Barndominiums or “barndos” are one of the newest, cost-effective, custom home options for home buyers today. And, they are growing in popularity. If you are considering building a barndominium, you should do your homework to see if they’re right for you. Fortunately, everything you want to know about barndominiums has been gathered for you here in this 101 guide. Therefore, you can make an informed decision before building the barndo of your dreams. First, you will learn about construction materials, kits and builders. Next, we’ll discuss floor plans (with examples), finishes, and more. Finally, we’ll cover the cost of a barndominium versus a stick-built home. This guide is rather long, make sure to use the table of contents below to navigate this bad boy with ease.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is a Barndominium?
- 2 Types of Barndominiums
- 3 The Cost of a Barndominium
- 4 Barndominium How-To Guides by US State + Canada
- 5 Barndominium vs Stick-Built, Which is Better?
- 6 Barndominiums vs. Pole Barn Homes – What’s The Difference?
- 7 Barndominium Kits and How You Can Customize Them
- 8 Barndominiums are Energy Efficient!
- 9 Barndominium Floor Plans – We’ve Got Plenty!
- 9.1 One Floor, Two or Even Three?
- 9.2 Size, Size, Size – What Are the Most Common?
- 9.3 Explore Our Floorplans Galore
- 10 Barndo Exteriors
- 10.1 Barndominium Exterior Ideas for Your Inspiration
- 11 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is a Barndominium?
Today’s barndominium describes as a barn-type building built on a steel frame that serves as a fully functional residence. Generally, these houses have all of the comforts of home without the high cost and maintenance of a stick-built home. However, that’s not always been the case. In a word, the definition of barndominium has changed since the term was first coined in 1989.
The Barndominium Isn’t What it Used to Be
Real estate developer Karl Nilsen first used the term barndominium in this New York Times article. It spotlights Silhouette Farm in Colebrook, Connecticut. It was a community built specifically for equestrians and horse lovers. At that time, the term referred to a parcel of land purchased for a home along with land for a horse barn in the same area.
The Now Popular Barndominium
The barndominium has been growing in popularity. It was made more popular by the hit HGTV show Fixer Upper, hosted by Chip and Joanna Gaines. The twosome took a beautiful, old barn and morphed it into a functional living space. As a result, people loved the idea and soon started building them in Texas, Oklahoma, and other states.
Barndominium Sales are Booming
Today you can build a barndominium pretty much anywhere by hiring a general contractor. Also, you can order a shell or kit and finish it yourself. To demonstrate, look at the beautiful used barndominiums for sale on any real estate site. For example, in October 2019 Zillow had 219 used barndominiums for sale in Texas. 5 for sale in Oklahoma, 13 in Arkansas and 4 barndos for sale in Georgia. Further, there were 9 in Alabama, 4 in Louisiana and more pre-owned barndominiums for sale in Missouri, Wyoming, Iowa and other states. And today in 2023 there are even more listings available! Just look at the graph below: since 2018 the term “barndominium” has risen rapidly on Google Trends. This type of home has never been this highly sought after before.
Types of Barndominiums
Barndominiums combine the curb appeal of a stick-built home with the affordable, durable aspects of a metal building. Because of the strength of metal frame and the open concept of the barndo interior, they offer home buyers more than just a custom living space. They offer:
Barndominiums with Work and Storage Space
Barndo homes can be customized to include storage and workspace. For instance, you can build a home to include an indoor garage to store vintage cars, four-wheelers or golf carts. Additionally, these homes can include a space for a home gym, art studio, home cinema or craft room. Or you can always build a separate pole barn garage detached from your main living building if you need even more space for your toys.
Barndominiums with Business Space (Shouse)
The original barndominium was basically a horse stable with a tac room. Thus, the stable was also used to house those who took care of the horses. Nowadays, these homes are popular for combining a fully functioning household with a business area, usually a shop of some sort. Today, these are usually called “shomes” = shop + home, also known as shouses. Therefore, these homes are perfect for running businesses such as home child care centers, auto shops, boutiques, and more. Below is a perfect example of a shome with ample space for your work-related endeavors on the first floor while living comfortably on the second floor.
