Barndominiums: Just A Fad or A Wave of the Future?

Tell all ya friends and neighbors!

Barndominiums are just beginning to take off. This new type of home can incorporate both modern and rustic elements for the perfect balance. Whether you’re looking for a vacation home or an investment property, this might be your next home!

DESIGN

What is a barndominium?

With Jordan being a realtor, we talk a LOT about houses and real estate in general.

An absurd, annoying amount, honestly.

With the rising (insane) housing prices, the idea of barndominiums has come up in conversation several times, and it turns out they’re a great alternative. Still, there’s a lot of questions to be answered, so let’s go ahead and dive into that!

What is a Barndominium?

A barndominium, or barndo as they’re sometimes lovingly referred to, is a metal or steel building that has been converted into a liveable space. They have all of the amenities of indoor living space but also offer more flexibility than houses do.

They can be used as vacation homes, primary residences, or investment properties and are popular among people who love the outdoors and want to take advantage of the extra living space a barndominium has to offer.

Barndominiums are frequently barn-to-home conversions, but a growing number are brand new homes built from the ground up. They typically have space for living and working and usually feature a very open floor plan.

This is great for those people who may work in an area like farming or automotive or some other trade that requires a lot of space or a garage type workshop.

The exterior of a barndo can be very rustic and charming, or it can be sleek and modern, depending on your taste. Just like with a new construction home, there are many different floor plans available, so it’s up to your family’s needs and personal preferences when finding the perfect barndominium.

What’s the Difference Between a House and a Barndominium?

There are many similarities between a house and a barndominium, but there are also several differences.

You can build a barndominium to have the same square feet as a house, but in general, most barndominiums have very open concepts because of the way they’re built.

With the rising cost of materials and the crazy real estate market nationwide, building a barndominium can be a very cost-effective way to get your foot in the door in homeownership.

A typical home is built with drywall, insulation, and wood studs. A barndominium is built with metal or steel framing which can be very advantageous in areas that have high winds or are prone to tornadoes or earthquakes.

The draw of a barndominium is that there is typically a very large workspace garage/shop area that is attached and part of the home. Most typical homes aren’t built with this extra workspace in mind.

Is It Cheaper to Build a House or Barndominium?

While cost can vary greatly when building a barndominium, it will be much cheaper to build a barndominium than a traditional home.

According to Realtor.com, in September of this year, the average cost to build a house was $123 per square foot. However, this estimate is way lower than Charlotte, NC, where we are 20 minutes from and where Jordan handles a good bit of real estate transactions.

Even in our smaller town, especially in super desirable neighborhoods like our first investment property, homes go easily for over $200 per square foot. I talk about how thankful I am that we aren’t trying to buy a home right now. Yikes.

But this is also why things like barndominiums are growing in popularity. You’ll most likely run into supply delays currently when trying to build either, but if you’re on a budget, you could probably get more bang for your buck with a barndominium.

With that being said, there are some caveats to cost that include:

  • Your location
  • Cost of materials
  • Demand of materials
  • Whether you build it yourself or you hire a contractor to do the work for you

Regardless, barndominiums can work for many people, but there are some instances that a home just makes more sense.

Let’s take a look at some of those instances now.

What Are Some Reasons to Get a Barndominium Instead of a House?

While barndominiums are becoming more popular, they still have some growing to do before they can stand toe to toe with single-family homes on the market. And there’s nothing wrong with that; it’s just the way it is.

Not to mention, land seems to be harder and harder to come by, which you’re going to need if you’re going with a barndominium.

However, from our previous discussions about the crazy real estate market, you can probably understand why many people look to barndominiums as an alternative.

Some reasons people may want to get a barndominium –

  • The cost of the home is cheaper than a traditional house
  • It doesn’t take as long to build as a conventional house
  • The home is more affordable than a conventional house in terms of the mortgage and monthly payments
  • You’re able to have more space in a barndominium than you would in a traditional house
  • Property taxes and home insurance can be cheaper
  • The exterior of your home can be customized to your liking in a reasonably inexpensive way
  • The interior of the home can be customized to your liking
  • You’re able to live and work in the same space
  • The home is easier to maintain than a traditional house

There are many reasons to get a barndominium, but the main reason is that it just makes sense for your family and your lifestyle.

What is the Average Cost To Build A Barndominium?

Just because a barndominium is a primarily open steel structure doesn’t mean that there aren’t costs associated with it, but the truth is they’re significantly less.

