what is a barndominium

What Is A Barndominium? A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners

Barndominiums have gained popularity over the years as an alternative to traditional suburban homes. This trend, which emerged in the early 2000s, involves converting old barns or sheds into unique and rustic living spaces. Many people are drawn to the idea of owning a barndominium due to the customizable nature of these structures, allowing for a perfect blend of functionality and style.

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These homes provide a spacious, rural charm without breaking the bank on mortgage payments. Known for their durability and customizability, barndominiums cater to individual preferences and meet the specific needs of the homeowner source. Both nostalgic and modern in design, these structures stand the test of time while offering a versatile option for those seeking a unique living space.

Barndo Definition & Origin

A barndominium is a versatile, cost-effective, and innovative living structure that combines elements of metal building with living quarters, and often a workshop or garage. The term “barndominium” originates from merging the words “barn” and “condominium.” While some barndominiums are actual barn-to-home conversions, a growing number of them are new construction projects designed from scratch.

Materials and Construction

Barndominiums are typically made from metal frames or steel, offering strength and durability. The exterior is often clad in metal panels, while the interior can be customized to suit various styles and preferences. The construction of a barndominium typically involves:

  • A strong metal or steel frame
  • Metal panels for the exterior
  • Insulation to maintain comfortable temperatures
  • Drywall for interior walls (optional)
  • Customization of interior design and layout

The use of metal materials makes barndominiums cost-effective, as well as resistant to external factors, such as extreme weather conditions and pests 2.

Pros and Cons

Some of the pros of barndominiums include:

  • Affordability: Generally, barndominiums cost between $50 and $200 per square foot, with an average of around $120 per square foot. This makes them more affordable compared to traditional home construction styles.
  • Customization: Barndominiums offer a high level of design flexibility, as homeowners can customize the interior layout and style based on their preferences and needs.
  • Durability: Metal structures are sturdy and long-lasting, providing protection from external factors such as weather and pests.
  • Energy efficiency: Proper insulation and the use of metal materials contribute to better energy efficiency, leading to lower utility bills and a smaller environmental impact.

However, there are also some cons associated with barndominiums:

  • Financing: Obtaining financing for a barndominium construction project can be more challenging compared to traditional home loans, as not all banks or lending institutions may be familiar with this type of property.
  • Resale value: Given their unconventional nature, barndominiums may have limited resale potential or appeal, potentially affecting the return on investment.
  • Noise: Metal walls may not provide effective sound insulation, which could result in more noise coming from both inside and outside the home.

Barndominium Styles

Barndominiums have gained popularity as an alternative to traditional homes, providing a unique and customizable living space. In this section, we will explore different aspects of barndominium styles, including floor plans and layouts, exterior and interior finishes, and energy efficiency and eco-friendly options.

Floor Plans and Layouts

Barndominiums offer a range of floor plans and layouts that can be tailored to fit the specific needs of the homeowner. Common features include open-concept living and dining areas, spacious master suites, dedicated utility and storage areas, and customizable spaces such as lofts or game rooms. Since barndominiums are built on a steel frame, they can easily be designed to accommodate large spans without the need for load-bearing walls. This allows for flexibility and customization in designing the interior layout.

Exterior and Interior Finishes

The exterior of a barndominium can be finished with a variety of materials to suit the owner’s aesthetic preferences. Some popular choices include metal siding, brick, and stone. The roof styles commonly found in barndominiums include the classic gambrel roof and gable roofs. Additionally, windows and doors can be chosen to match the overall design theme of the home.

Interior finishes in a barndominium are just as diverse as those found in traditional homes. Homeowners can choose from a range of flooring options, including hardwood, tile, or polished concrete. High ceilings, exposed beams, and rustic elements such as barn doors and farmhouse sinks can be incorporated to add character and charm.

Energy Efficiency and Eco-Friendly Options

Barndominiums have the potential to be energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. Insulation plays a crucial role in ensuring that barndominiums are energy-efficient, so homeowners should carefully consider insulation options such as spray foam or blown-in cellulose. Choosing energy-efficient windows, doors, and appliances can also contribute to the overall efficiency of the home.

In terms of eco-friendly options, some homeowners may opt for solar panels, rainwater harvesting systems, or geothermal heating and cooling systems. By combining a suite of energy-efficient features and eco-friendly options, barndominium owners can not only enjoy lower energy costs but also reduce their environmental impact.

Barndominium Costs and Financing

How Much Does It Cost To Build A Barndominium?

Barndominiums are a popular housing trend that blends the practicality of a barn with the comforts of a traditional home. The cost to build a barndominium can vary, but typically falls between $50 and $200 per square foot. On average, homeowners nationwide spend around $265,000 to construct a barndominium, depending on factors like size, materials, and location.

