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Barndominiums | Pros, Cons & Things to Consider

Barndominiums | Pros, Cons & Things to Consider

Although it may have a funny-sounding name, the resulting style of home it represents are gorgeous buildings similar to farmhouses that are versatile in their design and functionality.  

In this article, we’ll explore what a barndominium is, its benefits and downsides, as well as the general cost to purchase one.

We’ll also give you a general idea of things to think about before you jump into buying or building a barndominium, to help you decide if it’s the right choice for you. 

What Is a Barndominium?

Barndominium home in Africa

Rich T Photo/Shutterstock

A barndominium, or a barndo as it is frequently referred to, is the combination of a metal or wood barn and living space. The name comes from combining “barn” with “condominium” and is attributed to a 1989 article that described an equestrian compound in Connecticut.

When the First Barndominium Was Built

Although witty, this style of living used to be fairly commonplace. Historically farmers, homesteaders, and tradesmen lived in the same space that they worked out of, and it was both practical and economical to do so. 

Furthermore, ancient peoples that lived in cold climates needed to keep their livestock warm in the winter and would use the bottom floor of their home as a stable while using the top floor to live in. 

The necessity of a barndominium is not what it once was. However, in recent years, this style of home has become increasingly popular for families that enjoy the rustic look and feel of a barndominium, as well as for people who have large animals such as horses they want to keep close. 

What Makes a Barndominium Special

Inside a barndominium (also called a converted barn, or a barn home)

Mike Higgison/Shutterstock

Barndominiums are incredibly unique spaces that vary in both what they look like and what they are used for. Most are tall and spacious, with the vaulted ceilings of a traditional barn, and are situated on land with lots of open space.

This gives them a unique design that comes with the addition of beautiful land. They are suitable for people who want a flexible, work-home lifestyle.

It may not be a requirement for survival, but it is a nice perk to be able to tend to your animals or go to work without having to go outdoors.

If you don’t require a workshop or stable, for example, you could also use the extra space a barndominium offers by converting into a garage for extra vehicles or using it as a space for pursuing different hobbies. The possibilities are endless. 

Average Barndominium Cost

The cost of a barndominium will depend on many different factors. If you plan to convert an old, existing barn into a living space, you’re looking at building a foundation, interior framing, drywall, installing an HVAC system, insulation, and a new roof minimum.

These costs will add up, however, because the existing structure is already built, you’re still saving money. 

The décor and style you end up choosing such as doors and windows, light fixtures, appliances, countertops, and flooring, will also heavily affect the end price. Other price factors include the following: 

  • Land and location
  • Size of barndominium
  • Electricity and plumbing installation 
  • Cost of labor
  • Cost of materials 
  • Additions like a pool or wrap around porch

Creating a new build will also have varying prices. On average, a barndominium costs anywhere from $30-95 per square foot, which is significantly cheaper than the price per square foot for a regular home.

Buying a new barndominium at roughly 2,000 square feet will cost an average of $220,000. Ultimately, the more grand and elaborate the barndominium design is, the bigger impact it will have on your wallet. 

Barndominium Pros and Cons

Barndominium inside an old wood barn that's now a home

Marilyn Barbone/Shutterstock

Barndominium Pros

Lower construction and real estate costs aren’t the only benefit to a barndominium. They are also affordable in the long-term thanks to how easy they are to maintain.

They are typically made of materials like steel or strong hardwood, which can withstand the wear and tear of daily life and weather. Newly built barndominiums are also incredibly energy efficient thanks to the newer features of doors and windows, as well as perks like solar panels.

This means lower operational costs and utility bills. They are also quick to build or renovate. Many can be built from a kit, which comes with all of the materials you need to create the basic structure.

Even if a kit isn’t part of the equation, the materials and equipment to build barndos result in a quick build that is up to 85% faster than a traditional wood-frame home.  

Finally, barndominiums offer the unique chance to customize your home and ensure it is what you want it to be. From how the acres of outdoor space is used to the type of tile on the bathroom floor, barndominiums are stylish and fun homes to own and personalize. 

Barndominium Cons

As lovely as these homes are, barndominiums come with their own set of disadvantages that need to be considered as well. For one, their metal base, while durable and flame-resistant, is not immune to corrosion.

Some treatments and products can be used to fight corrosive effects; unfortunately, it is a problem every barndominium owner will eventually need to face. 

If you have dreams of owning a home with two or three stories, a barndominium may not be the best option for you. The required materials for a barndominium don’t allow for multiple floors within its walls.

Some people get around this by installing loft spaces to create the illusion of a multistory structure, adding further roominess to their homes. Zoning laws and building codes that typically don’t apply to a typical wood-frame home do apply to barndominiums in many cases.

For example, many cities require sprinkler systems to be installed within newly built barndominium spaces. Finally, although they are popular, particularly in rural areas and states like Texas, they are not widely available.

You may not be able to find a newly-built barndominium of your dreams and likely have to consider building your own or converting an old wood barn instead of buying a new one. 

Things to Consider

Barndominium barn house that's three stories high

Nancy Kennedy/Shutterstock

Whether you plan to build a barndominium from scratch or with a kit, or you want to retrofit an old barn, there are plenty of things to take into account before doing so:

  • Be aware of the cost and have a budget set in stone before building or renovating. 
  • Know what build features you want ahead of time to avoid fees and other additional payments down the line.
  • Work with professional builders, contractors, plumbers, electricians, and HVAC specialists familiar with barndominium-style homes. 
  • Ensure your build is up to code and that it adheres to your area’s zoning laws. 
  • Consider the type of land you’re building on and if it is suitable for your family.
  • Be aware that “barndominium” means different things to different people. You need to be clear with your wants, needs, and intentions when talking to contractors or buying a barndominium. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Let’s take a look at some frequently asked questions about barndominiums:

What is a barndominium?

A barndominium is a style of home either built inside an existing barn, a renovated barn, or is built to look like a barn. They are large, spacious homes commonly found in rural areas where there is a lot of land and outdoor space.

Can animals live inside a barndominium?

Many people have barndominiums that feature their living quarters on the top floor and a working barn for animals on the ground floor. It is not a requirement to have animals to build or live in a barndominium, but many do.

How long does it take to build a barndominium?

Barndominiums are typically quick builds, thanks to the types of material and equipment used. Many companies offer barndominium kits, which come with the necessary materials to create the initial structure. Generally speaking, a new barndominium will take about six months to construct.

How much does it cost to build a barndominium?

Although the cost is ultimately dependent on the size, location, labor and materials, and the final interior design choices, you can expect to pay roughly $220,000 for a brand new barndominium.

How big does a barndominium have to be?

There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to the size of a barndominium. Many are large buildings converted from already large barns. People who like the look and functionality of large structures use this space to house livestock, store vehicles like RVs or ATVs, or use it as a workspace. The size you choose depends upon your personal preferences, along with the needs of your family.

So, What Is a Barndominium?

Barndominiums are an exciting take on traditional homes. They offer low-maintenance, energy-efficient living spaces while embracing the unique rustic feel that has stolen the hearts of homeowners across the nation.

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