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What Is a Barndominium? Pros, Cons, Examples, & FAQ

Premier Buildings Systems' Barndominium

Everyone dreams of living in a big, modern house without paying a mortgage. While this sounds far-fetched from reality, it can be true if you get a barndominium. Yes, it’s the barn-condominium, the living space created by joining barn and a condominium, that you now see almost everywhere in the US.

Barndominiums are now becoming a popular housing alternative¹—thankfully, for all the right reasons. So, what makes them so attractive? This housing option is cheaper to build, easier to maintain, and safe to live in. You can also customize your barndominium just as you like.

But before you get all excited, know that living in a barndominium has pros and cons. So, you must evaluate every aspect before putting your money into building or buying one.

Let’s look deeply at barndominiums and see if they can work for your budget and requirements

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What Is a Barndominium? How Does It Work?

Barndominium refers to a living space formed by joining a barn and a condominium. It is a steel or metal building that looks like a big, beautiful house. It is open to customization, meaning the owner can design its interior however they like. These residential dwellings are also quite spacious, making them suitable for different floor plans and lifestyles.

You can think of a barndominium as a plain warehouse with an oversized garage door and a front porch. But with proper customization, you can make your barndominium look like a big, modern house with the right vintage touch.

The most prominent features of a barndo are:
  • Open-concept living space with no walls separating the rooms
  • Triangle-shaped exposed ceiling beams or trusses measuring up to 14 feet
  • Energy-efficient windows
  • Tongue and groove soffits in the roof’s edge
  • Sliding doors
  • Concrete floors
  • Wooden staircases
  • Metal roof
  • Height of 1–3 stories

What Are the Different Types of Barndominium?

There are primarily two types of barndominium, depending on the material they are made of.

Wood Barndominiums

You may have heard about wood barndominiums as a “pole barn or building” or a “post-framed building.” This is the traditional type of barndominiums, which includes materials costing less than its counterpart, metal.

Wood barndominiums generally have a slower construction process and require only professionals for the job. Unfortunately, the wages of these experts add up to the final cost, making wood barndominiums not-so-budget-friendly.

Metal Barndominiums

Metal barndominiums are the most prevalent all over the world. This is because they are made of steel, which offers a range of benefits that wood fails to provide. A few of those include:

  • The quick and easy building process makes them more cost-effective than wood barndominiums.
  • Highly durable
  • Minimal upkeep
  • Withstands harsh weather conditions
  • No wood rot risks in humid weather
  • Unchewable for termites and other pests
  • Fire-resistant
  • Eco-friendly building materials

These characteristics make metal barndominiums more common in the US. Also, they have superior longevity, so you’ll be making a long-term investment.

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The 8 Pros of a Barndominium

Barndominiums look big and spacious, but is that all it offers? Of course not. Here are some other advantages of living inside these residential spaces:

1. Versatility

Since barndos have an open and customizable layout, they are more versatile than other living alternatives. For example, you can create many windows and doors to make the interior airier or keep it tight with fewer entryways.

But generally, all barndos have high ceilings. So, you’ll have a big canvas to paint any home design you want and transform the barn-condominium into an inviting living space. Regardless of your floor plan, barndos will adapt to it either way.

2. Easy and Quick Construction

If you don’t have much time to find or build a traditional home, you can opt for barndos as an easy way out. These houses don’t require months to construct. In fact, it would take only three weeks for a barndo to build, depending on its size. So, you can quickly move into your new home within just a few weeks.

Also, barndos are mostly assembled off-site, meaning half of the work is already done. All that’s left is to decorate its interior and make it suitable for living.

3. Multi-Purpose

You can use barndos not just for living but for different purposes as well. For example, if you have an office at home, you can turn a corner of your barndo into a working space without compromising your living area.

If you own a small commercial business, you can also run it from your new home. Also, if you like to paint, you’ll have enough storage to designate a special corner.

4. Customizable Interior

Whether you like it simple or luxurious, a barndo looks great with all types of interiors. You can use any finishing material, including designer and modest accent pieces. At the end of the day, you’ll have an interior designed the way you want.

5. Flexibility

Barndominiums are super flexible. You can quickly increase the space or make more rooms in your new home. So, if you have special guests staying at your place, you can add more bedrooms for them with an extra wall structure.

Similarly, you can also add another storage room or garage if you have more people living with you.

6. Energy-Efficient

Barndominiums can be a great way to adopt a sustainable lifestyle. You can use eco-friendly materials in the construction, especially for the insulation. Many contractors also suggest installing energy-efficient HVAC units to help you save money on your energy bills.

By making your barndominium energy-efficient, you won’t only be treating mother nature well but also offsetting the construction cost of the barndo. You can also make multiple windows and gates in your barndo, so it brightens up with natural light instead of artificial ones.

7. The Best Escape

If you’re not looking to relocate permanently to a barndominium, you can use it to escape your everyday life or vacation destination. But for that, you’d need to find or build one in a tranquil and beautiful location.

Remember that barndos are very spacious. So even if you’re on a family vacation, you can easily adjust with all the members in a single home.

8. Durability

A metal barndo is super durable and protects the home against harsh elements. This means there would be no pests, wood rots, or weather harm to your home for years. They are also highly resistant to different types of leaks.

