay elevator, for example.

                  ALL your electrical wiring needs to be inside metal conduit so it cannot be chewed by rats or squirrels (cause of fires) & also so the wiring can't get wet.

                  www.rougelandfarm.com Home of TB stallion Alae Rouge, sire of our filly Rose, ribbon-winner on the line at Dressage at Devon.


                  • #10
                    Ahh... This is an area I have much experience with. My husband and I built our house/barn combo by ourselves and did plenty of research ahead of time. It helped that my husband (an electrical engineer and lighting specialist) works with civil engineers and architects. But we did all the work ourselves.

                    These are things that we did and love. But first let me preface this by saying when it comes to wiring and plumbing it is MUCH easier to rough in things that you may not want/need now but you want in the future.

                    Invest in a small water heater for your wash stall. When building this area I would rough-in for radient heaters if you show or need to wash a horse in cooler temps. We used caned fixtures down the center of our aisle. My barn aisle has excellent lighting because of this and it also looks good. We also used canned fixtures in the wash stall (these need to be rated for wet usage). We have ceiling fans in the center of each stall so that is something that needs to wired for. Each stall has a separate light switch for a double spotlight socket which is mounted in the front of the stall. If needed you can put a heat lamp in the spare socket. The switches need to be far enough away from the stall door so that the horses do not play with them.

                    Make sure you put in as many outlets in as necessary, Only those that come in possible contact w/ water need to be GFI rated (like a receptacle in the wash stall).

                    Make sure that you put in an outlet and have space for a fly system (one of my favorite items). We built on a slab with textured concrete floors. They are great. No slipping problems here. Stall are matted of course bu aisle is the easiest to clean. For plumbing make sure they use copper pipes and insulate your pipes. One of the nice things we did was when we pipped our automatic wateres we put in a shut-off valve to each one with an access panel in the inside of each stall. So if anything happens to one of the wateres or if I need to clean one I can shut off water to that individual waterer and the rest still work!!


                    • #11
                      I would like to say that EVERY outlet should be GFI. Ask the electrian , if the first one from the pannel box is GFI then you can run the rest from it and they will all be GFI as well. Summer condinsation can cause a short clipping,plugging in a vacumn to do a damp horse, well the list goes on and on. (hubby is a journeyman electrian) outlets need to be out of reach of horses, far out of reach. Definately run it in conduit, and moisture proof boxes. Outside lights that come on at dusk and off at dawn..those are SOOO nice at night, and a three way switch at each end of the barn so you don't have to walk the lenght of the barn in the dark because the switch is at the other end.

                      Leslie Maurer
                      Jump The Moon Sporthorses
                      Home of Echo Shea (arab sporthorse) and Outrageous Fortune(overo Pinto RPSI)
                      Leslie Dobson
                      Jump The Moon Sporthorses


                      • #12
                        HYN, there's a book about barn construction written by Nancy Ambrosiano... she's an eventer from NM. I haven't read the book myself, but I've talked to Nancy a couple of times, and she's one smart, thorough cookie.


                        • #13
                          There have been lots of good suggestions here. We have a twelve foot concrete aisle with the center eight feet consisting of the rubber mats. It required two concrete pours so the mats could be recessed (so they are flush with the concrete margins) but we love it. It is very easy to clean - and easy on the horses. We used electricians and plumbers that do a lot of horse work - too freaked out about barn fires to cut any corners on that one. Good Luck!


                          • #14
                            When I went over the wash stall plans with the builder, I insisted on a couple of things that have worked out very well. The wash stall is about two inches below the level of the floor, and slopes back to the drain, so there's no water in the aisle. Also, I put an extra big drain in the back corner--I've seen so many stalls with drains in the center, and sometimes horses spook at that. We also have an infrared heater above the center, and great lighting and the floor is cement with a very rough texture. I have tried several kinds of mats, and nothing works as well as the cement.


                            • #15

                              Nancy was actually in Virginia before she moved west- she was the first editor of the CDCTA newsletter- so you and she made sort of mirror image migration.

                              I second the recommendation for her book.

                              chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


                              • Original Poster

                                These have been fantastic suggestions. I'll print the thread out to show to the plumber and electrician.

                                And thanks also for the book suggestion. I found it on Amazon, and it should be here in about a week.

                                It's raining again, and the poor nags are having a rotten time. I keep promising them that the new barn will be worth the suffering, but they're not buying it.


                                • #17
                                  I am LOVING this thread since I, too, am in the middle of a barn building project the same size as HeyYouNags (and we are also dealing with VERY BAD weather conditions and ponies living in nasty conditions while the barn gets built).

                                  I was especially interested in the convrete vs. asphalt discussion for the main aisle (12' wide) as we have been having a terrible time deciding between them. Anyone else have thoughts regarding the two?

                                  I also really like the idea of having the wash stall slightly recessed - which I hadn't ever thought to do (thanks Sparky!!) and the idea of the drain in the BACK of the wash stall .. which I have never seen done.

                                  I purchased an MD Barn in the Raised Center Aisle design, so there is much ventilation in the ceiling ... but I am also interested in the idea of the hanging fans .. maybe along the center aisle since it is so much higher than the stalls themselves. Great way to keep air flow moving in the summer.

                                  So keep those ideas flowing .. I am taking notes!


                                  Karen A. Fildes
                                  Caer Avallach Farm - Breeders of Quality Hunter Ponies

                                  Karen A. Fildes
                                  Caer Avallach Farm LLC - Breeders of Quality Hunter & Sport Ponies
                                  Ponyworld - The Online Resource for Pony Enthusiasts -


                                  • #18
                                    Dont have much time, couldn't read the whole thing, forgive me if I repeat anyone...

                                    Wires: run through conduit if possible. Mice love the coating on wires. Otherwise, try wire that's rated to go under ground, we used it to rewire/replace a light under the advice of the home depot guy. He said it is often called "barn wire"

                                    Floors: pavement is great!! doesn't get slippery and seems to hold up well. My barn is only about 15 years old, but very badly maintained (I rent). Floor looks good tho... No poop stains, either.

                                    Water: frost free hydrants where you can, heat tape where you cant. Or route faucets through the wall of a heated room Frozen pipes suck and are expensive. I once worked at a place who built an apartment over the barn. (uh, yah, for me) They failed to heat tape the septic line which froze and overflowed into some pony's stall my first day. I went home the next morning. It was Vermont, and I figured that if they couldn't get that right, I didn't need to work for stupid people.

                                    Outlets: Wet location boxes/covers for all, and put in twice as many as you think you need. GFI outlets ANYWHERE in the vacinity of water. Seriously, you never know. Also, one for each stall for fans if practical and if you use them. My boss did this eliminating the need for dangerous extention cords. You can also get these cool light switch covers that are water tight. They go right over the normal indoor kind and have big red switches that are easy to flick, even with fat gloves on.

                                    And this may seem to be a no-brainer, but make sure the circuit panel is properly labled before the guy leaves. The barn I rent is a minor disaster, but it was built right in the first place, except for the circuit box. Had LOTS of fun trying to figure out which switch was which. URGH, for sure aleast once we were screwing around with that light we replaced while current was going through it. Very scary.


                                    • #19
                                      HEY, LAURIE !!!!

                                      Where in Stockton are you? I take care of polo ponies in Stockton. (not Hisham and Barbie but nearby)



                                      • #20
                                        We are building a barn and just finished doing our aisle in "tumbled" concrete pavers. They are tumbled in a metal drum to make them look old. I like it because there are lots of edges that give the horses traction and they look really great. We used a pattern with both 6x6" and 6x9" blocks. Its more expensive than concrete but much less than rubber pavers.