Considerations When Planning a Barn Apartment

by Matt
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When planning your dream barn, you might also be thinking about a barn apartment. Barn apartments can serve many purposes, including providing housing for caretakers, serving as a study or recreational space, or acting as a sort of guest house for visitors. Just like planning your barn, the more thought you can put into the apartment, the better your results will be. Here are some points to consider as you plan out your apartment.


Depending on your barn’s purpose and layout, how you access the apartment can be important. An apartment accessed through the barn’s interior can be just fine when you have a smaller family farm. In a boarding barn setting, the apartment resident may have to navigate a crowded aisle with horses, making carrying up groceries or coming and going during the day more of a challenge.

Give some thought to the best way to locate the apartment’s entrance. Think about parking, as well as how accessibility will function in all types of weather. An apartment with an exterior flight of stairs and balcony can work well in a state with a warm climate, but that type of entrance can be hazardous and inconvenient during the winter in a colder state.

Location and Noise

Horses are naturally noisy, and that can make sleeping in an apartment that’s beside or above a barn a challenge. When laying out the apartment, try to position the bedroom next to or over a space that will be quieter, like the tack room or feed room. Using sound dampening materials during construction can also help to keep the bedroom quiet, though there’s also an advantage to a resident being able to easily hear if a horse is in distress during the night.

Fire Safety

Fire safety is a significant concern, both in terms of keeping the apartment resident safe in the case of a barn fire and in protecting the barn from any fire risk that could arise from the apartment. Review your local fire safety codes and make sure that your apartment’s design follows safety, separation, and exit requirements. If the apartment shares a wall with a hayloft, then installing a barrier wall made with fire resistant materials can be a wise investment.

To minimize the apartment’s fire risk to the barn, consider installing a sprinkler system within the apartment. Sometimes these are required. Good management procedures, like forbidding smoking and the use of space heaters, can also help to keep the space as safe as possible.

Utility Access

The apartment will need utility access, and carefully positioning it can allow you to use some of the barn’s existing utilities – particularly plumbing. It may make sense to position the apartment so that it’s directly above or next to the barn’s bathroom, saving you money on running extra utilities. Consider the type of heating system that you’ll install, since you’ll need to budget space to accommodate oil or gas heating furnaces and tanks.

Town Ordinances and Permits

Before you progress into the construction phase, you will need to obtain additional permits specifically for the apartment. Because an apartment constitutes a residential state, your plans will need to meet additional safety requirements and you’ll need appropriate permits for that residential use.

An apartment can also affect your property and farm insurance. Having a person live in or above your barn means that heating and kitchen facilities will be in use, increasing the risk of fire. You’ll likely see an increase in your insurance premiums, so be sure to budget for this, whether you’re building a new barn or adding onto your existing stable.

Planning Your Barn and Apartment

There are plenty of details to think about when planning your horse barn and apartment, but at Equine Facility Design, we’re here to help. We provide equestrian planning services on projects worldwide, and we can help ensure that no detail goes overlooked, especially when you’re navigating the complicated matter of building a barn apartment.

One response on “Considerations When Planning a Barn Apartment

  1. Debbie follman says:

    Already have the apartment in an 8 stall horse barn, with horses. Living is almost primitive, simple , tiny but ok.. looking to upgrade to bigger area and a bedroom !!

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