Building a new equestrian project or doing a barn reno is a big undertaking both in terms of time and finances. Stephanie Stone of Stonewood Construction Management Inc. based in Barrie, ON, advises how you can stay on track and prevent your budget from going off the rails.

• The biggest hurdle is to make sure that you are clear with what you want to spend. Then do your homework to see if that matches the reality of building prices. The best thing most people can do is get drawings done, even just simple drawings (not engineered) so that when talking with builders and trades people they are all seeing the same project.

• I have different approaches for a new build vs. a renovation. In renovation work, you really should take advantage of reusing items that function just fine, then identify everything that absolutely needs to change (stall fronts, plumbing, wiring, etc.), keeping in mind the need vs. the want. In existing buildings/barns, renovations tend to keep you limited to the space available which can help you stay within your budget.

• In new builds on empty land, budget is a whole different story. Before you even talk about the buildings and the ‘pretty’ things, there are numerous site items that must be taken care of, and done correctly. I like to focus on those items that are a necessity; for example, a year-round driveway, water, septic, a solid building base, etc. These items cost nearly the same regardless of how simple or fancy a barn you build.

• On top of the site work/services, the cost of getting permits has increased over the years. You must understand all the authorities that you must go through and be aware of the costs (and time) that these take. Without these being obtained, building cannot happen.

• Across renovation work and new construction the same holds true as in house building: spend the money on the items that you can’t easily change later. In past projects I have left concrete floors in the ‘people’ areas (tack room, bathrooms, etc.), setting it at the height that if and when they want to tile it they can. Riding surfaces (types of sand), can be built over time if the right steps are taken (proper base and drainage) from the beginning.

• The types of finishes you choose will impact the budget. For example for walls, plywood vs square edge planks vs tongue-and-groove all have different price points.

• Any way you look at it, barns are costly. Ensure the function of the barn is how you want it, first and foremost. Then you can dress it up however the budget allows.