Like building a house, your cost of a barndominium is going to vary based on a few things like:

  • Size of the barndo you want to build
  • Location (since the cost of materials may be higher in some areas)
  • Cost of materials
  • Whether or not you have land already
  • Whether that land is prepped for the barndominium or needs to be cleared, graded, and a foundation poured
  • Whether or not you DIY the process or have a general contractor do most of your work
  • You or your GC pulling permits
  • Interior finishes (cabinets, countertops, flooring, framing, etc.)

All those things are variables, but the steel structure that makes up a barndominium doesn’t vary too much.

Home Advisor breaks down cost well in their post, but the big takeaway is that if you’re wondering how much a barndominium costs to build, you can assume it will be between $50 to $120 a square foot but can be as low as $20 a square foot.

This is significantly less than building a traditional home, which is one reason they’re growing in popularity.

Do barndominiums hold their value?

This is a very valid question because, at some point, the housing market will level out. We don’t think there will be a massive crash like there was in 2008 because there will still be a rather sizeable demand and minimal supply.

However, since barndominiums are relatively new in growing popularity, this is a more challenging question to answer. They’ve been around a while, but people are catching on. The trend has risen nearly 716% in the last five years in search volume on Google! It seems over 165,000 people are searching barndominiums in some capacity every month.

That’s INSANE!

Because they’re metal structures that can withstand any weather, including natural disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes, and even earthquakes, these barndominiums are built for safety, and they’re built to last.

Because they’re built with materials that will last and because land value will most likely not decrease, one can assume that a barndominium will hold its value just like a traditional house or even a modular home would.

Will Banks Finance a Barndominium?

Financing can be a tricky thing. But it’s possible.

Just like you can flip a house with no money, there are ways in which you can get financing for your metal house barndominium!

You can get a construction loan to finance the build, but that may be a bit tough if your home state has more strict mortgage laws in place.

If you have a local bank or credit union that you have connections to, we recommend that you try that route first, at least to have a conversation and open up dialogue about financing.

Many steel companies have full-blown barndominium kits for sale that you can purchase, and they have their own financing, which may be a viable option if you can’t seem to find a bank that’s willing to finance your barndominium dream.

What is a Barndominium Kit?

A barndominium kit is, as you might have assumed, just what it sounds like. It’s a kit that you can purchase from a steel manufacturer that includes everything you’d need to build your own barndominium.

The kit will include the materials to build your metal structure, but it doesn’t cover all of the interior or exterior finishes.

Those you’ll have to purchase separately, so be sure to plan for that when you’re deciding how much money you need to get started.

The cost of your barndominium kit will highly depend on what is available to come in your kit and whether you’re aiming to purchase a more DIY-friendly kit that you can do yourself or whether you’re trying to have a general contractor do most of the work.

How Do I Find a Steel Manufacturer?

Well, steel manufacturers are everywhere, even online.

But, because you’re looking for a barndominium kit and not just steel to build your own structure, you must find a manufacturer who deals explicitly in barndominiums.

Not all steel manufacturers have the capabilities or resources to help you build the type of barndominium you’re dreaming of.

I recommend using Google to search for “barndominium steel manufacturers” or even “barndominium kit,” That will give you a good starting place. I tried this and found several in a few seconds!

Since most are online, they’re available to ship anywhere. Your biggest issue is supply chain delays, especially if you’re trying to do this anytime soon. They’re happening all over the country with all products, and steel home kits are no exception to that.

What are the Negatives of Barndominiums? Are There Any?

While I’ve given so far a great case of why barndominiums are so great, there may be drawbacks that you want to consider. I should also state that one person’s drawbacks may be another person’s main reason for wanting a barndominium in the first place!

Here are a few drawbacks I potentially see:

  1. They don’t quite have the same “feel” as a traditional home, and some people may find that they just don’t fit their needs or wants.
  2. Many people may not want to live in a rural area where barndominiums are more commonly found (although this is changing).
  3. The exterior and interior finishes can be more expensive than what you may find with a traditional home. This is because, again, there’s not as much of a market for barndominiums, so the suppliers are not as established.
  4. You have to be comfortable living in a metal structure! Some people just can’t get past the idea of it, and I get that.
  5. Financing can be a bit tricky, as I mentioned before. This is because barndominiums are still a relatively new product, and traditional lenders may not quite know how to appraise them or finance them yet.
  6. You are “sleeping where you work.” The draw of a barndominium is that you don’t have to go far to your shop or garage to work. Some may love this, especially after the past few years and everyone seemingly working from home, but others like the proper separation of work and home to create a healthy work/life balance.

