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Building a Barndominium in California | Best 2022 Guide

gray barndominium for california state guide
John’s Grey Barndominium via our Barndominium Living group.

The State of California is an attractive option for those who want to put down roots and are leaning towards barndominiums. California is a beautiful coastal state with fantastic valleys and breathtaking mountain views. It also has lovely rural areas perfect for building barndominiums. 

This article will elaborate more about barndominiums and provide valuable information if you aspire to build a barndo in California.

Can You Build a Barndominium in California?

Yes, you can build a barndominium in California. A barndo is an excellent option if you want a multi-functional building for your personal, leisure, and business needs. 

We will also tell you about California building regulations you should be aware of to avoid snags that might delay your barndominium project. However, speaking with your local building authority is still advisable to get first-hand information about specific building regulations. Local building authorities can also advise you on reliable local builders and suppliers you can partner with.  

California Barndominiums Overview

Barndominiums are barn-type buildings often used as a combination of workspaces and living areas. The original barndominiums are repurposed old barns, but the term barndominium now covers newly-built barn-type structures too. While most barndominiums use steel shells or frames, you can also find barndominiums made of wood or a combination of metal and wood. 

Although barndominiums look unique on the outside, they function like conventional houses or buildings. You can design the interior of your barndominium to serve your needs; the only limitation is your imagination. Check our Barndominium 101 Guide to learn about the different barndominium types or if you’re looking for barndo floor plans to inspire you on this building project. 

Advantages and Disadvantages

Although there are great reasons for building a barndominium, there are also some downsides you should be aware of. Below are some advantages and disadvantages to barndominiums so you can make an informed decision.  

Advantages

  • Shorter construction time – Barndominiums are quicker to construct compared to traditional homes or buildings. You can order a pre-fabricated barndominium kit composed of a shell and a frame you can easily install on a concrete slab foundation. This will help you save time since there’s no need to construct concrete posts and walls that need curing. 
  • More affordable – Barndominiums cost less money to build than traditional homes because they use fewer building materials. Since they are easier to build, you can expect lower labor costs. You can also order just the pre-fabricated barndominium kit and work on the interiors yourself to reduce labor costs. 
  • Easier to customize – A barndominium is an excellent choice if you want to customize your home because a barndominium typically has more floor and vertical space compared to other buildings. The larger floor space gives you more options when it comes to layouts and interior designs. 
  • Easier to maintain – Barndominiums are easier to maintain compared to traditional buildings. Unlike buildings with concrete or brick exteriors, you don’t need to worry about cracks or loose mortar, which might result in leaks and water damage. However, your barndominium needs an occasional fresh coat of paint to update its looks and protect metal components from rust. You might also need to replace dented or damaged metal sidings from time to time.  

Disadvantages

  • Not suitable for all areas – Even if you want to, you can’t build a barndominium anywhere you like. Barndominiums are mostly limited to rural areas. For one, they require large land areas, and it might be challenging to find a large enough land in a city.

Cities also have zoning laws that might prevent you from building a barndominium within the city limits. An excellent example is the city of South El Monte which prohibits the construction of buildings with metal exterior walls or roofs.

  • Limits the number of floors you can have – If you want a house with more than two floors, a barndominium might not be for you. Most of the time, you can only build a barndominium up to two floors high. 
  • Might have limited cellular service – The metal walls and roof of a barndominium might result in limited indoor cellular services. Metal blocks off cellular signals and can cause dropped voice calls or delayed text messages. Poor cellular services can also result from your location, considering that most barndominiums are far from metro areas where most cellular towers are. 

One way to get around this potential issue is to get a booster from your wireless service provider. According to Facebook user BrianGinger W., they live in a very rural area and experienced some issues, but they have a booster which helps a lot. If you are still looking for suitable land for your barndominium, check if you have excellent reception or ask long-time residents to see if other subscribers of your service provider experience poor signal or reception. 

Regulations

Different states, cities, and counties have different and sometimes contrasting building regulations, so familiarize yourself with the building regulations of the area where you want to build your barndominium. Equipping yourself with proper knowledge can help you avoid violations that might delay your construction project or result in expensive fines. 

For example, Imperial County requires landscaping for all residential, commercial, and industrial areas, whereas it is not required in Plumas County. This is critical information because some prospective homeowners don’t factor in landscaping costs in building barndominiums. 

Taxes

In California, the property tax rate is 1 percent of the property value plus the rate necessary to fund local voter-approved bonded indebtedness. There are also add-on barndominium taxes like parcel taxes and Mello-Roos taxes, so be sure to consult the local tax assessor’s office for an accurate breakdown of what makes up the property tax in your chosen county. 

Insurance

Getting barndominium insurance can help secure your property. You can file a claim against your policy in case of damages, total loss, or theft of belongings. An insurance policy can help you repair or rebuild your barndominium without having to dip into your savings. You can use this Homeowners Coverage Comparison Tool by the State of California to compare policies from different insurance providers to help you decide. 

Financing

Financing a barndominium is one of the best ways to get a barndominium project started without exhausting your finances. Be sure to have all the required documents, like your floor plan or a purchase contract with your contractor or builder. It is also better to steer away from the terms barndominium or barndo while speaking with your financial institution since they are not recognized. Refer to your barndo as a custom home in a concrete slab instead. Below are some reputable banks and lending companies that can assist you.

