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The Rise of Barndominiums

Have you considered a barndominium as an option for your new home?

Hearing the word “barndominium” can be enough to throw you into the void of confusion, especially if you’re not familiar with the various types of buildings out there. Although the word was not so popular a while ago, it has started to gain some traction lately.

If you thought that barns are only home to horses and cows and such, think again. Barndominiums, have become a popular option for homebuyers looking for an alternative to traditional stick-built new homes.

So, what are barndominiums and why should you consider them? Here is all you need to know.

What Are Barndominiums?

The word “barndominium” itself is composed of a play of two different words, respectively “barn” and “condominium”. Also called “barndo” for short, the meaning of it is a metal/steel building that has been turned into a living space.

The term “barndo” has been around perhaps a decade, but the definition has changed dramatically from the early years. Back in the day, the name was given to barns that were transformed into living spaces for people. Barndos today can range from very basic to very intricate builds including foam insulation, plumbing, energy-efficient windows, vaulted ceilings and the list can go on.

Some barndos remain true to the original design of having a barn-looking exterior with simple living quarters inside that are a small portion of the square footage. In these designs, the living space shares space with oversized garages, shops or even livestock sheds and stables, all under the same roof. Other barndo designs are more of a metal-framed home with a barn outer façade, with most of the interior space devoted to living space and storage.

Plenty of Flexible Design Options to Choose From

Probably one of the biggest qualities of barndominiums lies in their versatility. Their design is open and customizable, making them fit for many purposes.

Back in the day, when the plans and prices of a barndominium were very limited, such construction was considered nothing more than a pole barn with integrated living quarters.

However, as they became more and more popular and people saw their true potential, today you can choose from hundreds of designs. You can opt for one with a tiny 700 square feet bedroom or for barndominiums that incorporate a full shop and more than five bedrooms, for example.

Therefore, with so many options you can choose from, the costs of such a building will always vary – basically, the costs are determined by what the owner specifically wants.

Once an owner decides on the desired square footage, the options for designing the inside structure are virtually unlimited.

One Barndominium enthusiast built a two-bedroom, two-bath barndominium that adjoins a covered riding arena with shared roof.

Another homebuilder said a barndo was a “practical, efficient, low-maintenance” option for his family’s weekend hunting retreat. The 40-foot-by-70-foot building encompasses four bedrooms, two baths and large living spaces, with plenty of room for an oversized garage for the family’s toys.

Another barndominium owner’s design features his and her offices, four bedrooms and large living spaces in a two-story floor plan, with plenty of parking for RV and vehicles under the same roof.

And states away, a barndo owner opted for a single-story open design with a gourmet cook’s kitchen, connected to a 1,500-square-foot gym space.

They Are Easy to Construct

Nobody likes to wait an eternity until they can move into their new house. Luckily, barndominiums are very easy to build, and the process will be quick.

Of course, you can seek the help of a contractor to help you out, but if the thought of spending more money is not appealing to you, you can do it yourself. There’s the advantage that material kits for these houses are already available, making your task much easier.

Additional Space Can Be Added

Another great benefit of barndominiums is how you can increase the available space when you really need it. Basically, it makes it possible for you to add some walls to the space thanks to its design, or you can leave it open if that is what you want. Isn’t it great?

Basically, barndominiums are all about the spaciousness of design. They come with high ceilings, a feeling of spaciousness, and with an uninterrupted flow of light and air. As mentioned, you can arrange the inside of your barndominium however you want to, without having to worry about things being too cramped, stifled, and crowded.

It’s Durable

Everyone looks for durability when it comes to their home. Fortunately, barndominiums can give you what you want. A barndominium is sturdy and offers protection against certain elements. At the same time, it won’t rot and will keep pests away. You can rest assured that you will enjoy this building for a while.

Moreover, a metal barndominium comes with benefits that will make you worry less about the building’s maintenance:

  • Protection from the elements – as metal is sturdier than wood, it provides better protection in case of storms and is capable of withstanding even earthquakes.

  • A structure that does not combust – obviously, your metal barndominium will never catch on fire, even though extremely high temperatures and fire may deform the metal.

  • Amazing strength to weight ratio – even though tough and sturdy, metal is light. Therefore, you can expect reduced material transportation costs, including an assembly process that is not as labor-intensive when compared to traditional homes.

