9 Advantages of Building a Barndominium Home In 2024

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Barndominiums are an increasingly popular new build option for many. If you’re considering a new home, barndos stand out and for a lot of reasons. That’s even true if you’re attracted to the home style for the aesthetic. There are plenty of benefits to building a barndominium. 

In most cases, you’ll get these advantages whether you go with a building kit or a custom designed barndo. However, these 9 advantages of building a barndo assume that you’re using a metal or steel building kit rather than a wood pole barn or custom wood structure. 

1. Open Floor Plans

Barndominiums use either pole barn constructions or steel frames with span structures. This often means that you can have up to 200 feet of building width with no internal supports for the roof – even if you have a multi-story building. That means you get an open floor plan, with no need to constrain your home layout to create load bearing walls. It also means that no matter what you do with the interior, you can always change your mind later. Any wall is removable, so you can adjust your home to meet your needs, whatever those are. 

2. Reduced Build Costs

Barndos are notoriously cheap to build and that often means you’ll save considerably over a traditional stick-built home – providing you’re building it in the same way. For example, a turnkey barndo built using a managed provider will probably cost more than a stick built home you manage yourself. However, 1-1, a barndo is usually about 30% cheaper to build than an equivalent stick built home. That normally starts with the frame, where build costs can be as little as $11 per square foot for the shell (frame, exterior paneling, and roof). On average, you’ll pay about $80-$100 per square foot for a finished barndo (unless you opt for expensive features like basements) versus about $100-$155 for a traditional home. 

Large and reduced finish spaces in your barndo will also reduce total costs. For example, if you have a barndo with a garage and a workshop in the same building, you’ll normally pay about $20-$40 per square foot for those spaces. That means that if you’re putting in a 4,000 square foot barndo, which includes 1,000 square feet of moderately finished (e.g., finished concrete floor, insulated) garage, you can expect to pay about $80-$100 per square foot for the 3,000 square feet of living space, and about $20-$40 per square foot for the garage space. 

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3. Quick to Build

One of the reasons barndos are so cheap to build is because they are fast to build. You can save months on labor time with a barndo. In fact, barndo build times are normally about 8-18 months from permit request to completed home. Or, an average of 6-7 months from breaking ground to certificate of occupancy. That compares to traditional housing build-times of about 12-14 months on average. 

Why the difference? Barndos are prefabricated off site. When they arrive on your lot, all you have to do is erect the building. That can be done in as little as 2 days. In fact, it’s unusual for a building shell including frame and exterior paneling with doors and windows to take more than 2 weeks with a team of 10 people. 

Of course, your location, team size, and building complexity will all play a part. You’ll also have to consider what kind of foundation you need. E.g., a slab foundation is fast and affordable to build but typically has to be laid 1-3 months before you start building. In some areas, you might also need a crawlspace or basement foundation. So, those can add to the build time. 

Still, those same issues will apply to a traditional home, which means the barndo will always be faster. 

4. Durability 

A steel barndominium is always going to be more durable than a wood home. Your barndo features steel columns, steel roofing, a concrete floor, and galvanized aluminum paneling and roofing. If you’ve picked the right kit, you’ll also get flashing on all the seams including the roof to hold the panels down and increase wind resistance. 

That makes barndominiums extremely durable. You won’t have to worry about rot, you’ll have few issues with panel degradation because of sun like you would with vinyl panels, and you’ll have limited maintenance concerns. Barndos may go up quickly, but they’re also built to last. Best of all, most barndominium kits are designed to have replaceable parts, so if something does go wrong, you replace the specific part. 

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Barndos are naturally resistant to: 

  • Mold and mildew
  • Rot
  • Termites
  • Weather damage
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However, you may have risks of rust. To prevent that, barndominiums are sold in galvanized steel and aluminum. This zinc coating protects the metal from oxidation, meaning that you won’t have issues with rust unless acid or physical damage to the panel or column breaks through that. You’ll still want to inspect your barndo for rust at least once a year – but on average, your home will last. 

5. Resistant to Natural Disaster

Your barndo is fire resistant, wind resistant, capable of supporting significant snow loads, and less likely to be damaged in case of a flood. Of course, they aren’t impervious to damage. A barndo without a fire suppression system can still catch fire. However, steel offers significant protection from natural disasters. For example, steel is less likely to catch fire in case of a nearby wildfire. And, issues like termite damage won’t be an issue with a barndo. 

Of course, you can still have water damage, especially to your floor and your drywall. And, you’ll want to occasionally inspect the home for damage because breaks in the seals and coatings can mean rust – which means sanding the issue out and recoating the panel. However, on average, barndominiums offer significant resistance to the elements. 

That’s even true in earthquake zones, where structural steel is the number one choice for earthquake resistant buildings – although you’ll still want to pair it with a steel frame foundation. 

6. Warranty 

Many barndominium kits come with frame warranties of 20-50 years. Some even offer lifetime structural warranties on the steel frame. You’ll also often see 20–30-year panel and roof warranties and 20–60-year paint warranties. This means that barndominiums are guaranteed in ways that almost no other permanent home solution is. You’ll have protection in case something goes wrong. And, that warranty is often on top of existing craftsmanship or workmanship warranties required by law. 

If you have a good warranty, you know your home is guaranteed for x number of years. And, that can be a great amount of peace of mind that you won’t get elsewhere. 

7. Reduced Maintenance

Barndominiums can greatly reduce the amount of maintenance required on the home over traditional housing. That’s one of the reasons why they are so popular as retirement homes. However, they will need some maintenance. For example, you’ll want to: 

  • Clean the gutters
  • Inspect the paneling for rust on a yearly basis 
  • Clean your home 
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On the other hand, barndominiums offer durable and element-resistant panels that are difficult to damage. You might have to take action in case of scratches, rust, or salt damage. However, panels are typically guaranteed for 25 years or more, which means you may be able to simply have the panel replaced. 

That’s also a big difference from traditional vinyl siding which has a lifespan of about 5-15 years. That’s also true with the roof. A metal roof is typically expected to last for about 50 or more years. If you have a more traditional shingle roof, you’ll have to replace it about every 15-20 years. 

Barndominiums don’t mean no maintenance. However, they can greatly reduce your maintenance costs over traditional housing. 

8. Versatile 

Barndominiums are just as versatile as any new build home – but they allow you to very cheaply add in garages and shops. In addition, while the most common barndominium is a single-story structure, there’s no reason why you can’t have a multilevel home or one with a basement. Barndos are flexible and you can essentially do whatever you want with them – including creating a home that looks and feels like a traditional home. Alternatively, you can have a beautiful rustic building that looks like a barn. Or, a contemporary home with vaulting ceilings and lots of windows. It’s up to you, barndos are versatile. 

9. Environmentally Friendly 

Steel is often considered one of the most environmentally sustainable materials you can use for building. While it initially has a high carbon footprint, it’s recyclable, durable, and will typically last for 50+ years. In addition, steel is the most recycled material in the world, which means that if your barndo is ever torn down, you’ll just recycle the steel. 

But, barndos can easily be insulated to be easy (and cheap) to heat and cool. They minimize build times and the impact of building on the environment. And, they can reduce the need for replacing materials over time, reducing waste and increased carbon footprint. 

Essentially, your barndo is one of the greenest building options you can choose. 

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