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The 4 Cons of a Barndominium

While living in a barndominium, you may encounter a few downsides. A few of those include:

1. Higher Initial Construction Costs

The total cost of building a barndominium is less than a traditional home. But still, the initial construction cost is a bit expensive, mainly if you hire a team of construction workers or subcontractors. In such a case, you can only save costs with less labor, materials, and finishing features.

You can also save money by building a barndominium on your own. But if you plan to go this way, choosing a single-story space is better than a three-story. It will be cheaper and easier to build.

2. Traveling Expenses

Despite their popularity, barndominiums are built mainly in rural areas that are far away from cities. That’s mainly because building codes and regulations are more relaxed in such areas compared to urban areas.

While rural areas offer you more design and space options, you’ll have to travel long distances to get there. If you keep traveling to and from your office to the barndo, you may have to bear lots of traveling expenses daily.

3. Requires Maintenance

Living in a barndo won’t offer you the benefit of communities that come with condos. Since barndominiums are separate living spaces located far away from the population, you can’t rely on your neighbors to maintain your property.

With barndominiums, you’re solely responsible for the upkeep and maintenance. If you’re always busy, you may want to look for other options to live.

4. Metal Roofs Can Be Annoying

The metal roof of barndominiums can become super noisy when it rains or snows. They can’t block out the outside noise, even if you use top-quality insulation material.

The sounds can be even more annoying when the snow transforms into ice and slides off the roof. If you want a peaceful weekend, metal barndominiums may fail to satisfy you.

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How Can You Build a Barndominium?

You can buy a ready-made barndominium, design the interior, and call it your home. But if you want to build one on your own, you’d need to follow specific rules. Here is how you can build a barndominium:

  1. First, you should decide whether you need to hire a contractor or construct the barndo yourself. Depending on the time, cost, and labor wages you can afford, choose any of the following options:

– Let contractors build the entire barndo
– Hire contractors to construct the basic structure, and you finish the rest
– Build the structure yourself and hire a contractor to do the remaining work
– Buy a building kit and let contractors assemble and use it on-site
– Get a building kit and do all the work on your own

  1. Now, build a floor plan based on your idea of a barndo. You can also buy floor plans and hire experts to complete them.
  2. If you don’t want to build the barndo yourself, it’s time to hire a reliable contractor. First, research the market and contact those construction companies that specialize in constructing metal buildings. After that, ask them about their quotes.
  3. If you have hired a contractor, they will take care of all the paperwork and permits. But if it’s the other way round, you may need to obtain the necessary permits to construct the barndo yourself.
  4. The last step is to apply for financing. You’ll probably have two options: a bank or a lending company. To qualify for approval, you must set a realistic schedule for the construction and draw your floor plan. However, if you have enough cash, you don’t have to apply for any sort of financing.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Some questions that people ask about barndominium living include:

What Should I Consider Before Building a Barndo?

Before building a barndo, you should ask yourself these questions:
  • How will I use the building? Will it be my primary residence, a rental space, or the workplace?
  • What are the most common sizes for a barndo?
  • How many bedrooms, bathrooms, windows, and doors do I need?
  • How many people will be living in it?
  • What will be the total cost of the barndo?
  • How many permits do I need?

Is Building a Barndominium a Good Idea?

Barndominium is ideal for those people who want ample space at a lower price than traditional homes. Although barndos have a few cons, they are mostly related to the construction process.

You may also have to take care of the construction loan application, compare lenders, evaluate financing options, and much more. But after the construction is completed, you will surely love your new metal home situated away from the city buzz.

What Is the Cost of Building a Barndo?

The cost of building a barndominium may differ, but you’ll have to pay anywhere around $30 for each square foot of space. If you’re looking for a 30’ x 40’ home, it will cost you about $36,000. But that’s not all. You’d also have to add an extra $80 per square foot for the finishing.

For a customized barndominium, the cost will increase a little more. For example, if you want more bathrooms, kitchens, or a living area, your contractor may charge you about $150 per square foot for the complete customization. This includes all cabinets, finishing materials, and kitchen countertops. So, building a barndominium will most probably cost you $180,000.

How Can I Lower the Final Cost of My Barndo?

You can lower the final building cost of your barndo by purchasing a ready-made barndominium kit. It will come as an unassembled box-like house that you’ll have to install. You can save money by doing it on your own or hiring a contractor. Of course, the contractor will ask for money, but it will still be less than building a traditional house.

You’ll just have to take care of its interior. Buying barndominium kits are of great help as they come in various designs and styles, allowing you to customize the interior. It’s better to opt for a basic model and customize it over time. It will cost you way less than the modern kits.

You can also buy a barndo shell from construction companies for as low as $10,000 for a medium-sized kit. The structure will be delivered to your location, and you’ll have to assemble it.

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A barndominium is an excellent way to wind down after a long weekend. These houses are situated in rural areas, away from the city buzz, offering a relaxing environment to spend some time in peace. You can also spend family vacations in a barndo as they are super spacious to cater to many people.

However, you must evaluate the pros and cons of living in a barndominium. While they are easy to build, they can have a higher initial construction cost. Of course, it won’t be more than building a traditional home, but you can still lower the cost with the above-mentioned methods.

Featured Image Credit: Premier Buildings Systems’ Barndominium, Lkpremier, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International


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