As the years go by, we’ve seen an increase in the number of people interested in building barndominiums as alternatives to traditional houses. A barndo is a great choice if you want to build a unique and multi-functional dwelling. If you are one of them, one of the first things you need to know is how much you need to spend to build a barndominium.
This article will explain to you the cost of building a barndominium. We will give you a comprehensive breakdown of construction expenses to better prepare you and ensure you have enough funds to finance your new construction project.
Table of Contents
- 1 Is a Barndominium Cheaper Than an Average House?
- 2 How Much Does It Cost to Have a Barndominium Built?
- 3 How Much Does a Barndominium Cost Per Square Foot?
- 4 Cost Considerations that Make Up For Building a Barndominium
- 5 How to Cut Cost on Your New Barndominium
- 6 How Much Does a Barndo Cost in Other Areas?
Is a Barndominium Cheaper Than an Average House?
Yes, a barndominium is slightly cheaper to build than an average house. With the skyrocketing prices of building materials and labor costs, many turn to barndos as viable alternatives. If you plan on renting a temporary home during construction, you will also save money because a barndo is faster to build.
How Much Does It Cost to Have a Barndominium Built?
The cost to build a barndominium depends on the type of barndominium you want. Are you after a basic barndo, or are you going all out for a lavish structure?
If you intend to build an average barndominium, expect to spend around $200,000 for a 2,000-foot structure. When we say average, we are referring to a barndominium with all the basic amenities. This is a structure that is ready for use, so you can move in at any time.
An excellent example is this 4,600 square feet gray barndominium in Grimes County, Texas. The building has 2,100 square feet of living space plus 2,500 square feet for a workshop. It has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. One of the bathrooms is en suite in the master bedroom, while the other one gets shared by the remaining bedrooms.
Like most barndominiums, the owner, Stacy, opted for a bungalow-style barndominium. Its main feature is its great room with an imposing 23-foot ceiling. Although the exterior is undoubtedly barndo, the interior design is modern with a touch of hunter decor. The owners chose an open-floor concept with the kitchen beside the living room.
The barndominium has an attached workshop that doubles as a garage for the owner’s RV, boat, and other vehicles. The total cost was just under $100 per square foot.
High-end barndominiums are in a league of their own and can be pricier than some traditional houses. These are barndominiums built with premium building materials. They have features that are not often found in regular houses. Most of the time, they have larger living spaces, more bedrooms, and sit on large tracts of land. Most high-end barndos are custom-built to suit their owners’ unique preferences. If you are aiming for a high-end barndominium, expect to pay at least $500,000, depending on your location.
One great example of a high-end barndominium is the one owned by our Barndominium Living group member Charlie, who spent $550,000 for his contemporary 2,280 sq. ft. barndominium with a garage. Charlie’s builder actually suggested opting in for a regular stick-built frame instead on a metal or post-frame structures, which most likely increased the total cost of the build. By the way, Charlie used this floor plan for his home, don’t forget to check it out.
Another prime example of a high-end barndominium is this fantastic metal building mansion. If you look at it from the outside, it was custom-built, so it doesn’t look like a barndominium. The exterior walls are covered in decorative stones, so it looks like a traditional home. The open-floor concept living area has elegant marble flooring. It also has a double-height ceiling to make it look more spacious. The bedrooms are on the second floor, reachable by a metal spiral staircase.
This metal mansion has a second-floor balcony at the back where the occupants can relax. Right below the balcony is a porch situated beside a covered swimming pool. The property also has a garage large enough to house all of the owner’s vehicles. If you want to see images of other luxurious barndominiums, be sure to visit our Instagram account today.
The best way to build an affordable barndominium is by building it DIY. Being your contractor can help you save a ton of money because there’s no need to worry about labor expenses.
However, you must ensure that you possess the required construction skills to avoid compromising the structural integrity of your building. You can build a DIY barndo for as little as $60,000 to $80,000, but having the current economic situation in mind now in 2023 you should expect to pay more for materials than a few years ago.
For example, Coty managed to DIY his medium-sized barndominium of 2,400 sq. ft. for only $110,000 back in 2020 which turns out to be only $45 per square foot! And he built in only 4 months. It has an open-concept living room with a loft above while the interior follows an awesome rustic theme with unique metal kitchen cabinets. You can find Coty’s DIY barndominium story and gallery here.
