Barns can house horses and other farm animals or serve as workspace, storage or additional living space. The design, size, building materials and functions of barns vary widely, which means the total costs of building a barn also vary widely. The cost to build a standard wood barn ranges from $45 to $65 per square foot, without electrical or plumbing. A traditional hay barn of about 1,200 square feet that can house livestock, feed and equipment typically starts at about $45,000 and can cost much more depending on the features needed. This cost includes a concrete slab foundation, wood framing, wood siding and a pitched roof as well as digging trenches for plumbing, installing plumbing and electricity, and finishing the interior buildout to include stalls for animals, storage and so on.
It’s possible to build a barn more affordably by choosing framing and materials other than wood by purchasing a prefabricated barn that someone puts together. Metal barns are sometimes more cost-effective because they are easier to maintain, use less expensive materials, and are not susceptible to termites and other pests that can damage a wooden structure. On the other hand, wood barns are more traditional and, in some people’s opinion, better looking.
Prefabricated barns tend to be more affordable than building a barn from scratch, with kit prices for metal barns starting as low as $3,500. Barn Pros sells its 864-square-foot Sierra model, single-story wood horse barn kit for a base price of $28,000. Sand Creek Post & Beam’s barn kits start at $42,260 for the 800-square-foot Ponderosa Country model. Many prefab metal barns are designed to be easy enough for anyone with a bit of DIY know-how to put up, but hiring a contractor or handyperson who has experience specifically putting together prefabricated structures may make the job go more quickly. A handyman typically charges $30–$80 an hour (compared with $50–$100 an hour for a bonded, licensed, insured contractor), though prices vary by location. Most professionals will create a project estimate for putting together a prefab barn. In addition to the price of the kit, total costs will include the price of running utilities to the building, which could add $1,500–$3,000.
Straight wall barns cost between $7 and $25 per square foot to build. The total cost depends on the size of the building and the interior layout. Quonset-style barns are less expensive to build than those with straight walls because fewer materials are needed. These barns generally cost between $5 and $15 per square foot. The arched walls of Quonset-style barns are not ideal for every situation, however. An S- or P-model Quonset-style barn offers more usable floor and wall space than the Q-model, which is essentially a semi-circle.
The more interior buildout needed, the greater the total cost of building. For example, a horse barn requires stalls, which cost $2,000–$2,500 each to build. The cost is about the same for a foaling box, which should measure at least 12x12 feet. Some horse barns require a tack room, a horse wash rack, and space for hay storage and a tractor. It’s convenient for a horse barn to have a wide center aisle with stalls on each side to use as a pass-through and to provide visibility into the stalls. This extra space will increase costs because of the additional square footage it creates.
- Certain jobs will require specific licenses, insurance or permits. A good pro should readily offer details about past experience and provide license details to be verified in a public database.