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Costs of building your own farm from scratch?

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  • Costs of building your own farm from scratch?

    After a long string of events (none bad really. just the perfect storm of circumstances) my DH and I got to talking about my business last night and decided to consider buying land of our own.

    MY SITUATION: I have a rapidly growing and thus far very successful boarding and lesson program in town. I'm paying rent for the use of a 15 acre facility that has 8 stalls, a small covered ring, and 7 pastures. My barn owner is mostly hands-off, which is nice, but I'm not getting some of the things that were part of our original agreement (tractor was taken by ex-husband, hot water heater was non-functional when we moved in last year, etc). And when the owner does become vocal, she's fairly demanding (which I think is pretty bold considering what I'm not getting) and she wants to increase my rent because my business is doing so well. I'm pretty sure it's not supposed to work that way...
    I have 4 pasture boarders and a small wait-list of people wanting to pasture board. I have full boarders in all 8 stalls and a wait-list for those as well. I also teach 20-30 lessons per week, depending on the weather, and have recently turned down a few people inquiring about lessons for their kids because I don't have enough lesson horses because there is not enough room on my farm for me to get more.
    All that said, I do love my farm where I am. It's VERY close to town and I think location has a lot to do with our boarding success. I know for sure though that most of my boarders would go with me if I moved. Oh, and did I mention that my farm owner wants to sell the farm in the next 1-3 years? That's an important detail. And it's on a flood zone. Right now most of it is under water after a day of rain.

    I always thought I couldn't buy a farm of my own because we wouldnt' be able to afford another mortgage. BUT it occurred to me (I know, I'm slow..) I'm already paying as much to rent the farm I'm on and it's not big enough and comes with a sometimes annoying landlord.

    PUNCHLINE: (sorry it got a little lengthy!)
    I'm looking for the most cost-effective ways to build a barn. I dont' want "cheap" in that it looks bad and will fall apart. I'm just looking to find out what the costs are for different types of barns. Basically, if it's all a lot more than I'm thinking, I need to shut this pipe dream down and be content. But I'm thinking that I will want at least 10 stalls and will need a tack room and feed room. My hope is that I can get a small business loan for the empty land (already found the most beautiful 25 acres of rolling green land. sigh) and roll into the mortgage the cost of building a barn, arena, and fencing. I know I could build a $100,000 barn, but that's out of the question. Can a barn with enough stalls be built for $50k? $70k? Any guidance would be much appreciated!

  • #2
    I'm in the process of building a 4 stall barn with a tack room & wash stall. Best estimate for JUST the barn is $50K! That's even looking into the modular barns where they just drop them. Then I need to add fencing, water, electric, cement, etc. So I'm expecting possibly more like $60K.

    Kiwayu & Figiso Pictures:


    • #3
      Where are you? You may not *need* a traditional barn.

      Have a look at Kleen Pipe structures (I love my run-in shed, and they have stall fronts and dividers for them.) With the salt-box roof overhang, the rain stays out and the pony is perfectly happy in there.

      Center aisle barns are for human convenience, not really for the horses.
      ... and Patrick


      • #4
        Where are you? Here you could definitely do that in your price range. A lot of cost can depend on the dirt work needed for the site too. Something to keep in mind when you are looking at places.

        As a boarder and long-time boarding barn observer I must add that the barns closest to town do very well, even without the good footing, feed program, fencing, etc. and the barns further out suffer (even if they are better). I think you are spot on to consider location first.

        I once seriously considered boarding as a business and to cash-flow for me (hiring manual labor) I needed about 25 full stalls at a minimum + pasture boarders. This did not include a lesson program though and I know that is typcially the money-maker. I did not go forward, as our land prices are astronomical (historically) right now. Prices have definitely gone up since then, and I haven't seen board go up the same %. I would come up with a written business plan and talk to lenders to see what is realistic and also to builders to get basic bids on 10 stalls, 15 stalls, etc.
        DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/


        • #5
          Why aren't you contacting LOCAL barn builders and people that do fencing to get an idea?

          Building costs, which do include excavation, a well, bringing electric to a barn on bare land are all the kind of costs you need to determine where you are located. Also, I think you also need to consider a home on the property as well. I wouldn't board my horse, long term anyway, if no one lived on the property. Also, building costs where I am quite possibly would differ significantly from your location.

          I doubt though that you could get what you want, for the $50-70,000 you are hoping for.

          Also, closer to town is a HUGE difference, esp with gas prices on the rise.

          I put up a 4-stall barn and small indoor (60' x 120') an outdoor ring (80' x220') with lights, and 5 post and rail paddocks 21 yrs ago and it cost me ~150K.
          Last edited by msj; Jan. 23, 2012, 11:42 AM. Reason: added last paragraph

          I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people...I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.


