From Horse Barn to Wellness Center, Part 1: Project Scoping



Following the journey to remodel a horse barn into a commercial wellness center on a Midwestern property zoned for agriculture. This multi-part series recounts the considerations, pitfalls and ultimate successes of a green-building project with an ambitious scope to bring a defunct farm building new life as a natural health destination.

“They want to turn a horse barn into a Wellness Center,” I read aloud to my wife from an email message that I received. After my outburst, I read the rest of the message to myself and reviewed the attached documents, and a few things on the drawings caught my eye. “There is something special about this place.”

The owners wanted to move their practice from their existing office in town out to their property in the country. My wife asked if they wanted me to build the wellness center and I replied that no, their question was about geothermal. As any better half would ask, “Well, don’t you think you should ask them if they need a builder?”

I took a deep breath and thought for a moment about turning a horse barn into a wellness center. I have helped a few people throughout the years with wellness center types of projects, so I knew a few things about what this center might entail. I breathed deeply, because I’m getting tired of building. Every time I start to get tired of not making a difference (at least, that is what I think), I get an email message that gets my interests flowing again.

Finding Inspiration by Scoping a Green Building Project

I had to answer a few questions about geothermal, and instead of just giving the owners my answer, I started with the questions: Why do you want geothermal? What type of insulation will the place have? I was invited to come down to the project site and look at the barn and see exactly what the structure was like.

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