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Barn Building - What Would You Repeat vs Change If You Could "Do Over"?

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  • Barn Building - What Would You Repeat vs Change If You Could "Do Over"?

    I think the title pretty much says it all!

    I am considering building my own barn in the not too distant future. I have some ideas in mind (of things I do want as well as things I don't want), but would love to hear from the rest of you!

    Please be as detailed as possible as every little thing counts! For example: I want bullnose cement blocks on all the corners.

    What feature(s) do you have that you love and would do exactly the same again?

    What feature(s) did not work out the way that you anticipated and you would do differently if you could?

    What, if anything, did you overlook and wish you'd thought of initially?

    Thank you!

  • #2
    My only regret with the barn was not insulating the roof- it would have cost about $2000 (36x84 barn, 5/12 pitch) for the bubble wrap stuff and I didn't want to spend that much at the time.


    • #3
      Wish I would have:

      1. I've been one of the biggest anti-shedrow barns, BUT I think I would have been happiest if i could have a shedrow with overhangs off both sides. I just really like the openness.

      2. Planned better for positioning. the barn has doors on three sides, but one of the horses is in the hot morning sun with little breeze, whereas it feels 20 degrees cooler under the other ones overhang. Then again, it obviously flip flops in the evening. That's one reason I think I would love having a shedrow with overhangs on both sides. Aside from that I like looking out my window at night and checking on them. I can't see one of them because of the way the barn is positioned.

      3. better excavation/elevation. I skimped even though I knew better. It was $$$.

      4. more sidelights. I have 4 that are a few feet long. I REALLY wish I had done them around the entire barn. It lets in a lot of light.

      Glad I did:

      1. Dutch doors with an overhang. This would definitely be a non-negotiable requirement should I ever have a different barn.

      2. Built our own stalls. They are so much more solid than the prefab stalls I've had in the past. No rattling around, bowing when a horse leans on it, etc. I love that they can stick their heads over.

      3. Spar varnish on the wood. It's been really nice to wipe the nasty walls off and it just comes clean! I wish I had put more on now honestly.

      4. Have the barn enclosed by fencing. At my old barn if a horse got out of the stall on accident they could end up on the road. I have SO much more comfort knowing that if one were to happen to get out (saaaay you let them in the stall via the dutch door and maybe forget the regular stall door is open...) they'd just end up enclosed in the fencing around the barn. Love it.


      • #4
        Two things I would change that wouldn't have cost me anything:
        Very slightly angling of the aisle floors so that they drained out. I have chickens and hate a stained floor so I scrub and hose it out a lot.

        Things I would do if I had the extra money:
        lean-to on both sides of the barn. The difference in the summer sun is drastic on the non-lean-to side.

        Lights outside each entrance/exit
        Plugs outside each entrance/exit
        6' storage room for wheelbarrow/rakes etc


        • #5
          Forgot the "repeat" part--I'd rebuild it as it is now but would particularly point out:

          I would buy my beautiful doors again http://www.flickr.com/photos/fairwea...7622441156352/

          I would run 220 electric for my bad-ass fans from Farmtek.


          • #6
            I bought a farm with an existing barn. It is about 60 by 48, I think. I haven't measured it. It is an old tobacco barn that was converted to a horse barn, with stalls flanking a center aisle, a long bay on one side behind the stalls that I park my horse trailer in, and a hay storage area behind the set of stalls on the other. The last two stalls (one on each side) are run-ins and so doubly deep.