Chris and Brandi Hill’s barndominium is another excellent example of how much you can save by building a DIY barndo. For just $400,000, the couple was able to build a 5,200-square-foot barndominium which turns out to be just $77 per square foot. The home has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a powder room. Of the total floor area, 2,780 sq. ft. is heated.
This amazing barndominium was designed to look like a cabin and has a hybrid frame of metal and wood. The exterior was painted white to make it look larger than it is. Part of the rear of the house has a covered porch and can double up as a dining area.
The interior utilizes an open floor plan and uses bricks and wood on the walls in line with the structure’s cabin motif. The living room is spacious and has a high gabled wall to make it look airier. The kitchen is adjacent to the formal dining room that can seat six people. The kitchen has a wooden island made from repurposed wood. There is also plenty of storage space for all the kitchen tools and equipment.
How Much Does a Barndominium Cost Per Square Foot?
The price to build a barndominium can range anywhere between $45 and $173 per square foot. However, these estimates are for regular barndominiums, so expect the cost to go higher the more custom features you want. These estimates also do not include the cost of the land and site preparation expenses.
Barndominium cost per square foot
- 1,500 square foot barndominium: $67,500 to $259,000
- 2,000 square foot barndominium: $90,000 to $346,000
- 3,000 square foot barndominium: $135,000 to $519,000
Cost Considerations that Make Up For Building a Barndominium
The cost of building a barndominium is influenced by several factors. These factors can drive construction expenses up or down. Understanding these factors can help you carefully plan your barndominium to stay within your projected budget.
Land is expensive, so it is not surprising that land costs are a major factor in barndominium building costs. If you don’t have land to build on or your current land is too small for your barndo, you need to buy a larger lot. You might also be forced to buy land if you live in an area prohibiting barndominiums, like in city centers or inside subdivisions.
It is challenging to tell how much land will cost you because the price of land depends on your location. In some states, the land is pricier than in others. For example, an acre of land in Delaware costs around $57,692, while an acre of land in New Mexico costs just around $1,931.
If you want to make the most of your money, look for rural land to purchase. It is cheaper than land located in suburban areas. Rural land is also ideal for barndominiums because there are often no restrictions in constructing metal buildings.
If you own suitably-sized land for a barndominium, there’s still the matter of preparing it for construction. You need to clear the area where you’re planning to build. This means getting rid of weeds, rocks, garbage, and trees. You can do all of these on your own, but you can also hire a professional to do them for you.
The average cost to remove a tree from your property is around $1,200. The cost can be as little as $400 for a small tree and as high as $2,000 for a larger one. If you have tree stumps on your property, you can hire a professional to remove them. The average cost of stump grinding is between $300 and $400.
Floor Plans Costs
Construction projects need to have floor plans or building plans. These are documents required when applying for a building permit, so there’s no going around it. Some companies are known as design and build companies which means they handle all aspects of barndominium building, from design to construction. If this is the case, the cost of floor plans is included in your contract.
If you are working with a general contractor, you will most likely need to procure the building and floor plans you will use. You can search for a local draftsperson or an architect to handle this. Or you can simply order custom barndominium floor plans here on our website for the best price in the industry and save thousands of dollars and a few months of your time. Custom house plans can cost anywhere between $2,000 and $10,000 depending on the house’s size and the floor plan’s complexity. But with our friendly pricing and low margins, you will likely spend anywhere from $600 to $2000 depending on what custom features you want in your new home.
Another choice you have is to buy pre-drawn stock barndo plans. Pre-drawn means you can look at a portfolio of floor plans and choose the closest to your ideal home. Pre-drawn plans usually cost between $500 and $1,500. Depending on the draftsperson, you might be able to request minor changes, but it will cost you extra. We have a huge portfolio of pre-drawn barndominium plans that you can find here and these can be easily customized to your preferences.
If you go the DIY route, you can save money using a hand-drawn plan. Make sure you consult the local building office first to determine if they accept hand-drawn plans and the size of the plan they require.
Once you have the land to build on and a contractor to work with, you need to secure a permit for building your barndominium. A building permit is issued by the local building and zoning authority. The average cost of a building permit is around $1,424, but it is better to check with your local building office since the computation for permit fees varies per county.
