Horizon Structures Presents Series: Is Buying A Modular Horse Barn A Shortcut To A New House?

Calls from prospective horse barn purchasers frequently come in to modular barn building companies asking about utilizing a modular construction or prefabricated horse barn shell as a good option for the start up of their new house.

The advantages of a modular horse barn build over an on site construction such as a pole barn or stick-built structure are significant. Advantages include: The identified

‘nailed down’ cost for the project from start to set up and finished ready to use; the factory manufacturing process that is not subject to weather or material delays; the consistent quality of craftsmanship that a trained and proven team of carpenters will produce; the all important warranty for work completed plus a quick timeline for the build.

Buying a modular horse barn is an easy task to complete. The entire process can be done virtually with full customizations and no need to step out the front door. This makes prefabricated and modular structures an attractive way to purchase a large structure. This is clearly evidenced by the upward trending acquisition of horse housing manufactured ‘in house’ and shipped nationwide by the larger companies versus on site construction. The stellar selection of upgrades and customizations make shopping straightforward and the process easy to navigate. It is both affordable (although not the cheapest option) and simple to execute.

Tread Carefully

 Contemplating a new house build however warrants a review of different criteria in the design, engineering, construction and materials utilized for the project. Ultimately the modular horse barn, even with some minor changes in construction methods, will not yield a satisfactory result as a human residence even if the zoning and code officer in the neighborhood allows its rehabilitation for human use.

Here are a few things you should know before you embark in requesting a horse barn be customized as a shell for a house build:

  • Sheathing or siding on a horse barn is one layer of material. This is insufficient for human housing as offers no opportunity for insulation or protection from condensation if the interior is heated.
  • Wall framing on a horse barn does not typically run 16” on center vertically, affording no space for insulation batts or the running of extensive electric and plumbing systems.
  • A modular barn typically does not have a built in floor system. Its support system is generally large timber posts supported on poured concrete forms beneath ground level.
  • Posts and pillars that are integral to the support system of the horse barn may not be safely removed to provide open space within the structure without risk of collapse or imminent failure (perhaps critical) of the building.
  • Access points for vermin, birds and other wildlife are inevitable with no seal between ground level and walls. Additionally there is no ‘seal’ to protect the base of the siding materials and interior walls from damage that may be caused by damp rising from the ground or insects, vermin or other wildlife entering the sub-structure of the building, even if sheathed on the interior surface.
  • Interior engineering or exterior wall bracing and support systems may not be sufficient to support additional floors on second story levels.
  • There is no allowance for ‘chases’ to run HVAC, electric, plumbing and other household systems.
  • Windows and doors may not be sealed to code or provide adequate protection from moisture or air intrusion, and may not meet energy saving requirements for new homes.
  • Roof sheathing and roof layers are not protected from condensation that will occur if the interior space is heated.
  • In general horse barn shells may not meet (National Electric Code) NEC and other building code and zoning restrictions and requirements for human habitation including fire safety due to structural design. There are many considerations that these codes include that are specifically to protect the structure and thus the homeowner and future residents of the building. For example: types of hardware used in joinery.
  • A building constructed without the issuance of necessary local permits and construction that meets code will not be approved with a Certificate of Occupancy. This lack of proof of compliance with applicable building codes will impair the opportunity for future sale of the property.

Take Home Message

No! Don’t take a horse barn home for your home base. A horse barn is not a workable shortcut to a new house. The costs to upgrade the ‘shell’ to meet minimum building codes will ultimately be more expensive than constructing a house made to meet the legal specifications considered safe for a human residence.

In the end, upgrading all the horse barn features necessary to modify a horse barn to the standards necessary as defined by government authorities will cost more aggravation than it is worth to go through the endeavor.

The final result of making such modifications may still fall short of the protections that existing building codes demand for human habitation in the U.S.A.

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 About Horizon Structures:  One horse or twenty, there’s one thing all horse owners have in common…the need to provide safe and secure shelter for their equine partners.  At Horizon Structures, we combine expert craftsmanship, top-of-the-line materials and smart “horse-friendly” design to create a full line of sheds and barns that any horse owner can feel confident is the right choice for their horses’ stabling needs.

All wood. Amish Made. Most of our buildings are shipped 100% pre-built and ready for same-day use. Larger barns are a modular construction and can be ready for your horses in less than a week. All our barn packages include everything you need –

Horizon Structures also sells chicken coops, equine hay feeders, greenhouses, dog kennels, 1 and 2 car garages, storage sheds and outdoor living structures and playsets.

Headquartered in South-Central Pennsylvania, Horizon Structures, LLC is owned by Dave Zook.  Dave was raised in the Amish tradition and grew up working in the family-owned shed business.  He started Horizon Structures in 2001 in response to an ever-increasing customer demand for high quality, affordable horse barns.

For additional information about the company or their product line, please visit their website at https://www.horizonstructures.com

Horizon Structures LLC, Atglen, PA
Media Contact: NAS@NikkiAlvinSmithStudio.com
Tel: 607 434 4470

Photos are available on request.

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