  • No more pests – as mentioned before, the metal structure of a barndominium will never be damaged by pests. Your frame will always be in perfect condition, as bugs won’t be able to chew through it.

  • No rotting – when it comes to wooden structures, mold and moisture are two of the things you never want to be faced with. You must continuously work on preventing and avoiding them so that your home doesn’t get damaged. Naturally, a metal structure doesn’t come with such issues, making it easier to maintain as well – the result is a building/ structure with a longer lifespan.

  • Insurance costs – with a barndominium built of steel or other metals come much better rates from your insurance provider.

Calculating the Cost of a Barndominium

When looking at the costs of a conventional home, the latest figures for building are around $290,600 – in short, $145 per square foot for a 2,000 square foot building. Obviously, these costs can go lower, down to $115 per square foot in case of a modest 1500 square feet building – totaling around $172,000.

If you were to ask for the price of a particular barndominium in terms of design, the answer will always be “it depends.” This is because, nowadays, such a building can be whatever you want it to be.

The cost for a barndominium can range from $90 per sq. ft. up to more than $150 per sq. ft., depending on what is included in the home. You can have custom cabinetry, granite countertops, marble bathrooms, custom floor finishings — the list goes on. Or you can have the very basic of builds, at a lower cost.

As mentioned before, the costs of a barndominium vary quite a lot, depending on what the owner wants to do with it. However, if you want to calculate the total cost of a project, all we have to do is to take 3 variables – the delivered price of the barndominium kit, the price of the finishing materials (paint, drywall, cabinets, insulation), and the labor costs.

Naturally, the sum of these three variables will be the total cost of the project – the kit price plus the material cost plus the labor cost.

They Can Come in Cheaper Kits as Well

If you choose to build the structure of the barndominium from scratch, you’ll have to pay around $20 per square foot. Finishing and slab commissioning will round the sum up to $80 – $90 per square foot.

However, you also have the option to buy a prefabricated barndominium kit, which can save you up to 50% of the total costs of building one from scratch.

Moreover, there are metal building companies that will sell you a bare-bones shell of a barndominium for only $10,000 for a 900 square feet kit. When they deliver the shell to your lot, they’ll offload the frame in big pieces – the only thing left for you to do is to make sure that the slab agrees with the dimensions of the kit.

On the other hand, there are barndominium kit companies that will provide you with more than just the shell of the building. For example, the big companies out there offer stained concrete floors, exterior doors, an engineered concrete slab, spray foam insulation, a continuous roof, as well as energy efficient windows. In some cases, you may even choose the quality and the number of windows.

In short, buying a kit will reduce the costs of building your barndominium, really making it the most cost-effective way to build a home.

Before You Start Building a Barndo

Do you think a barndo might be right for you? First decide who will be involved in the construction. Look for a builder with experience in metal construction or consider what you can do on your own. An option is to hire a metal building company, a help-you-build contractor or a custom builder with metal building experience.

You can check Pinterest for design ideas or better yet, tour other barndominiums to get design and finish out ideas. Make sure you hire somebody that is familiar with building houses or other finish outs, inside of steel building, and do your research. Try to tour a few and pay close attention to how the framing and steel shell interact.

You also need to research financing options. If you don’t plan to pay cash, look for lenders who are open to financing non-traditional construction.Generally, that will be those that keep their mortgages in house.

Financing is available for barndo builds, although financing is sometimes limited to Farm Credit lenders and some small, local banks. Larger commercial banks aren’t interested in barndos, as they are seen as unconventional builds and are not able to be sold to the secondary mortgage market.

Final Thoughts

As they are gaining more popularity by the day, many people are seeing the potential of barndominiums and decide to invest in them too. As you were able to see, there are many benefits associated with these buildings, so you should give them a try.

In the end, the fact that you can design the interior of your home just the way you want it while preserving its feeling of spaciousness is something most homeowners want. With a barndominium, you’ll have this opportunity as well as more than just a few benefits – a safer, more durable home, with low costs of maintenance.

As mentioned, given their increase in popularity, we can expect to see more and more barndominiums, and we can be sure that there won’t be two that look the same on the inside. As they say, it’s not the shell that matters – it what's inside and, in this case, around it, matter more!

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