The commonly heard idiom, ‘apples to apples,’ is used to make price comparison by savvy shoppers the world over. When purchasing a horse barn and crunching numbers hopefully your comparison-shopping self, figures this factor into the decision-making process.
The fact is that incorporating this idiom into real life practice is harder to do than you might expect. Especially when it comes to the complex details involved in a large capital purchase such as a horse barn. Value for money can be hard to ascertain. Let’s look at common mistakes made when munching and crunching through numbers and learn how to avoid them.
Granny Smith or Red Delicious?
To make an accurate comparison between two products the specifications or ‘species’ of the item needs to be considered not just the type of product. To push the idiom beyond its limits, think about it in real apple terms.
You probably wouldn’t pack a Granny Smith apple in your kid’s lunch box or bake a Thanksgiving apple pie using Red Delicious. Similarly, when comparing pricing on a horse barn, you shouldn’t measure the cost of a center aisle barn with that of a monitor barn with an overhang or a sturdy timber frame wood structure with a metal sided low quality building. While all products may satisfy the appetite for horse housing, some styles, design and materials will simply be more satiating of needs than others.
What You Put In The Basket
While it might be obvious that a shed row is likely to be less expensive than a center aisle barn, it might not be as obvious that major differences in overall costs also apply to other factors in the equation. Components that can scuttle the accuracy of the comparison and render it defunct.
What you put in your shopping basket must be the same, in fact, it needs to be identical. This is a challenging exercise to complete because companies deliberately mismatch their offerings to confuse the buyer.
In terms of purchasing a horse barn here are some key notes to consider when undertaking your budget decisions in a new barn purchase:
- The size of the building will make a difference in site preparation costs but so will the type of building, its height and component parts such as overhangs, kick walls and lofts.
- Every component of construction in the barn structure, from hardware to species and grade of lumber, and from roof and siding manufacturer to quality of the specific product used in each area, all make a difference in cost.
- Multiple use buildings may initially offer apparent cost savings over adjunct or independent structures built for purpose, but for every wall or division in interior space and the additional access required, more costs will be involved in finishing the build if that is not included in both comparisons.
- If the site requires major excavation or backfill to make it level then site costs may be less expensive for multiple smaller structures than one large one.
- If one quote includes special upgrade packages, then don’t match it against one that doesn’t include the same as a standard feature to the same standard. Examples: if a quote includes roughed in electric, count the outlets, junction boxes etc. as well as their capacity; if a quote includes a weathervane, is it the same material, design, size, and fitting.
- Window sizes, door sizes, their size and type of construction and manufacture all matter.
- Brand name materials are likely to cost more than knock-off or copycat products. While this does not necessarily make them a better option from a construction perspective for integrity or quality (as marketing and warranty costs for those brands may be included in their higher price point and the basic product may be the same) compare like to like. Specifications of the actual products used matter most. For example: don’t be fooled into comparing a higher gauge metal with a lower gauge one (the latter is better by the way), or one type of paint application process to another less durable method.
- Don’t overlook the smaller details that can come back to haunt you later such as how well the stall door latches are made or what kind of paint or stain is used and how many coats.
- Are the prices quotes or estimates? i.e., is the price likely to change after you’ve signed on the dotted line or during the project?
- What is the craftsmanship quality and can you investigate it firsthand elsewhere or at their facility?
- How available are the materials quoted and is there a price guarantee against an increase in costs?
These are some common areas of differences to be found in ‘apple to apple’ comparisons in the barn building arena.
In some instances, horse owners contemplate renovating an old barn that is established on the property or converting an existing structure for use as a horse barn versus buying new. Beware of unexpected costs and budget overrides in any building project. However, in the case of renovations it is not uncommon to find some nasty hidden surprises in the uncovering and rehabilitation of an older building. Costs for remedy can quickly become excessive.
Also consider carefully whether the ultimate result of a renovation will completely fulfil the requirements of the housing that is ultimately required and that it will meet desires in ease of daily use.
Apples and Oranges
It is all too commonplace for folks to become tired of trying to figure out all the details of a quotation. But if you rush to decide on a construction partner and purchase now you may regret that decision at your leisure and it may leave a sour taste in regard to the purchasing process and ownership experience of the resulting structure for years to come.
What may initially look like an apples-to-apples basket may in fact be an apples to oranges comparison. Ask lots of questions and get everything in writing to protect your interests. Ensure the quote is broken down in detail.
Due diligence will pay off in the end. Literally.