Will Your Horse Barn Stand ‘The Wolf Test’?
The Story of A New Horse Barn For Sisters Polly, Molly and Dolly
Once upon a time there were three little pigs. Rewind. Once upon a time there were three sisters all with their hearts set on having their own horse barn. Polly, Molly and Dolly had grown up in the suburbs and despite their love of animals and taking plenty of riding lessons as kids, only one sister, Dolly, had made her career centered around horses. Now adults, the three sisters lived far, far, away from each other.
Polly and ‘The Last Straw’ Barn
After a stellar grade point average through High School Polly’s academic journey continued to the ‘big city’ to attend college. Polly landed a well paid job right out of college and worked long hours at a huge corporation in their advertising department, on a famous Manhattan avenue called Madison. After several years, Polly started to realize that her life was not as perfect as she had first thought. Her boss was constantly asking her to put in more time for no extra reward and never thanked her for all the hard work she put in everyday to ensure her job was completed successfully.
Polly found herself slumped in front of the TV one Christmas morning, watching a rerun of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and her passion for horses was stirred once again. Something deep inside Polly’s heart began to grow, and she came to the realization that her life had taken a wrong turn somewhere. Just as the Grinch had forgotten that ‘stuff’ didn’t make Christmas or make people happy,, Polly considered she might have forgotten what made her heart sing and what she loved to do and was too busy chasing a big paycheck to afford ‘stuff’ she really didn’t enjoy. Polly’s bright and intelligent self started a journey of self-examination and she decided that her dream life, one filled with horses and saving animals that needed sanctuary, was the path she wanted to follow with her life.
Polly made a plan. She quit her high paying, unsatisfying job and returned to her small hometown. Her parents were kind enough to house her while she embarked on a search for a small horse property, where she intended to build a training and lesson business around horses and help out a few animals that needed sanctuary along the way.
It was not long before Polly found a suitable smallholding. Unfortunately it had nothing but a small chicken coop, a broken down cow barn that needed demolition, and some broken barbed wire fencing across wall-lined fields. There was no horse barn on site.
Polly’s parents and brother gamely helped her rip up the barbed wire fences and erect some new electric fences. One board-fenced paddock was established with a site marked out for a run-in shed that was to serve as temporary shelter for two auction horses she had bought while she figured out how to fund a center aisle barn from the remains of her 401k fund.
Unable to find a recommendation for a construction company to build the shed, Polly anxiously searched for help that would not be too expensive. Polly called her sister Dolly for advice, but Dolly was away at a horse show for the week and too busy to chat though suggested Polly ask for advice at the local tack shop. Polly peered at the corkboard in the local tack shop and was pleased to find a note pinned there advertising a man called Jake, who offered to complete handyman and construction jobs. Polly pulled a tab with a phone number off the bottom of the note and called him.
Jake explained he could easily build a run-in shed and had done a few before. He’d need the supplies to get started and Polly would need to pay him for those supplies up front. Polly was nervous about parting with her money to a stranger, so wisely she suggested he give her a list of what was needed so she could procure the materials and have them delivered to the site.
“Ah, don’t worry about that, “said Jake, “It’s O.K., I think I have some of the lumber we’ll need left over from a job I just finished and I can probably save you some money using that. If we need anything extra we can get it later. I’ll come by next week.”
Polly was patient and waited a week but didn’t hear or see Jake. She then waited another week, and still no contact came from Jake. Meantime she kept her two horses at a local barn where she had to pay for their care. It wasn’t cheap. Perplexed she phoned Jake to ask when he was coming but had to leave a message. After several tries over several days he eventually turned up unannounced with his truck full of lumber.
The burly man quickly unloaded 4” x 4” posts, several pieces of 2” x 4” and 2” x 6” wood of various lengths and many 4’ x 8’ lengths of corrugated tin. Jake had brought a young lad with him. The pair set about digging small holes in the corners where presumably the posts for the run-in shed supports would be set. By the end of the day Jake and his helper had erected four posts and added a piece of 2” x 6” to the top of each post in a square. The corrugated metal had been attached upon the 2” x 6” wood members. Everything looks a little off square to Polly, and some of the posts were not straight, but at least it was up.
Jake walked over to her smiling. He looked extremely pleased with his day’s work.
“There you go,” he said, “Just as I promised. One run-in shed.”
Polly paid Jake the sum they had agreed. They shook hands and off he and his helper went, honking the horn on the old pick up truck as it disappeared down the driveway.
Despite the fact the weather forecast called for strong thunderstorms with gusty winds, Polly moved her horses in the very next day. It was the end of the month and Polly did not want to be forced to pay for another entire month’s livery at the barn for just a few extra days, so it seemed the smart thing to do.
The horses ignored the run-in shed and set to eating the luscious grass in the paddock. But along came the storm, and it huffed and it puffed and it blew Polly’s run-in shed out of the ground. Its support posts were ripped from the earth and the whole structure looked wonky and was unsafe.
Polly would have to start again.