          • #6
            Originally posted by Foxygrl516 View Post
            Can a barn with enough stalls be built for $50k? $70k? Any guidance would be much appreciated!
            I am in NE PA and just got a quote from an amish builder on a pole barn. 36 X 84 feet with an 8 foot over hang on each side. One side will have 4 20 X 24 foot paddocks and the other split into two for "run ins". Now he is not putting the stalls in, I will do that, but cost of structure and that is with one 12 foot sliding door and two human doors (one on each end). Four dutch doors on one side (every other stall). Ready?? 23,700! I will put the stalls in and I know I can get lumber for about 3,000. I'll have a day and invite friends over and we are going to pound away! It can be done!
            Maria Hayes-Frosty Oak Stables
            Home to All Eyez On Me, 1998 16.2 Cleveland Bay Sporthorse Stallion
            & FrostyOak Hampton 2008 Pure Cleveland Bay Colt


            • Original Poster

              Thanks for your replies. I am speaking with local builders and professionals as well. There is usually so much experience on this board though that I figured it might be of some help to post here as well.

              I am getting together all of my business and income projections, past present and future as well as trying to get a good idea of what it will cost before I start shopping for lenders. If a bit of research proves that I cannot do what is needed for under $250k then there is no need to shop for lenders. Land here is pretty inexpensive. The one that I have found (I'm certainly not set on that one piece of property. it's just an example) is 25 acres and will sell for around $75k. We are in an area with 2 cities/towns next to each other and business feeds from both. This property is about 10 min from one and about 20 min from the other, whereas my current farm is about 10-15 min from each. I don't think I would buy further out and attempt to start a business, but I know for a fact that is I moved at least 11 of my 12 boarders would move with me and the 12th would likely come as well. Basically, it's a move that is only likely to succeed when made with an established clientel. It's still not a guarantee, but nothing is.

              We would like to build on the property eventually. If we do this, we will design the layout so that in a few years when we are able to we can build our house on the property. But that would not happen immediately.

              I have found some interesting websites with barn kits at reasonable prices. It does not include the labor of actually building. My dad and I have built a 2 stall barn from the ground up by ourselves before and I wouldn't mind taking on building a 10 stall barn if it made it affordable. www.beambarns.com has some great barns available. My favorite is on pg 2, Model MB4072. The kit is $61,950, so actually built it would be probably closer to $75k I would guess.


              • #8
                If you like where you are and she wants to sell, why not buy the farm where you are now?
                Visit Sonesta Farms website at www.sonestafarms.com or our FaceBook page at www.facebook.com/sonestafarms. Also showing & breeding Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.


                • #9
                  Definitely definitely look for local builders. Contact places like Morton and other similar types to ask for quotes. It's been 10+ years, but a friend had a Morton barn built for about $60k IIRC, turnkey. I'm sure it's more now.

                  Pole barns will be cheaper since you don't have to pour a foundation, and that means you can wait a bit, if possible, before pouring concrete or putting mats in the aisle and/or wash area.

                  Arenas can vary wildly depending on local costs of materials, how much grading is required, etc, as well as what the base soil is.

                  Fencing options are huge. I spent WAY less $$ on Horseguard fencing than 3-board, in part because we were quite capable of putting up the HG ourselves. Not that we couldn't have put up boards, but the HG is so much faster to put up and doesn't require all that finish work in the end (ie topping off posts). And, future upkeep is so much cheaper.
                  The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                  • Original Poster

                    Originally posted by aspenlucas View Post
                    I am in NE PA and just got a quote from an amish builder on a pole barn. 36 X 84 feet with an 8 foot over hang on each side. One side will have 4 20 X 24 foot paddocks and the other split into two for "run ins". Now he is not putting the stalls in, I will do that, but cost of structure and that is with one 12 foot sliding door and two human doors (one on each end). Four dutch doors on one side (every other stall). Ready?? 23,700! I will put the stalls in and I know I can get lumber for about 3,000. I'll have a day and invite friends over and we are going to pound away! It can be done!
                    This is exactly what I mean! I don't mind putting in the sweat and hours. I just want a nice barn of my own and I think that I can do it affordably. Cheers to you! We don't have an Amish community in Alabama, but Good ol boys can be of great help

                    Some options I've thought of and would love feedback and opinions on....
                    METAL BUILDINGS: I can get a metal building with sliding doors, windows, and the size I would need for 10 stalls for in the neighborhood of $25k. Obviously I could build stalls inside the metal building. I could either go the route of rough cut lumber (it's what I did when I build the 2 stall barn. VERY affordable!) or I could look into Pre-Fab stall kits, which would be pretty but probably a good bit more pricey.

                    BARN KITS: like the ones I posted from beambarns.com. Would look nicer from the outside and would probably have more 'bells and whistles'. would require labor as well and would be more expensive, but possible do-able.

                    Any others? I don't want to build a wooden barn out of rough-cut lumber or anything from total scratch. They end up looking so weathered and it would be a lot of work. The barn I'm in now is a wooden barn that the owners built and put a tin roof on. It's a cute barn and great on the inside. No awful looking, but 'rugged' look on the outside and LOUD when its raining or windy bc of the roof.


