Build a Horse Barn on a Budget

Construct a durable structure to shelter your horses with these tips on building a horse barn while sticking to a budget.

  • build horse barn
    A barn with living quarters can be an economical dual-purpose building.
    Photo by Cherry Hill and Richard Kilmesh
  • horekeeping small acreage cover
    “Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage” by Cherry Hill is an essential guide to providing the best care to your horses and being a responsible steward of the land.
    Cover courtesy Storey Publishing

  • build horse barn
  • horekeeping small acreage cover

In Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage: Designing and Managing Your Equine Facilities, Cherry Hill shows readers the ropes on effectively managing your equine facility and providing proper care to your horses. Hill emphasizes the importance of understanding horses and educates readers on interpreting horse behavior and their needs while guiding readers through choosing a management method that is compatible with their lifestyle and surroundings. The following excerpt is from Chapter 7, "Barn."

When planning to build a horse barn, consider immediate, short-term, long-term, maintenance, and associated costs and savings.

  • Immediate costs (or savings) are the initial costs of materials and labor to construct the barn.
  • Short-term costs (or savings) include replacements that will need to be made in the first year or two of service, such as flooring that was a poor choice or wooden rails that weren't protected from chewing.
  • Long-term costs (or savings) are replacements made after the barn is several years old, such as replacing the shingles on the roof and gutting the stalls to replace dangerously deteriorated or damaged stall walls.
  • Maintenance costs (or savings) are regular-upkeep items, such as painting and weatherproofing, as well as the amount of bedding that is required daily.
  • Associated costs (or savings) include the amount of feed wasted or optimally used due to feeder or stall design. A significant associated cost can be veterinary bills due to management-related mishaps, such as colic (automatic waterer malfunction or horse escaping from stall and getting into grain room) or injuries (unlined stalls, dangerous projections in aisles).


Construction is serious business and you want to build a structure that will serve you and your horses well for years to come. Don't try to cut costs for these essentials.

Site Preparation

The site must be level where the building sits and well drained with grading so water flows away from the building. Know the percolation rate of your soil.


Don't mix batches of concrete for large areas in a small, home-sized cement mixer. It takes too much labor, time, and electricity, and the result will be an inferior pad that looks patchy. Order cement by the yard and have it delivered by truck. One way you can save costs is by having your own crew of neighbors and friends help.


Use 2 x 6s, not 2 x 4s, for stall framing and any other areas of the barn that horses will contact. Use rough-sawn (RS) boards, which are full-dimension boards. (A 2-inch RS plank is 2 inches thick; a 2-inch planed board is 1-1/2 inches thick.)

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