Would anyone like to help me design a future barn/house combo?

This would be for a 5-ish acre property where I would have chickens, goats and maybe a couple small pigs. They will be pets that work to improve the land, which will likely be wooded and not flat. I will not have a full sized horse although I could be suckered into a bit of temporary, self-care boarding. Depending on what/where I end up buying, I would still like to use an efficient horse barn model for resale value. A goal for me is easy care in bad weather.

Sooo…. The gray area has living space above and purple will be a contained but freely available area in addition to the “stall”. For chickens, that would be their predator proof covered run with a door opening to a larger paddock for free ranging. Dotted lines are temporary dividers and that square north of the garage could be turned into a wash stall. Green is storage/countertop/hanging space and blue is W/D and a large sink.

Picture yourself here in daily life or the worst of summer and winter and share your thoughts on the flow.

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Honestly if the structure is specifically designed for equine use it will not be of much interest of future buyers

We have had our main barn evaluated by a professional appraisal …the structure is clear span… its value as a barn specific was less than 50% of a garage/utility building … the reasoning is few people want a horse barn.

As for intermixing different stock into a single building even for personal pleasure and ease of care… it may not be a great idea. We have real horses, miniatures, a pony and now goats… none really like living with one another and prefer their own space. They will tolerate one another but when it gets down to it they want to rule their own area. Even in the great outdoors of the wilderness, none of these animals team up into a single herd.

So, as with all… if this is what you want then its OK, but the expectation that others would want the same may not be workable. We found the land is where the value is not the structures as all recent home sales in our area have been remodeled with a bulldozer


I agree that barnimoniums are TOUGH sells.

Especially with the living space upstairs.

I’d consider a more traditional house with a covered breezeway to the barn.


I wouldn’t do it either. Insurance companies go “EEK” at these due to high fire risk. The barn goes up and so do you. The code-required fire-break construction will add big bucks to the build price.

Also, unless there’s an elevator, what if you get injured and can’t climb stairs? Never mind hauling groceries, etc up those stairs too.

If you want to live small and have the barn big, build separate.


Ix-Nay to above the barn or huntbox styled homes.
Mainly because stairs are a problem as you age.
My Dream is to attach a Tiny Home to one end of my indoor arena.
Providing me sheltered access to the barn attached at the other end.
No horse noise to deal with in the house.
Never have to go outside to feed or do barn chores.
Of course, you don’t need to go Tiny, standard house could also be placed as I described.
If no indoor, then house separated from barn by a breezeway.


This will be my last home and resale thoughts go beyond horses, but I’m not worried about making a profit. The stairs are extra wide to accommodate a chair lift and I will have a designated spot for an elevator if it ever comes to that. Mud room will have a dumb waiter.

I’ve tried several variations of attached buildings and the ceiling height above stalls for the width and roof pitch I want is such a waste. 90% of the barns I boarded or lived at had the apartment above so that’s what I keep coming back to. :woman_shrugging: With this being a small property, that may be hilly and wooded, I’m trying to maximize the land.

Each species will have its own shelter and outdoor area. Within each species they can be separated into the divided stalls for birthing, growing up or personal conflicts.

Here are a couple of views of my barn with a 2 bedroom apartment above. 2/3’s of the upstairs is dedicated to living space, the other 1/3 is a loft for storage. I don’t keep my hay up there, just extra horse items and a few large items that are hard to store in an attic situation. Speaking of attic, there is a 6’ tall, by 8’ wide, by 36’ long attic space above the barn apartment. The dormer across the back provides for lots of extra space in the apartment. This is not our main living space, but it does provide a great space for guests. The ceiling height for the barn is 11’ We have 8’ ceiling height in the apartment.

The nice thing about the design of the downstairs of this barn, is that I can open or close different sides of the barn to control airflow. The only thing I would have done different is have put a window in the stall on the East side and one on the West side to help with airflow in the summer.

I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have. The only thing to consider is that your zoning may not allow this type of build.


