The scenario unfolds with an excited horse owner making the decision to turn their dream of building a horse barn into a reality. DIY horse barns can be successful ventures, as can pole built barns constructed by a local contractor. However, experience counts when it comes to any type of building enterprise. Here’s a look at some costly mistakes the neophyte horse barn designer may make when putting pencil to paper to draw up the plans for the structure.
As the idiom goes, “ It looks good on paper,” an expression that Oxford Languages defines as, “used in describing what is supposed to happen or be possible, usually with the implication that it does not in fact happen. “
Things Always Look Smaller on Paper
I have built several barns and also our dream house with my husband over the past 30 years. And when I say built, I mean self built with no contractor help. When we began with our first barn we drew plans on a piece of graph paper and submitted it to the local Building Inspector for approval. Once the permit was issued, we eagerly set about locating building materials and constructing the barn. While it did stand for 25 years, it often required repair. Such repairs were mainly to its shed roof, which was wrongly finished with shingle rather than with metal material, that its low pitch required. These repairs were hampered by the extreme height of the shed we had designed.
On one cold wintry February day while my husband was making a repair, the ladder blew down and he was stranded on the roof until I arrived at the barn to do the evening horse feed!
The height of the building just looked right to us on paper, but it was far too high to be sensible or for such immense height be needed. Perspective is hard to judge when you put pencil to paper unless you are a qualified design professional. Even though when it came to the house build my husband spent 3 months learning the complex CAD program and another 3 months designing the house at our dining room table, when it came time to seek out the engineer’s certification and approval, adjustments were suggested to those plans too. And I’m glad we took his advice.
Just Dig A Hole And Plant A Pole
Pole barns look simple to construct, and in theory they are, but there is more to their build than just digging a hole and planting a pole. Along comes Jack Frost, and if they are not set deep enough (below the frost line), he heaves the poles up and down each season. Suddenly doors and windows stick, and won’t open. The barn quickly comes off level. Even worse along comes a hurricane or some strong straight winds, that lift the structure entirely off the ground. When a neighbor or friend kindly offers their ‘expertise’ in building a horse barn or run-in shed, it might not be best to just go with the flow. You could end up with this situation.
Hurricanes Hardly Ever Happen
Hopefully you live in an area where that idiom is true, but regardless of Mother Nature’s powerful and unpredictable weather aberrations your horse barn is only as strong not just as the foundation upon which it was built and how it is anchored, but also as strong as the weakest fastener or joinery technique.
For instance, if you are using a truss system rather than rafters, truss plates have to be rated for the load bearing ratios the roof will exact. Rafters can be installed with carpentry techniques such as bird-mouth or mortise and tenon joinery, but any rafter ties used must be rated for the task at hand.
Is the header nailed or bolted? What is the span and pitch of the roof? What about snow load and wind damage? Are the soffits and eaves left open for birds, bats and buzzing insects to enjoy as residences or are they protected by wire? What about passive and active ventilation for horse health? How should the stall floors be finished?
For the average horse owner, handyman or layman carpenter the criteria required to design a sturdy horse barn are ‘beyond their ken’ and as none of us know what we don’t know, expert help can save much expense and heartache later.
Talking of Neighbors
The best way to upset your neighbors is probably by building a horse barn right next to their outdoor living area, directly in their view or too close to their living space where pesky bugs and the inevitable ‘odor de equine manure’, will not be appreciated.
Part of barn design is the creation of a structure using the architectural appreciation of both form and function. Not only should you consider size of stalls, types of doors, siding and roofing materials from the functional viewpoint, it is also smart to consider the environmental impact and suitability of the barn from all sides. Both figuratively and literally.
While some towns do not require permits for agricultural use buildings, the local laws that govern distances from the front, side and back perimeter of the property must be adhered to for any build.
In order to avert upsets and avoid expensive legal actions later it is always wise to take into consideration the site and design of the barn as it pertains not just to you but to others.
Going to Sell ~ Won’t Go Well
When it comes time to sell your property the new horse barn should increase the value of your property. However, if you skipped the permit process, with the belief that you can ‘get away with it’ then think again. When it comes time to sell, it won’t go well.
Depending on your particular township, Building and Zoning Inspectors can require the structure be brought up to present day building codes or even removed entirely and the missing permit and Certificate of Occupancy will surely be found on any title search that is generally required by mortgage companies and lending institutions.
In conclusion the idiom, “ Looks good on paper, “ can come to fruition if barn design and proper plans are not detailed and followed. What can go wrong, will go wrong, and handing your local contractor a roughly drawn draft of the horse barn you desire without following all the rules and regulations can go horribly awry.
Budget issues, broken promises and financing all factor into a horse barn build.
It doesn’t have to be that risky or that difficult to enjoy a horse barn on your property. Resource an experienced construction company that will include help with both formulating custom plans and providing detailed engineered drawings.
Consider modular construction as an option. It is an extremely popular method as all the costs are factored in to a ‘to the penny’ quote that includes set up and delivery on an identifiable and achievable timeframe, unhampered by poor weather and material/crew and craftsman availability issues. Larger companies can also help with financing options.
Do your homework. It’ll pay off in the end and remember, the cheapest option is almost always not the best.
KINDLY NOTE: This article is available for use in its entirety without edit, in any media format, on condition that credit, in any media format, on condition that credit is given to Horizon Structures Inc., and author Nikki Alvin-Smith as a byline at the beginning of the article publication and Horizon Structures URL address and Nikki Alvin-Smith URL is included. Horizon would appreciate notification of any publication. Kindly contact Horizon Structures for photos to accompany the article.
This article is brought to you courtesy of Horizon Structures Inc., Atglen PA – Modular horse barn specialists. Horizon Structures also offers both residential and commercial kennels, coops, multi-use structures and playsets. Please visit https://www.HorizonStructures.com to learn more.
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 indoor riding arenas, chicken coops, dog kennels, 1 and 2 car garages, storage sheds and outdoor living structures.
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
Tel: 888 447 4337
About Nikki Alvin-Smith: International published writer and creative content producer. Ghostwriting, blog services, PR/Marketing specialist. Nikki also produces catalog and website copy, white papers, e-books, corporate brochures, advertising copy, photography, videography for a wide range of businesses.
As a Brit who has called the America home for the past 35 years, Nikki brings a unique perspective to the equestrian world. Nikki is also an accomplished Grand Prix dressage trainer/competitor, competing at international level and is a highly sought clinician offering clinics worldwide. She has been a horse breeder/importer of warmblood and Iberian breeds for more than 25 years. Together with her husband Paul who is also a Grand Prix trainer, they run Willowview Hill Farm, a private dressage training operation in the beautiful Catskill Mountains of New York. Please visit https://nikkialvinsmithstudio.com/ to learn more about her affordable services.
Media contact: Nikki@NikkiAlvinSmithStudio.com
Tel: 607 434 4470