Is a New Barn In Your Future? ~ Simple Steps For A Stress Free Experience
by Nikki Alvin-Smith
If you’re a Mom you’ve probably experienced “raging cases of last minutitis” when it comes time for the kids to finish up their homework or pack for a family trip. The feverish frenzy of trying to accomplish important activities at the last minute can add much stress to any adventure, and realizing the dream of a new horse barn on the property is no different. The question is, are you guilty of the same procrastination?
Regardless of whether you opt for the less mess and thus stress option of an ‘instant’ modular barn, or decide to employ a local construction crew to erect a barn on site over a few weeks (or months, depending on their schedule, material availability and the weather), the experience of securing horse housing for your beloved equine(s) should be one of great pleasure.
It’s normal for all of us to put off things we don’t know quite how to accomplish, where our experience is challenged and our bank balance is perhaps lacking the necessary funds. The shopping experience can be fraught with missteps, and it is wise to do your homework before you sign a contract and more importantly part with your hard-earned money. Here are some simple steps to guide you through the process of acquiring that new barn you’ve always dreamed of owning that will hopefully prevent you having a nightmare experience.
Get Ready. Get Set. GO!
Currently the unprecedented volatility in the lumber market has barn builders scrambling to source supplies and manage their price lists. Unfortunately there is not an end in sight as far as these commodity market swings are concerned, so it is wise to ‘get on it’ if you anticipate your barn need before the snow flies.
As far as timelines go, the first fact to realize is that construction crews and building companies book their time well in advance of the Spring/Summer season. Factory produced pre-fabricated or modular barns offer year around service because they are not weather dependent so for them, good weather or bad, the build will go on.
However, regardless of what type of construction you opt for site preparation is required unless you wish to burden yourself with a host of problems down the road such as muddy floors and entrances, walls set above grade with wind tunnel gaps underneath and possible injury risk with horses becoming cast, jamming windows and doors and unlevel rooflines. All of which will ultimately need fixing.
Excavations and site planning, placement or on site construction of a building may also require the dreaded ‘permit’ from the local town Planning Board. While you may well appreciate that building rules and regulations are there to protect you from poor or even dangerous construction methods that an ignorant or nefarious builder may otherwise implement, the ‘planning’ board is aptly named and you should get ahead of the curve and get your plans in and permissions sorted before you part with a deposit for site prep or the barn building.
Every town has its own set of rules when it comes to building codes and then on top of those comes the State mandated codes that they follow topped off by any Federal requirements such as avoidance of flood plains or hurricane worthy construction protocols.
Don’t be shy to visit or call your local Building Inspector or Town Planning Board to find out exactly what is required. It may help you determine the dimensions, both height and footprint, and even style of the barn and certainly its site placement within the metes and bounds of your property. Better to do it right now than be forced to move or even remove the barn altogether at a later date.
Modular building companies will provide professional plans if needed (this may involve an extra cost), although some towns only require a hand-drawn rendition of the structure. Some towns boards will require that the Building Inspector visit the site during the major stages of construction to inspect distances from property lines, depth and integrity of footers (poured concrete supports for the posts of the barn) and final construction.
If your town requires all buildings over a certain size to have a Certificate of Occupancy issued when finished it is wise to ensure you obtain it as otherwise you may have trouble down the road selling the property as the Title Company won’t clear it for Title insurance.
Once you have a clear understanding of what is and what isn’t allowed building wise, you can begin to look at the marketplace for the style and type of barn you’d like to buy and get a quote. More on that later.
Don’t be afraid of the dirt work. It is more straightforward than you might think. Choosing the actual location to site the building is actually the harder part of the equation. Check out this article that shares a humorous look at, “Why Did You Put It There?” before setting your sights on the perfect site for your individual horse housing needs.
Keep Your Eye On It
Once the actual work begins don’t be shy to get out there and check on the progress. You are more than capable of reading a set of plans and check measuring depths of footers, checking the straightness of a line or determining the depth of materials added to the site such as gravel etc.
Keep a weather eye on the process throughout and don’t be afraid to ask questions if you aren’t sure an aspect of the job is being done properly.
Of course you are much less likely to encounter any issues if you’ve done your due diligence before making your final selection of the partner you want to collaborate on for the horse barn build. Warranties on work, clearly defined contract terms and pricing that includes an itemized materials list and custom features to be included, timeline for the completion of the project from start to finish, insurance and licensing of the company doing the work plus all important financing if available and needed can all be defined at the outset. Don’t overlook the importance of all the details.
Additional advice is always at hand via the internet as you know, but be careful which resources you take advice from as not everything that can be found there is to be taken to heart.
Here is a super resource that we recommend that sets out the process of barn buying from a modular builder in 8 easy steps and nails down the details in a simple manner:
Take Home Message
Whatever you do in life the mantra of the Boy Scouts “ Be Prepared” holds true, and obviously being prepared means some forward planning and understanding is needed. Never be shy to ask lots of questions and don’t work with a construction company that for any reason you feel uncomfortable about – whether that is their inability to keep up a good line of communication, fairy stories or changing price points that appear unwarranted (my favorite excuse is, “I misspoke!” when asked why prices have gone up now they are needed on paper), or any other misgiving you may have.
Any question you have should be addressed so that you fully understand the answer in a timely manner, and you shouldn’t be tempted to settle for anything less.
Yes, do your homework and do it on time. You’ll reap the dividends!