Producers should plan well in advance of breaking ground

Building a barn may be a dream come true for many farmers, but making that dream a reality takes significant planning and preparation. Decisions on barn type, structure placement, materials used and building size are just a few of the considerations needed before construction occurs. 

The first piece of advice builders offer future clients has little do with the actual barn structure. 

“In the planning stage, you need to plan out at minimum six months ahead of time, if not a year,” Clayton Campbell, owner of Campbell Buildings and Metal Sales in Bolivar, Mo., said. Most builders are booked out months in advance. Therefore, patience and planning are key. 

Selecting a builder who is a licensed and insured general contractor is also recommended.

“The ones that work out of their trucks can build a cheaper building; but if somebody gets injured on that job, they could wind up owning that land,” Brenda Miller, owner of NWA Metal Buildings in Rogers, Ark., said. In addition, checking references will help ensure the company is reputable.

How much a builder wants to charge for a deposit is another consideration. 

“I would also be very cautious with someone who wants more than 10 to 15 percent for a deposit,” Miller added. Miller advised one exception to that is if the builder wants a large deposit to purchase the wood package and the builder stores the materials on the job site until they are ready.

When planning the barn, keep in mind its future use. 

“Probably one of the most important things to think about is what you want to use the building for in the end,” Campbell advised.

“The planning is very important. Nobody wants to build something and then when it is all said and done, it is not exactly what you needed.” 

It is beneficial to consider the size needed for the building. Builders suggest coming up with a rough sketch of the barn to guide the planning stages. 

“If they can draw it out before they call us and have a mini floor plan that is helpful,” Miller explained. “It doesn’t have to be pretty. I take napkin drawings all the time. I just need to know kind of what they want. And where they want to put things, where they want to put the windows and doors and things like that.” 

When farmers determine all of their intended uses for the barn, deciding what size door needed is important. Campbell explained the height of the barn depends on the size of the door or doors installed. Therefore, figuring out the size of the equipment that will be brought in and out of the barn is critical. 

Think about what size tractors, trucks, hay equipment, etc. will be pulled in and out of the building. 

Further, pinpointing a suitable location is key. Level ground in an area free of water runoff is ideal. “The most important, in my opinion, is you don’t want water running at your building,” Campbell stated. If a level, dry location is unavailable, then it may be necessary to take steps prior to construction to prepare the building site. 

Builders caution material prices are on the rise. In fact, costs for wood and metal change so rapidly budget numbers may be good for only a week at a time. The most economical barn to build is a post frame (also known as a pole barn), followed by stick frame and the most expensive is red iron.

Miller’s company supplies all potential customers with a detailed list of considerations and steps to take when planning to build a barn. If a septic tank is needed, due to a restroom or living quarters constructed in the project, customers must apply for a soil morphology test. This can take months in Arkansas to complete. Miller advises her clients who need a septic system to apply right away for the soil morphology test. 


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