                    • Original Poster

                      Originally posted by Sonesta View Post
                      If you like where you are and she wants to sell, why not buy the farm where you are now?
                      If only it were that easy, right? Being that the farm I'm on is in city limits with an existing barn and 3br house, it's easily a $600k piece of property. Definitely not in the budget. And honestly, if I could have my own farm, I don't think I'd want that to be it. Location is fabulous, but a lot of other things about the farm aren't as fabulous. It's hard to teach 30 lessons a week on bad footing because the place in half way under water 4-6 months a year.


                      • #12

                        roofs - they can (and usually should be) insulated to help with condensation and noise. You may find by the time you've done the insulation it would have been just the same to do a traditional roof/shingles

                        siding - you must must lay plywood or something similar for about 4' from the bottom on the inside, right against the metal. You don't want anyone kicking the metal from the inside or outside and punching through.
                        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                        • #13
                          It may depend on where you live, but your local builder may be able to get materials at a better price than a barn kit. I was seriously considering a barn kit but my builder could get everything MUCH cheaper than what the kit cost, and he didn't want to have to deal with stuff somebody else cut and prepared.


                          • #14
                            Almost everyone builds pole barns (wood framed, metal side/roof) around here for residential and commercial barns. Some are insulated, most are not (except for bathrooms, etc.). Morton is considered the Cadillac and then there are regional and local builders who are cheaper.

                            I can't believe you can buy 25 acres with a building eligibility for 75k. Wow. I would be lucky to get 25 acres within 15 miles of town for 250k. Existing farms are often cheaper around here than bare land...bare land appeals to the executive home builders I guess.

                            A friend shared a couple quotes for an insulated garage from Lester http://www.lesterbuildings.com/ourbuildings/equestrian/ that he got last fall. So obviously, outdated, but gives a ball park feel for costs here (midwest).

                            42’ x 50’ $ 28,000
                            10’ walls
                            10’ x 12’ insulated door
                            7’ x 8’ insulated door
                            One foot overhang
                            Two colors w/ wainscoting
                            One steel lockable entry door
                            Ridge lighting
                            Cement floor $ 6,300
                            Vapor barrier (insulation on steel) $0.32/ sq. ft.

                            42’ x 150’ Building $ 65,000
                            Three of all the above
                            No inside walls
                            Cement $ 19,000

                            Not exactly what you are looking for, doesn't include utilities, but gives a random idea of shell cost (and you wouldn't need all the cement of course, either).
                            DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/


                            • #15
                              I think it varies wildly by location. We just built a 36x60 metal building with 12' interior and metal ceiling, lots of insulated Windows and a few doors for just over $50k. Did NOT include excavation, electric, plumbing, insulation, concrete, stalls/hardware. That was all extra.


                              • #16
                                Much of the cost of building is actually moving dirt. Each of my 36 x 36 foot barns sit on about $6k worth of stonedust. They're Lester barns, fairly simple, and cost $60K each. We do get winter here, perhaps you could get by with mare motels.

                                I store my hay in a separate building which I HIGHLY recommend, even if your location allows lofts. The open area makes for a much cooler barn
                                I wasn't always a Smurf
                                Penmerryl Sophie RIDSH
                                "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
                                The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.


                                • #17
                                  Check with your tax assessor office on what the taxes to any one building may be.

                                  If you build, as you say, a general purpose metal barn and then add portable stalls, not attached to the framing, your taxes may be much less.
                                  The real estate value will be larger for a general purpose building (and for borrowing and the mortgage numbers itself) then if you were to build a single purpose barn structure.

                                  Definitively build an enclosed structure, as airy or closed up as you want it and your climate demands, but where you and your boarders and students can work out of the weather and that is generally center aisle type barns.


                                  • #18
                                    Agree - your needs depend on location. In this area - you must have specific built barn with 12x12 stall minimum, ammentities (arenas, hack area, etc), and high quality hay/feed/care to get any good boarders. And even with all that it is competitive.

                                    A girl down the road built a brand new decent 10 stall barn that was only occupied at 40% for 2 years - she has a 10yo indoor, fields with sheds, outdoor w/footing and jumps, cheap cheap board, etc. Still took 2 years to fill in this flooded market area.

                                    A friend of mine in NC has much less quality facility on more acres and has a 2yr wait list at half the board cost.

                                    FWIW - I put up a 24 stall double shedrow barn installed for $130k. A nearby friend put up a 14 stall kit barn with insulation, wash/tack room, super wide aisles, etc for only $50k. Another friend put up a 36x40 amish built w/leanto down one side for $20k and built the stalls themselves.


                                    • #19
                                      Another option is to do a shedrow set-up. Look at Horizon and other barns. Admittedly, I only have three stalls, but when I compared the costs of building to ready-made ( and I was supplying my own oak boards), ready-made came out much cheaper.


                                      • #20
                                        oh- I agree with Bluey on the tax assessment. In this county if you are farmland assessed - you do not pay for ag buildings on the farm ground. But if you put water/electric inside it gets touchy- they want to tax you on it! If you put a ws apartment - it is considered residence use and gets assessed accordingly. A friend got hit with $400k assessment bc he put a studio apartment in one end of the indoor (addition) for a ws/groom.