Keeping It Real – How to Make Sure Your New Horse Barn Project Doesn’t Disappoint

To ensure your new horse barn meets or exceeds your expectations and that the project is one filled with joy and happiness as it surely should be, can only happen if you manage your expectations.



When a new horse barn construction is on your horizon, it is easy to get carried away by your horse passion and the excitement that the prospect presents. Naturally you may be nervous about the large capital spend and how to make sure you get what you want and need for your equine family? While it is true there are many pitfalls to be avoided when purchasing horse housing, it is also true that the experience can be extremely positive if properly executed.

Of course, none of us know what we don’t know, so it is important to ask lots of questions of the construction company and carefully choose the builder you collaborate with on the project. The undertaking is not one to be taken lightly. But it is not an overwhelming project if you follow a few simple steps to manage your expectations.

Here are a few pointers that will help you make the best purchase decision.


Plans, Photos and 3D Visuals

Take advantage of new technology such as 3D graphic design to enjoy a ‘walk though’ of planned large barn builds to experience a simulated idea of how the space looks when constructed.



Check the details that might pertain to your particular needs. For example, if you own warmbloods ensure the front stall walls are high enough to accommodate larger horses. If you plan to run a busy boarding operation, determine if the aisleways are wide enough to allow safe passage and passing of horses being led past each other.

Websites and social media platforms offer the savvy shopper the opportunity to delve deep into the huge variety of barn styles and designs on the market. Siding and roofing materials, color options and innovative designs are often highlighted on the manufacturer’s pages. Reviewing images of barns that a company can provide offers inspiration for customizations that are available.

To best manage your expectations, it is essential to take your research a step further than looking online. If possible, visit an existing build the company has constructed, to examine the quality of craftsmanship and materials used in person. A good company will offer testimonials and references but a great company will offer the opportunity for you to speak/email directly with their clients to discuss the purchasing experience one on one.


Pennies and Pricing

Nail down the pricing before you place a deposit on a new horse barn. The popularity of modular and prefabricated barn construction is due in part to the fact that the purchase price is a known ‘to the penny’ quotation and it includes delivery of the structure as well as set up on site.

When you have a firm price for the build of your new horse barn there is no question that not only will you sleep better at night not worrying about cost overruns and delays, you will also be able to better plan your money management strategy.

Help with plans for permits and site preparation is often also available from modular building companies. This eliminates a lot of headaches and can save time in the overall construction process as well as save the purchaser money.

Ask about financing options and check out warranties that are included.

Don’t part with any money unless you have a clearly written contract that defines the materials and total price, specifies any special features or upgrades and defines a reasonable payment plan.

When you envisage your dream barn be aware that all those pretty extras, such as functional cupolas and copper weathervanes cost extra. Don’t become caught up in worrying about what others think of your barn, worry about what is functional first and don’t compromise on important facets such as the size of stalls or storage needs for hay and supplies.

Try and keep to low maintenance siding options where possible, to save on future unexpected and time-consuming costs for repainting and repairs. Stains are now available that can last as long as 15 years before needing additional application.



Investigate thoroughly all the material options available. If possible, choose a company to work with that has both the experience and expertise to correctly choose proven products that work and to apply those products correctly to the build.


Quality Control

Unfortunately building a barn on site opens the barn door to a much higher likelihood of costs overruns and materials being substituted to lack of availability.

Craftsmanship may be compromised due to the availability of construction crew staff and even adverse weather can negatively impact the final result of a barn build. For example, paint and stains need to be applied in a dry environment at a median temperature for best results.



There is nothing more frustrating that having your hopes dashed with a delayed build timeline for the finished horse barn.

Your horses may be at livery requiring expensive monthly payments for board that you planned to put toward the barn purchase; the winter may be approaching and your horses need additional shelter; the summer may be heating up and your horses need shade to protect them from the sun’s rays; you may be moving house and need to have your horses moved on a specific timeline.

A factory-made horse barn that is delivered and set up on site, will be produced in a timely manner and with a defined timeframe. This can save much angst waiting for a barn to be finished and ready for use.



Be Realistic

When you take the time to plan well ahead for your future needs and do due diligence before you spend a dime, the likelihood is that the purchasing experience will be a positive one.

