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Barndominium Shells & Kits: Everything You Need to Know in 2024

Barndominiums are increasingly becoming a popular choice for future homeowners looking at alternative housing solutions. Not only do they tend to be a low-cost option, but they are also perfect for people who want to customize their living space. These houses are so versatile that you will often see them used for multiple purposes.

The construction of a barndo gives it more open spaces allowing people to use it as a home office, a hobby room, or a workshop. The beauty of barndos is that you can pretty much do whatever you want with them. We have an article that compares barndominiums vs houses that would give you an idea of their similarities and differences.

There is a ton of stuff to learn about barndominiums and why they are causing a buzz in the housing market; if barndominiums are new to you and you want to look into these types of buildings, you can check out our barndominium guide, where there is everything you need to know about them.

If you are the type of person who wants to have control of your barndominium project, you might want to purchase the best quality materials. While buying a prefabricated kit is convenient, you can lower the building cost of your barndo if you purchase the materials separately. We made this guide for you if you are this type of person. The goal is to help you choose a barndominium shell for your home. In this article, we will go over everything about the shell of a barndominium, from what they are and where to get them.

What is a Barndominium Shell?

As the name suggests, “barndominium shell” is a term that refers to the bare external layer of the building. This does not include what is inside. Another positive thing about barndominiums is that the construction is not overly complicated.

After laying the foundation, you can erect the frames and install the exterior walls and roofing. When that’s done, you can proceed to install the interior framing. Popular choices of frame material are either wood or steel, but you can also use a combination of the two. 

Starting a barndo project with a shell is a great option for people who want to DIY their build like Coty or Josh did with their barndos. You might ask, “Well, why not just purchase a prefab kit?” Folks like kits because they are more convenient to put together. In addition, they don’t have to do the grunt work of sourcing the materials. Kits are definitely for first-time builders. For folks who have no idea how to build a house, what materials should be used, and the building process, barndominium kits are a great way to start.

One advantage of starting with a shell is that while the barndo is bare, you can start working on the interior build. You can start with spray foam installation, then start putting up the interior framing. You have the freedom to decorate, choose wall styles, and be specific with the materials used on your floors.

If you want to cut costs, you don’t mind looking for suppliers for different parts of your home and want full freedom of your project; starting with a barndominium shell might be the best bet for you. 

While planning on your project, you should check out our process on how to build a barndominium. It is a step-by-step guide on the entire build that would be useful for your barndo build.

What is Included in a Barndo Shell?

Besides the barndo shell, which is the external shell of your home with nothing inside, what is included and not included may depend on the barndo shell supplier. What is usually included, though, is the shell components. This includes metal walls, roofing, fasteners, and sometimes flooring. Sometimes this can include windows and doors, but as mentioned, it depends on the barndo shell provider.

What are the Different Types of Barndominium Shells?

If you want to choose a specific style for your barndo, whether for aesthetic or function, you’re in luck because there are several types of barndominium shells to choose from in the market today. One example is Absolut Steel’s “Teton style” cabin that gives the barndo a wood shiplap exterior appearance.

Other shells are made from steel, including a gable porch and a wainscot around the property. Some shells are provided with high ceilings designed for a second floor. While others are wooden kits that neatly interlock together.

What’s the Difference Between a Barndominium Shell and a Kit?

Even if the name is self-explanatory, there can be quite a confusion about the difference between a shell and a kit. This is because sometimes barndominium shells are also referred to as kits. Technically, a barndominium shell is part of a barndominium kit.

Let’s make a clear distinction between the two; a shell is an empty framed structure to be built out on the inside, while a kit is the main structure packaged with other materials needed for your build. 

Barndominium kits usually include everything you need for the house’s main structure. What is included may differ from one kit provider to the other. Generally, this may include the exterior walls, roof, insulation, metal studs, windows, doors, interior framing, and interior walls. Kit providers will accept custom floor plans and can provide blueprints for builders.

Different suppliers provide different services, so it is important to discuss with your kit provider before deciding if a kit is for you. Check out our compilation of the top Barndominium Kit Providers so you can get an idea of the inclusions of a kit.

On the other hand, Shells are only the exoskeleton of a barndominium. They can sometimes include windows and doors; however, they do not include anything extra like insulation and indoor framing. They are just bare the exterior shell, ready to be built up on the inside.

How Much Does the Shell of a Barndominium Cost?