That is cute and very much what I have in mind! The big difference with my plan is I want the entire second floor to be full height as in your second photo. Then there would be a wrap around overhang on at least 3 sides. This is overkill for 3 goats, 2 pigs and a dozen chickens but we all know how animal math works. :slight_smile: Apartment would need to be at least 3 bedrooms as I have 3 kids. They’ll all be in college by the time this happens but I’d like for them to still feel like they have a comfortable home. It’s actually the size of the house that’s driving barn size so I’m just trying to fill in the “basement” with animal space. LOL

Do you have interior stairs or just the deck? I once lived above a barn that connected to the center aisle hay loft through the second bedroom and had a ladder down but I’m too old for that now. It was nice to toss hay in my PJs while the coffee brewed or get to the horses without shoveling snow, and I’d like to have a similar setup without the dust and smell. No idea where I’ll end up so zoning is an obvious consideration.

Would anyone like to stake a stab at driving home after a long day of work, putting away groceries and running out to feed/water animals in this set-up? I’m more interested in the actual flow of where key things are placed than building design (above or connected) at this point.

Twice in my life I have rented apartments in horse barns and I didn’t like that absolutely everything in my home smelled like the barn. Even going out for a fancy night, I smelled like barn. So I think ventilation is really important to address that.

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An older couple we knew converted their horse barns loft into a home and the horses were underneath. They said it was wonderful and years later when they sold the property after the husband died, they had no problem doing so.

I like the look of the A Frame one above.

If you’re wedded to this idea vs a separate structure, absolutely consider a bathroom–at least a powder room–downstairs. Especially if you’re thinking of having boarders.

Where are you storing hay?


Ugh, my power went out twice while trying to respond so here’s the gist.

I’m not wedded to anything other than easy care for me/sitters and a system where animals still have some outdoor space in bad weather or when potential sitter only comes once a day, i.e. chickens have free access to a protected area 24/7.

Bathroom would be easy to add in feed room since kitchen and other bathrooms are directly above.

I have zero interest in high input/high output animals long term so any horses would belong to someone I know who is probably staying in the house with me anyway. Weekend getaway, layover type of thing and they’d be doing the heavy lifting.

There would be a separate building for equipment, hay and bedding. Daily use would go in the storage area next to feed room but goats don’t require anything near the amount of hay horses do.

My barn is 36’x36’. If you were to bump out both sides of the roof line with full dormers, you would have a 1,296 sq ft to work with for living space. If 1/3 of the upstairs wasn’t a loft/storage area, we could easily have 3 bedrooms and 2 baths upstairs. The den, kitchen and dining spaces would be tight for 5 people, but it’s doable.

In a 20’x 24’ area we have a kitchenette (no oven), a dining table that seats 4, a large full bath, a 13’x12’ bedroom (king size bed), a 12’x12’ bedroom, and a den that has a sofa, loveseat and oversized chair. We didn’t put ANY closets in the space because we knew we only wanted short term visitors.

There is a hallway that leads to the loft space. From there you can access the feed room via a set of stairs. The stairs are not to code, but are FAR safer than a ladder. The treads are slightly narrow and the rise is slightly steep. We do have a VERY sturdy hand railing installed. I insisted on stairs and a second exit from the apartment in case of an emergency.

I have a toilet in my tack room so I don’t have to go upstairs just to use the facilities.

Make sure you REALLY research what’s required for an elevator. I have friends that had one installed (years ago) for a mother in law suite upstairs. It has been a nightmare of issues from the beginning.

The dumb waiter you mentioned sounds good as long as it can send up the groceries from the biggest shop you do in a month. You will have to go up to unload each amount the dumb waiter can hold. Also think about the weight it is able to lift. A case of waters or beer is heavy. It’s certainly better than having to carry it up the stairs, but it sure would be nice to be able to stack lots of groceries on top so you don’t have to make extra trips up and down the stairs.

One thing we added to the loft area was the ability to use an electric winch to hoist 300+ lb loads up to the loft. It required some reinforcement of the trusses, and it may never be used, BUT we would be kicking ourselves in the butt when we needed it Nd hadn’t planned for it.

