Inspiration For Your New Horse Farm or Homestead Build ~
Budget. Beauty. Benefit.
By Nikki Alvin-Smith
When it comes to development of a horse farm or homestead knowing where to begin can be tricky. The land bought has hopefully been surveyed. Maybe some housing or structures already exist on the property or perhaps it’s a clean slate. Whatever its status, understanding the nature of its current identity may help define how best to develop it.
Planning the layout and design of the buildings should be fun. Time will be needed to figure out where to cut costs and where to allow for future development. It’s best to keep an open mind and consider all possibilities. Try to stay flexible and get informed before you start spending money and be certain to get ‘to the penny’ quotes not estimates, in writing.
There are three key areas to consider in the selection of any structure you plan to add to the property (this includes the house). These are budget, beauty, and benefit.
Various types of buildings may be needed, with other optional ‘extras’ that can be added over the course of time. Prioritize the major needs of the farm first, and don’t overlook the benefits of adding a multi-use structure customized to service several requirements for homestead use.
Bear in mind that horse farms entail very specific user-friendly features while a homestead set-up can be customized to a much larger degree to encompass a host of species of fauna. Mixing horses with other livestock is possible but needs to be carefully managed. For example: sheep harbor lungworm which can be an issue for horse health if a horse picks it up grazing the same pasture.
Bright Budget Ideas
Being economic does not have to mean doing without. The most significant issue that blows out many budgets is poor initial contract execution that results in additional fees being charged after the project has begun.
There should always be an executed contract i.e. signed, by authorized representatives on both sides of the equation before any money is exchanged. The details of the contract should be easy to understand and clearly laid out without any ambiguity. Just because a contract is printed as standard, does not mean that minor changes or clarifications for a specific project cannot be added and signed off by initials by both parties in the transaction.
Purchasing a 2-stall shedrow barn is one of the best options for a starter barn for the backyard horsekeeper who has a horse to stable. Try and buy an option with some sort of storage facility with an overhang if possible. Storage will be needed to keep supplies like hay, bedding supplies and feed dry, and an overhang will provide shelter for the interior of the stalls from poor weather as well as offer additional comfort for the caregiver when completing daily chores as they will be protected from the sun and rain.
Larger horse operations can start up with an economic option of a shedrow build and add to it later. Shedrow stabling is utilized extensively in the horse racing industry as a cost-effective method for housing numerous horses on site without any fancy extras like loft spaces and second story builds. A stall or two can always be designated for storage needs, tack room space or an office. Again, the inclusion of an overhang can be beneficial as a cheap means to provide additional shelter.
Run-in sheds are the cheapest horse housing option of all, and placement can be changed if they are modular in build and tow hooks are included in the design. This is a very handy option if you are strapped for cash and just want to get horses on the property but know that later you’ll be adding different equine housing elsewhere and will want to move the run-in shed further afield later.
Midrange priced horse structures will include Low Profile barns. Their design offers a center aisleway design without the expense of the second story or loft space of a High-Profile barn. The Low-Profile barn offers the advantage of being easy to ‘hide’ in its environment, in cases where the property owner does not want a view of horse barns to dominate the property over other existing one-story structures such as a ranch-style house.
The upper echelons of horse barn buying options cost wise include the traditional Monitor barn, the High-Profile center aisle barn already mentioned, and the ultimate luxury build, a Timber Frame barn.
In the world of homesteading, a small horse barn can be a great option for keeping goats and other small livestock. A combination barn set up can include space for chickens too.
Multi-use barns are a great way to minimize the need for additional runs of water and electric to a myriad of different buildings, can provide extra warmth and security for the animals housed together and keep the to and fro for daily chores to a minimum.
In your budget decisions also factor in a second or even third stage of development possibilities. You might want to add a residential kennel or an outdoor living structure later, a shed or storage building. The choices are endless, but the primary purpose of the property and its daily use should guide how much money is spent on what aspect and when. Prioritize immediate needs and then move on to how they can be easily added to later.
Many larger modular build companies will offer a discount for multiple building purchases on one ticket, so don’t be afraid to ask for quantity discounts.
And remember that the cheapest option is rarely the best decision. Buildings need to offer longevity and durability as well as good design and safe daily operation.
Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder
Let’s face it horses don’t care what the building’s aesthetic appeal is or how grand it looks. They do care (or rather we do on their behalf hopefully), that the stalls have sufficient height and room for their large critter selves to move around, that the passive airflow and ventilation is good, that some view to occupy their minds and orient them is available and that the stall space is safe with easy ingress/egress.
The most beautiful barn is a safe one where the horses are happy. The purchase price does not dictate how clean the stalls can be kept but it does dictate how light and sunny the atmosphere is of the space when you walk down the center aisle such as how many windows are present and how sturdy the stall walls are to withstand the punishment horses inevitably dish out with an excited kick or a panicked rear.
Any well-built barn will be a more beautiful barn than one that is shoddily put together. The selection of the material components is important, as is the craftsmanship of the crew that puts them together. You are better off with one properly constructed barn made of low maintenance materials that is carefully crafted and well-designed than two that are minimally made with cheap materials and erected without due care and attention.
Where you site the barn and its purpose also come into play in the beauty aspect of the barn purchase. If you plan to sell expensive international grade performance horses or entertain boarders of advanced level across any riding discipline, then the facilities will need to encompass the aspects they expect to see.
While many good horses are bought and trained in basic equestrian facilities that are well-run and safely constructed for both equine occupants and their handlers/riders, the market forces often determine that appearance counts when it comes to where people feel happy to spend their time and money.
For a successful business venture, the usability and function of the barns must be on point but don’t forget to address the human eye beholding the facility. Sadly, people are sometimes overly impressed by outside appearances rather than focusing on the breeding or training or even care the horse receives, but it is something to consider in any business project. You want the space to look professional, but it must also be operated in a professional manner that puts the horses’ needs first.
When you consider the beauty of the building, look at how it fits into the existing landscape as well as its color and design. The colors you select matter a lot more than you might think.
Don’t be ‘barn blind.’ While this expression usually refers to a horse owner overrating the quality or price of their own stabled horses, it can similarly be used to capture the property developer who is so intent on what neighbors and visitors think of the structure they forget that the one who really matters is the horse.
Buildings With Benefits
There is a score of different options when it comes to designs and styles in structures and building with a keen eye on the add-on benefits certain features provide when incorporated into the construction are well worth taking the time to explore and understand.
Begin by looking for what features come standard in the build versus those that are upgrades. You might fancy certain factors in the design, but they may well not be necessary, so those areas are easy to price in and out. But there will be other features that will provide significant benefits for their cost that will reward your foresight day in day out when it comes to the use of the structure.
A great example of this is a staircase to a loft space versus a wall ladder. The reasons are obvious perhaps but often overlooked due to the additional expense of the former. But consider this, a wall ladder offers difficult access to an upstairs space you have paid extra to have in the build. Wouldn’t it be better to maximize the ease of access and thus it follows it will have more use and benefit? Not to mention, safer?
A Gallery Of Ideas
For your enjoyment The Merry Band at the Catskill Horse has selected the following photos, provided courtesy of the leading nationwide modular barn building company, Horizon Structures LLC.
We hope you find some inspiration among these varied options and hopefully visit their Project Showcase or call them for more information. There really is almost nothing they don’t do in the world of horses and smallholding/farmette/homesteading needs, including greenhouses! Don’t forget to mention you saw them here!