Most people don’t mind waiting for the right product, as long as there are no broken promises down the road and unexpected delays.

Take your time, ask lots of questions and choose your construction partner carefully. It does take a team to build a horse barn, make sure you pick the right one!


Magic Mirror on The Wall. What is the Fairest Barn of All?

The verdict is in. The latest in timber frame horse barn design, that utilizes the beauty of traditional carpentry technique of mortise and tenon joinery made with artisan talent combined with the affordability of modular design, is hotter than the century-hitting temperatures this country has experienced this summer.

It is the ‘fairest of them all,’ when it comes to horse barn style and design. Wood fashioned in its ultimate spectacle that reflects the beauty of nature at every turn. There is a certain magical appeal of majestic cathedral ceilings, perfectly fashioned arches, and the seamless invisibility of traditional joinery techniques.

Naturally, a horse barn that features such a complicated carpentry technique that requires specialized expertise to produce is not going to come cheap. The modular construction at the base of the barn combined with timber frame construction above helps mitigate the expenses.


This unique combination barn offers cost savings over a complete timber peg construction. It is a clever mix of two worlds that benefits the purchaser in cost savings and construction time without compromising on the beauty of the timber frame barn.

Timber frame buildings are popular worldwide for residential living. Their unique design affords architectural delights with curved wood timbers and the handcrafted details showcase the natural hues and patterns of the wood.

It’s not just the inherent beauty of wood that makes timber frame barn designs a top trending purchase in horse barns and homes alike, it’s the sturdiness of the structure. The mortise and tenon joinery means no unsightly nails, bolts or metal plates negatively affect the aesthetic appeal. The beauty is not only a feast for the eyes. This type of joinery also has the benefit of being the strongest of all techniques. Perhaps this is why the grand old barns have stood the test of time.

For horse owners with property located in hot climates, the vaulted cathedral ceilings with their passive airflow offer horses a comfortable environment in which to relax. All horses enjoy the feeling of space and all horse owners appreciate the benefits a sturdy structure with good airflow provides to their equine partners’ health.

Other practical considerations need to be incorporated into this beautiful timber frame barn design, too. A ‘room’ or storage loft space above part of the barn can be a boon for many activities and functional uses. Paved aisleways can be implemented to offer maximum traction. Top quality hardware defines the attention to detail. And spacious stalls with large windows embrace the health and hygiene that natural light produces. All these elements add to the appeal of a well-designed horse barn.

The amazing manner in which this ‘combo’ barn is constructed, like a giant jigsaw in about 5 to 7 days from start to finish, saves the property owner and the avid horse trainer the stress of interruptions from noise, mess and disruption of a longer term 100% ‘stick built’ barn.

The tight training schedule at many horse farms, means that delays due to such disruptions are highly unwelcome. The show must go on, regardless of how many hours in the saddle in preparation have been exacted.

“A harmonious atmosphere in the horse barn is a prerequisite for a settled and focused horse,” says international Grand Prix competitor / coach / clinician Paul Alvin-Smith, who has made many horses from birth to finish in dressage. “The inherent nature of construction is noise. You have trucks big and small coming and going all day long, work crews milling around, and the buzz of equipment pounding the airwaves. Add to that worries over nails left behind on the ground that a horse will inevitably step on, retrieving plastic wrapping blowing across paddocks and spooking stallions and weather delays on the actual build and you quickly find your training schedule for working 6 horses a day is in the rafters for weeks and weeks on end. Quite literally! Not a good thing.“

Many busy trainers at commercial horse barns feel this way.

“It is important in horse training to work to a schedule. No trainer wants to deal with interruptions and upset. This timber frame barn option offers a super alternative to a traditionally ‘stick’ built barn and avoids all those issues. I’ve been impressed with many of the horse structures I’ve encountered in my extensive years of travel worldwide as a clinician and these timber frame combos rate up with the best of them“ Paul added.

You don’t need to ask, “Magic mirror, on the wall – who is the fairest one of all?” as the Evil Queen famously uttered in the 1937 Disney classic “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” to truly appreciate that a timber frame horse barn is true royalty when it comes to barn building. What you don’t need to conjure up with this hybrid design, as you indeed would need with a full timber peg design, is a royal coffer full of gold coin to purchase one.