A variety of thoughts. First off, in terms of ‘flow’ it would seem that two of the three bedrooms need to be above the stalls. I’d suggest bedrooms all on one side, that would let you have a living space opening onto the overhang on the other half. The reasoning for this is to create a good utility stack. Keep your kitchen and bath above your mudroom/laundry/water spigot for animals. I’d probably put the kitchen/dining above the garage.
Interior and exterior (that do not go into the animal space) stairs are a must. The interior can be spiral to maximize space, check out tiny homes for how to work that.
Also, absolutely have at least a half bath downstairs!
Overall living space layout is going to be ruled by ventilation. Nobody wants the prevailing wind to blow the scent of chicken and pig manure into their bedroom on a balmy spring night when the windows are open. Also consider that animals when enclosed create a humid environment. More ventilation is better.
That being said, drainage becomes critical, really, really critical.
I know you aren’t thinking about construction, but build with an eye towards keeping the areas separate: drainage, ventilation, temperature. A firebreak is probably going to be needed for insurance, but this will also help with the ventilation/temperature issues if correctly done.
I’m personally more of a connect the dots on a single level fan: i.e. single floor house connected to barn, but with planning above can be done as well. It just usually isn’t planned well…

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I see no way to unload from a truck or other vehicle directly into your storage space. Perhaps add a garage door to the front? Having to hand carry everything through a people sized door doesn’t sound like fun.

We looked into elevators for my ILs many years ago. They dragged it out and ultimately didn’t last long enough to get one installed but I learned a lot about the mechanics and which are least problematic! Good thoughts on the dumb waiter, too. It might be best to put money into a good elevator from the beginning.

I’m not loving the stair location in this design (believe me, I’ve done 100 over the last year LOL) but the kitchen will be above the feed room. I really, really want some kind of outdoor cooking space and a place to grow herbs so I’d like a covered balcony above the storage room. All rooms that need water or drainage will be in the laundry/feed room area.

There will be a garage door at the end of all aisles, so one a few feet to the right of storage room for trucks to unload. I can make the door any size or put it wherever it needs to go but we’re talking about 10 bales or bags at most. The bulk of deliveries would go to a separate building where I’d pull out what I need for the day or an entire week.

FYI - I use a crafting program because it’s easy to edit and color block. Each square = 1 foot

I hand carry grain through doorways. It sucks.

At least make it accessable for a gator type vehicle. But seriously, unloading from the back of the truck into your storage stack, taking as few steps as possible, makes a lot more sense if you’re custom building…

I don’t get making this all in one building for ease, if you’re storing all your grain/hay in a separate building and have to hump it all over DAILY. You’re not saving foot print, you’re not saving steps, you’re still going outside in bad weather. Might as well build a house and a barn instead of a house/barn combo with all those inherent challenges and costs, and separate storage building.


I wouldn’t keep several months of hay in the barn anyway so another building would still be needed. I’m not understanding why you feel a Gator or even a full sized truck can’t back into a 16 foot wide aisle and unload right in front of a 4-6 foot wide door. In the sketch above I just threw door openings in to demonstrate how you’d get from place to place but they aren’t set in stone.

You lost me with the bolded part. The feed room is already 24 X 16, which I think is plenty big for most anyone’s needs, so I portioned out another spot for extra storage. Unless I become a hoarder or go off script and get horses 10 bales of hay, 5 bags of grain and 5 bags of random items like bedding and supplements will last 30 days so that’s likely the amount I’d keep in the barn. While I might grab some hay (daily) to put in a field for goats in nice weather, I certainly wouldn’t be working out of a shed in pouring rain or a foot of snow.

You posted above:

I don’t see the point of going to great lengths to custom build an all in one building for yourself and animals, that will require extra insurance, not be particularly marketable, and require considerable extra design work to work, when you’re planning an entire extra building for storage anyway, and see yourself going to it daily for supplies.

Building a barn (with appropriate storage) and a house (separate from the barn) is not only not marketable to a wider swath of people for when you’re ready to move on, but is likely cheaper to construct because you’re not reinventing the wheel/dealing with fairly disparate needs (barn vs home), is less costly to insure, and allows you to have ground floor living.

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I get that you don’t like the concept and find my afterthought of a storage area problematic. I’d prefer a separate building to store 6-12 months of hay and equipment that runs on gas but you can make a different choice.