Tack rooms, offices, and lounges are fairly common horse barn amenities. Less common are built-in living quarters for farm owners or employees, but some facilities have found it practical as well as economical to include a “barn apartment” of sorts in the building plans. The installation of living quarters might at first seem an extravagance, but there are many advantages to having an on-site caretaker–guaranteed access to the horses (a plus in bad weather), the ability to respond immediately to suspicious goings-on (a ruckus in one of the stalls, headlights in the dead of night), and comfort and convenience while awaiting the birth of a foal, to name a few.

In the eyes of your local zoning officials, a barn with living quarters might be quite different from one that houses only four-footed critters. More red tape is involved in securing permits and meeting building codes when a human residence is part of the plans. On the plus side, though, a barn with living quarters actually might be a sounder, safer structure than one without. To get some tips on planning and building safe living quarters in a horse barn, The Horse talked with a top barn manager, a builder, and an architect. Here’s what they had to say.

Safety And Comfort

The main barn at Hilltop Farm, a top sport-horse breeding, training, and sales facility in Colora, Md., is a showplace with very practical underpinnings. Its main barn features “wings” of stalls that branch out from a spacious airy rotunda, a large attached indoor arena, a business office, a lavishly appointed enclosed viewing area and lounge above the office and entryway, and an apartment off the lounge.

Scott Hassler, Hilltop’s head trainer, has spent a great deal of time in Germany and was instrumental in designing and planning the structure. What considerations went into the planning of the apartment?

“The apartment is well away