            Things I love about my barn:
            • Location - it is at the top of hill and situated to catch the breeze as it comes over the hill
            • Spacing betwen the boards on all 4 sidewalls- it allows for air circulation at all times and is still surprisingly snug in the winter
            • The "hay doors" high up in the front and back, that are really just big windows cut in the wall. I never have to worry about heat buildup under my roof.
            • The height of the barn - very high - no idea how high but very. It also allows for wonderful circulation.
            • My center aisle is slightly sloped downhill. I can lay a hose down in the aisle, and it drains itself. I LOVE that feature, as water does not stand in my barn. Each stall is level but the runins at the ends of the barn are sloped, which is great as they see the most action.
            • Dirt floors in all the stalls and center aisle, with gravel over the dirt in center aisle. Its not fancy but it works great
            • Seperate tack and feed rooms
            • Huge tack room (gotta love those old barns)
            • Two Run-in stalls that are 24 x 12.
            • A 24 x 12 hay stall. I like using the stall for hay, rather than the mows.
            • Two frost free water hydrants!
            • Gates at either end of the barn aisle, so nobody accidently wanders away, and I can let animals into the center aisle to work with them.


            • #7
              Things I plan to do when I find the extra cash (yeah, like that is ever going to happen).

              Overhang/porch type setup over the doorways on either end of the barn (center aisle type barn), to reduce the sun and rain that comes into the barn.

              Move the outdoor wash rack area out of the sun, it is an oven in the afternoon, no idea what the former owners were thinking. I end up washing them on the shady side of the barn in the dirt instead of on the nice concrete wash rack.

              Ceiling fans.

              Solar attic fans.

              Stall mats.

              Replace the swinging tack style gossip doors with sliding stall doors.

              Firgure out a way to make the ladder to the loft retractable.
              There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams


              • #8
                Originally posted by FairWeather View Post
                Forgot the "repeat" part--I'd rebuild it as it is now but would particularly point out:

                I would buy my beautiful doors again http://www.flickr.com/photos/fairwea...7622441156352/

                I would run 220 electric for my bad-ass fans from Farmtek.
                Those doors are what I want for my barn someday, are the windows glass or plexiglass?
                There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams


                • #9
                  We are pretty basic here, pole barn with center aisle.

                  I think the only thing I really regret would not be going a couple feet taller. We have 12ft wide and tall doors at both ends, and all the rafter trusses are 12ft high. To "do over" I would have made the barn taller for the added hay storage we could gain.

                  Otherwise, pretty much nothing in design. We have modified one set of stalls from two boxes to 4 ties stalls, enclosed the feed area with that stall face lumber reused. But stalls stayed in the same place, feed area did as well, just with a wall to lock things up.

                  On advice of brother-in-law the builder, we had the base hauled in the year before, so weather worked on the pile and settled things as seasons changed. We were raising the barn up over 4ft, so that year in the rain and snow was wonderful in preparation. Barn floor has one small crack since being poured over 25 years ago, and we blame the woodchuck who got in under the floor before we caught him for that. Cement is very thick, holds up the fully loaded semi with hay on it, usually about 600 bales per load.

                  We have a 12ft wide aisle, would not accept anything less now. Any and all of the trucks fit inside to drive thru. Easy for the tractor and spreader to cruise thru when cleaning stall, work on both sides of the machinery. Vet and farrier trucks come in out of the weather to work on animals. We hitch the Four, Pairs, Singles in there, drive thru the barn. Aisle hitching with tied animals is a very safe method. Never had a horse balk at doing a covered bridge!!

                  The box stalls are 12x12, fit big and small horses fine. We built them ourselves with rough cut lumber. Extremely solid, suitable for our climate with solid doors. We personally HATE having heads hanging out the stalls, especially with using the aisle for so many drive-thru things. You could kill a horse who came out at the wrong time! Also prevents disobedience when going by and led animal spooks when stall horse extends a head. Box stalls are used for the oldies or broodmare and foal when we have one.