California Bank and Trust

A full-service bank that provides consumer and commercial wealth management services. 

Banc of California

Headquartered in Santa Ana, Banc of California has more than 30 branches in Southern California. Its Banc of California Foundation provides assistance to homeowners who want to settle down in California. 

Northern California National Bank

Northern California National Bank is a financial services provider based in Chico. It offers a wide variety of loans, including auto loans, home mortgage loans, and personal loans. 

Builders

Choosing the best contractor is critical in constructing your barndominium because they can make sure that your barndo looks precisely how you want it. An experienced builder can also help ensure that your barndominium passes the standards of your local building authorities. Builders can also suggest how to improve your barndominium and save money without cutting corners. 

Below are some local companies who can help you build your barndominium in California. 

Neos Construction Company

A construction company that services Southern California, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, Los Angeles County, and Orange County. In addition to installing steel building kits, they also provide remodeling services and construction of additional dwelling units. 

Carl Santos Construction

A construction company based in Sonoma County. Carl Santos Construction builds custom barndominiums as well as storage barns, winery barns, and vintage barns. 

Cleary Building Corp.

A construction company that specializes in the manufacture, delivery, and construction of pre-engineered structures like barns, cabins, hangars, sports facilities, and custom homes.  

If you want to look beyond local builders, check out our list of barndominium builders. These are some of the best builders across the entire US and have multiple branches.  

Kit providers

Some homeowners like to take the DIY route or already have a local contractor and just need a kit provider. You can speak with other barndominium owners to get suggestions on trusted kit providers. You can also ask members of our Facebook group for customer feedback on kit providers to know what to expect before placing your order. 

FCP Steel Mezzanines

A Wildomar-based company that designs and manufactures steel mezzanines, barns, and custom metal buildings. 

Pascal Steel

A construction company based in Encinitas, California. Pascal Steel supplies metal building kits and steel structures.

CountryWide Barns and Buildings

A national supplier of post-frame products. CountryWide Barns specializes in turnkey pole barns, garages, shops, barndominiums, and steel frame buildings. 

Back Forty Building Co.

Back Forty Building Co. offers design and manufacturing services for homeowners looking for steel buildings. Although the company is based in Montana, they serve customers across the US, including California.   

Aside from those mentioned above, please check our list of barndominium kit providers that service and ship to multiple states, including California. 

Cost

Giving an accurate estimate of barndominium costs is problematic because it depends on several factors. However, one thing to keep in mind is that California is one of the most expensive states to buy or build a house. According to an article in Bloomberg, the median price of houses in California in 2022 will be around $834,000. However, this data pertains to conventional homes, which are usually more expensive than barndominiums. 

According to Fixr, the cost of building a house in California starts at $140 per square foot and can go as high as $600. In contrast, Back Forty Buildings, a company that services the entire continental US, estimates that a barndominium can cost you $95-$110 per square foot for a DIY build and $160-$200 if you use a general contractor. 

If you don’t own land yet, that’s another factor you must consider because California’s land is expensive. A USA Today article estimated that an acre of rural land in California costs around $39,000. 

Try our barndominium cost calculator to understand how much your barndominium might cost. 

Where Can You Build a Barndo in California?

The State of California is massive, so you shouldn’t have any problems looking for the perfect area for your barndo. You can also have your pick of valleys, mountains, beaches, and woodlands, depending on the type of view you want each day. Small towns like Ojai, Sonoma, Solvang, and Arcata are excellent areas to build a barndominium. 

3 Things to Consider Before Building a Barndominium in California  

A barndominium is a huge investment, and there are some factors you need to consider if you want your project to be successful. Here are some factors you need to consider before building your barndominium. 

Your land area

The size of your barndo depends on the land you will build on. Be sure to consider setbacks because some counties are strict in this regard. A setback regulates how close you can build your barndo to the property line.  

Your lifestyle

Picture yourself five to 10 years in the future and ask yourself if you will have the same lifestyle. For example, if you see yourself building a pool for your family, plan the placement of your barndominium and leave room for your pool. If you plan on having a large family, leave provisions for more bedrooms and bathrooms. Head to our Pinterest account to see samples of different barndominium designs that might fit your lifestyle. 

Seismic Compliance

California is well-known for its earthquakes, so check if your land is near a fault line. The State of California also has seismic compliance laws to ensure buildings can withstand earthquakes, so be sure to talk to your contractor about making your building earthquake-proof. 

Is it Worth Building a Barndo in California?

California is a great place to build a barndominium. You can build your barndo in a valley, near the woodlands, or along a mountain range. You also have access to amazing national parks and gorgeous beaches. Although the cost of living is higher than in other states, the salary in California is also higher than average. 

To start experiencing the barndominium life in California, check out these fantastic barndominium floor plans to inspire you. Our comprehensive barndominium construction guide is also a valuable resource to help you build your dream barndo in California. 

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Written by Metal-Building-Homes.com

We strive to deliver informational and inspirational content for unconventional homes. From barndominiums to steel-framed modular homes, this is the place to browse if you're looking into untraditional housing options.