Price Factors

Several factors can influence the cost of building a barndominium, such as:

  • Size: Larger barndominiums require more material and labor, which increases the overall cost.
  • Construction materials: High-quality or custom materials like insulation, siding, and roofing can increase the price.
  • Location: The cost of labor and materials may be higher in some areas, affecting the overall project cost.

Comparison to Traditional Homes

Barndominiums can be more affordable than traditional homes due to their efficient use of materials and simpler construction process. They often require fewer internal support structures, which can reduce construction time and labor costs. Additionally, the open-concept design and flexible floor plans can save on costs by reducing the need for specialized materials or custom features.

Barndominium Kit Prices

Barndominium kits, pre-engineered packages that include all necessary materials to build the structure, are a cost-effective alternative for individuals looking to save on construction costs. These kits can range from $5,000 to $60,000 or more, depending on the size and design options. Utilizing a kit can save time and reduce labor expenses, as they come with pre-cut components and comprehensive assembly instructions.

Financing Options

Securing financing for a barndominium can be more challenging than a traditional home, but there are still options available. Banks and lending institutions may require additional documentation or appraisals to approve financing, as they may be unfamiliar with the unique aspects of barndominiums. Some options for financing include:

  • Conventional loans: Traditional mortgage loans may be available for barndominiums if the borrower meets the lender’s qualifications and requirements.
  • Construction loans: These short-term loans can cover the cost of construction and can be converted to a long-term mortgage once the project is completed.
  • Home equity loans: If you own your land, you may be able to use the equity to secure financing for your barndominium project.

When seeking financing, it’s essential to work with a lender who understands the unique aspects of barndominiums and their construction process. Discussing your project plans in detail will help increase the likelihood of approval and ensure smooth sailing throughout the construction process.

Legal and Regulatory Considerations

When planning to build a barndominium, there are several legal and regulatory considerations to take into account. These include zoning and building regulations, insurance, and taxes.

Zoning and Building Regulations

Before starting your barndominium project, it is crucial to check the zoning and building regulations in your area. These rules vary depending on the location and can determine whether or not you can build a barndominium on your property. Make sure to:

  • Consult with your local zoning and planning department.
  • Obtain the necessary permits for your project.
  • Follow guidelines regarding setbacks, height restrictions, and other construction requirements.


Securing insurance for a barndominium can be challenging since these structures often combine residential and commercial elements. It is essential to discuss your project with an insurance agent to:

  • Understand the coverage options available.
  • Ensure your barndominium is adequately insured.
  • Obtain any necessary riders or endorsements to cover specific features like workshops or business operations.


Property taxes for barndominiums can also be complex due to their unique nature. Factors like the size, location, and percentage of the home used for business purposes might impact your taxes. It is essential to consult with a tax professional to:

  • Determine the appropriate valuation of your barndominium for tax purposes.
  • Claim any applicable deductions, such as those for home offices or depreciation.
  • Properly report any income generated from the commercial aspect of your barndominium.

Understanding and addressing these legal and regulatory considerations will help ensure a smooth, successful barndominium project.

The Construction Process

Selecting a Reputable Builder

When selecting a builder for your barndominium, it’s crucial to choose one with a good reputation and quality workmanship. Look for builders with positive customer reviews on online forums and testimonials from past clients. Ensure that the builder you select provides a written contract, estimate, and warranty to protect you in case anything goes wrong during the construction process 1.

Timeline and Construction Stages

Building a barndominium involves several stages, each with a distinct timeline. The construction process typically includes the following steps:

  1. Site preparation: Clearing and leveling the land for the foundation.
  2. Foundation construction: Pouring the concrete slab or setting up pier and beam systems.
  3. Framing: Erecting metal or wooden beams to support the structure.
  4. Roofing and siding: Installing weather-resistant materials, such as metal roofing and siding, to protect the building from the elements.
  5. Wiring, plumbing, and HVAC: Installing necessary electrical, plumbing, and heating and cooling systems (2).

Each stage may take anywhere from a few days to several weeks, depending on factors such as weather conditions, availability of materials, and the builder’s expertise.

Best Barndominium Builders

To make the process of finding a credible builder easier, consider creating a list of the top barndominium builders in your area. This can be accomplished by reviewing customer reviews, asking friends or family for referrals, or consulting online resources such as MetalBuildingHomes.org, which was the first website to offer listings of reputable builders and barndominiums for sale across the US.

Remember that the success of your barndominium project relies heavily on the builder you choose. So, it’s essential to conduct thorough research, gather multiple estimates, and ensure that the builder you select has a proven track record of quality work and satisfied customers.

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