For example building a barndominium in Bentonville, Arkansas, the fee is $330 for the first $50,000 of construction costs plus $4 for each additional $1,000. If the value of the construction is at least $100,000, the minimum permit fee is $580 for the first $100,000 construction cost plus $3 for each additional $1,000. If you are building a barndo in Superior, Wisconsin, the permit fee is $0.50 per square foot of the finished interior area and $0.25 for non-finished areas like garages, decks, and porches.
Aside from the building permit, you also need to secure other necessary permits, like electrical, plumbing, excavation, etc. In most counties, these permits have separate fees, so you pay for them when you apply. Superior, Wisconsin, offers a Complete Permit Packet where you’ll only pay $1,000 for all the permits you need to build your barndominium.
Labor costs take the lion’s share of construction expenses, one reason why some homeowners opt to build their barndominiums by themselves. On average, 39% of construction costs go to labor expenses. If your contractor quotes $400,000 for your barndo, odds are around $156,000 will go towards labor.
The amount you need to pay for labor hinges on several factors. First is the contractor you will hire. Contractors with years of experience tend to charge more than newbie builders. Another factor is your location. If you live in a state with high labor rates, it goes without saying that hiring a contractor will be more expensive.
The location of the construction site is also a factor. If the site is not easily accessible, a contractor might charge more. This is one reason why it is preferable to hire a local builder than one from out of state. Local contractors also often have contacts with suppliers in your area.
They know which suppliers have the best building materials at competitive prices. This can help bring down the building materials expenses without sacrificing quality.
The number of features you want in your barndominium is another aspect that affects the overall construction cost. The more features you want in your barndo, the more expensive it will be to build. If you don’t have enough funds but are looking forward to some nice-to-have features, the next best thing to do is make your barndo future-proof. For example, if you want a structure with four bedrooms but only have the budget for two, devise a floor plan that allows for expansion. Leave enough space for the planned bedrooms. If you plan on adding more bathrooms, ask your plumbing specialist to leave provisions for additional bathrooms.
The features of your barndominium can also affect future expenses because they result in a higher property valuation. With a higher assessed value, expect to pay higher property taxes and insurance premiums. Read more about these expenses with our article on barndominium taxes or our guide about barndominium insurance.
The type of building materials you will use is another big-ticket item in devising your budget. Some building materials are more expensive, so choose wisely. Steel buildings are more expensive to build compared to wooden barndominiums (originally barndominiums were built on a metal frame). However, steel barndos are more durable, so they might last longer than wooden structures.
Another question you need to answer is if you want to go with a pre-fabricated barndo frame or if you want to custom-build it from the ground up. A pre-fabricated barndominium is a bit cheaper because it will also bring down labor costs. Most suppliers erect the pre-fabricated frame, so your contractor won’t have to worry about building the frame.
The percentage of heated floor area in your barndominium is another factor that affects construction costs. Radiant floor heating can cost between $6 and $20 per square foot. Although it is logical to think it will be more expensive to heat larger square footage, consult your contractor first. This is because some contractors give lower rates for large square footage.
The type of finishing you will choose for your barndo is another factor you need to consider. This is a critical decision because it will affect how your building looks. It is also no secret that some finishing materials can be costly.
If you have a large barndominium, the type of flooring material you use will eat a large chunk of your budget. Are you going for stained concrete flooring, or do you want to use tiles or hardwood floors? Stained concrete floors can cost between $2 and $25 per square foot, depending on your chosen design. A vinyl floor can cost between $10 and $20 per square foot.
Other finishing touches you must decide on include bathroom fixtures, lighting choices, windows, and doors. It is harder to give an estimate for these fixtures since the pricing will depend on your location and the design you will choose. Visit several suppliers in your area to compare prices so you can choose the most affordable option.
How to Cut Cost on Your New Barndominium
Cutting down the cost of building a barndominium is a goal everybody can get in on. As much as possible, we all want to save money to spend on other things like buying furniture or appliances. Or maybe save money for your child’s college fund. Here are some ways to save money while building the barndo of your dreams.
Doing a DIY
As mentioned, labor costs make up a huge chunk of construction expenses, so going for a DIY build can help you save a lot of money. However, we must emphasize that you need to have the necessary skills if you go this route. Spend time reading about what you need to do. There are also helpful videos on YouTube that can help you prepare for the tasks you must undertake. We have a comprehensive guide about how to build a barndominium if you want to learn more about the barndo construction process.
