6 Horse Barn Design Basics

Have you recently taken stock of your barn and noticed signs of wear and tear? Or are you looking to build a barn for the first time, having decided on having that slice of horse heaven? Here are some horse stable and barn design basics and tips to help you select the right builder.

6 Horse Barn Design Basics 1

Barn building 101

From a pole barn with dirt floors to padded, insulated horse heaven, the barn options available today are many. You can buy a prefabricated model, build your own barn, or hire a company to build the barn.

The least expensive usually is to build your own but only if you know what you’re up to. Wondering which barn is right for you? It depends on the size, material, layout, budget, and add-ons.


The barn types and materials are complimentary. If you live in an area with low fire risk, consider a wood barn. Wood, though cost-effective for small barns, can be more difficult to maintain than steel ones. The steel barns, especially prefabricated ones, are sturdy, priced reasonably, easy to maintain, and great for areas with high risks of fire. However, the warmth and character of wood barns are absent in steel ones.


It would help if you then decided on what size of stalls you need and how many of them. Ensure you are giving the horses enough space. Also, determine the size of the tack room and the storage depending on your requirements. You may also build a wash rack/ vet care area and a bathroom, depending on how much your budget can accommodate.

While the fun part of the barn building is the design and layout, but exceeding your budget can be frustrating.


Depending on the type of construction you opt for, the costs incurred will vary. A no-frills pole barn with a metal shell may cost as low as $5 per square foot, whereas custom barns may have you shell out into six figures. Factor in the costs of water lines, stalls, fittings, insulation, materials, grading, excavation, and other add-ons when calculating your choice of barn costs.

The location has a role to play as an uneven surface excavation will cost more than a flat one.

Add ons

Flooring, ceiling, overhangs, gutters, eaves, doors, artificial light, skylights, doors, windows, etc., are all construction features at an additional cost. Also, you must set aside the budget for an automatic watering system. Ensure that you have plenty of electric outlets for various appliances like clippers and tank heaters.


For your horses’ well being, good ventilation is critical. A closed barn with low ventilation may have hay dust, ammonia fumes, and other debris, putting your horse at risk of developing heaves (a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Thus installing a high ceiling and allowing good ventilation is necessary to keep the horses in the pink of health.

Natural Light

The UV rays of the sun help kill viruses and bacteria, and hence natural light is essential. You can opt for multiple windows or Dutch doors to allow plenty of natural light. Adopting the raised center aisle design may also increase the light and ventilation.

Builder Selection Tips

Unless you’re building the barn yourself, the next step is to hire a builder. Visiting a local horse event or expo can help you spot a builder local to your area. You can also enquire at the tack or feed stores for reputed builders in the area or look online for builders with good reviews.

Being flexible and maintaining good communication with the builder is the key to having the barn made to your satisfaction and budget.