                  4 Tie stalls replaced 2 box stalls when we needed more barn room for MORE horses! Tie stalls are 12ft long, by about 5'6" wide, suitable for our Sporthorse built animals. We love the tie stalls for their many benefits, use less bedding, faster daily barn cleaning, teaching tools for the young horses. Just having horses in the stalls, they learn so much with people and food coming and going. Takes out the tickles, no one kicks back if surprised with a touch, they move forward to let food IN faster. They load in trialers easily, back great distances easily when asked, that is how you LEAVE a tie stall, no big deal. As the handler, you don't need extra time to train these things, it is part of the daily routine. All ours tie well, spending time in these stalls, do not develop bad habits like stall walking and door banging since those options are NOT AVAILABLE in tie stalls. Again, using the aisle behind these stalls, no one is nervous or kicky with others behind them, stuff just happens back there all the time. They turn and watch, learn to be calm, accepting. All the horses are only barned half a day, so they don't spend huge amounts of time in stalls.

                  We have a large enclosed tack room in one corner, was going to be FINE with just owning the FOUR horses we planned to ever need! Have to say it is a tad small since we have gained so much driving equipment and harness. It is a good design, we just have TOO MUCH stuff with owning so many horses. We were up to 10 for a while, now down to 6, but really NEED one more for the new spare in our Four. Maybe I should sell some of the STUFF!

                  Barn holds about 800 bales on one side. That extra 2feet higher would probably have gotten us an even 1000 bales in the barn on the one side. Tack room has a good roof, we can store bales on that and over the feed room as well. Still leaves an open space between stall wall and tack room wall for carriage, wheelbarrow, tools on the wall, shelving storage, other stuff we commonly use in the barn. Forks and shovels for stalls are hung on one inside wall of the feed room. No standing around implements. We don't have anything hanging out in the aisles except crossties. No chance of snagging on things driving thru.

                  Brother-in-law says you should plan for all the things you NEED now, add 1/3 more space for when things change. Have to say that is true, we had our barn plan full, before we ever put the base down!! I got husband to add on another 20ft in length, though we could not imagine ever needing it! Yet we did later as our horse interests changed from only riding to include driving needs.

                  The wasted part on our barn was the 8ft overhang on one side. Plan was to park 2-horse trailer and truck under there, protected from the sun and weather on the north side. Overhang also covered the people doors for entry in rain or snow. That idea was pretty much a bust, snow swirled between small barn, woodlot and new barn, ending up in drifts along the north wall. This pretty much buried the trailer and truck above the wheels, so you could not get it out all winter.

                  However the overhang got "recycled" as we added a lean-to/shed on the north side. Only had to add length on the roof truss to meet new sidewall, not re-engineer the whole roof, for that additon. So the overhang became useful, about 7 years after the barn was first built. We park the trailers in that shed now, can pull a load of hay under the roof if rain looks likely and we are too tired to unload.

                  Everything is pretty plain and workmanlike. No fancy work, no varnished walls, though the tack room walls and box stall faces are treated with Olympic opaque stain for waterproofing. No varnish! Everything has worked pretty well over the years, held up to hard usage, not cobbled together or needing much attention. Extremely usable for a variety of horse needs, Pony Club and 4-H demonstrations or work sites. You can have a dozen kids working on 6 horses under supervision, learning new stuff. Husband has built and repaired MANY things in that 12ft aisle out of the weather. We saddle up, hitch up horses in the aisle, then go use them.

                  Have fun with your barn plans.
                  Last edited by goodhors; Jul. 8, 2010, 03:39 PM.


                  • #10
                    Front and back stall doors for each stall. Having been involved in a fire I want to be able to get them out without going in the barn if possible

                    Fenced area not far from door, but NOT encompassing the barn. Again, in a fire you want them fenced away from the barn/fire

                    Overhangs on both (or all) sides of barn to keep the building cooler, provide some weather protection when out in attached fields

                    Wash stall is too small at our place. Feels crowded, which is only OK because our guys have very good manners. Also needs a window or something to allow better air flow. But then I'm really just as happy washing them outside and watering the grass at the same time.


                    • #11
                      Wide aisles...big enough for a tractor or pick up to drive through with comfortable room on each side. I don't think 12' is wide enough. This is expensive, though.