The Cost of a Barndominium
If you are considering this type of home, you are likely asking, “How much does a barndominium cost?” The answer is that the cost can vary depending on where you build. Equally, using a builder or purchasing a barndominium kit will affect how much you spend. Likewise, hiring a contractor to finish the interior versus finishing the interior yourself, will affect overall expenses as well. As you can see there are many variables that determine the final price, thus answering this straightforwardly isn’t a piece of cake. Regardless of which approach is chosen, the cost comparison of a barndominium vs a traditional home shows that a barndominium might have a lower price tag. If you wish to learn more make sure to read our barndominium cost guide with real-life build examples & cost-saving tips.
Barndominium Construction Market Overview (Updated in October 2023)
Looking at the current market in 2023 it seems, that building a barndominium or in fact, any type of home is less expensive than it was back in 2022, yet still nowhere as cheap as it was back in 2018 or 2019. Here’s why:
- Lumber prices due to the pandemic had gone wild back in 2021-2022 by doubling, fortunately, the post-pandemic period and decreasing inflation have brought lumber and wood product prices down to reasonable rates. At the time of writing in October 2023 according to Producer Price Index, lumber sits at 20% increase as compared to 2019, which is still much better than it was just a year ago (source).
- Iron & Steel Forging prices are just shy away from their peak standing at 191 according to US Producer Price Index. In comparison back in 2019 the index was at 154, which means that it was almost 25% cheaper to forge iron and steel, which is heavily used in the construction industry.
- Iron & Steel product prices reached their peak back in December 2021 at the index value of 433 and currently hover around 325 (Sept. 2023), meaning that steel and iron product prices have come down, yet still nowhere close to what we had back in 2019 (source).
- Inflation in the US was at 7.9% back in February 2022 – the highest since January 1982 (source).
- Inflation in the US currently has decreased to 3.7% which can be seen in lower lumber and metal products price indexes (source).
Overall, materials and labor prices for building ANY new home have increased since 2019 and reached their peaks during the pandemic in 2021-2022. Fortunately, at the time of writing nearing to the end of 2023, it looks like the prices have normalized. Yet, whether it’s a traditional farmhouse or a full-blown two-story metal building home you are looking to build – it’s still going to be more expensive than it was 4-5 years ago. Despite that, let’s have a look if a barndominium is less expensive to build compared to a regular stick-built home read further to find out.
Cost Comparison of Barndominium vs. Stick-Built Traditional Home
The expense of building a stick-built home varies depending on the size of the home and the amenities chosen – just like with any other home to be honest – including pole barn homes and barndominiums. Unfortunately, there isn’t much data yet for 2022 that takes into account the previously overviewed current market situation. Thus to demonstrate we will use data from 2020: for example, building a 3000 sq. ft. regular home in Texas would’ve cost anywhere from $280,000 to $320,000. Of course, a lot depends on the finishes and whatnot – this is a rough estimate for an average house.
In comparison, a barndominium can cost similarly to a traditional stick-built home. We understand, that it’s probably not what you wanted to hear, but don’t get disappointed just yet – there are exceptions. For example, the price tag lowers if you opt to purchase a prefabricated barndo kit or its shell and then finish the house yourself or hire a team of local builders. Obviously, prices do depend on a lot of things when it comes to different prefab kits, but generally, you can expect to save up to 50% by going this route.
Here’s Coty’s Example – 2400 sq. ft. Barndo for $110,000:
Our Barndominium Living Facebook group member Coty decided to build a metal building home without hiring a contractor. And the price from start to finish was only $110,000 back in 2020.
Here are more stats:
|2400 sq. ft. (40×60 with 2 x 10×60 side sheds)
|1300 sq. ft. (960 sq. ft. + 340 sq. ft. open loft)
|$110,000 or $45 per sq.ft.
|Most of the work was done by the owners.