Molly and The Barn Built of Sticks ~ Well, Poles and Sticks
Molly lived in a quaint Cape Cod house that she decorated with many horse themed accoutrements. She nursed her dream to one day buy a horse and keep it in her extensive backyard.
Finally the day came. Molly consulted with her sisters for advice. Polly explained her awful experience and suggested Molly find a proper company to do the work. Dolly said to make sure the company was recommended by someone she knew and to get the quote in writing. Molly found a local contractor that a friend recommended called John, who had his own crew that would build her a small pole barn and a fencing company to build two paddocks and Molly searched for a horse.
John was very keen to get started on the project, but explained he had another job to finish before he could work on Molly’s pole barn. Molly took John’s advice about what size barn she should build and where to site it on the property. He seemed very knowledgeable about building and it seemed a good idea to build it close to the house where water and electric was handy. John said pole barns were easy to construct and it would just take a few weeks. John said he and his crew were used to bigger projects like house construction.
Molly had experience working in a manufacturing company office, so knew that a contract was important. John quoted a price and put it in writing. The labor charge was an estimated hourly charge that John said would surely cover the entire project, but ‘just in case’ he had to spell it out as an hourly rate.
John was good as his word and once the deposit was paid supplies arrived at the site from a large box store company. John and various pick up trucks arrived thereafter with a variety of crew members that all set to work ripping plastic off the pallets of materials that lay spread across the lawn.
Throughout the day various persons entered Molly’s kitchen to walk through to the house to her bathroom. Molly didn’t mind cleaning the muddy boot prints off the hallway floor each evening. John said it would save her the added expense of providing a portable ‘potty’ on site.
Over the next few days John showed up early with his staff and worked earnestly on the structure. It began to take shape with girts across it walls and T1-11 sheathing added. The crew would knock off for their midday break and the area would go blissfully quiet when they all hopped into their pick up trucks to go out and grab lunch for the hour. Molly hadn’t expected the high level of noise that would accompany the construction, especially so close to her house where she was trying to work from home.
After three days of good weather the skies opened up to deliver some light rain mid-afternoon and Molly was surprised to find the crew had left. The next day a cold front blew through and the rain continued. The driveway and lawn became littered with puddles where the aggressive tread of the tires of all the trucks coming and going had left large ruts. Large plastic sheets tore loose from the pallets and blew around the yard. Molly scurried around each evening to pick them up and rescue her nearby carefully nurtured plantings from damage.
A neighbor stopped by to ask what the noise and activity was that had been going on all week and Molly showed off her half-finished horse barn and explained her plans. The nosy neighbor remarked that the barn was much taller than Molly’s house and made the house look small, and asked why she had put it so close to her home. Molly admitted she had not realized the barn would loom quite so large over the house. The neighbor inquired if Molly had planning permission for the barn. The neighbor became quite a bother, and Molly became concerned. Plans? Permits? Permissions? She hadn’t been told any of that was needed.
Molly called John. John the contractor said not to worry, he would sort it out with the local zoning officer later and that a permit probably wasn’t necessary for such a small structure anyway. Molly asked when he would be back to finish the barn. John explained he couldn’t work in the rain. Especially now it was time for the shingle roof over plywood sheathing to be constructed. It was too risky to be on a roof when it was wet and his expensive tools could not be used in the rain.
Unfortunately the rain continued on and off for several days. Thankfully it finally stopped. Molly waited patiently for John to arrive.
Molly hoped to have the barn finished within 3 weeks as promised by John, as she had a vacation booked and wouldn’t be home after that for a few weeks. Several more days passed. Molly reached out to John and he explained that he couldn’t pay his crew to sit about and not work due to weather issues so they had taken on a kitchen renovation project elsewhere, but he’d come as soon as he could.
Molly explained her dilemma regarding her vacation. John said he’d send someone over on the weekend to get back to work on the horse barn. John was as good as his word and two men Molly hadn’t seen before arrived and worked hard from early morning until dusk both Saturday and Sunday to install the shed roof on the pole barn. Molly was excited to see her barn taking shape.
The following week the two roofing guys came back and hammered away at the barn. Molly heard a lot of shouting and foul language going on during the next few days and another delivery truck arrived that appeared to both deliver supplies and remove a few too.
Finally the barn was completed. Molly had her check ready to make the final payment as per the contract. The work crew had taken off earlier in the afternoon and left a mess across her previously pristine yard. Pallets, unused small off-cuts of lumber, and plastic sheets were strewn around the pallets. The ground was dried out and ridged around the parking area and the grass verge of the driveway torn to shreds.
“Will you clean this up?” Molly asked John as she handed him the final check. John looked at the check.
“Sure. I’ll have one of the guys come back and pick up these pallets and stuff.”
John looked at the neatly written check in his hand. He pulled a piece of handwritten paper from his pocket and handed it to Molly.
“We had a few overages. It took longer than we thought so I had to charge for for extra hours, and then I had to pay overtime to the guys on the weekend. I can’t help the weather. But I knew you needed it done before you went away. The first delivery of materials had a few substitutions on materials as they didn’t have everything in stock, so that came in a bit more than we thought.”
