Last November, we added mini horses to the homestead. I was researching shed row barns and run-in barns, but the prices were astronomical, and it would cost around 25-30k. We worked hard the past few years to pay off all our credit card debt, and we didn’t want to finance it. While my husband can pretty much build anything, with the rising cost of building materials, it wasn’t something we could afford to do now. So, we started looking into outbuildings that we could pay for in cash and decided to convert the shed into a DIY horse barn. So if you would like to learn how to convert a shed into your dream horse barn, this article is for you.
We went to a local dealer that was having a sale on outbuildings. I fell in love with the gable-style buildings, but the ceilings were shallow. My husband is 6 ft 4,” and nobody wants to duck their head going in and out of a barn, especially when you’re scooping horse poop! Plus, with the gable style, it would be difficult to add an overhang or lean-to, which I wanted to add, so the horses had shade in the summer.
We decided to go with a 10×16 utility building with a metal charcoal roof, double doors, and two windows, which matched our house and barns, and the best part was the shed was in stock and on sale for $4500.00. We placed our order and paid cash, and it was so liberating not to pull out a credit card, deal with high-interest rates, and make payments.
So, if you want to know how to convert a pre-fab shed into your dream horse barn, this blog post is for you!
LAND PREP FOR DIY HORSE BARN
While waiting three weeks for delivery, we prepped the site for our DIY horse barn. We used the backhoe to dig six inches deep and added four inches of 3/4 inch drainage stone. Thankfully, the lot was flat, and we didn’t have to move a lot of dirt.
A gravel pad is an affordable choice as a shed foundation. Having a gravel foundation for your shed is one simple way to make your building last longer with less maintenance. A gravel shed foundation ensures that your building has a solid foundation that will allow water to drain away.
Our riding ring is the donkey’s favorite spot to sunbathe, so we didn’t want to take the whole riding ring away from them. We decided to cut the riding ring into two sections and add four board fencing, so everyone could still enjoy the riding ring together. In addition, we opened access to a smaller paddock so the mini horses could enjoy pasture in the fall and winter.
We went to our local lumber mill and purchased 14- 4×4 pressure-treated fence posts and 48- 1×6 pressure-treated deck boards. We used our auger to dig the fence post holes and added fast-setting concrete mix in each hole along with leftover gravel. After we left the posts set up for 24 hours, we measured and cut the 1x6s and installed the new gates just in time for the arrival of our storage building.
Anytime you build livestock shelters, it’s important to use durable and sturdy supplies. This can be costly, but it will save you money in the long run. Sturdy locks, durable flooring, quality wood, and framework are all crucial to a good animal shelter.
DIY HORSE BARN: INSULATION + WALLS
Since the purpose of our utility shed is to house livestock, we decided to add insulation to help regulate temperature, reduce moisture and extend the lifespan of the building. We also added ½” plywood to the walls to cover the insulation and to make the structure sturdier and more durable to withstand livestock.
I provided links to the insulation and Plywood we used, which can be found at most hardware stores like Lowes and Home Depot.
DIY HORSE BARN: FLOORING
Stall floors should be both comfortable for your horses and easy for you to clean and maintain. Our main barn was built on an incline with dirt floors, and we use sawdust year-round as bedding. Our beds drain well with being on an angle. However, it’s not easy to muck out. Research shows concrete floors are more hygienic because they are easy to hose off and disinfect, but concrete can also be hard on your livestock’s joints. A good compromise is to cover the concrete floors with rubber mats. These retain easy maintenance, allow for proper drainage, and are comfortable for your animals to stand on.
Our storage building came with a floor, and we couldn’t remove it without weakening the structure, and adding a concrete floor wasn’t in our budget, so we decided to install a simple drain in the middle of the bed and use stall mats.
STALL MAT INSTALLATION
Cutting stall mats is not easy, especially if you’ve never done it before. They’re very heavy and time-consuming to cut. However, all you need is a straight edge, sharp utility knife or standard box cutter, two-by-four board, and pen (or chalk) will suffice.
You can also use a hacksaw, circular saw, or saws-all, but from talking to other farmers and homesteaders, they all said a utility knife or box cutter made the cleanest cuts.
I’ve attached a few articles that helped me through this process for any stall mat newbies:
BENEFITS OF ADDING ON
There are so many advantages and benefits of adding on to an existing shed, such as:
Easy Equipment Storage – More storage is always an advantage. The overhang can create great supplemental storage by protecting it from rainfall and direct sunlight.
Shade for Horses — When the horses are out to pasture around your barn, the lean-to allows them to get a break from the hot sun.
Work in all Weather —The random rainstorm or snow spell can be highly inconvenient if you have work to finish. Adding a lean-to to one or more sides of your barn creates a large, fully covered outdoor area perfect for sheltering the elements.
We added our lean-to addition this past Spring for less than $700.00. Our lean-to is approximately 10×15 feet. We used six pressure-treated 4×4 fence posts and roughly 15- 1×6 deck boards. The lean-to provides additional square footage and shelter from the elements. It is easily our most-used space, and I recommend adding a lean-to if you are converting a pre-existing shed into a refuge for animals.
WORK WITH WHAT YOU HAVE
When housing your animals, keep the climate, the types of animals, their heartiness, and your financial situation. You may need to think outside of the box. Look at your property, get creative and see what you have to work with. You can use a lean-to or convert any building into a unique and useful shelter. See what you have and try to make it work. You don’t have to have an “Instagram-worthy” barn to provide a loving home for animals. Like we did, you can buy a prefab shed and convert it into a DIY horse barn as long as you can provide the basics, such as keeping your animals warm, dry, and free from the wind and cold and hot direct sun. You will have healthy, happy, and productive animals for many, many years to come!
Once the necessities are completed on your DIY horse barn, you can have fun designing the finishing touches. We kept it simple, added a hay feeder, hooks for buckets, and a mineral block holder, and used a few solar lanterns. There are no fancy chandeliers or high-tech technology, but I made a cute vinyl sign for Maddy and Sarge.
All in all, our prefab shed-to-barn project was the perfect solution for us. The cost was a fraction of complete barn construction, the time was days to construct rather than weeks to months, and we could customize our setup to fit our animals and us in the best and most efficient way.
I will be sure to document the lean-to build and share the process with you this Spring and any other adjustments we make along the way!
SUPPLIES + COST
Here is the list of materials we used and how much we spent on our DIY horse barn:
10 x 16 Utility Building $4500.00
Gravel plus Delivery $250
12mm 1/2-inch plywood $49.00 x 8 sheets
Foam board & insulation $150
Stall mats $52.00 x 7 mats
Plastic catch basin and floor drain $22.00
Hay feeder $75.00 SCENIC ROAD Wall Hay Rack
Heated water bucket $70.00 API Heated Bucket Heated Flat Back Bucket, 20 Quart
Mineral block $4.99 Evolved Habitats Herdlife Sturdy Steed Candy Apple
Himalayan salt block $4.99 Horsemen’s Pride Himalayan Salt Block
Lumber for lean to plus metal roofing panels $600 (optional)
Fencing Materials $900 (optional)
Fast Setting Concrete Mix $45.00 (optional)
2- 6ft Gates $210.00 (optional)
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, and if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me a message!