Take a Look at Coty’s $45/sq.ft. Barndominium
If a barndominium kit or erecting one from scratch by yourself isn’t something you’d want to go for, then using a general contractor in your area still remains a go-to option. However, expect to spend a similar amount of money as if you were building a traditional house and expect to pay roughly $100 to $120 per square foot, but keep in mind that it can easily go up to $300 – $400 per square foot. Remember the traditional home building prices in Texas we mentioned earlier? That turns out to be similar for metal building homes (barndominiums) as well. Again, a lot depends on the trim, doors, windows, exterior finishing that you choose, and so on.
Barndominium How-To Guides by US State + Canada
If you’re already planning to embark on the exciting journey of building your barndominium home in one of the US states or Canada, we highly recommend exploring our state-specific guides. These comprehensive resources delve into the intricacies of constructing your dream barndo in each location. You’ll discover valuable insights on local building codes, regulations, and the average cost to build a barndominium.
Additionally, these guides provide recommendations for the best builders in your chosen state, ensuring that you’re well-equipped with the knowledge and contacts needed to make your barndominium project a resounding success. Whether you’re in the heart of Texas or amidst the stunning landscapes of British Columbia, our guides will be your indispensable companions on this exciting journey.
Barndominium vs Stick-Built, Which is Better?
Although you can build a traditional home with energy efficient aspects, few can surpass the energy efficiency of a barndominium. Also, they tend to be superior in strength, durability and ease of maintenance especially when metal siding is used for the exterior.
Building Time Comparison
When building a home, there are several factors to consider. For instance, clearing the land, complexity of the design, weather and building permits will all affect building time. As a result, if all goes well, the time it takes to build a traditional home averages from 10 to 16 months. In comparison, the average build time for a barndominium, from start to finish, is 4 to 6 months. The reason being is, that barndo metal shells and steel frames are premade and thus it can be quickly erected on a concrete slab. Thus, the structure can be up and ready for interior finishing in as little as 2 to 4 weeks for a simple barndo and a bit longer for a more complex structure. Keep in mind, that insulating your barndominium might take an additional week or so before you can move on to the interior.
Remember Coty’s home? It took him 4 months to build his from start to finish! However, do not forget that receiving the right permits, creating and adjusting your perfect floorplan, and getting approval for a mortgage (if one is needed) will consume additional time. Thus, plan your build accordingly.
Barndominium vs Regular Home, Which Lasts Longer?
Longevity is an important factor when deciding to buy or build a regular home or barndominium. Most barndo builders and kit companies offer warranties of up to 50 years for their materials (exterior sheets, frames, etc) which is astounding. When it comes to the warranty for workmanship it tends to be much shorter, usually anywhere from 6 to 24 months, and in most cases, it obviously doesn’t cover force majeure situations.
In contrast, most home builder warranties only cover material and workmanship on the home for 1- 2 years. In addition, some coverage lasts as long as 10 years on major structural elements. But mostly it all comes down to HOW a house was built and WHAT materials were used.
Since barndominiums are usually erected on a steel framing structure they will surely last longer than houses that use timber framing such as pole barn homes. But if you are an average American family – you’d probably move into the next home in the next 5 years, so even 50 years of life expectancy for a barndominum is enough to host 10 different American families during its lifespan.
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Although we argue that a well-built steel building home might last over 100 years with regular exterior and interior maintenance, but no one can guarantee that. As strong and as long-lasting as steel can be, it still is a corrosive material and is prone to rust over a longer period of time, which leads to a loss of structural integrity. If you wish to learn more about such differences and similarities read our barndominium vs house article.
Metal Barndominiums are Usually Safer and Stronger
No matter where you live on the planet, there are always natural weather events to deal with. Some examples being storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, snow and winds. In general, metal building homes aka barndominiums offer better protection from the elements as metal is much sturdier than wood. Plus, metal provides better protection in severe storms and can even stand up to earthquakes and hurricane-force winds.
Equally, a metal home won’t combust as easily as a wooden house. However, bare in mind that fire and extremely high temperatures will likely cause the metal to deform and lose its structural integrity. The good news is, despite heat damage that may occur, a metal home won’t catch and spread fire as rapidly as a wooden structure would. Plus, steel doesn’t attract pests like bees and termites and also a metal barndominium won’t rot.