If you are contemplating a new horse barn and would like something with a little ‘edge’ – a smoothly planed edge in fact – of impressive timber melded into eye-catching appeal with a substantive feel, then the timber frame barn design built with a modular concept beneath could be your answer.

The timber frame horse barn is the most regal of designs but you don’t have to be a Queen to own one. Why not give it a look!

Traditional Timber Frame Horse Barns Revisited

Equestrians embrace tradition. And, timber frame horse barns offer a time-honored tradition that is hard to beat when it comes to beautiful carpentry exquisitely showcasing the natural aesthetic appeal of wood.

When my husband and I purchased our farmland in Upstate New York, the neighbor had already taken possession of a lovely 2 bridge – or bank – barn in the front of our property. It was still standing proudly on the hill after 100 years, and despite the fact that its main occupants consisted of a flock of pigeons and said neighbor used its 3-story windows as target practice for his golf swing, we did try to buy it.



I was so impressed with the timber peg design, and the huge roughhewn lumber that made up the main part of the structure and I had great plans for its use. The former occupants – a herd of dairy cows – had left the concrete ground level area 10 years before and the building was dilapidated with doors off their hinges and stone retaining walls at the entrances failing. But, to me, the opportunity to own such a lovely, old barn and to bring it back to its former glory was a dream.

Sadly, it remained just that, a dream. The neighbors sold the property and the new owner decided to knock it to the ground and bury it where it stood. No announcement! We looked out the window one day to see a huge wrecking ball bashing it to pieces and our horses galloping around in their paddocks terrified of the commotion.

Fortunately, many timber frame barns have not met such tragic and untimely ends. They have stood the test of time and are highly prized by discerning property owners. Why is that?

The timber frame construction method encompasses mortise and tenon joinery where a beam – or piece of wood – is pegged on one end and then inserted into a matching hole (or notch) to conjoin solidly with the adjacent piece of lumber.



The work is painstaking because of the craftsmanship and accuracy needed to complete it. Labor costs are necessarily higher, as the journeyman carpenters required must be extremely talented in working with wood and it takes time to produce top quality results.

This type of joinery is revered over the standard post and beam for its inherent beauty, as there is no visual interference to the attractiveness of wood by metal plates or bolts and nails. Timber frame construction also provides the sturdiest and strongest and most enduring type of construction in wooden structures.

As the rafters are cantilevered, the timber frame horse barn also lends itself to having spacious interiors that are free of posts and obstructions. This is one reason that many old timber frame horse barns have been converted to homes.



The raw materials used in timber frame construction are also unique and of premium quality further adding to the cost but with good reason! You can read more about that HERE.

Timber frame buildings are obviously not the cheapest option when it comes to barn construction. But for the discerning horse owner that wants to step it up a notch (pardon the pun), the advent of a unique combination of a modular horse barn configured with timber frame construction does minimize the sticker shock. This innovative combination design is less expensive than a straight timber frame build completed on site.

Another factor to consider when it comes to purchasing a new barn, is the time needed for construction and the noise, mess and general stress than can be involved.
The advantage of this ‘revisited’ timber frame horse barn is the modular components that form the ground level of the building. These barn ‘modules’ are made in the factory and delivered prebuilt directly to the site. Stalls, doors, windows – all the interior features – are assembled and ready to have the magnificent timber frame second floor loft (and lean-to/overhang if purchased) added on site to complete the barn.



This saves time as the construction is not delayed by inclement weather or material shortages/deliveries. It also ensures a quality controlled product that is not hampered by crews that haven’t worked together before or don’t have the experience in the world of horsemanship.

Consider the concerns horse owners have about dropped nails on site, and worries of interruption of their peace and quiet for riding/training on the property and the disruption of construction noise as issues that can all be significantly reduced.

While a timber frame/modular combination building is not going to be quite as ‘instant’ a new barn on the farm as a standard modular horse structure, the delivery and set up of the final barn is only, on average, about 4-5 days longer.

The traditional timber frame is indeed revisited, with modern day improvements that can mitigate both the price and the construction time and fuss. Look for a company that offers a proven positive customer service experience, provides warranties and ‘to the penny’ pricing to ensure the barn purchase is a happy event from start to finish.



Everything old is new again. Sometimes, the traditional methods are the best!

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