for doing it |
We've all heard the digs about being 'raised in a barn," but
there are lots of people who cohabitate with their equines and love
Living in the barn can be a convenient and economical alternative
to boarding or living in a separate house and barn.
Of course, living with your horses means you're with them 24
7, 365. Such a commitment means you really have to love your horses.
If that doesn't scare you, see what some other horse-lovin' fools
had to say about their reasons, designs, pros and cons of living in
the horse barn.
Everyone wants to save time and money, so the convenience and
economics of a home/barn combination are its greatest assets.
Convenience. The convenience of having your horses close to you
saves both time and energy, and knowing your babies are next door or
downstairs gives tremendous peace of mind.
Economics. Building a home and barn in one structure can be more
economical than building two separate structures, and an apartment
in a barn creates an opportunity to rent out space if you build a
separate house later.
Todd Gralla, of Gralla Architects in Lexington, Oklahoma,
estimates that by building living quarters in your barn, you could
save 10 to 15 percent over building a separate home of the same
square footage. Gralla suggests that the real way to same money is
by designing a cost-and labor-efficient facility.
However, warns Gralla, building your own home/barn can save you
money only if you start with a good design and have the structure
built correctly. Poor planning can ruin your estimated building
budget, and shoddy construction means maintenance problems down the
road. (Top of
Whether you're buying, building or renovating, good design and
sound construction are important.
Buying. You can find home/barn combinations for sale, but they're
scarce. Even when they're offered, real estate agents often don't
realize what they're dealing with. When the Strasingers' agent told
them she had found a property with a house and barn, she forgot to
mention they were connected.
Building. The key is in the planning, says architect
"Poor planning means that it's really easy to make mistakes
that will cost you money and blow your whole budget. Most people
can't afford to have problems."
You can design a home/barn any way you want, says
Gralla, as long
as you keep in mind a few things: the lay of the land, your budget,
your needs and future uses.
Understanding the layout of the land helps you avoid low-lying
areas, and you can use natural light and shade trees to save on
energy costs. Knowing your budget helps you design an efficient
structure that's just what you need and not more than you can
afford. Designing to allow for future growth, like more stalls,
saves headaches in the long run and makes the facility more
attractive, should you decide to sell.
One important tip: No matter where you build your living space
(above or adjacent), allow plenty of light and ventilation for the
horses, especially if the barn is fully enclosed. Fresh air keeps
horses healthy and eliminates odor, bugs and dirt problems, for
horses and for people. Both the Tuckeys' and the Strasingers' barns
have large doors at the end of each aisle and windows in all the
stalls to furnish fresh air for the horses. Runs attached to stalls
can also provide fresh air, but must be strategically placed or
blowing dust could be a problem.
However, Gralla says that ideal ventilation works from bottom to
top, not side to side. He suggests including ridge vents, which work
like little chimneys, along the top of the barn roof. Since hot air
rises, these venting ridges pull hot, stale and dusty air out of the
barn and keep fresh air circulating. Gralla doesn't design living
quarters directly above stalls for this reason.
Gralla also suggests that you construct a hay storage separate
from your home/barn. Hay requires different ventilation than horses
or people, and can be highly combustible in certain situations.
Insurance companies can be reluctant to insure homes or barns with
hay storage attached. The Tuckeys' barn has a second-floor hay
storage behind the apartment; their insurance company was reluctant
to insure them until they installed smoke detectors, and now the
couple plans to remove the hay and expand the living area.
Renovating. The same design principles apply to renovation.
Gralla suggests that sometimes it's better to start from scratch
rather than try to renovate an older barn; in either case, try to
design exactly what you want and make sure it's built correctly from
the ground up. (Top