With the rise in popularity of alternative housing solutions such as tiny homes and shipping container houses, barndominium homes are among the most preferred architecture among new homeowners. Many people find barndominiums the best bang-for-the-buck option because of their customizability, functionality, and quirkiness. If you’re planning on building your dream home and haven’t decided which one to go with, you are in the right place. This article will look into barndominium houses, compare them with traditional stick-built homes, and see which one is better for you.
Table of Contents
- 1 Barndomimium and House Overview
- 2 What are the Differences Between a House and a Barndomimium?
- 3 What is Better Between a Barndomimium and a House?
Barndomimium and House Overview
In recent years, people have been turning to alternative housing for different reasons. Some prefer unique houses that fit their lifestyle, while others may do it to lean into more sustainable living. What seems to be a commonality, though, is that these unconventional houses aim to lower the cost of building a house and the overall cost of living.
Barndominiums are a great example. The difference between barndominiums and traditional houses is clear from the outside. On the inside, however, barndominiums could have all the features of a modern home. The biggest difference is that you could do much more with a barndo.
What is a Barndomimium?
In the past, barndominiums were barns that were converted into living spaces. Today, the term barndominium refers to a barn-like structure with all the amenities of a regular stick-built house. Most of the time, they are built on a steel frame structure, although some people use timber or a mix of timber and steel. Regardless, these structures are still referred to as barndominiums. The sizes of these houses vary from a small family barndo with 1-2 bedrooms to warehouse-sized barndos that can have two or even three stories. Check out our Ultimate Barndominium Guide for in-depth information on barndominiums and how they came to be.
One of the most sought-after features of barndominiums is that you can customize them however you need. Barndos can be built to include a space for storage, a home office, or an indoor garage to park your collection if you are a car enthusiast. You can also include a home gym on your floor plan if you are a fitness buff. If you want a home cinema, a game room, or just a space to distance yourself from the outside world, a barndominium is perfect for you. If you want to look into ideas on how others built their barndos, you can check out our Facebook page where we post various barndominium content.
Other than having the potential to save on construction costs and the chance to fully customize your home to your taste, there are a couple more advantages barndominiums have that traditional houses can’t compete with.
For one, barndos are more energy efficient. Depending on your climate, you have several insulation types to choose from for your barndo build. This ensures that your home stays warm in the winter and cool in the summer. You would think it would be impossible for an open space with high ceilings to stay warm and cozy, but this is just not the case. These well-insulated homes are sure to lower your utility bills for cooling and heating your house.
Did I mention that barndominiums take half the time to build compared to houses? That’s right! The time to build a barndo is another advantage. On average, building a traditional home can take up to 10 months to over a year. Barndos, on the other hand, can take only 4 to 6 months to complete – here’s a story of Coty who DIY his barndo in 4 months. This translates to significant savings on labor costs. They can be quickly erected because the metal shells and steel frames are premade.
This brings us to the next advantage barndos have, which is longevity. Since they are constructed using a steel framing structure, they are resistant to common causes of deterioration, such as mold, termites, and rot. The durability of barndominiums boils down to what materials were used. The most well-built barndo homes could outlast the people who built them and could easily last over 100 years. Barndominiums are amongst the most durable housing solutions available. Extreme weather events, regardless of your location, are bound to happen.
Thankfully, barndominiums are strong enough to withstand storms, tornadoes, and hurricanes. Additionally, barndos are a lot more resistant to fire. Overall, barndominiums offer great protection for your family than traditional homes. Finally, barndos are cheaper to insure because insurance companies recognize the reliability and sturdiness of these homes, another way to lower living costs.
Barndos have their fair share of disadvantages, so you should check this out when deciding which type of home to build. If you plan on selling your barndo in the future, consider this; barndominiums are challenging to sell. The reason being is that barndominiums do not appeal to the mass market as well as traditional houses. With a niche market, your pool of potential buyers is significantly less. If your barndo is customized too much, it might contribute to being harder to sell.
On the superficial side, some may consider the exterior aesthetic of a barndominium a disadvantage because you are living in a house that looks like… well, a barn. Many people have come up with creative ideas to work around this. With a little bit of innovation and artistic magic, aesthetics can be improved.
Another disadvantage to barndominiums is that some places may not allow them. Some cities prohibit the construction of metal buildings within city limits. If you’re planning on building in a specific location, check with the local building authority if barndominiums are allowed. We have written barndominium guides for every state, you might want to check them out.
For real-world reviews on the advantages and disadvantages of barndos, you can ask barndominium owners on our Facebook Group – it’s free to join and has plenty of information!
What is a House?
Traditional homes come in many shapes and sizes too. Unlike barndominiums, they use a lot of different building materials. Bricks, wood, and concrete are common, but they can also be made from stone, stucco, vinyl siding, and more. Traditional homes typically have ceiling heights limited to 8-9 feet tall, although owners can opt for open below ceilings. On the other hand, it is not uncommon for barndos to have up to 14-foot ceilings. Aside from that, they look different from barndos on the outside. However, the interiors are pretty much the same.
Because they have been around for a long time, traditional homes have undergone a lot of evolution, variations, and a huge deal of selections. Houses offer a greater number of materials to choose from, as well as construction styles. People who are into a simple yet luxurious aesthetics go with a classical style house made of bricks, while some may choose the familiarity of a country style house. Whatever style you are looking for, chances are, you will find it.