It can be challenging to be accurate with these estimates as the cost can vary by location, design, and materials used. We have already covered the fact that there are different types of shells. The type can be a factor in the cost. The most important factor, however, is the size of the building.

No matter the size of the shell, the cost will be lower than traditionally built homes. A metal building the size of a single-family home can range from 40 x 72 x 16 feet – 60 x 120 x 16 feet (width x length x height); the base price range of a shell would be $41,500 – $88,300 based on Hansen Pole Buildings pricing, a very popular shell supplier in US.

Who are the Best Barndominium Shell Providers?

We have listed the major suppliers of barndominium shells in the country. Each with its own list of things they provide and what they don’t. The aim is to have a starting point on which supplier to go to based on your requirements. In no particular order, here are our recommendations.

General Steel Buildings

General Steel Buildings used to be just a steel building supplier, but now they offer full-service construction services. Their primary service is metal buildings, project consultations, preconstruction, and construction services.

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What They Offer

A prefab metal building is, by definition, a construction system that has been specifically engineered for the site where it will be constructed and is made to order in accordance with the intended usage as well as any modifications made by the owner. They offer buildings for various purposes like aircraft hangars, auto shops, barns, carports, and of course, barndominiums.

What they offer are the following: 

  • Pre-engineered to your location.
  • Simple, bolt-together construction.
  • Exterior framing
  • Roof pitch (1:12)
  • 26 guage sheeting, walls too.
  • Fasteners
  • Sealants and Flashing
  • Blue print drawings.

What They Don’t Offer

As with most suppliers, the concrete slab is not included, so you’d either have to DIY it or hire a local builder to do it for you.

Our Thoughts

You can’t just be at the top without reason. General Steel has a 50-year warranty for the I-Beam. They have a lot of great reviews, and their selection of barndominium shells is more than enough to choose from. If you want to ensure quality, choose General Steel Buildings.

Worldwide Steel Buildings

Worldwide Steel Buildings is the manufacturer of their own prefab steel kits. This implies that no middleman is involved when you collaborate with them on your building project. As a result, they have more time to get to know our business owners, homeowners, and other clients, figure out what they want from their steel buildings, and execute that plan from beginning to end.

They provide many building types that you may use as a starting point, or you can use their 3D Designer to design your steel building and make the house of your dreams.

What They Offer

They offer a myriad of choices for their metal building shells. From garages to shops to barndos. They claim that they have designed their metal barndominium shells to be DIY-friendly. So even if you’re not a builder, They make it easy. 

What They Don’t Offer

Practically nothing. They can provide anything you are looking for in a barndominium build. 

Our Thoughts

Worldwide Steel is one of the biggest names in the barndominium industry. They can provide anything and have it shipped anywhere. 

Hansen Buildings

Hansen Pole Buildings, LLC, a limited liability company founded by J.A. Hansen, provides custom-designed, premium pole building kits at competitive pricing through its website. 

Hansen Buildings aims to provide the best post-frame building kits as solutions for residential, commercial, and agricultural applications while prioritizing excellent customer service.

What They Offer

Barndominium shells in various sizes with the option to customize your order. You can add overhangs, entry doors, overhead doors, side sheds, and carports along with the shell. They also offer multiple building styles like gable, monitor, gambrel, single slope, or custom styles. 

What They Don’t Offer

As a leading provider of barndominium kits, Hansen has a good understanding of their clients’ needs. As such, there is nothing that they don’t offer.

Our Thoughts

Hansen Buildings are straightforward with the barndominium shells they have. They can also provide customized quotes if you plan to include optional add-ons like doors and windows.

Absolute Steel

The steel structures from Absolute Steel can be delivered to all 50 states, including Alaska and Hawaii. They are also in use in Afghanistan and Europe. In their Texas plant, they manufacture all of their parts using the highest grade steel produced in the United States. They are adamant about using  American steel solely since it satisfies or exceeds particular requirements for architectural steel.

What They Offer

The complete steel exterior frame, all siding and roof panels, trims, and fasteners.

What They Don’t Offer

They do not provide the materials needed for the foundation, interior walls, plumbing, and wiring. Most foundations are made with a concrete slab with thicker, reinforced concrete around the slab’s outer edges. They also do not provide installation services.

Our Thoughts

In addition to experience, reputation, and material quality, Absolute Steel is an excellent choice to purchase barndominium shells from. Their frame systems have a lifetime warranty, and depending on which steel panel you choose, the warranty against fading or peeling is for 20,30, or 40 years.