Again, these aren’t huge drawbacks, but just things to consider.

Barndominium Interior

Barndominium Floor Plans

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For those out there looking for barndominiums, most of us are going to try to find the best barndominium floor plans that will fit our own families.

If you’re not a professional, it may be challenging to understand flood plans initially, but after looking at a few of them, you’ll get the hang of it.

For example, this barndominium floor plan is perfect for a family that likes to entertain. It has an open layout and plenty of space for a large kitchen and living room area.

This barndominium floor plan would best serve a family that can build on their land with several acres that wouldn’t be too close to other neighbors. While the floor-to-ceiling glass windows are stunning, they may not provide the best privacy.

This particular barndominium floor plan has two primary suites, one on the main level and one on a secondary level. This would be good if you needed a place for elderly parents or even teenage children to live and feel like they have their own space.

farmhouse barndominium floorplan
Farmhouse Barndominium Floor Plan via Etsy

If you’re in the market for more of that traditional farmhouse feel, this barndominium floor plan is perfect. This is all on one level and has three bedrooms with a huge open living area, perfect for growing families.

Remember, when looking at barndominium floor plans, you need to make sure the layout will fit your needs. Just like you would with any other home, you need to think about things like how many people will be living in the house, how much space you’ll need, and what amenities are a must-have for you and your family now and as long as you plan on being in your home.

Into more of a cozy cottage feel? I can’t believe that this is a barndominium, but this barndominium looks like a sweet country cottage right off the front page of Southern Living.

It has a large front porch and could be surrounded by beautiful greenery everywhere if you’re a green thumb.

Larger families can still enjoy the benefits that a barndominium offers. This stunning two-story barndominium (Listed as the “Virginia floor plan“) floor plan is over 3500 square feet with four bedrooms and a large area for a shop or garage.

While barndominiums may have a modern look, they can still feel cozy and inviting. For example, this floor plan is designed for someone who would like to be able to host family holidays in their own home with plenty of space to accommodate multiple guests.

This one has a great covered outdoor area that would be great for family movie nights outdoors or entertaining family and friends on cool fall nights around a fire pit.

Barndominium Pictures

But what is a dream without at least seeing what a dream could possibly be? I’ve rounded up some of my favorite barndominium pictures (both exterior and interior), and I have to admit that I’m in love with the rustic yet modern look of them all.

I can’t believe a lot of these aren’t ordinary houses. So much so that I did check and recheck about 100 times to be sure that I wasn’t out here in these streets lying to the masses.

Take a look for yourself and see if maybe, just maybe, a barndominium is in your future.

Exterior Barndominium Pictures

  • teal barndominium with snow on it
  • barndominium exterior picture
  • exterior picture of barndominium with interior lights on
  • black barndominium with black stairs and cedar posts
  • black barndominium exterior picture with adirondack chairs around a fire pit
  • tan exterior of barndominium
  • huge black barndominium exterior picture with 4 car garage
  • black barndominium exterior photo with string lights on porch
  • white barndominium exterior pictures
  • luxury barndominium with swimming pool at night
  • top view of black barndominium and pool

(Photo credit for the exterior photos:

Interior Barndominium Pictures

  • barndominium interior picture with kitchen and 2 story foyer
  • barndominium interior picture with white island and tall vaulted ceilings
  • empty interior of a barndominium with wood walls and ceiling and black beams and trim
  • interior barndominium picture with tan couches and wood floors with tall vaulted ceilings
  • interior barndominium picture with large circle chandelier and brown leather sofas

(Photo credit for the interior photos:

Small Barndominium Pictures

  • modern exterior barndominium picture
  • red small barndominium exterior picture
  • exterior of black barndominium
  • small barndominium picture of exterior

(Photo credit for the small barndominium photos: Metal Building Homes)

So there you have it! A bit of what a barndominium is, some of the different available floor plans, and some pictures of what they could potentially look like.

I hope that this has helped you in some way and that you’re feeling a little more confident about the idea of owning a barndominium. If not, that’s okay too! Sometimes you do research only to find out what you thought you wanted isn’t the best fit for you and your family right now, and that’s fine too! 

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