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Building a Barndominium in Arizona | Best 2022 Guide

Shawn's white barndominium for arizona state guide
Shawn’s White Barndominium via our Barndominium Living group.

If you’ve always dreamt of living in a barndominium with a sun-drenched desert landscape, Arizona is the state for you. Arizona is also known as The Grand Canyon State because its most iconic natural landmark, The Grand Canyon. 

This article will guide you in your barndominium journey; It contains useful information about barndominiums, the advantages of living in one, and how you can build one for yourself.

Can You Build a Barndominium in Arizona?

Yes, Arizona is a perfect spot for building your barndominium. It is a state blessed with deep canyons as well as high and low-elevation deserts. The state is also dotted with numerous rock formations and volcanic mountain ranges that you can explore during your free time. 

Arizona also has a pleasant climate. It is mostly sunny and dry all year round. Winters are mild, so it is an excellent choice if you hate freezing winters. 

Arizona Barndominiums Overview

When people hear the term “barndominium” or “barndo”, they often think of long rectangular buildings with metal sidings. These buildings are often associated with ranches and farms. Although the old barndominiums are indeed old barns converted into houses, this is no longer the case. The modern barndo is often a new structure made to look like a barn on the outside. When you get inside, though, you might find living quarters, a workshop, or a garage. Some are even large man caves. 

Another distinction between the old barndominium and the new ones is the building materials. Most of the original ones have metal frames, trusses, and sidings. Although metal is still the preferred material for modern ones, it is not surprising to see a modern barndo made of wood or a hybrid one that uses both wood and metal building materials. 

If you are eager to learn more about these amazing structures, we have an Ultimate Barndominium Guide to help you fully understand barndominiums. You can also look at our Pinterest account and its gallery of modern barndominium designs and floor plans. 

Advantages and Disadvantages

Even the best buildings have flaws, and barndominiums are no exemptions. You need to know about these disadvantages to help you find ways of minimizing their unpleasant effects. However, the benefits of having a barndo outweigh these disadvantages, so you’re still getting a better structure than others. 

Advantages

  • They are durable – Barndominiums are durable structures. Unlike concrete buildings, metal buildings are more durable, especially against earthquakes. Metal is a ductile material that dissipates energy from seismic waves. Though only malleable and ductile to a certain degree, It can maintain structural integrity better than concrete. In contrast, concrete is a non-ductile material. During an earthquake, it stays rigid, causing it to break into pieces. This is why you’ll often see cracked concrete walls or broken concrete pieces near buildings after a major earthquake.  

However, this doesn’t mean a concrete building is unsafe during earthquakes. A concrete building can withstand an earthquake as long as it gets built following building standards. It just means that side by side during an earthquake; a metal building will perform better than a concrete one. 

  • They are fire-resistant – A metal barndominium can be a great investment, especially if you live in an area with frequent bushfires, because metals perform well against fire. Unlike wooden structures, a metal barndo won’t combust. Although metal barndos still have wooden components, the wooden parts are minimal. However, it might be a good idea to install a sprinkler system inside your barndo to help contain a fire in case you experience one. 
  • You can build it yourself – If you are an expert handyman, you can build your barndominium. Start by buying a DIY kit from a trusted supplier. Most suppliers also offer services involving the installation of your barndominium shell. Just be sure to have the concrete foundation ready before the delivery of your shell. 

Admittedly, a DIY build will take longer than getting a professional crew to handle the construction on your behalf. This means that a DIY barndominium may not be your best option if you are looking to move in immediately. To accomplish more, try getting your family involved in the construction process. You can also seek assistance from friends. 

Planning plays a crucial role in DIY barndominiums. Once you have the shell installed, start working on the living quarters of your structure so that you can move in and use your barndo even if you’re still working on the garage or workshop section. If you are building without a set timeline, completing the living quarters first means you don’t need to rush the completion of the other areas of your structure. This can also help you save money if you are renting a temporary dwelling while waiting for your barndo to get completed because you can move in while finishing your construction project. 

  • They are cheap – Barndominiums are cheaper to build than traditional homes. They are more affordable because they are less complex than conventional houses. They are easier and quicker to construct, resulting in lower labor costs. They also use fewer building materials. If you buy a pre-fabricated barndominium shell, you can also save on labor costs because it will reduce the construction time. 
  • They are versatile – Barndominiums are versatile structures. Unlike conventional houses that function primarily as dwellings, barndominiums can be multi-purpose. You can build one that serves as a house and workshop. You can also have one that combines living quarters with a spacious garage. The multi-functional nature of a barndominium also makes it an excellent investment because instead of building two structures for different purposes, you can have one building with multiple functions. 

