If you have looked into alternative housing, like tiny homes and shipping container houses, you have probably heard of barndominiums. People looking to build a customized home while keeping costs at a minimum are increasingly turning to barndominiums. In this article, I will lay down everything you need to know about building a barndominium in Alaska.
Table of Contents
- 1 Can You Build a Barndominium in Alaska?
- 2 Alaska Barndominiums Overview
- 2.1 Advantages and Disadvantages
- 2.2 Regulations
- 2.3 Taxes
- 2.4 Insurance
- 2.5 Financing
- 2.6 Builders
- 2.7 Kit Providers
- 2.8 Cost
- 3 Where Can You Build a Barndo in Alaska?
- 4 3 Things to Consider Before Building a Barndominium in Alaska.
- 5 Is it Worth Building a Barndo in Alaska?
Can You Build a Barndominium in Alaska?
You sure can! With long cold winters and short cool summers in Alaska’s arctic climate, barndominiums are ideal since they have excellent insulation. In addition, barndominium living in a place where you can be close to nature is the perfect combo. It is even possible to live off the grid if this is a lifestyle you would prefer.
Alaska Barndominiums Overview
Barndominiums were originally barns repurposed to become actual living spaces. Most of them were made from metal frames and trusses. Today, a barndominium is a term used to refer to houses that have barn-like features externally. They are made from metal, timber, or a mix of both. However, their interiors have all the features of modern homes.
For a more in-depth look into the world of barndominiums, we have a comprehensive Barndominium 101 Guide that can help you get up to speed. For more information and design ideas about barndos, you can take a look at our Facebook page, where we post barndo-related content daily,
Advantages and Disadvantages
Barndominiums come with their advantages and disadvantages. We must review them to help you make informed decisions before starting your barndo project.
- Quicker build time – Barndominiums are quicker to build, though it depends on the complexity of the house. Generally, barndos take half the time to build than traditional stick-built houses.
- Lower build cost – This is easily one of the top advantages of choosing a barndo as an alternative housing solution. They take less time to build, which means you can save on labor costs.
- Easy to customize – The main structure of a barndominium is independent of the inner walls; as such, it is easier to customize the layout and partition the interior as you see fit.
- Multi-purpose – Barndominiumss are generally spacious, so most owners use the extra space for other purposes, such as a workshop, a home office, or a place to run a business.
- Lifestyle – Most of Alaska has a small-town atmosphere making it perfect for the barndominium lifestyle. People are generally friendly in small towns where everyone knows each other.
- Limited resale market – Since they are customized to your specs and the fact that barndominiums do not appeal to the mass market, reselling them might be challenging.
- Limited financing – Although barndos are gaining in popularity, many financial institutions still don’t regard them as houses making it problematic to finance barndos.
- Exterior – The appearance of a barndominium might not be appealing to some. Although there are ways to beautify your barndo’s facade, it might come with additional expenses. If you are looking for inspiration for exterior designs, check our Pinterest page for amazing ideas for your barndominium.
Like all other places, it is important to adhere to state regulations when constructing a barndominium. You should look into the regulations before starting a barndo project because certain counties may not allow it. In Alaska, detached one- and two-family dwellings must comply with the Internationa building code or the International Residential Code.
Consult with the borough building permit office to ensure compliance with the borough-specific regulations.
As with any other housing project, property taxes are determined on the local level. Alaska is the largest state in the US, where only a tiny portion of its land mass is subject to a property tax. The main cause of this is that the smaller incorporated communities don’t have a large enough tax base to support the property tax. The state’s unincorporated areas lack the legal capacity to impose taxes. The number of municipalities in Alaska (both cities or boroughs) where they impose a property tax is only 24.
When determining your barndominium taxes, consult a professional tax assessor to ensure every figure is taken into account.
Although insurance is not required by law, a barndo project involves a huge investment, so it is important to consider getting your home covered. The major risks in Alaska are freezing temperatures and earthquakes. Thankfully, most insurance policies cover damages from frozen pipes and water damage due to system failure. Earthquakes, however, are not included in a standard home insurance policy. Getting one is not a bad idea since Alaska has the most earthquakes anywhere in the country.
ValuePenguin collected thousands of quotes from Alaska’s top insurance companies and found an average of $1,307 per year. However, the price for insuring a barndominium would depend on many things, which are best discussed with an insurance provider.