Finally, metal is less likely to develop mold and deteriorate in the way a timber-framed home would. In other words, if you are really looking to build a fortress – go with a metal framed barndominium!
But if you’re truly concerned about whether or not a Barndominium is safe to live in, then why don’t you try reading our ‘Are Barndominiums Safe?’ article as we explore more of this discussion in a deeper context. Here’s one floor plan engineered to accommodate a steel framed structure:
Barndominium Floor Plan Engineered with Metal Framing Structure
When comparing a barndominium to a stick-built home, you’ll find that barndominiums require much less maintenance. To begin, you won’t need to repaint the metal as the precut sheets are forged in a variety of permanent colors (if you choose to go with metal siding though). Also, you won’t need to replace a shingled roof or vinyl/timber siding when it’s dinged or broken in a storm. You will only need to repaint it from time to time. Generally, a metal building home will save you money in regular maintenance costs compared to the expenses that a traditional stick-built home brings.
Barndominiums vs. Pole Barn Homes – What’s The Difference?
If you have been browsing around online or been actively scrolling through various barndominium Facebook groups, you may have found that barndominiums and pole barn homes can look very similar. And often it is hard to tell which is which. We will keep this short and simple, here’s how to spot the difference:
Metal building homes aka Original Barndominiums – are originally built on a steel framing structure and usually use metal siding for the exterior. These metal columns are usually spaced out 12, 16, or 20 feet apart. These are fixed to a concrete slab.
Pole barn homes – these are erected on timber poles, also known as “post and beam” or “post-frame” structures. Wooden poles/posts are typically spaced out in narrower increments – 8 to 12 feet apart, to better support the whole structure.
Both barndominiums and pole barn homes can be covered in metal siding. Thus, without knowing what structure is hiding underneath the walls it is normal to misuse the correct term. But at the end of the day, it’s not a big deal is it?
We also have a dedicated Barndominium vs. Pole Barns article where we dive deep into the differences between these two, so if you’re still curious about the finer details, then we suggest you read this piece.
2023 Update: Even though what is said above still applies today, it seems to us that the term “barndominium” is becoming more and more fluid regardless of what frame is hiding underneath the surface. Today, a barndominium has become a keyword used to describe the look, feel and style of a home, rather than its engineering properties. Just like we have colonial, modern or craftsman style homes and their distinctive categories, it looks like we can add one more to the list called barndominium.
Interested to learn more about Pole Barn Homes? Visit these articles below:
Barndominium Kits and How You Can Customize Them
As we mentioned previously in the costs section of this guide, barndominium kits are one of the more cost-effective routes to go if you desire a beautiful, custom home. Whether you DIY the interior of the home or hire contractors to do it for you, the cost can still be lower than opting for traditional house. And, with many barndo kit companies available that ship across the country and worldwide (you can even buy them on eBay!), there is an exciting selection of kits to choose from. Read further to learn more about them:
The Basic Barndominium Kit – What’s Typically Included?
There are as many sizes, styles, floor plans and choices of barndos as there are businesses that sell them. Here is a list of the basic amenities most kits include:
- Steel frame
- Roof panels
- Wall siding panels
- Gutters and downspouts
- Colored trim packages of your choice
- All screws, bolts, fasteners, closures, etc.
- Plans and erection drawings
- Engineered drawings for permitting
- Instructions and sometimes videos.
Typically, kits consist of one, two, or three-bedroom layouts. That includes one or two bathrooms, a living room, a kitchen, a dining area, a laundry room, and more. And, let’s not forget the open, towering 9-foot ceilings where you can add beautiful lighting, exposed beams, and other unique features. Of course, this is just a general overview of a regular kit – most companies can customize or even create one from scratch. Whether you need 6 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms, or 2 kitchens and 3 mudrooms – it all can be done. It’s just a matter of your imagination and budget.
Barndominiums are Energy Efficient!
