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House & Home

Building a Barn

Posted March 6, 2015

When you plan to build a barn, it may be intended to serve one or more purposes -- to shelter your livestock; to act as a workspace; or to store feed, tools, and equipment. Before construction of the barn begins, carefully consider what function it will fulfill. Then plan to include the special features you want that will make your new barn best serve your needs. Here is a list of 10 possible features to get you started.

  1. Livestock Stalls -- Stalls should, of course, be safe, comfortable, and resistant to chewing by your animals. They can also be surprisingly good-looking -- a plus when your barn is frequently visited by the public, for example, riding students or potential livestock buyers. Consult with your carpenter regarding designer or custom stalls.
  2. Grooming Stall -- A purpose-built grooming stall, floored with concrete and equipped with a water spray and floor drain, will be a great convenience for washing and grooming horses speedily and safely. When you build your barn, you can install a tankless water heater, fueled by propane, for a near-instant source of hot water.
  3. Feeding and Watering Systems -- Be sure to include durable, rustproof feeders and hay racks. Waterers can deliver an automatic supply so you won't have to lug heavy buckets, and may be heated or insulated to keep the drinking water from freezing in winter.
  4. Lighting -- Adequate lighting for the barn and arena, if you have one, is a must. Solar power might be the best option for you -- the price is right (it costs nothing to run) and it can be used no matter how far your barn may be from a conventional source of electricity.
  5. Flooring -- While a packed base floor covered with matting will be enough to keep your livestock comfortable and control the dirt, you may want to choose more attractive flooring made of rubber pavers, particularly if your barn is open to members of the public, such as riding students or potential livestock buyers. Easy to install, this type of flooring is slip-proof, washable with a garden hose, and available in a recycled version.
  6. Storage -- Built-in storage racks and cupboards for tack, tools, feed, and other supplies will help keep your new barn organized and reduce clutter. (Hay and bedding for livestock should be stored separately, preferably in another building, to reduce fire hazard.) In addition, you may want to include space for larger equipment like a horse trailer or tractor.
  7. Fire Resistance -- Protect your precious livestock and possessions. Have your newly built barn treated with eco-friendly fire-resistant paint or spray. Installation of a fire alarm, fire extinguishers, and sprinkler system is essential.
  8. Fly and Mosquito Control -- Flies and mosquitos are naturally attracted to livestock barns. More than mere annoyances, insects can spread dangerous diseases to your animals. Keep these pests under control with a setup that dispenses safe, biodegradable insecticides in your barn.
  9. Toilet Facilities -- For the human users of your barn -- yourself, employees, and clients who come to rent horses or look over your stock -- installing the conveniences is a necessity when your barn is located some distance from your house. A waterless toilet will make life easier because you won't have to connect to a sewer line. If you purchase a tankless water heater for your grooming stall, you may also want to set up a barn shower.
  10. Workbench -- Your barn construction might comprise a handy workbench or desk for your large projects or paperwork, customized to your specifications.

Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.

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