January 22, 2014

Horse Stall Sense: Why Choosing a Single Source for Stalls and Barns is Best

For a horse, its stall is its personal sanctuary – its familiar place to rest, relax and rejuvenate. So it makes sense that horse lovers want that aspect of their barn to offer the best in safety, comfort, function and beauty. It begins with choosing a designer and supplier that are one in the same.

The Benefits of a Single-Source Supplier
“A single-source supplier is always going to be less problematic for the owner,” says Paul Boor, Vice President of Product Development/Engineering Services with Lester Buildings. Years ago, the company began seeing the problems and challenges that came with trying to fit other suppliers’ stalls into Lester Buildings. In response, Lester introduced its Signature Equine Line of safety-tested specialty stall fronts, backs, partitions and doors, including sliding and dutch doors, about a decade ago.

After 20 years on the job, Paul knows first-hand the benefits of ordering horse stalls and buildings from one company with plenty of equine experience.  His observations:

Animal and human safety should always be an owner’s first concern. That’s why it’s essential to work with an experienced equine builder. “We’ve listened to a lot of horse owners over the years and have decades of experience perfecting our stalls and barns.” He believes that a single-source supplier is more in tune with every detail, such as eliminating pinch points and sharp edges where stalls connect to the building.

Cost Savings  
A single-source supplier can design its stalls to fit the specific configuration of its horse barn (and horse barns are increasingly becoming more complex, according to Paul.) That means no surprises – or added costs – at install, fewer construction delays and greater longevity. 

Trying to marry stalls from one supplier to a different, non-related building supplier increases the chances of compatibility problems between components. A single source can offer better fit and, thus, smoother function. 

Horse lovers are, well, horse lovers, and a few horses can easily lead to more. Lester makes stall customization an integral part of its building design. Its partitions use laminated columns with a slot at the corner post and at the back wall, so partition walls can be easily removed and quickly modified for foaling.

Paul likes to point out that durability is a specific bragging point for Lester Buildings. “We use the same strict lumber grading criteria for selecting the planks for our buildings and our stalls. Each piece is visually picked for its specific purpose and placement.”

Thoughtful integration of stalls into the building leads to a nice, clean look. Lester’s line of Signature stalls match its standard Uni-Rib™ colors so that stalls are visually integrated into the exterior building design. It’s beauty that lasts.

To learn more about Lester Buildings and see a library of equestrian buildings featuring Lester’s Signature Equine Line in your area, visit lesterbuildings.com.

January 7, 2014

Living with Your Horses

The case for building a horse barn with living quarters.

If living with your horses brings to mind Mary, Joseph and a manger, it’s time to stretch your imagination. Today, a horse barn with living quarters can be a comfortable and economical solution for housing horses and their humans.

Building is Best
Begin by considering your three options. Find an existing property for sale (scarce in most places), convert an existing barn (face strict residential building codes and cost overruns) or build your own structure, often the most economical choice. Here’s the case for pursuing the latter, from Todd Fisher, a Lester Buildings dealer based in Iowa.

“Building a new structure offers the most customization. Not only is every horse owner different, but horse breeds can have different needs, too.” Todd and his employer, K-Van Construction Company, have built several combo buildings, including those with stables, arenas and living quarters.

Getting a structure that suits your lifestyle is essential, adds Bob Johnson, an experienced Lester dealer in Illinois, who operates Bob Johnson Construction. “In 2011, we built a customized barn with living quarters for a veterinarian who wanted to keep a watchful eye on foaling mares via a huge picture window in the living room.” Recently, Bob has been fulfilling a more common request:  horse barns with an 800-1,000 sq. ft. apartment for housing a hired hand.

An Insider’s Advice on Design
Todd and Bob offer this advice to people on the fence about building:

Don’t skimp on design/build –  A professional, collaborative design process will ensure you stay in your budget; a correctly built structure will reduce maintenance costs down the road. In other words, don’t skimp when choosing a design-build company.

Build out, rather than up – Todd advocates building longer and wider to avoid stairs in the living quarters, especially if you plan on living the horse lifestyle into your golden years.

Never compromise ventilation – Avoid building a second story on top of horse stalls. Roof ridge vents over stalls are essential for moving air, odor, dust and dirt up and outside. If you live in a part of the country where it’s customary to have hay storage over the stalls, make sure you have proper roof heights and venting. Also, carefully consider placement of windows, doors and other ventilation options.

Fire prevention – In most cases – and if feasible -- play it safe by housing feed, hay, bedding and power equipment in a separate building not attached to the main structure. Also incorporate fire walls between the barn and living quarters. These design elements will likely reduce your insurance premiums.

Distinct spaces – No matter how much you love your horses (and vice versa), maintain distinct separation between horse and human living spaces. This is especially true if you have a riding arena (more dust, dirt, noise, etc.).

Know your local codes -- Local building codes, zoning laws and permit requirements vary by county. Working closely with your Lester dealer upfront can go a long way to prevent unwanted costs and delays down the road.

To see a complete library of horse barns with living quarters in your area, visit lesterbuildings.com.