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Your Complete Guide to Barndominiums

Digging the trendy barn look? Similar to shipping container homes, barndominiums have become a popular alternative housing option. Whether you’re looking to elevate your farmhouse style or just want ample space to live and work, a barndo home could be the solution. Here’s what you need to know!

What Is a Barndominium?

Classic Red Barn built into a Barndominium. Photo by Instagram user @stoltzco

Photo via @stoltzco

Barndominiums—often referred to as “barndos”—are barn-style buildings typically made from metal, steel, or wood that are used for residential purposes. Generally, barndominiums are large rectangular dwellings with open-living concepts, giving homeowners options for customizable floor plans. While some barndominiums are barn-to-home conversions, ground-up construction of barndos is quickly becoming a home trend, too. There are also different types of barndominiums, such as pole-barns.

How Much Does a Barndominium Cost?

In general, building a barndominium will cost about $62-$136 per square foot. Compare that to a traditional home build at $100-$150 per square foot, and it’s easy to see why barndos are an affordable custom home building option! Keep in mind, however, that barndominium build costs aren’t just impacted by square footage—they can also fluctuate depending on the materials used for the home’s exterior and interior.

Exterior Barndominium Costs

The biggest cost of building a barndominium comes from purchasing and building the metal shell, including the roof, doors, and windows. Other major exterior features that can affect the building cost include:

  • Metal siding
  • Concrete foundation
  • Landscaping
  • Patios, porches, balconies
  • Fencing

Interior Barndominium Costs

The more custom home build features and luxury amenities you plan to have, the more expensive you can expect your barndominium to be. Major interior costs for your barndo could include:

  • Flooring
  • Appliances
  • Plumbing
  • Electricity
  • Countertops and hardware

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Pros of Barndominiums

There are several advantages to choosing a barndominium as your new home, including low maintenance needs, durable materials, and freedom to customize your living space.

Flexible Space

One great thing about barndos is their size and flexibility. Their typical open design allows you to use the space in a variety of ways and include unique home features that are customized to your lifestyle. You’re able to design your floor plan to your liking—whether that’s making space for a home gym, office space, etc.

Durability

Barndominiums are extremely durable! Their metal or steel shells help make them resistant to mold, rot, and the elements—more so than a traditional home! Not only do you get peace of mind knowing your home is more protected, but you can also keep insurance costs low by having a barndo.

Low Maintenance

Traditional homes tend to be built with a wide array of materials that require upkeep every few years. Since barndominiums are usually built with strong base structures and metal or steel exterior walls, they tend to have a longer lifespan than typical homes.

Low Building Costs

One pro to building a barndominium is the ability to keep costs low. While prices can vary between choosing a barndo kit, hiring contractors, and other building expenses, costs are typically less than a traditional home. You also have the freedom to set your own budget and actually stay within it, since you’ll be choosing the exact features you want and how you want them laid out.

Safety

A metal barndominium provides you and your household with a great deal of protection. For one, metal and steel are more resistant to fire than traditional homes. Where a traditional house could result in a total loss during a fire, the damages on a steel barndominium are likely to be less. Also, the barndo structure can typically withstand strong winds, providing shelter during storms.

Energy-Efficient

Most of the materials used to build barndominiums are environmentally friendly and can help homeowners reduce their carbon footprint. For instance, barndos typically use spray foam insulation, which helps regulate the internal temperature and requires less energy when heating your home. Metal roofing can also help reduce energy consumption and lower cooling costs. You can even take your savings a step further by having your barn home equipped with energy-efficient windows!

Quick to Build

Traditional homes typically take around seven months to build from start to finish, whereas barndominiums can often be built faster! Plus, with available barndominium kits, you don’t have to spend extra time working out as many details as you would with a traditional custom house build.

Cons of Barndominiums

While owning a barndo comes with a number of benefits, there are some drawbacks to consider before making the decision. These can be things like housing regulations, financing issues, and noise increase.

