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Apartments above barns

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  • Apartments above barns

    I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who has an apartment above their barn. Due to a divorce I'm being forced to sell my horse operation (hubby has a 25 year old girl friend, 10 years younger than me). When the dust settles I'm considering trying to rebuild at another location and weighing my options. One option I was considering was building a barn with an apartment above. It will just be me, my 2 dogs, and my 4 horses. I've looked at a few on line and for the most part they look fairly nice. Of course it will depend what the building stipulations are for the land and the zoning requirements before I could do anything.
    The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit, and fire. ~Sharon Ralls Lemon

  • #2
    Sorry about the change in your situation. Right now there is an apartment barn combo for sale near me. The apartment is cute as the dickens on the inside but as far as useabiility - not so much-the apartment is on the ground floor and taking up more than half the width of the building. I have also seen what was most likely a Morton barn, probably 60 by 100. It was a gaited-style barn, that I have also seen at racetracks, the apartment and 4 generous stalls formed a center block with a circular aisle surrouding it. Stalls and storage lined both sides, probably 10 stalls altogether. The apartment sat atop a tack room/wash stall grooming area/laundry area. Had a really nice wash stall with heated water. Hot water heater served the stall and the apartment. BUT, the clearance was scary low and the apartment had no windows looking to the outdoors and collected dust fairly quickly. Definitely will depend on your area's zoning and permit requirements, and whether you can finance and insure it.
    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
    Incredible Invisible


    • #3
      That is what I built in 2004 and I love it! We are selling it now and moving on to a more traditional farm but it has nothing to do with the context. We are moving out of the area and buying a "used" farm.

      Mine is only 5 stalls + 1 tack room (or you could say 6 stalls ) and it's a very very convenient concept. You can PM if you have any precise questions.
      Breeding & Sales
      Facebook | YouTube


      • #4
        Zoning and building codes might be the only concern.
        There are several such combo buildings around here and I ahve asked the inhabitants- they have no more problem with dust/smells than if they lived in a house close to a barn. Plus they all loved that they could hear if there was a disturbance in the barn- something I would've liked the one time a horse got cast in a stall. I went out to do morning feed, and there was the poor bugger- who knows how long he'd been stuck up against the wall of his stall. I loooped a soft rope over his legs and turned him over. He was much relieved but he must've been numb for a while because he kept listing to one side for a few minutes.
        "The Threat of Internet Ignorance: ... we are witnessing the rise of an age of equestrian disinformation, one where a trusting public can graze on nonsense packaged to look like fact."-LRG-AF


        • #5
          There are numerous threads on this issue in 'Off Course' that detail the issues related to barns with living quarters--there are even pics & layouts. Good luck!
          "I never met a man I didn't like who liked horses." Will Rogers


          • #6
            Only issue I know of is the noise from the horses down below. Especially the during the middle of the night or very early in the morning.

            Regardless, I would LOVE a set up like that! It would certainly save on building costs. One foundation to pour instead of two, water and electricity lines. I would think it would save you a lot of money. Sorry about your situation, but good luck on your new venture!
            MnToBe Twinkle Star: "Twinkie"

            Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


            • #7
              While I have never lived in such a building I do have some experiences. Some day I would like to have a house/barn combo type set up so I always like paying attention to the details.

              I used to work for a barn that had an apartment above the barn. The barn was "T" shaped. The top of the T contained the stalls with appt. above them. Then the bottom part of the T was a very dusty indoor arena. The apt. was right next to the arena and keeping dust out of it was a PITA. This apt. wasn't used for living, rather it was used for a nice place to change in and out of riding clothes, you could take a shower in there if need be and there was a sofa there in case a horse was sick or a mare was foaling out and you wanted to be close. There was never any smell in here and the apt. was heated but the barn was not. I'm not sure how much insulation they used under the floor of the apt. but the floor was always FREEZING in the winter. If I had this kind of a set up I would probably consider a heating system under the floor of the apt.

              My other experience with a similar set up is actually an apt. that was built over the top of a garage. That apt. is lived in and having to constantly run up and down stairs gets to be a pain. If your planing on this being a place you want to live the rest of your life on you may want to consider building a house attached to a barn so that they are on the same level as one another. Many people in their old age can't negotiate stairs easily.

              Another concern is getting appliances and furniture up into the apt. When my father built the garage/apt. combo he put in an "elevator". It's not actually a moving elevator but there are HUGE doors in the floor of the apt.'s laundry room. The doors open and there is a pully system in there. That is how we got all major appliances in and some furniture. Then when we were done moving things into there the doors shut and they became a normal floor under the washer and dryer in the laundry room. It actually turned out very handy.