Getting help from financing institutions is valuable, especially for first-time homeowners, as this helps alleviate the cost involved. Financing a barndominium may require more work compared to regular houses because you may have to look at other places like financial institutions for agricultural projects. Below are some of our suggestions.
Northwest Farm Credit Services
Northwest FCS is a financial cooperative that offers loans to rural homeowners in Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska, as well as to farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses, commercial fishermen, forestry producers, and clients of crop insurance.
Juneau Economic Development Council
A government organization called the Juneau Economic Development Council collaborates with neighborhood farmers and fishermen to acquire funding for a wide range of agricultural projects.
The best way to build your barndominium is to work with a builder with a proven track record of building barndominiums. Looking into reviews from previous clients is key to deciding which builder to go with. Below are some builders we recommend in Alaska.
Alaska Pacific Constructors & Engineers
They are an authorized, independent Anchorage dealer of Capital Steel structures. Specializing in steel buildings, they build various buildings, from agricultural to commercial, including barndominiums.
Alaska Metal Building Erectors
In addition to erecting barndos, they also construct shops, riding arenas, and airplane hangars. They are capable of managing the entire construction process from beginning to end.
Arctic Fox Steel Buildings
Arctic Fox sells pre-fab kits as well as selling and erecting custom buildings. They specialize in steel buildings and give you multiple options for insulation, perfect for the Alaskan climate.
You can look into more builders in a list we’ve compiled for the top barndominium builders that service multiple states across the country, including Alaska.
You have the option to order barndo kits and handle the rest of the work. People often find this to be more cost-effective. However, it does require skilled enough for the job. Below are the kit providers we recommend.
Olympia Steel Buildings
Their steel building kits include everything you need to assemble and develop a functional interior space. Everything comes in one easy box, and assembly only takes a few days.
Sunward Steel Buildings
They are based in Colorado but have experience supplying pre-fab barndo kits in Alaska. Focusing on the durability and sturdiness of their builds, they can build the perfect barndo that can withstand Alaska’s extreme temperatures and heavy snowfall.
You can look at our list of barndominium kit providers for a comprehensive list of companies that ship to most states across the country. Our Facebook group of current and aspiring barndo owners can also give recommendations and answer any questions regarding kit providers.
According to Redfin, the median price for traditional houses in Alaska is $430,000. The average price per square foot is $207. Barndominium costs in Anchorage, Alaska, range from $90 to $103 per square foot. It must be mentioned that barndominium prices depend on factors like design complexity and the quality of materials.
We have a barndominium cost calculator that can help you figure out how much your barndo might cost.
Where Can You Build a Barndo in Alaska?
There are many options for where to build your barndo in the state. You can build in incorporated areas or off-grid in the middle of nowhere. If you decide on a location nearer to nature, you will have to consider getting a fence if you don’t want moose or bears roaming around your yard.
Building in residential zones can be more convenient as the location is more accessible by your builder. The bottom line is that you have the luxury of choosing whichever you want, as there is plenty of land to get around.
3 Things to Consider Before Building a Barndominium in Alaska.
Weather is definitely something you should keep in mind. Alaska is known for its harsh weather, but most people mostly associate it with snow. It is not uncommon for wind speeds to get up to 100mph in the winter. If you are unsure of the weather throughout the year, it is best to ask a local.
Living in a rural area means being near nature and wild animals. While it may sound cool, it might grow tiresome to have to keep your kids inside because a moose won’t leave the yard or a bear keeps making a return visit. In addition, you may also encounter foxes and wolves. You may have to build a fence around your yard for your safety.
Sunlight in the winter
The amount of sunlight you will receive in the winter is another thing to consider. Winter conditions appear in the first weeks of September and last through April. Areas below the Arctic Circle never experience daylight because of the Earth’s axis of rotation, which is away from the sun. Many Alaskan cities only experience a few hours of sunlight each day before darkness descends again. Other towns in the state’s northernmost region experience months of total darkness.
Is it Worth Building a Barndo in Alaska?
Although the weather in Alaska can be extreme, building a barndominium in the state is still worth it. Barndominiums in Alaska are built for durability, sturdiness, and insulation, making them the best shelter in Alaska.
Now that we’ve covered virtually everything about barndominium living in Alaska, feel free to look into our barndominium floor plans for inspiration in designing yours. We have a comprehensive guide on the process of building a barndominium that takes you on a step-by-step process of constructing a barndo from start to finish. The world of barndo living awaits!