The interior design of a barndominium also contributes to its versatility. Most of them have open-plan layouts making it easier to reconfigure the interiors if needed. Even if you start with a barndo for use as living quarters, you can easily add a workshop section later. Unlike traditional houses with permanent concrete walls, most barndominiums use partitions to separate different areas. This allows you to easily resize a section or create a new one if needed. Sure, you can also resize rooms in a conventional house, but it usually involves tearing down a concrete wall. Not only is it tedious, but removing a wall can also weaken the structure and compromise structural integrity. In addition, it is easier to bring back a partition compared to reconstructing a wall that you tore down. 

Disadvantages

  • They might be challenging to sell – Although more homeowners are considering barndominiums, they still make up a small portion of the real estate market. This means you might find it harder to sell your barndo in the future compared to selling a traditional house. Of course, your barndominium is not the only deciding factor when selling. A barndominium in an attractive location can make finding a buyer easier. 

If you want to find a buyer, be sure you are looking at the right place. Join our Facebook group to connect with other barndominium enthusiasts, and you might stumble upon a prospective buyer for your barndo. 

  • Limited Cellular coverage – One of the downsides of living in a metal building is the poor cellular service that comes with it. A wall made of steel or aluminum can block cellular signals. This affects cellular reception inside your barndominium. You might experience missed messages, and there is also the possibility of dropped or garbled voice calls. This means you might need to take or make calls outside your barndo. 

One thing you can do to improve cellular coverage inside your barndominium is getting a signal booster. Aside from improving your cellular signal indoors, a signal booster device can also enhance the signal to a hotspot device or cellular router. This can increase data speeds so you can stream your favorite series without buffering. 

Regulations

Building a barndominium in Arizona means getting a building permit and adhering to local building regulations. These regulations aim to secure the safety of your builders. They are also in place to ensure that your structure gets built following standards that will make it durable and safe for its occupants.

Counties are free to enact and implement building regulations as they see fit, which is why it is not uncommon to see counties implementing different regulations. This means you should never assume that the regulation you had in your old place will apply to where you are moving. For example, if your barndominium will be in Maricopa County, you need to submit three sets of building plans with your application, while Navajo County only requires two copies. 

To be on the safe side; visit the building and zoning office where you want to build your barndo. This is the only way to ensure you have a complete list of building regulations and requirements. 

Taxes

Paying barndominium taxes comes with owning a barndo, so ensure you are up-to-date with your taxes to avoid penalties. One benefit of building in Arizona is its low property tax rates. In fact, Arizona belongs to the top two states with the lowest property tax rates. Arizona’s median property tax rate is 0.72% of the property’s assessed value. 

Like building regulations, counties have different property tax rates. They also have different means of assessing the value of a property and how much tax the owner needs to pay. Head down to your tax assessor’s office to get an accurate assessment of your barndo’s taxes. 

Insurance

Although insuring your barndominium is not required by the state of Arizona, you might need to get one if you plan on applying for a construction loan. Barndominium insurance is also handy because if your property is insured, your policy allows you to repair damages to your structure in case of fire, smoke, theft, or vandalism. It will also cover damages incurred due to extreme weather conditions like hail or lightning. The coverage also extends to the contents of your barndo. 

In Arizona, the average cost of insuring a house is around $1,216 per year for a property valued at $250,000. Take note that this is just the average rate, and getting a more favorable rate is still possible if you check with several insurance providers. 

Financing

Financing a barndominium is an excellent way to start your construction project, even if you don’t have enough cash. A bank or a lending company can provide you with a loan for building your barndo. Remember that some banks don’t recognize the terms barndominium or barndo, so be careful not to use them during your application. Instead, refer to your barndo as a custom house on a concrete slab or foundation. 

Financial institutions offer different rates and terms to borrowers. If you want the best rates and terms, apply to different lenders and compare their offers. Start with your bank because the approval process may be easier since they already have your financial capacity and history records. 

Galaxy Lending Group

Galaxy Lending Group is a lending company with offices in Scottsdale, Arizona. It also services the states of Oregon, Washington, Texas, and Colorado. It offers loans not just for new home constructions but also for repairs and renovations of existing homes. 

National Bank of Arizona

National Bank of Arizona has multiple locations throughout the state, including Phoenix, Mesa, and Glendale branches. They offer construction loans for both primary and secondary homes. 

First Western Trust

First Western Trust is a lending company based in Phoenix, Arizona. They offer construction-to-permanent loans that borrowers can use to build, renovate, or remodel a dwelling. 

Builders

How long your barndominium lasts depends not just on the quality of materials you use but also on the skills of the builders you hire. This underscores the importance of hiring the best builders in your area to work on your barndo. Look for a construction company with impeccable credentials and years of experience. Aside from possessing the required qualifications, they are often cheaper since they don’t need to travel far. 

