pole barn homes guide

Pole Barn House Designs & Kits

If you are looking for a simple, cost-effective way to build a beautiful barndominium, one option worth considering is pole barn construction.

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Get our wholesale pricing for all metal building kits.
You pick the manufacturer and company to work with.

  • Average savings of 33%
  • Over 20,000 kits delivered
  • Turn-key construction available

Let’s explain exactly what a pole barn is. We will go over the advantages of pole barns, and break down the costs for you. Finally, we will tell you what you need to know about building your own pole barn house.

What is a Pole Barn House?

A pole barn house is a residential structure that features a series of lumber poles around the perimeter. These poles bear the home’s vertical load. If it is a multi-span design, there may also be poles in the middle of the home. They are normally wrapped in metal exteriors.

What Are Pole Barn Homes

Pole barn houses are also referred to as post-frame homes.

While post-frame construction is typically used to build houses, it has surged in popularity over the past 5 years with the rise of barndominiums and farmhouse builds. Post-frame can also can be used for many other structures. For example, you can find post shed designs. Pole barn buildings work for commercial use as well, particularly in the agricultural sector (no surprise there, of course).

Pole Barn Homes vs. Barndominiums

You are probably wondering if pole barn homes and barndominiums are the same thing. The answer is that they are not, but these are overlapping categories.

We already explained what a pole barn house is. What is a barndominium? It is simply a metal barn that has been converted to serve as a house. Some barndominiums are pole barn houses, while others are not.

You sometimes will encounter posts where people compare and contrast pole barn homes and barndos. In these posts, they are specifically referring to barndos that do not feature post frame construction. 

Why Build a Residential Pole Barn House?

residential pole barn
Red Pole Barn House by © Wick Buildings

One of the main reasons to build a pole barn home is because it can help you minimize your costs. The lumber poles that are used in post frame construction are inexpensive compared to metal components.

Pole barns also are long-lasting structures. It is estimated that most well-maintained pole barns can stand strong for 40 to 60 years. Some pole barns might even last decades longer than that.

Additionally, pole barns share the same benefits of other metal homes. They are fast to build, and thanks to their largely metal construction, they do stand up well to a range of weather conditions while being largely fire-resistant and pest-resistance.

Something else you will appreciate about pole barns is that you can have a clear-span design. If you want large, open, interconnected spaces in your home (as is common in barndo design), you can achieve that type of layout. You do not need interior walls to bear the vertical load.

Pole barns also can feature larger doors and windows than would be possible with some other types of metal homes. This is also ideal for the barndo look.

Does Pole Barn Construction Have Any Disadvantages?

Unlike some other types of metal homes, pole barn houses do have those wood components. Wood, unlike metal, may burn or be munched on by pests. It also is less sturdy, and does not last as long as metal. So, maintenance costs could be higher.

Thankfully, as most of the components are metal, the overall maintenance costs and labor should still be quite a bit lower than they would be for a home built exclusively out of wood.

How Much Does a Pole Barn House Cost?

If you choose post-frame construction for your home, how much will it cost you? Let’s answer this question in detail.

A number of factors can impact the cost of building a pole barn home. But $245,000 is the average cost to build a pole barn house. The average cost per square foot to build a pole barn is $120.

Please note that this is the cost for the home only; the land is not factored into this price.

Pole Barns vs. Pole Barn Homes

“Wait a second,” you might be saying. “Why do I need to pay $245,000 for a pole barn house? I have seen prices as low as $15,000 for pole barns.”

The key word differentiating these two things is “house.” A pole barn is just a pole barn. It isn’t designed for residential use; it is built for agriculture. A pole barn house, on the other hand, is a residence, complete with the insulation, utilities and other features necessary for full-time living.

That is why you cannot expect to spend just $15,000 building a pole barn house. You are going to need to spend closer to that $245,000 average we just mentioned.

Here are some of the factors that can impact the cost of building a pole barn house:

  • Site preparation: If you do not own land already, you will have to start by purchasing a plot large enough to accommodate your pole barn house. Next, you will need to clear obstacles out of the way and level the terrain. While taking care of that, you may need to install utilities (i.e. water, sewer, electricity and cable) and put in an access road if they are not already present.
  • Size: Building a larger pole barn house requires more of a cost outlay. Keep in mind, however, that with a larger home, the cost per square foot is less. So, building a bigger pole barn home can still be cost-effective.
  • Layout: The floor plan for your pole barn house will affect the cost to build it. More elaborate floor plans may require a higher expenditure to complete your build.
  • Permits: There is a fee to obtain the building permits you need, and that fee varies from one municipality to the next. So, your location will have an effect on your pole barn house construction costs.
  • Materials: Both the quality of the materials you choose for your pole barn home as well as their cost at the time that you buy them can affect what you pay to build this type of home. It can be difficult to time the market, but if you are lucky, you might manage to buy your materials when the prices are low.
  • Features: Doors, windows, skylights, appliances and other features can add to the cost of your house.
  • Insulation: Different types of insulation have different costs. The thickness of the insulation also influences how much it costs. Keep in mind that being willing to pay extra for better insulation often pays off in the long run as it can reduce your ongoing energy costs.
  • Finishing: The finishing you choose for your interior and exterior will impact the cost of your pole barn house.