              • #8
                I wish I had an apartment in my barn!!
                I don't but a friend does and I love it, so does she. Her's is a two story with kitchen, dining area and livingroom downstairs, two bedrooms and bath upstairs. The master bedroom has a big window that looks right down into a foaling stall. The apartment is at the end of the barn but the entrance is in the barn. Really nice and attractive.
                You know why cowboys don't like Appaloosas?" - Answer: Because to train a horse, you have to be smarter than it is.


                • #9
                  I lived in one, briefly. Scary...

                  My advice based on this one sad experience: If you put it in the loft, make sure you fully and properly insulate the FLOOR!! Seems obvious, right?? Yeah, well lil' Miss Cheapskate trainer didn't get around to that, some BS about the contractor not finishing. Uh, sister, it's Vermont, you know where it's 10 during the day if you are lucky and -10 at night. Oh, did I mention I had to sleep on a mattress on the floor?? URGH. Idiot.

                  Adding to the foolishness the apartment wasn't heated properly either. It was, er, interesting, with the one or two wee little portable heaters. She had the nerve to come "check on me" the first night. When I mentioned it was cold in there, she actually said it seemed fine to *her*. Yeah, genius, you are standing in the 'outside' in the loft where it's -10. I'm inside were it's maybe 40 or so. Take your coat off and stay a while and *then* tell me you still think it's warm in here. asshat.

                  I lasted about 48 hours. When the drain for the septic FROZE SOLID and overflowed into the barn, I told the chick she could keep her crap apartment and crap job. That happened because she put the septic line in so that it had to travel about 40 to 50 feet above ground in the barn BEFORE going into the ground. How stupid is that?? How's about atleast putting some heat tape on the thing, genius?

                  Of course, I'm figureing the OP has more brains then all this, but I figured I'd share.

                  If you do it, do it right. This apartment was also illegal. (surprise!) She didn't get a permit because what she wanted to do was not allowed in her town. So she found some idiot contractor who would do it any way, sans permit.

                  The horses did make a fair bit of noise. But it was mostly banging about on frozen solid buckets. It *was* -10 at night, so it was going to happen no matter what. Horse 'noises' I think is something you can get used to. The 'joke' to play on the 'new girl' at Ri-Arm is to NOT bother to tell her about the freight train that passes thru at all hours of the night!! It takes weeks to get used to it, but yes, eventually I could sleep thru the sound of a speeding train (complete with horn) only a few hundred yards from my house.


                  • #10
                    Just think how you will get up there if you hurt your foot.
                    At least put some part of it downstairs, so you may make do in a pinch.

                    I have lived in some, working in some barns and it was ok.
                    I have considered when I needed to move, looked at some and eventually decided it was not worth the inconveniece, but would have loved the idea.

                    From the builders, to the local firemen, to the tax assessors, to the real estate people I know, all were against it for many reasons, for a permanent residence and the resell value of those is not what the place would be with separate structures.
                    Not that many buyers of property want to live in a barn.

                    Here are some plans for homes with stables attached:


                    Just think hard if you want to keep horses stabled for long or only occasionally.
                    Do you want to spend much time doing stable chores, or with the horses?
                    The best solution is NOT to keep horses in stalls, so at least make stalls with runs outside.


                    • #11
                      Here is something to get ideas from:

                      Also, an idea for a ground floor apartment, NEXT TO the barn, as opposed to above it (sounds easier to get furniture, groceries, etc. into the apartment): http://www.ocalahorseproperties.com/...Combo-135.html
                      Founder & Donor/Account Advisor
                      Brennan Equine Welfare Fund


                      • Original Poster

                        WOW both are beautiful.
                        The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit, and fire. ~Sharon Ralls Lemon


                        • #13
                          I spent a few weeks in a barn apartment (very small, think studio) while in SC a couple of years ago and would TOTALLY do it full time (bigger, though. This one was on the ground floor (barn was built for SC summers, so no loft and very airy...and very cold in the winter!). The layout was decent enough, and there was enough passage ways between the barn aisle and the apartment that A) it kept some of the cold out and B) it kept most of the sand/dirt out). It could have been designed/thought out better, but that's why we joke that the farm owner, a long time client, needs to live in everything she designs before putting other people in it. It had yummy radiant floor heating, BUT it only had one water heater. We found out the hard way that we couldn't turn the heat up at the end of the day and wait to take our showers....there'd be no hot water left!!! Also had no A/C...not a big deal in Feb, but a big deal in the middle of SC summer!

                          Anyway, all that's beside the point. I think, when done right, barn apartments can be great, especially when you are talking about private barns (I always worry a little about barns with boarding operations and apartments and the resident's privacy). We had some dirt issues (that could have been prevented with slightly smarter design), and, because one wall backed up to a stall, we got the 4am wake up of the horse rolling and kicking the wall in the process. I also had to take my young horse's feed bucket away in the evenings because turns out he enjoys slamming it against the wall all night, in a rhythm...very annoying. I LOVED being able to throw breakfast in my pajamas and slippers, then come in and eat breakfast/drink coffee, and I loved the very easy night check...just walk out and check on them. Very easy whether I was home for the evening or went out.