Arizona Barndominium Pros

Arizona Barndominium Pros is a contractor specializing in barndominiums. They operate in Tucson, Glendale, Mesa, Scottsdale, and Chandler. 

Desperado Steel  

Desperado Steel provides general contracting and building erection services. They handle the construction of barndominiums, garages, equestrian buildings, workshops, etc. 

Arizona Steel Buildings

Arizona Steel Buildings is a family-owned business in San Tan Valley, Arizona. They handle residential steel buildings, sheds, stables, and commercial buildings. 

Although hiring a local builder can be more affordable, there is no reason not to explore hiring a national builder if you want to. Check our list of the best barndominium contractors that build all over the country, including Arizona. 

Kit Providers

Building a barndominium can be challenging, and you need all the help you can get. Beginning your construction with a pre-fabricated building kit can help you get a head start. 

Bunger Steel

Bunger Steel has been operating in Arizona since 1974. Bunger Steel fabricates steel buildings like hangars, barndominiums, storage facilities, and agricultural buildings. 

Arizona Barndominium Pros

Arizona Barndominium Pros specializes in metal building construction projects. They also supply barndominium kits for homeowners who want to build their own structures. 

Arizona Steel Buildings

Arizona Steel Buildings is a San Tan Valley-based company that constructs steel buildings for residential and commercial clients. They also supply steel building kits to clients. 

AMF Steel Buildings

AMF Steel Buildings is a Colorado-based company that supplies steel buildings to most states, including Arizona. 

Lester Buildings

Lester Buildings is a company that fabricates and manufactures custom-engineered post-frame and steel buildings. If you want to read more about this company, read our comprehensive review of Lester Buildings

Aside from local DIY kit providers, you can also get your kit from our list of barndominium kit providers that sell to customers all over the United States. 

Cost

Building a house costs between $200,000 and $625,000. Although the price can be prohibitive, you can build a barndominium as an alternative, as it will only cost you between $141,000 and $161,000. These estimates are subjective and can be influenced by custom features such as building materials, plumbing fixtures, flooring materials, and roofing materials. The price to build a barndominium also depends on the size of your barndo and your location.

You can also use our barndominium cost calculator to estimate how much your barndominium will cost. 

Where Can You Build a Barndo in Arizona?

If you’re planning to build your barndo in Arizona, your best choices are small rural towns like Sedona, Bisbee, Jerome, and Prescott. Most small towns in Arizona are historical centers and mountain communities that offer a picturesque backdrop to barndos. These areas are also ideal if you love recreational activities like trail hiking, horseback riding, or kayaking. 

3 Things to Consider Before Building a Barndominium in Arizona

There are factors you need to consider as you plan your barndominium. You need to decide on these factors before anything else because they can drastically affect how your structure looks. 

DIY or Contractor

Are you up to building a barndominium, or would you rather leave it to the experts? Constructing a barndo is a huge commitment and will consume your time if you build it yourself. However, a DIY build is an excellent option if you want to conserve money and are not under time pressure. Just be sure you fully understand what you are committing to since you need the requisite handyman skills for this project. 

Hiring a contractor is a more expensive option but a better one if you are not a handyman. This is preferable if you have a full-time job and cannot commit time to build. Lastly, a contractor can finish your barndo faster because that is all they will be working on. Expert builders are also trained to build efficiently and can complete your barndominium on schedule. Visit our Facebook page for more articles about outstanding barndo builders who can help you. 

Your outdoor spaces

Your outdoor spaces are as important as the interior of your barndominium. If you have a large lot, planning your outdoor spaces can improve how your property looks. However, plan ahead so you can outline outdoor spaces carefully. If you want an outdoor pool, leave enough space, so it doesn’t look too crowded. If you’re planning on an outdoor kitchen or dining area, leave provisions for plumbing fixtures, so you don’t need to add them later. 

Single-story or two stories?

While most barndominiums are single-story buildings, you can always build a two-story structure. A single-story building might be enough for all your living spaces if you have a large lot. To maximize smaller lots, a two-story building might be better. It is also important to remember that the number of stories you want will affect the price of your barndo because a two-story barndo requires larger building materials to support the second floor’s load adequately. 

Is it Worth Building a Barndo in Arizona?

If you want a unique building that can take advantage of Arizona’s stunning desert vista, a barndominium is an excellent choice. You can take advantage of Arizona’s countless recreational activities that you can partake in during your weekends or vacations. As an additional incentive, Arizona has low property taxes and can help you accumulate savings in the long run. 

Check our inspiring gallery of barndominium floor plans to help you get started in your barndo experience. Our article about the barndominium construction process is also helpful if you want to know what to expect as you build your barndominium in Arizona.