The idiom, “Don’t buy a pig in a poke,” was sage advice proffered in the Middle Ages. The expression warned buyers to beware of charlatan habits of the nefarious sales folks of the day, of substituting a dog or a cat in a bag or sack for a piglet when selling the sight unseen contents to the customer. The unsuspecting buyer, who was expecting a small beast for a feast, was to be sorely disappointed.
If you are shopping for a new horse barn it is similarly wise to avoid surprise in the nature of what structure results from your purchase.
There are many ways to buy an unknown quantity in the construction industry and it is smart to be cognizant of what they are and avoid them at all costs.
Hastily Scratched Plans Should Be Scratched
Even the most modest of horse shelters, the humble run-in shed, requires a sturdy if rudimentary building technique to withstand the vagaries of Mother Nature and any horse abuse the critters dish out during its use.
Prospective buyers of smaller horse barns can be lulled into a false sense of security by the slick sales talk or by advice from a construction ‘expert’ that is ignorant of horse welfare, into believing that because the structure is not a massive undertaking the details of its design and materials don’t matter.
A hastily scratched drawing mapped out on the proverbial napkin by the builder will likely not result in a barn that the horse owner will be happy to own, never mind use to house their steeds. Similarly, a purloined set of plans downloaded from the web will likely ensure the buyer is ensnared in an experience woven from the start by a builder that has limited ethical boundaries in regard to the construction project.
Designing the details of your new horse barn and figuring out how you want the finished appearance as well as style of the build that results from your efforts is a fun experience that a horse owner should enjoy. Choosing from an extensive selection of pre-built highly functional and well-built modular barns offers great delights, as the end result is exactly as expected.
Customization of an existing barn design can be implemented on both a minor and major scale. The important thing to remember is that changing plans once the construction process has begun is going to be expensive to do and cost not just more money, but likely also more time.
Whenever a change is made to any building plan, the results of changing up what was there before (even if what was there before was a valid construction drawing and set of plans) is best made by an experienced draftsman/engineer, not the person who gamely wields a nail gun, drives a fancy pick-up truck and has theoretically ‘built horse barn stuff’ before. This construction person that genuinely believes they know best about snow and wind loads, lumber grades/strengths and dimensions, load bearing mathematics and joinery techniques is maybe out of their depth.
All Modular Barns Builds Are Not Created Equal
There is no question that the ultimate convenient method to buy a horse barn is to go for a modular barn purchase. The almost ‘instant’ appearance of the barn of your dreams, deftly set up and ready for use within a few hours or days of its arrival, is certainly appealing to many horse owners. But even in the modular horse barn building world, it is wise to be prudent about what you buy as all modular barns are not created equal in quality or design.
Sure, the buildings you see at the side of the road on your daily commute to work may look enticing, all set up in neat shopping aisles inviting a quick stop and shop experience.
But what variety in horse barn design, styles, size and shapes, can possibly be on display in such a setting? Choice is thus limited, and likely expense wise the price may depend somewhat on what car or truck you drive and sadly, your gender.
If are an equestrian seeking to improve your education in the saddle, you would likely spend much time checking out the proven experience and teaching talents of the person to whom you decide to entrust you and your horse’s training. Yes, that legal cliché, “due diligence” would be your guide.
Similarly, doing your due diligence and research of the modular company you decide to collaborate with and the actual construction of the horse barn they will provide to your site, should be first and foremost in your mind.
Leading modular barn building companies offer many methods and opportunities to assuage any reservations you may have about their product quality.
Their offerings should include trust and transparency options such as:
- Proper offices at the factory/sales lot site staffed with experienced project managers, drafting experts, and horse experienced sales folks.
- Websites with plenty of resources and technical information written by people that are well-versed in horse care and address issues of sincere concern to horse owners.
- Testimonials from people you can actually talk to about their experience with the company.
- A myriad of design options, building components and color/material choices to fit any budget.
- An opportunity to visit previously completed buildings at their clients’ locations.
- Offer exhibits of their products where you can ‘kick the kickboards’ at high profile events such as Equine Affaire, Horse World Expo etc.
- An extensive portfolio of executed constructions.
- Clearly written policies, contracts, warranties and financing options.
The Bucket of Variables
It is wise for buyers to beware of believing that every structure that looks the same from a photo is actually built with the same quality materials. For this reason, it is prudent to review the details of the specifications on the building offered.
For example, two 10’ x 20’ run-in sheds may appear the same from a distance. But when the two are investigated in more depth the differences in their quality of construction can be worlds apart.
Let’s say the roof is similar pitch and shingled in the same color material. Is the shingle a well-regarded brand with a good warranty? Is it asphalt or fiberglass? Does it have the same expected lifespan – a 3-tab shingle may only last 15 years while a high-quality asphalt shingle may last up to 40 years. Over what sheathing is the shingle installed? Is the sheathing covered with a layer of felt paper or ice/water shield? Is the sheathing a ½” or ¾” plywood board, chipboard or a waterproof stranded board offering a 50-year warranty? Is the sheathing seamed, or tongue and groove? By what method does the sheathing affix to the rafters of the building?
Construction companies that cut corners but using lesser products, either by the nature of the product size such as thinner plywood sheathing on the roof or by their use of materials that are sourced from ‘off-brand’ manufacturers that may or may not have the durability of their competitors, can easily be identified by ensuring you are truly comparing ‘apples to apples’ throughout the materials list and specifications of the build.
Remember that dimensions noted on plans are exterior dimensions and not interior ones.
Don’t Be Duped
In most cases, the better quality the barn’s construction method, components and craftsmanship, the more expensive the building will be. Not that this is always true, don’t be fooled and buy a ‘pig in a poke.’
Take the time to have a clear understanding of what you are getting for your money. It is well worth taking the time to educate yourself about basic construction materials such as wood grades, wood species and their durability, siding material and roofing options etc.
Buying a barn that is the least expensive option is not likely to be the best choice if you seek a structure that will offer longevity to stand the test of time and withstand the abuse the horses will inevitably dish out. Poorer builds that incorporate lesser quality craftsmanship and components will not only require more maintenance for repairs but also if there is a product manufacturing issue there will likely be less resource for replacement available.
Warranties are like having good insurance policies, they are never important until you need them. Select a barn from a company that will stand behind their product should anything go awry during the construction process.
When it comes to investment in a horse barn, it is easy to get carried away in the excitement or rush to get the job done. Think about the time you need to spend making the best choice possible in your barn building partner and the barn you choose to buy.
After all, if you were buying an expensive new saddle, you’d likely spend the time looking at all your options and researching the brand. And likely your new barn purchase will require an even heavier investment than a saddle. So, before you mount up and ride off into the sunset, make sure you know where you are headed.