Molly surveyed the bill. It was true that the contract had allowed for extra charges for these things so she knew she had no choice but to pay up. She hurriedly wrote John another check.
Molly went off on vacation. On her return she was dismayed to find a flood of water had washed out the driveway. There were shingles strewn around the house by the backdoor. Molly found a business card and note tucked into her screen door from her insurance agent.
Apparently gusty winds and torrential rain had ripped through the region during her absence and caused severe damage in the neighborhood. The phone rang and it was her insurance agent to ask if she needed assistance for any claims, because her neighbors’ had been impacted from the bad weather and he was surveying the area. He couldn’t help but notice the new barn and had some questions about that too.
The insurance agent asked about plans and permits and why the barn had been sited so close to the house. He had noticed that electrical service had been added to the barn and wondered if Molly had hired a licensed electrician to install the circuit because he was concerned the wires had not been enclosed in a waterproof conduit. The insurance agent said he was pleased to hear the barn had suffered no major damage because it was not insured but Molly would need to add it to her policy for future coverage.
It turned out that Molly’s building contract had a clause hidden in the small print dictating the owner of the property was responsible for all permits and planning permissions, and it also transpired that these permissions were needed for the building.
The local building inspector came to visit. Unfortunately some of the construction methods on the barn were not to code. The issues included the engineering design of the rafters to ensure the roof met local snowload ordinances, the electrical outlets and lighting, the method of nailing the weight bearing members to the poles instead of the necessary bolting.
The elderly inspector pointed out the pitch on the shed roof was not sufficient for shingle to be used, that it should have been covered with tin rather than shingle, as the shingle would not shed the snow or rain properly and result in early damage to the roof.
“It looks as if some of the crew working on this project knew what they were doing and some of them just winged it,” remarked the Inspector.
Needless to say John never returned to clear up the litter his construction crew had left and the barn cost Molly much more money than she had expected. But. She had a barn at least.
Dolly and The Brick Built Barn
Dolly was an experienced horsewoman and when it came time to build a new horse barn she knew just what she wanted. The structure had to be safe for her horses to enjoy in all kinds of weather and withstand snow, rain and wind. It had to be secure and comfortable for her horses in hot and cold weather. Dolly also knew she it was essential she kept the horse barn building project on budget if she was going to afford a new barn.
Dolly had operated a busy training stable for its owners for many years. During her career she had instructed many riders, trained many horses and competed to advanced levels of competition. But now it was time to retire, and Dolly had left her career at the big horse farm and purchased a small property with room to keep just her own two horses.
As Dolly had moved South from her prior location to enjoy warmer weather, Dolly was aware she had no known resources to call on when it came to finding a contractor to build the barn. Dolly also realized how important due diligence was when it came to spending considerable amounts of money, especially where the welfare of her beloved horses was concerned and she also had Polly and Molly’s experiences to learn from too.
After much research using the internet, Dolly ascertained that if she wanted a well-built, well-crafted horse barn made with good materials and completed in a predictable and reasonable amount of time at a known to the penny price up front, she should choose a pre-fabricated or modular barn construction.
Dolly was delighted to find a barn construction company that not only offered a huge array of building styles to choose from, but also provided a literal map with contact information where she could directly communicate with other horse owners that had opted to have their horse barn built by the company. She could even visit the owners and inspect the workmanship for herself.
In addition the company had been around for some time, and had proven experience constructing top quality horse barns. Their website offered a huge resource of tips and advice, financing, to the penny pricing clearly written contracts, timelines for delivery with an all-in price that included set up. Warranties, financing and a host of optional upgrades over and above many features that were included in standard pricing made shopping fun. Dolly called the company and spoke to a woman called Kirsten, who offered much advice on how to keep the costs manageable and guided Dolly through where to save money and what upgrades were the most economic.
Dolly realized that the modular barn option was not going to be the cheapest method to obtain her new barn. But it would arrive exactly as she ordered it beforehand so no surprises with ‘miss-spoke’ promises on barn materials, construction gaffs or cost overruns. The price included the set up too, which could be completed often in one day. Plus no weather delays, no mess or stress from the noise of construction on site, no endless delivery vehicles. Plans for permits were also available.
Dolly followed a few simple steps to complete her barn purchase and spoke with Kirsten anytime she had a question. The entire process was fun. The barn was delivered on time, on point and set up in one day. The ‘instant’ barn was just what she dreamed it would be and Dolly knew her horses would be safe and secure, comfortable and happy living in it.
Design features to address passive ventilation needs, quality hardware, sturdy kickboards and engineering that met or exceeded local building regulations for snow and wind load kept any worries about ‘the big bad wolf’ at bay. This was the brick built version of the 3 little pigs fable, with a professional crew locking together all the components. An experienced team with the right stuff based on the company’s extensive material science knowledge built from years of industry experience.
Poor Polly and Molly. Neither horse owner was happy with their new horse housing when it was finished.
But they could always come visit. Their sister Dolly had added extra stalls for little extra cost.