                      I don't know what you're going to be using your barn for, but I'd add two extra stalls for "ready" areas. I hate horses cross-tied in the aisle...I prefer a solid wall behind them. I also don't put my ready areas or tack room in the middle of the barn, but close to either end. Your farrier and vet will love you. When you load up or unpack for shows, you'll love yourself, too. Position the barn so you can easily pull a trailer up and get it turned around.

                      Big enough pipes to the barn. You don't want to compromise on water pressure.

                      I know some think of it as a fire hazard, but barns go up in a heart beat anyway. I like my shavings bin close to the barn. You might think about trailer and tractor storage, too.

                      Don't scrimp on stall doors and hardware.


                      • #12
                        Things I Love:

                        1. Horses have direct access to dry paddocks from stalls when they are not turned out.

                        2. Half stall doors so horses can check out what if going on inside the barn.

                        Things I would Change:

                        1. I would install automatic waterers

                        2. I would never build a wooden barn again. Everything eats wood (bugs, horses, dogs etc).

                        3. I would install ceiling fans.

                        But all in all I love my barn.


                        • #13
                          I have to pat myself on the back, for the most part I am more than satisfied with my barn.
                          First-timer that I am, it all worked out pretty darn good.
                          Not at all fancy but very serviceable.

                          BTW: FairWeather I LOVE & covet those doors! I priced similar aftermarket and

                          Things I did 100% Right:

                          #1 Floor Plan:
                          *Rear Dutch Doors on stalls with fencing set up so the barn is in the middle of 2 pastures.
                          Sacrifice paddock is this middle ground.

                          *Horses have free access to their stalls and both pastures 24/7/365.
                          Or I can shut off either one or both pastures with just one gate.

                          *Having them loose makes farmsitting a no-brainer for even the non-horsy.
                          Horses know to go into a stall for feeding and {knock wood} so far everyone behaves in a mannerly fashion.
                          This has worked for me for 2 different sets of 2 geldings.

                          *12' wide aisle means hayguy can drive his loaded wagon through the barn so unloading & stacking are less bother for all

                          *Indoor is attached to the barn, separated by a 12' sliding door.
                          I can leave this open for extra ventilation in all sorts of weather.
                          Indoor has additional sliders on the other 3 sides so it can be really airy.

                          #2 Mechanicals
                          *Frost-free pump inside makes Winter less of a hardship.

                          I have heated buckets in the stalls but once temps dip below 40F I can refill these from buckets without having to freeze my a$$ off.

                          If I were a bit less lazy I could use a short length of hose...if I remembered to drain it after use.

                          *Cold ballast fluorescent lighting inside the barn and in the indoor.
                          No irritating halide buzzing & instant ON (except for the occasional really damp day)

                          *Eavelights & skylights let in enough daylight so I hardly use the lighting, even in the indoor.
                          I got the 2', but 3' would be even better.

                          Things open to Improvement:
                          *Gate from fenceline to barn is 12' wide. This was recommended 7 I went with it.
                          16' would make me breathe easier when equipment comes through.

                          *Add gates to both pastures so I have access from the far ends.
                          As it is I have to go in & out the same way which makesfor soem extra footsteps or driving if I'm on the mower.

                          *MORE GRAVEL!
                          If I could get some more base laid down there would be ZERO mud to deal with.
                          The entrance to each pasture from sacrifice paddock quickly becomes a bootsucking swamp every Spring and rainy Summer day after.
                          *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                          Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                          Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                          Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


                          • #14
                            I wouldn't change a thing about the barn we built last year but will add we sure had a problem with snow banks last winter from blowing snow. I don't know what folks up north do but I need some bushes/fences/walls places somewhere to cut down on the problem.

                            I ditto the advice to plan generously and then add a little more for growing pains. You'll never regret that!!