One would think of a large, metal building with 9-foot ceilings would be open, cold and drafty. However, when it comes to barndominiums, nothing could be further from the truth. Conversely, metal framing itself isn’t energy efficient and metal walls can actually lose heat from inside the home. Luckily, barndo kits and builders know how to keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Consequently, you receive lower heating and cooling bills and help the environment.
Alternatively, suppose you’re having trouble with the heating or cooling ends of your Barndo. In that case, you might want to check out our Barndominium Heating and Cooling Guide as we explain the different ways you can moderate the temperature in your own home.
Types of Insulation
Most all kits include spray foam insulation. Nevertheless, when building your barndo, depending on the climate where you live, there are more insulation options for you to choose from.
|Spray Foam Insulation
|Consisting of polyurethane or another polymer, this type of insulation starts out as a liquid. To demonstrate, when sprayed onto the walls of the home, the foam expands, filling every hole, nook and cranny before drying. As a result, spray foam insulation seals out wind, dust, dirt and allergens and even acts as a second, strong shell for the structure itself.
|Rigid Board Insulation
|Rigid board insulation is made from fiberglass, polyurethane or polystyrene. It comes in board form and can be cut to any thickness and allows for a versatile choice in insulation. As a result, rigid board insulation can easily be installed over spray foam insulation, making your home even more energy efficient.
|Batt or Blanket Insulation
|Batt and blanket insulation is what most people envision when thinking of insulation. It often comes in rolls and is yellow or pink fluffy material, covered in a thick paper backing. Chiefly, batt insulation is the cheapest insulation in terms of cost. Moreover, it is perfect for adding an additional layer of protection on top of the spray foam insulation.
|Another, newer option in insulation is called bubble insulation. Made specifically for metal buildings, each layer is composed of polyethylene bubbles that function as an additional thermal barrier. As a result, it stops moisture build-up. also, reflective bubble insulation is a vapor barrier, (solid, non-breathable) product designed to keep out summer heat and keep in winter heat. Uniquely, it reduces moisture condensation and blocks water vapor transmission.
If you want an in-depth explanation about this topic, why don’t you head over to our Barndominium Insulation 101 for a thorough explanation?
Barndominium Floor Plans – We’ve Got Plenty!
When building a barndominium, you are starting with an open space and a completely blank canvas. With tall, dramatic ceilings and room for just about any convenience, the sky’s the limit when it comes to floor plans and interiors. Here’s a little overview of what kind of barndominium floor plans you can find on our website or while browsing online.
One Floor, Two or Even Three?
Barndominiums just like any regular home can come in different shapes and sizes, although notably, the most common shape is a simple rectangle. When it comes to size – these homes are available in the size of a 20 x 30 tiny house and can get as large as a three-story 80 x 140 mansion. It all depends on what you want and how much space you and your family need.
Obviously, the same size one story barndo will cost less than a two or three story one and will take less time to build. Great looking stairs is an extra expense, which you should consider if you’re on a budget. What we commonly see is a 2 story barndominiums, which typically have a great room with a loft above it. So you’d sort of have a half of a second floor for a few extra rooms, which creates that spacious airy vibe, since both levels are connected by more than just a staircase.
Size, Size, Size – What Are the Most Common?
As mentioned previously, the most common shape is a rectangular metal building home. Thus, you will usually find their sizes listed as width x length i.e. 40×60, which equals 2,400 sq. ft. Also, many people choose their barndos by the number of bedrooms they can have.
(Width x Depth)
|30′ X 40′
|1200 sq. ft.
|A small barndominium is great for a small family or a couple. This size usually comes with 1-2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom and generally is one story.
|30′ X 50′
|1,500 sq. ft.
|A 30′ x 50′ barndominium is perfect for a family with 1 or 2 children. It makes a perfect 2-bedroom, 1 bath home in a single or two-story choice.
|40′ X 60′
|2,400 sq. ft.
|This popular size metal building home is spacious enough to have two stories, 3 bedrooms, and 2 bathrooms. This square footage is typically a go to option for many.
|40′ X 100′
|4,000 sq. ft.
|This spacious barndo can be built in one, two or even three stories if that’s what you need. It will easily fit at least 4-5 bedrooms and 3-4 bathrooms, a bonus room, a home office and a large enough garage to store 2-3 cars.