Aside from the advantage mentioned above about having a wide variety of styles to choose from, the main advantage of standard houses is that they are familiar to everyone. Reselling houses is not as difficult as reselling barndominiums because you can sell to the mass market as opposed to a limited number of potential buyers. They are also more likely to hold their value. Another thing is that finding a lender to help with financing a house is also easier than finding one for a barndo. But it is definitely not impossible – here’s a guide on barndominium financing if you want to learn more.
The most apparent disadvantage of traditional homes is cost. More and more people are finding it difficult to catch up to the rising prices of houses. Soon-to-be homeowners planning on building their houses will have to make sacrifices by buying land somewhere cheaper or settling with materials that don’t cost a fortune. Subpar materials that are not as durable as the metal frames of barndominiums could lead to more repair costs in the long run.
The energy inefficiency of houses should be mentioned too. Having to turn up the AC and heater more often is taxing to the environment and the owner’s wallet.
What are the Differences Between a House and a Barndomimium?
Now that you have a good idea of what barndos and houses are in their respective definitions let us take a closer look into their differences.
The figures that show the cost of houses vs. barndos can be misleading. This is because the factors that affect the price tag count on many things, like how you want your home to turn out. To give you an idea, the shell of a barndo is cheaper than that of a house. What you add to the interior can exceed the cost of a traditional home. To put it simply, for traditional houses, a huge chunk of your budget goes to the exterior framing, including walls, windows, and the roof. In barndominiums, you will usually spend more on the home’s interior. Here’s an in-depth guide on barndominium cost if you want to dive deeper.
That said, there are more opportunities to lower costs in a barndominium project. For example, you could lower the cost of your project by up to 50% if you purchase a prefabricated barndo kit and then finish the build yourself or get help from a team of local builders.
I know this is a little unclear, but some rough estimates might help. Barndominium costs typically range from $150.000 to $300,000, while traditional houses can range between $200.000 to $600,000.
Building Materials and Maintenance
Houses are usually built with wood, bricks, and stucco. Barndominiums, on the other hand, use steel, wood, or a mix of the two. Most barndos are primarily made of steel. This makes barndos pretty durable and get the upper hand in terms of longevity. As mentioned earlier, barndos are resistant to common timber-related issues such as rot and termites.
Due to being built from materials popular in commercial structures such as steel sidings and roofing, barndominiums require almost no regular maintenance. This is one major thing that sets barndominiums apart from traditional houses.
Building a home can include things that are not obvious such as acquiring building permits and clearing the land. These things must be included in the planning process to ensure the build is on schedule. In most cases, when all things go well, houses can be built on average from 10 to 16 months. Barndominiums can be done, from start to finish, in 4 months. Of course, these time frames depend on the complexity of the build.
Barndominiums are generally more spacious than houses. With steel as a building material, you can have more open space and go with designs that are not easy to do with wood.
A barndominium’s surplus in space means you could use some room for other purposes. Some people use the room for storage or a shop. You can use it for a home gym, a garage, or anything that fits your lifestyle that you are trying to build around your barndo.
The two different housing styles translate to differences in the lifestyles of their residents. If you want to be closer to nature and live in an open space of vast lands, you will fit right in the barndominium lifestyle. If you are a big city person who prefers living in the suburbs, you would want to go with a traditional house.
What is Better Between a Barndomimium and a House?
Since we’ve covered pretty much everything about the differences between barndos and houses, this should be pretty easy to answer, right? Not quite. The answer to this question depends on things like the priorities, lifestyle, and future plans of the person asking. Before answering this question, let’s review some things that should be considered.
Where you are planning to build your home is a huge factor in deciding whether or not to go for a barndominium. If you plan to live within a big city, there might be places where barndominiums are not allowed. If you want to build in farmlands or rural areas, barndominiums are perfect. No wonder these type of homes are the most popular in states with lots of land space like Texas, Florida, Ohio, Oklahoma and North Carolina.
If money is not an issue, it would make sense to invest in traditional homes. The familiarity of houses gives you a sense of assurance, considering that the construction and design of your home have been tried and tested, unlike something as relatively new as barndominiums. However, if you want to be more environmentally responsible, consider the energy efficiency of your house. Barndos offer superior energy efficiency, although houses can be built to be more energy efficient.
Before making a decision, one important thing to ask yourself is your future plans. Is the home you plan to build just a temporary place to stay, or will it be your forever home? Are you going to need extra space within your house for a workshop or an office home?
These are examples of things you need to consider that would determine the best pick for a house. This is a big decision for you and your family, so the only person who can really answer this question is you. We hope that we have provided you with everything you need to know to make the best decision.
Alternative houses like barndominiums are getting popular not only because many homeowners are in pursuit of lower costs of living and sustainability but many feel the need to innovate and challenge tradition. A quirky home like a barndo offers a unique experience that traditional houses cannot. At the same time, it is accessible to more people because of the opportunity to lower construction costs.
Because of this, people that have given up on their dream homes have found new hope with barndos. Our Pinterest page features a lot of barndominium ideas that you might find interesting. If you are not convinced that barndominiums are a good idea, we can only hope that you have a chance to visit these types of homes and see for yourself the possibilities of the world of barndo living. Alternatively, you can also have a look at prefab homes, shipping container homes and very similar to barndominiums – pole barn homes. As you can see the options in 2023 are endless when it comes to alternative housing.