                            • #15
                              I love my open style barn. Paddocks off the stalls so if the horses are in they can still move around. Really good for a laid up horse, plus most horses will not poop in their stalls when they have the option to go into the paddock
                              Paddock base is geotextile fabric with rock dust over it. No mud ever, easy to scoop poop.
                              All doors are 6 foot wide, no banged up hips.
                              I wish we had remebered to build stairs to the loft


                              • #16
                                I have a four stall center aisle barn. I love my auto waterers and that each stall has a door to a run outside that then leads to a large paddock. My non-horsey helpers never have to handle a horse to turn them out or bring them in.

                                My runs have 8' gates so I can get the tractor in for maintenance.

                                The only thing I really wish I did differently was to unchain my wallet and get overhangs on each side. It was going to cost $3k more and I decided it wasn't necessary. Wrong choice.
                                "Crazy is just another point of view" Sonia Dada


                                • #17
                                  heated walls in the barn and arena. Quiet, cost effective and consistent heat. Not sure how I worked/taught at barns without it.
                                  Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


                                  • #18
                                    I would rotate the barn about 20 degrees counterclockwise, because the prevailing winds in the summer (when I originally plotted out the barn site) are about 20 degrees different than they are in the winter . . . the summer breezes are welcome but the winter winds are AWFUL. I would trade a slightly off-target summer breeze for less of a direct hit from the winter winds! Live and learn--site the barn so the WORST of the prevailing winds can be avoided, not necessarily so the BEST of them can be capitalized upon.

                                    Of course if I lived in a very, very hot climate it would be different.

                                    As it is now, the winter wind definitely blows in my barn (kept open most of the time) and I've been known to find a few snowdrifts in the stalls in the morning.

                                    I've toyed with a little built-on windbreak at the end of my horse porch, but the horses don't seem to mind the wind and snow so it just hasn't happened yet. And a barn 20 degrees off-kilter from where it is now would look like it just got plopped down there with no particular plan. At least now it is more or less "square" with the driveway, creek, and fence lines.
                                    Click here before you buy.


                                    • #19
                                      I didn't originally have an overhang on the west side of my barn, but added it last fall and it's so much better. I wish I had put three stalls on one side instead of 2 and 2. I originally had four horses here, but then was down to three and one didn't have a stall to hang out in, since they all liked to be together. The overhang made it bearable since even though he didn't have his own stall, he had shelter and shade. My stalls open to 40 foot long runs which are open to a field...so they're in and out as they wish.

                                      I love my skylights, the 16 foot center aisle, and the auto waterers. Concrete aisle is great, too. Love the dutch doors out to the runs, but really only use the dutch door feature when a horse is rehabbing so he can still visit with his buddies. Still, when needed they're a nice feature. Definitely have two doors to each stall.

                                      I also added another frost free hydrant out by the stock tank. It's so much easier in the winter than having to drain a long hose every other day.

                                      I spent a lot of money raising the ground where the barn was built, and the drainage is really good. I can go out to the barn and back without stepping in any mud, thanks to lots and lots of gravel and proper drainage.

                                      It's an ongoing process. I tried to think of every possible thing, but you really need to go through the seasons and see how things work, then tweak it here and there. Overall, I love my barn.


                                      • #20
                                        Things I would do again-

                                        Attached to the garage (I can get from the kitchen into the barn without going outside. a reall advantage last winter)

                                        big overhang on each side

                                        Lots of flourescent lights

                                        Hot and cold running water to the feedroom sink and to the wash stall.

                                        frostfree hydrants at each end of the barn

                                        center aisle barn

                                        concrete floor with drains, covered by mats

                                        electric outlets (with GFI) outside every stall, as well as the wash stall and teh tack room.

                                        dutch doors on every stall, both to the aisle and to the outside

                                        barn surroundes by sacrifice paddock, which is connected by gates to the pastures- I never have to lead horses in and out, just open and close gates.

                                        The main things I would do differently

                                        electric outlets at 4' off the ground

                                        built in fans

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