Of course, there are many more shapes and sizes, so don’t take this table for granted. But we are sure that you will bump into one of these sizes eventually. If you are ready to dive into some of the floor plans we have on the website continue reading.
1,695 HEATED SQ. FT. / 3 BEDS, 2 BATHS
2,016 HEATED SQ. FT. / 3 BEDS, 2.5 BATHS, 5 CARS
2,765 HEATED SQ. FT. / 3 BEDS, 2.5 BATHS, 4 CARS
3,192 HEATED SQ. FT. / 3 BEDS, 3.5 BATHS, 3 CARS
Explore Our Floorplans Galore
Barndominiums, whether being erected by a builder or being built from a kit, come with hundreds of different floor plans. Therefore, you can have an open-concept home with dramatic, airy spaces or a more traditional layout with walls and individual rooms.
Interested to Explore More Barndominium Floor Plan Options?
⇩ WE GOT PLENTY! ⇩
If you’re done with your floor planning, then why don’t you check out our various barndominium flooring ideas that you can use to set up your home? Thinking about the type of floor that you’re going to add, like concrete floors, is something that’s worth noting.
Perhaps the metal, ranch-style look isn’t your esthetic. No worries as kits and builders provide options when it comes to the barndo exterior. Therefore, you can easily get the style and look you want along with fantastic curb appeal. In essence, you can choose:
- Brick wrap exterior
- Various styles and sizes of porches
- Stone wrapped exterior
- Vinyl siding
- Cedar or other wood exteriors
Add to your exterior with landscaping, outdoor lighting and trees and you will have the most beautiful home on the block.
Barndominium Exterior Ideas for Your Inspiration
We have a lot of galleries on the website that you can browse and generate ideas for your future metal building home exterior. Take a look at them if you’re up for it:
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Want to know more about barndominiums, where to buy them and how to get financing? Check out these questions and answers.
Where Can I Buy a Barndominium Kit?
There are dozens of sites online offering metal home kits. Some are local, regional and some even ship internationally and worldwide. Here are just a few companies that have barndominium kits for sale. We do not endorse or promote any such companies specifically, but we do write overviews with past customer reviews on the most popular ones:
- Metallic Building Company – company’s overview & customer reviews.
- Kodiak Steel Homes – company’s overview & customer reviews.
- Wick Buildings – company’s overview & customer reviews.
- Elite Metal Buildings – company’s overview & customer reviews.
- Duro Steel Buildings – company’s overview & customer reviews.
How do I Find a Barndominium Builder?
If you’d prefer to find a builder, rather than ordering a kit, you can simply use Google to find one available in your area or you can browse our builders reviews and get to know each company a little bit better before actually calling them.
How Do I Finance a Barndominium?
The best places to obtain financing for your new home are farm credit lenders and local banks. It’s best if you’re already a customer, but it’s not a requirement. According to some barndo owners they have had success going to national lenders for financial help and received it. A lot of barndo homeowners got a USDA loan, but it has its own limitations. We talk more about the whys & hows as well as different types of loan options and eligibility requirements in our barndominium financing guide – make sure to check it out.
Where can I find Barndominium Photos, Ideas, and Inspiration?
Well, our website is a good start… Actually it is a perfect start, because just like this 101 barndominium guide, we have plenty more covering prefab housing, pole barn homes, shipping containers and anything along these lines. If you reached this far in the article, it means that you already saw what we offer: floor plans, inspirational galleries, informational guides, builder reviews and so on – take a minute and browse around!
Additionally, here are more resources to go to:
- Barndominium Living Group – The 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 boards – Click, click, browse 😉 Our Pinterest boards are neatly organized: from the best-looking metal homes to the most affordable. It’s all there.
- Our Instagram page – Scrolling IG on a daily? 1) Discover Barndos 2) Click the link in bio 3) Browse a full gallery of the home you like!