One drawback to this is a longer construction timeline, especially working alone. A construction crew can work faster because they have more manpower. Their years of experience also come into play since they know how to get things done efficiently. Although, Coty’s barndominium mentioned in the beginning of the article is a promising exception.
It will take even longer if you build only in your spare time. One suggestion is to try and ask for help from other family members or friends. The extra hands will go a long way toward building your structure faster. Join our Barndominium Living Facebook group to get tips from other barndo owners on how to make a DIY build easier.
Choosing Plans Strategically
Although it might be tempting to build a grand barndominium, be practical in choosing your floor plan. Go for a plan that serves your needs and trim down on extra features. For example, it might be tempting to build a five-bedroom barndo, but it will be a waste of resources if only three people live in it. An extra bedroom might be practical for guests, but two additional bedrooms might be wasteful.
An open floor plan can also help you save money because it requires fewer partitions. In addition, an open floor concept can help you save money on utilities since you can have one lighting fixture for both the kitchen and the dining areas. You can also choose a floor plan with large windows that let in plenty of natural light to help save electricity.
Another consideration in choosing a building plan is the land where you are building. If you already own land, choose to build a barndominium that will fit in your land. This will help you avoid buying land just to build your barndo. If the land you are building in is a bit small for your barndo needs, try to look for a building plan for a two-story structure. A two-story barndo can help you maximize your lot by having more floor space.
Using a Barndominium Cost Calculator
Instead of manually computing the cost of your barndo, use a barndominium cost calculator. It will give you the closest estimate of your project’s cost. It can also help prevent manual calculation mistakes that might affect the overall construction cost.
Feel free to use our barndominium cost calculator to see how much your planned barndo might cost.
Use Reclaimed Materials
Reusing and repurposing building materials can help you cut down construction costs. Old materials that are still in great condition make for great alternatives to new building materials. Aside from helping you save money, they can also give your building a distinct character.
You can use reclaimed wood to make a dining table, chairs, or cabinets. You can even use old wood as decorative accents for the exteriors of your barndo.
Try contacting a local demolition company since they sometimes sell salvaged materials from demolition sites. You might be able to buy old bricks, wood, windows, or doors. You can also try scouring flea markets for pre-loved items like dining sets, lighting fixtures, or closets.
Look for Alternative Materials
If you feel that you will go over your budget, the practical thing to do is look for alternative building materials. Your barndo might not look exactly how you envisioned it, but you will be able to complete it.
For example, if your original yet costly plan is to use a granite countertop in your kitchen, try going for a butcher block countertop. It is a durable material but is not as expensive. Instead of having real stone flooring for your bathrooms, go for ceramic or porcelain tiles. These are budget-friendly alternatives that are equally stunning.
Stick to your initial plan
Sticking to your original plan can help you save money, especially if you go the DIY route. If the original plan is to have two shared bathrooms, don’t go for an en suite bathroom in the middle of construction. This will force you to change the layout of your building. If you decide to have a closed-floor concept, don’t go for an open-floor layout when you already have the walls or partitions in place.
To avoid these errors, think carefully about your design before starting construction. It might be helpful to get the perspective of other people by showing them your plans. With an unbiased eye, they might spot mistakes you’ve previously overlooked. However, you should also be mindful of the suggestions you might receive. You might receive suggestions that might cause you to go over budget. Take note of suggestions but carefully deliberate on whether they are necessary or things you can do in the future when you have enough resources.
If you are financing the barndominium through a bank loan, look for a bank that offers favorable rates. This can take time, but the amount of money you save on interest rates will be worth it. If you are eligible, apply for a USDA or FHA loan, as they offer some of the best rates. If you have an account with a local bank, see if your bank can offer competitive rates. Local banks are great options because they offer great rates to existing account holders and are often faster in approving loans. Read more about the ins and outs of financing a barndominium in our barndominium financing article.
How Much Does a Barndo Cost in Other Areas?
It is difficult to tell how much a barndo costs in other locations because the estimate involves state-specific items like labor rates and the cost of building materials. You also have to factor in the price of land if you’re buying one. Read our barndominium state guides to learn everything you need about building a barndo in a particular state. We covered all of them!