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Building a Barn

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    Building a Barn

    Hey all,

    We are getting bids on building a 36' x 36' 3 stall barn. I started with a 48' barn with an overhang, and it cost almost as much as my first 4 bedroom home, so I've had to scale back a lot. This also means I'm probably not going to get everything done immediately. We have built a fair amount and can do some of the interior framing and finish work ourselves. The barn will have 3 stalls down one side and a tack room, wash rack and open space (perhaps a future stall) on the other side. Center aisle. Post frame construction or full foundation is still up in the air as I wait on the last bid.

    I'm struggling with what needs to happen right away. I'm hoping some of you can help me prioritize from a construction standpoint. I already have an excavation crew coming to run water elsewhere, and it would be easy for them to do grading and trenching. How much beyond the shell do we need to do so it isn't incredibly expensive to add features later? I may wait to concrete the aisle, for example, and just do the tack room and wash stall now. I want hot and cold water and only plan to insulate the tack room. I would like a utility sink in there and then will have knobs for the wash stall in the wash stall. Do you suggest an on-demand water heater? We are on rural water. Where would you run the water to if you were just doing the shell now? Do you need a frost free in the aisle and is there a good way to tuck it out of the way? Do they just tie in to that?

    I know I want a car wash style drain along the back, or front, of the wash stall. Not a center drain. I'm struggling on if the water should just flow out away from the building or if we should do a drain pit and let it perk out. I have friends with both. No septic will be required (no toilet). None of the three builders had a strong opinion. This is a small, private facility. We live in the upper midwest.

    Electric is much easier to trench in, since it doesn't have to go 6' underground. I'm thinking the box should go in the tack room--thoughts?
    DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette:

    I had my building pad done, then the building went up (shell). I had the excavator back to trench in the water and electric. If I understood correctly, he ran tubing from house to barn that the pipes later ran through. I put the electric panel on the front wall of the barn closest to the house--can't remember if the tube for the electric went right there originally. I think the water tubing went to the opposite side of the barn. Once the plumbing was run to the wash stall and restroom, there was no trace of where the tubing originally poked out. So you probably could have the lines put in before the building is up. If you actually have the electric run before the building is up, consider putting an outlet in so the builders have it to use. That was my electric first step--electric box and one outlet for the circular saw.

    I was only going to concrete the tack room and wash rack, but there is a minimum on the amount of concrete for a job, so I had a 12x12 patch of each aisle done, just before the indoor arena. I wanted to have a gas water heater, but the cost of venting led me to a 18 gal electric water heater. An electric garage heater heats the tackroom which is where the restroom is. My wash rack runs out on the ground outside. I'm not sure how you would get by without a frost free in the aisle? I have two, one in each aisle. They're about a foot from the side of the wash rack, not in the way. They are close to the middle of the barn, but I made sure to put them where they couldn't possibly interfere with the wash rack openings or the tack room doors.

    I think I hit all your questions.
    That's fine, many of us have slid down this slippery slope and became very happy (and broke) doing it. We may not have a retirement, but we have memories ...


      Original Poster

      OTTBs...thank you! Great info! Really appreciate it.

      I have subsequently been told that some concrete contractors won’t even bid on any more jobs for this year. They have too much work and we’re too close to winter. So maybe I don’t have to worry about the tack room or wash stall in 2020. 😒
      DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette:


        About 8 months ago, we purchased a home w/a new, large pole barn on the property. Outside paddock and 4 inside stalls (including dutch doors), gravel on the ground throughout. Usable but otherwise just a shell. We've been trying to prioritize our build out, too. My aspirations have become more rooted in the reality of our budget, though (I've said goodbye to the indoor wash bay, for example -- bet that's less expensive when you already have a plumber working on other jobs). And I've wrestled with the order of things, as well. So far we've put up the interior walls and run electric throughout. Concrete is going in for the shop area and tack room this month. Then, we'll hold for a bit and leave the gravel in the feed room and aisles (rubber mats to come later in the aisles). I'll tell you that the biggest PITA is that the barn floor wasn't leveled before it went up. Every contractor I've had out to the place asks the same question -- why didn't they level this before putting up the barn. Good question!


          A couple of things, having built my place last year -- 1. think carefully about drainage. If you have a wash stall you will want to place that in a way your drainage will function correctly, if that makes sense. I think you will be sorry if you don't move the water away from the side of the barn because eventually you will get a low spot and may well end up with water issues if the surrounding ground is flattish. Would definitely aim for a drain to the back instead of the front, because you definitely don't want water in the aisle all the time. But then you also have to make sure it is high enough the water will reliably flow the way you want.

          I think post frame construction is absolutely sufficient. I would use the extra space for hay/wheelbarrow/shavings storage (not all you have but enough for a month or so is SO nice to have handy/close).

          I run my electric and water in the same trench. Might as well, then you don't have to do 2 trenches. Either way, encase it in 2" pipe so you can address any issues without digging the whole thing up. If I have a problem, we can pull it out, fix it, pull it back through without tearing up 500 feet of yard every time (hopefully never but you've lived on a farm long enough to know sh!t happens!)

          I weighed an on-demand heater but my dad, who is a licensed electrician and plumber, told me not to do it because it requires too many amps at a time and would overload my system, if that makes sense. To make it reliable I would have had to rewire/upgrade the wiring on my house and also the barn, which was not worth the $$ to do. So ask about that before you go that direction. If your barn has a separate connection or your main breakers are very large this might not be an issue for you. I'd put the water heater in a corner of the tack and run it through the wall to the wash rack.

          I actually have my wash rack at one end of my center aisle barn right in front of the tack room. So I tack up "in the aisle" but there is a door behind (or in summer, a board so a barrier if a horse wants to pull back). that would give you another 12 by 12 space on the side to use down the road. We lined the door with plywood and both sides of the "wash rack" with tongue and groove, so if a horse kicks or something it is safe. On a private property tacking in the aisle is no big deal, and even in my smallish facility it is fine -- I also have crossties in my stall and so do others, so if someone is washing a horse we can tack in stalls easily. with 5 owners, we've never had too much "traffic." In a year I think I've had to ask someone to move their horse once so I could get by.


            Prices for ALL materials are through the roof right now. Cement, shingles, studs...everything. Supply companies are not overstocking either because they don't want to be stuck for expensive materials when the price comes down again. My brother needs a new roof on a rental property he recently bought. His contractor is so busy, and supplies are so short, he's job #51. He too is waiting until next year. Neighbor is an insurance adjuster for a company that insures corporations. He just told me yesterday after that big storm that came through Ohio earlier this year, folks are in such dire straits many will be living through the winter with blue tarps on roofs. If you can wait, I would.


              Originally posted by TrotTrotPumpkn View Post
              OTTBs...thank you! Great info! Really appreciate it.

              I have subsequently been told that some concrete contractors won’t even bid on any more jobs for this year. They have too much work and we’re too close to winter. So maybe I don’t have to worry about the tack room or wash stall in 2020. 😒
              Oh yeah... You may need to get the ground prepared ASAP (and trenches dug.) I think I had a "no more quotes this year" when I was building.
              That's fine, many of us have slid down this slippery slope and became very happy (and broke) doing it. We may not have a retirement, but we have memories ...