horse barn renovations

Barn Renovations: the good, bad, and the ugly

Leaky roofs, troubled stall doors, poor lighting, and unsafe flooring – is it time to look into barn renovations for your horse farm?

We all know when it’s time to remodel our horse stable but, it’s so easy to procrastinate!  Well, let this winter be the motivation you need to get the job started.  Cooler weather gives you the chance to note anything that doesn’t work well or needs to be completely replaced once things begin to melt.  A winter of planning will make a smooth spring transition for your barn renovations!

  1. Become familiar with your existing layout and property
    Only after working what you’ve got, will you truly start to get a feel for what’s needed.  This advice works well for people who are planning to remodel a barn they’ve owned for a while.  Sometimes, however, people are tempted to go into a new property and start renovations right away.  For the best outcome with your pastures and barn, it may be best to wait a bit, if possible, and let the land and existing structures tell you what they need.
  2. Be sure to pick a reputable contractor for the job
    Work up a short list of all the reputable contractors in your area – and then make sure they’re experienced with equestrian property and the needs that go with it.  As you’re narrowing your list down, read online reviews and get the locals’ opinions of each contractor’s past work.  
  3. Do the legwork
    When you’ve got your short list of just a few barn remodeling companies, go ahead and put on your boots.  You’ll get a lot from personally going to visit sites that each of the contractors have worked.  Strike up conversations with the horse lovers that own the land and get their honest opinion on the company you’re considering.  Ask them to lay it all out, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
  4. Understand and work with a pre-decided budget
    The success of any project revolves around the budget.  Cutting corners to lower costs can really affect the long-term soundness of your barn renovations so plan your budget carefully and get advice from experts, when needed. They may be able to give you a good dose of reality.Present a financial outline to your chosen contractor before any work has begun, and then meet with the crew frequently to make sure everything is on budget. To avoid misunderstandings, immediately note and rework any changes with your contractor – in writing!
  5. Reach out to friends and family 
    One of the best things you can do, while planning barn renovations, is to talk to friends, family, online forums, your neighbors, or even just the family who owns that cool barn you see when you drive into town.  Consider inviting them over to see what you’ve got going, and then ask for more direct words of wisdom.  Their input will be invaluable.  
  6. Double check the details
    Before permanent work is started, be sure to go through your barn and make sure everything is sectioned and measured off as it should be.  You wouldn’t believe the mistakes that can be made, but also caught, if you do your due diligence.  Things to keep an eye on are plumbing, electrical, and even the size of your stalls and aisles.  Make sure the tack room is where you want it and the pipes have been laid out properly!
  7. Organization is key
    Keep running lists of what you want so you don’t forget important details when push comes to shove.  Use these lists as you check and recheck your measurements, estimates, and take part in daily work.  You should also keep organized, filing the email, phone number, quote, and agreement on all of the contractors and companies you’re working with.  This type of list keeping and organized filing will be key to keeping stress levels down and promoting accountability to yourself and others. It will also help down the road, when you need parts, updates, and information on materials that were used.

    barn renovations

    A beautiful, spacious tack room is a great thing to add during your barn renovations.

  8. Keep calm and know things don’t always go as planned
    When planning barn renovations, things will often get off track.  This is where the ‘ugly’ can come in, if you let it.  By keeping your eye on the big picture, and not fussing about the little stuff, you’ll have a whole lot of a happier project.  Dates will be delayed, budgets may get moved, and contractors will give you troubles – expect those types of things.  Ultimately, your end goal is your newly renovated barn and happy horses.

Some key areas that horse lovers need to pay a lot of attention to:

  • Rubber Pavers – the best thing for your horse’s safety and comfort.
  • Washroom Drains – make sure they’re big and have gravity on their side.
  • Warm Water – may seem like a luxury but remember, your horses will appreciate it, too!
  • Automatic Waterers – features like this are key in reducing your daily workload.
  • Premium Lighting – no need to strain your eye with high-quality lighting available.
  • Beautiful stalls – nothing speaks of equestrian love like beautiful stall fronts, this is not something you want to skimp on!

There’s almost nothing better than walking into a horse barn that’s been freshly renovated.  What will your future stables look like?  If you can already smell the fresh paint, picture the amazing European stall fronts, and are dreaming of top-quality, eco-friendly lighting, you might as well start giving contractors a call!  That’s certainly easier than spending years on a DIY barn remodel project!

So what tips do you have to share about barn renovations?  We’d love to hear them in the comments below!

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