                          I think there is a great chapter in one of John Lyon's book (the one on horsekeeping) that talks about barn apartments, the pros and cons, and the more technical side of things (fire prevention, etc).

                          Sorry about your circumstances...


                          • #14
                            That's common...at least down here in Georgia it is. There was an awesome house/barn for sale a few months ago. There was a full apartment above the barn. Zero manure or horse smell up in the apartment - a staircase going from the office area up to the house and such. It was REALLY nice.

                            When I was in college, I stayed in an apartment above a barn. I loved it. It, however, was open to the tack room downstairs. The owners were the only one there, and it wasn't that private (except after dark), but it's not like I was throwing parties or anything so it worked.

                            I would definitely live in a similar situation again (if I owned the barn, that is).
                            If wishes were horses then beggars would ride...
                            DLA: Draft Lovers Anonymous
                            Originally posted by talkofthetown
                            As in, the majikal butterfly-fahting gypsy vanners.


                            • #15
                              We live in a one bedroom apartment above a barn. It's a small boarding barn with a few boarders and the property owner keeping horses below.

                              It's a small bit of heaven. If it weren't for the fact that it *may* soon be too small for our family, we'd never consider leaving!


                              • #16
                                While working as a barn manager I lived in a barn for two years. It was absolutely dreamy when my horses had issues or when a mare was foaling. Otherwise, I was not so much a fan of it.

                                My apartment was on the ground level with the barn... that was GREAT. No annoying stairs and moving in and out was good. I had a T shaped barn and my apartment and the hay storage was on one side. So I never had to deal with kicking or loud horses. One thing that was VERY important and worthwhile is that I had two access doors. One to the outside of the facility to the parking area and one that was "indoors" that went into the barn. The connection to the barn was a two-door concept with a "mud" room in between. This was a great place to dump my nasty barn clothes and also housed the washer/dryer, hot water heater and pressure tank for the whole barn. It had a great utility sink that I used to clean boots, wash an occasional bucket and get water for hot mashes. It was a lifesaver when the pipes froze in the winter and I had to haul water to the horses. It was the best little room on the whole place! Plus it had a closet to hang coats and winter outerwear and put boots.

                                The worst part was that being on the ground floor meant that there was nothing underneath me. The floor was always quite cold in the winter months and should have been poured thicker (concrete). The rest of the place was very well insulated and I never had an issue with rodents or insects. The only setback was that there was a pasture about 10 feet outside of my bedroom window and the horses seemed to "hang" in that area so the manure they left attracted flies, which always hung on the window there. Grossed me out a bit when I had the windows open in the summer. Also, the dust from the outdoor riding arena would blow in if the wind was in the right direction.

                                All in all, it was not a horrible situation. Not something I could tolerate long term, but it was okay for 2 years. These types of apartments are not legal in a few Wisconsin counties so you'll have to be careful if you can get the permits from your own locale. Even if you did build your dream barn with an apartment doesn't mean you always have to live there... you could eventually get a renter or barn manager if you get sick of it.

                                Good luck!


                                • #17
                                  Oh! Make sure the parking area for vehicles is not directly in front of the apartment windows. Nothing is more annoying that having the boarders headlights shining right into your living room or kitchen when they come to visit.


                                  • #18
                                    Cloverbug, you might try calling Jerre Frankhouser and talking to he or his wife about this--they lived for years over their horse barn in Lititz, PA. They have since sold that property and have moved elsewhere but I thought it looked like a neat idea. Unfortunately I could not sell my husband on the idea.

                                    Also, you could try calling Shannon Zimmerman (now married. Zimmerman is her maiden name). She runs Greystone Manor Stables on the other side of Lancaster, PA. There is an apartment upstairs in the barn--not sure if she lives there or not but you could talk to whomever is now occupying it (if indeed anyone is).
                                    Have we learned nothing from the Romans???


                                    • #19
                                      I managed a TB breeding farm here in Ohio, and lived in an apartment in one wing of the stable. I had windows that looked out to the foaling stalls. Talk about convenient! I also had outdoor windows, so I wasn't living in a dank little abode, so that made it pretty nice, too. Central heat, but no AC ... not really a big deal (would much rather have the CH than the AC in Ohio, if one must choose!). Like everyone else has said, planning is the key. Good luck with your investigation!


                                      • #20
                                        Be sure to check out insurance, too. With a barn having hay and bedding in it, I imagine the fire danger is high.