Shelter Kit

Since 1970, they have assisted hundreds of individuals in constructing their cabins, homes, barns, garages, and workshops. For more than 50 years, Shelter-Kit® has created building kits in a variety of sizes and designs that may be assembled by owners to match your needs. We have the ideal design for you among the many already available.

What They Offer

All the materials needed to build a weather-tight barndominium shell. This includes

  • Metal panels
  • Fasteners
  • Framing and sheathing for walls, floors, and roofs.
  • Siding and exterior trim.
  • Roofing
  • Drip edge
  • Underlayments

What They Don’t Offer

They do not include any interior materials, including windows and doors, on their shells.

Our Thoughts

They have been building kit buildings for over 50 years in a wide range of sizes and styles. Shelter-Kit is an excellent shell manufacturer we can recommend.

Sunward Steel Buildings

Since 1972, Sunward has produced premium steel buildings and shipped over 75,000 worldwide. No matter how much money you have to spend, your structure will be constructed to last! They will be there from beginning to end because they made your structure; therefore, you can rely on them.

They are committed to ensuring your complete satisfaction, from preliminary planning and design to helping develop your steel building.

What They Offer

  • Unassembled shell and framing
  • 26 gauge Hi-Rib wall and roof sheeting
  • Siphon groove technology on sheeting
  • Paint warranty
  • Closure and trim package
  • Gutters and downspouts
  • Framed openings
  • Engineer certified drawings
  • Porch
  • Bracing

What They Don’t Offer

  • Erection of the building
  • Foundation
  • Anchor bolts
  • Exterior finishes
  • Insulation
  • Landscaping 
  • Site work
  • Interior walls and finishes
  • Electrical and plumbing
  • Floor plan layout

Our Thoughts

A manufacturer of Sunward Steel’s caliber can always guarantee quality products and quality service. This is why we recommend them.

SteelCo Buildings

When SteelCo was established in 2001, it started by making history in the steel building sector. The care, quality, and attention to detail that went into each SteelCo structure were immediately apparent to every customer, and as a result, word of their reputation spread.

What They Offer

SteelCo Buildings offers multiple choices of shells for your barndominium project. They have 4 main design choices ranging from $1,100 to $1,800. Each with its unique specification and features. They also offer optional features. These include

  • Canopies
  • Cupolas
  • Gutters and Downspouts
  • Insulation
  • Liner Panels
  • Louver/fan Combos
  • Overhangs
  • Roll-up doors
  • Skylights
  • Wainscots
  • Walk doors
  • Wall Lights
  • Windows

What They Don’t Offer

They do not offer the interior build-out. For that, they recommend an experienced local house builder or contractor. 

Our Thoughts

SteelCo Buildings is one of the well-established manufacturers of steel buildings out there. Their focus on quality and attention to detail means you don’t have to worry about the most important parts of your house.

Bottom Line

A lot of the providers do not offer services for building the barndominium itself. If you want to hire a contractor, check out our list of the best barndominium builders in US or fill in this FREE 3-minute form and local builders will contact you with quotes.

Purchasing a shell is an excellent choice for those DIY experts who want to kick off their project with minimal cost. If you are that kind of barndominium builder who wants to erect a shell first, there are a lot of barndominium shell suppliers to choose from. Many of them provide top-notch, high-quality products. It might also be helpful to learn about barndominium financing options if your intentions are real.

What would ultimately decide on the perfect choice for you are your needs and budget. Use the information above as a starting point for such a decision. As you are in the planning phases of your barndominium project, you can look for inspiration on barndo designs on our Facebook page, where we post barndominium content daily!

Additionally, here are more resources to go to:

  • Barndominium Living GroupThe best & most helpful community of Barndominium Living lovers on this planet! Over 125,000 active members, who share photos of their homes, ideas for decor and inspirational stories. And most importantly – answer questions!
  • Our Facebook page – fill your FB feed with high-quality information and inspiration. Serving posts daily since 2015 to all +500,000 barndominium/metal building home lovers.
  • Our Pinterest boardsClick, click, browse 😉 Our Pinterest boards are neatly organized: from the best-looking metal homes to the most affordable. It’s all there.
  • Our Instagram pageScrolling IG on a daily? 1) Discover Barndos 2) Click the link in bio 3) Browse a full gallery of the home you like!