Converting a Pole Barn vs. Building from the Ground Up

You might be wondering if it is possible to save money converting an existing pole barn into a house, rather than building one from scratch.

The answer to that question, surprisingly, is “no.” The cost to convert an existing pole barn is often comparable to the cost for a completely new build.

For that reason, we only recommend converting a pole barn into a home if you have a specific reason for it (i.e. you love the barn and want to save it or live in it for sentimental reasons). Otherwise, you may find it simpler and more straightforward to just build a brand new pole barn house from scratch.

Financing Considerations

Those who are very lucky may be able to pay in full upfront with cash when they build a pole barn house. But the majority of people do not have that kind of money.

Thankfully, you can borrow money to build a pole barn house, just as you can other types of homes (more on that in just a little bit).

The interest rate on your loan is going to have a big impact on your long-term finances, so you should consider it when you are calculating your costs (even though it is not part of the upfront costs). 

How to Build Your Own Pole Barn Home

Now that you understand the costs associated with building pole barn homes, we can go over the basic steps to build your own.

1. Research and planning

Before you even talk to an architect or designer, you will need to do some initial research into the building codes and zoning regulations for the land where you want to build the house.

For that matter, you will need to buy the land if you do not already have it. Once you have the site picked out and you know your local laws, you will be able to come up with a floor plan for your pole barn house that will be up to code and make the best use of the land’s natural features.

If you happen to be an architect, you may be able to make your own floor plan. But if you are not one, you will need to identify an architect or designer who can help you out.

Online, there are pole barn home plans you can purchase that are already finished, or which are easy to customize. But you also can commission an architect to create a brand new floor plan for you.

Make sure you have a prioritized list of home features. The floor plan first needs to satisfy the basic requirements of living as well as building regulations. After that, you can try to incorporate as many of your “wants” as possible.

2. Building permits

Once the floor plans for the pole barn house are done, you can submit your building permit applications. You will need approval before you can proceed further.

3. Financing

Now is the time to apply for the financing you need for your pole barn house construction project. You are in the best position to get competitive rates right now, because you already have the floor plans, the building permits, and the timeline.

Construction projects can sometimes seem “speculative” to lenders, so they usually shy away from people who approach them without concrete plans. If you can show them all of your documentation, they are more likely to approve you at a competitive rate.

4. Preparing the site

The next stage in your pole barn construction project is to prepare the site. We already went over what you might need to do to get the site ready in the previous section on pole barn building costs, so we will not repeat it again here.

5. Build the foundation

The next step is to build the pole barn house foundation. There are multiple types of foundations you can choose from, including a concrete pad, brackets on concrete, pre-cast concrete perma-columns, and others.

As each type of foundation has benefits and drawbacks, you will need to do some research before you can pick the type that will be right for your project. Speaking to an architect should make that step easier. You will choose the type of foundation at the time you are planning your home’s layout and design.

6. Construction

After the foundation is ready, you get to proceed to the most exciting step—building your home! Of course, this is a complex process that involves a large number of sub-steps.

You can order a pole barn kit if you want to DIY. If you are not up for that, you can hire a team of workers to build your pole barn house for you once the components arrive at the site.

A pole barn home is easy to build, cost-effective, and can last for many years without a lot of maintenance. Post-frame construction allows you to create a large, expansive home with an open floor plan and wide windows and doors for that classic barndominium look and feel. If you are ready to take the next steps in building your own pole barn house, click below to request custom quotes from any of our recommended metal building companies.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a pole barn house cheaper to build?

Pole barn homes can be cheaper to build than some other types of metal houses, owing to the posts being made of wood.

Which is cheaper: a pole barn house or a barndominium?

As we explained near the top of this post, barndominium is a broad category of metal homes that includes pole barn houses. So, if you are building a pole barn house barndominium, this question is irrelevant.

But if you are wondering whether a pole barn house is cheaper than other types of metal barndos, the answer is yes, it may be cheaper. This is due to the wood components used in post frame construction.

Are pole barn houses safe?

Yes, pole barn houses are safe to live in so long as they are properly built. Some people think they may not be owing to how rapidly they can be constructed. But it is simply an efficient method of construction. Thankfully, it is also a durable, weather-resistant one. Wherever you are located and whatever types of weather conditions you face, you will be safe living in a pole bar.

Can I build my own pole barn home?

Yes, you can build your own pole barn home. In order to do so successfully, however, you will need the skills, tools and experience required to complete this project. You also likely will need to have some help. Most people will find it easier to hire contractors to build their pole barn homes. If you want to go the DIY route, we can help you save on your prefab kit.

Do pole barns need footings?

Yes, pole barns need footings. The posts are transferring all that vertical load down into the ground. So, they need to sit on footings, or else the soil would give way to the weight bearing down on the poles. Concrete is usually the material used to construct these footings.

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