Limited Locations

Building codes in municipal towns or larger cities may not allow you to build your dream barndominium. Because of this, many barndos are built in more rural areas where codes are more lenient. While this gives you the freedom to design your home just how you want, you’ll be further away from city amenities—that means entertainment, emergency services, and other essential errands could be farther away from home.

Difficulty Financing

There’s a chance you may run into some roadblocks when it comes to financing your barndo. Unfortunately, barndominiums aren’t classified as a manufactured home, which can make approval for a conventional mortgage loan tricky. However, a Farm Credit Bureau may be able to provide you with a loan for building your dream barndominium. And since barndos are a growing home trend, there’s a chance that more funding will become available in the future.

Small Buying Market

If you plan to put your barndominium on the market in the future, there may be some difficulties selling it. Barndos tend to be extremely customized, making it hard to find a home buyer that has the same tastes as you. This smaller pool of buyers can make barndominiums harder to sell than traditional homes.

Overwhelming Choices

Since you have so much freedom when it comes to building a barndominium, there are a lot of choices that need to be made as far as deciding what you actually want and need in your custom home. If you haven’t spent much time planning, indecision can push back completion time and cost you more in keeping builders hired, paying for your current home, and other moving and building expenses.

Wiring Challenges

Metal walls can sometimes present wiring and alteration challenges, so you’ll want to make sure you have the necessary information about metal buildings to avoid damaged wiring. If problems do arise, you will need to be familiar with welding for any repairs or hire a professional welder, in addition to an electrician.

Noisier Living

Because barndominiums are typically built with metal or steel, they transfer sound more easily—especially when it’s windy or raining. Even with good insulation, outside noises will be louder because of the steel exterior. If you’re sensitive to loud sounds, it may be good to consider building a different type of home.


How to Build a Barndominium

Large Black, Rustic Style Barndominium. Photo by Instagram user @bluezonespaces

Photo via @bluezonespaces

Ready to start building your barndominium? Whether you’re working with a contractor or plan to take on the project by yourself, here’s how to get started with the building process!

Purchase Land

One of the first things you’ll need to do as you start building your barndo is purchasing the land your home will be on. Make sure the area you choose is large enough for your barndominium, and don’t forget to consider any extra land that you may want for privacy, work, recreational activities, vehicles, pets, and more. Try property hunting a few different plots of land to ensure you get the right size for your household.

Decide on a Barndominium Kit

After you purchase the land, you have the option to choose a barndominium kit, which provides the floor plan, steel or wooden shell of your barndo, as well as the roof. Keep in mind that a barndo kit isn’t a turnkey solution for your home, but it’s a great starting point to get the basic outline of your barn home ready. While building your barndo from a kit isn’t necessary, many households find it’s much easier than doing this step alone—especially if you aren’t an expert in homebuilding!

Plan the Layout

As you build your barndominium, you’ll need to ask yourself what your household will need to live comfortably now and in the future. How many bedrooms do you need? Will that change in five years? Where will the kitchen and living space be? How much space do you need for your work area? These are all things to consider so you can start building out a general floor plan.

Finish the Interior

Once the shell of your home is complete, it’s time to finish the interior and complete the rest of your barndo. This includes things like installing wooden beams, plumbing, building a balcony, putting in cabinets, and more. Unless you regularly flip houses or have experience in building, this can be difficult, unsafe, and potentially more expensive if you install something incorrectly. It may be a good idea to hire a contractor and team up on the major home installations.

Figure Out Utilities

Utilities will be a major part of the barndominium building process. If you’re located in a rural area, public utilities like water, waste management, and gas may not be readily available to you. In this case, you can have a septic tank installed for water and sewer access and a propane tank for gas access. You might also need to figure out how to heat and cool your home, so consider putting in an HVAC system or another solution.

Choose a Home Style

Just like a traditional home, you’ll get to choose your barndominium’s interior decorating style as you complete the building process. If you want to stick with the barn theme, you can go for a farmhouse or rustic barndominium look. Or if you like a more contemporary look, opt for a modern barndominium design.

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Need somewhere to store your things while you build your barndominium? Extra Space Storage has storage facilities located across the country that can help with your transition! Find self storage near you!

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