Building A Barndominium In Arizona, AZ (2024 Guide)

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When you see pictures of Arizona on television and in glossy magazines, you probably think of deserts where little of interest grows. You’d be wrong.

About one-third of the land is arid, about half is semiarid, and one-sixth is humid. But what they all have in common is the warmth, all year round, over most of the state. 

Phoenix reaches about 65⁰F in January and 106⁰F in July when there are plenty of thunderstorms. In comparison, semiarid Colorado City has January temperatures from 19⁰F-70⁰F and July temperatures of 50⁰F-110⁰F.

So, generally, AZ is a great place to visit and an even better place to live permanently, especially if you own a barndominium.

Barndominiums, barndos, or barn homes are a cross between a condominium and a barn, hence the name. Typically, they’re made from steel, although some manufacturers use wood or mixed materials.

To build a barndominium, buy a barndo kit or renovate an existing farm building and convert it into a high-end luxury residence. 

Building your own home is one of the most satisfying things you can do.

If you construct a barndo, you have the added advantages of affordability, plenty of living space, vaulted ceilings, and an interior design independent of load-bearing walls, because its perimeter exterior walls incorporate the structural parts of a barndo.

Therefore, you can configure the interior exactly how you want using partitions.

So, suppose your hobby is restoring classic autos. In that case, you can have the entire first floor devoted to garaging and restoring, while moving the living spaces to the upper floors. Some barndo owners even keep their horses on the first floor with an equine exercise arena.

How does that sound? You probably couldn’t afford to do this using a conventional house. But in Arizona, with a barndo, you can.

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Barndominiums have become very popular in recent years, especially in rural areas, because of the houses’ large living spaces and affordability.

Arizona is primarily rural, with only about 12% of the state’s population living outside the cities. So, there’s plenty of space still waiting to be bought up, and at a starting price of $4,300/acre, AZ has among the top ten cheapest land prices in the US.

However, these aren’t the only advantages of owning a barndominium in the Grand Canyon State. Below are a few of the other benefits of owning a barndo.

Great Weather

The Sunset State has mild weather all year, so you can build just about any time without stopping for deep snow or too much rainfall.

Open to All

Owning a barndo in AZ is easy for just about everyone. Even if you don’t want to build one, you can still buy a pre-owned barndo. Furthermore, the cost is very affordable, and the USDA home loans are available to anyone who wants help to relocate.

If you have problems saving for a downpayment, Arizona has a state-funded Arizona Home Plus Program, which covers downpayment and closing costs.

Barndos Keep Their Value

Barndominiums keep their value and can even gradually increase. However, at present, the rise may not be as much as a conventional home, mainly because appraisers need other similar properties to compare price rises with.

There are more traditional properties than barndos. But there are so many other benefits this can scarcely matter.

Affordability

One of the reasons homeowners choose a barndominium is because they are cheaper to build than a conventional house. And steel, one of the few endlessly recyclable materials, is among the most inexpensive building materials. 

Barndominiums in the Copper State offer exceptional value for large families and those with hobbies or businesses requiring plenty of space. Barndos also attract lower insurance premiums and taxes.

Energy Efficiency

You may think a metal building would be cold in winter and unbearably hot in summer. But, that’s not the case at all, providing you fully insulate your barndo using spray foam or another high-quality insulation to the required R-Value for your climate zone.

The climate zone and R-Value information on the Energy Star website is invaluable when determining the insulation you need.

Map of USA Climate Zones (www.energystar.gov)
Zone
Add Insulation to Attic
Floor
Uninsulated AtticExisting 3 to 4 Inches of Insulation
1R30 to R49R25 to R30R13
2R30 to R60R25 to R38R13 to R19
3R30 to R60R25 to R38R19 to R25
4R38 to R60R38R25 to R30
5 to 8R49 to R60R38 to R49R25 to R30

Table of Required R-Values. More information on wall insulation levels can be found on Energy Star’s page.

When a steel barndo has the required insulation, you retain the warm air indoors during the winter and cool air in the summer.

Therefore, there’s less stress on the HVAC system, which keeps the energy bills manageable.

Longevity

Steel sidings and roofs need much less maintenance than wood and masonry, so expect the barndo to last 50 years or more with occasional inspection.

Durability

Steel barndominiums are very durable homes. Typically, they’re resistant to:

  • Extreme weather conditions, such as tornadoes and hurricanes
  • Earthquakes
  • Mildew
  • Mold
  • Termites and other insects
  • Rodents
  • Fires

Structural Integrity

Barndominiums have the strength and durability that come from being made with steel.

Furthermore, their structural integrity is greater than that of wooden or masonry homes of the same size.

Customization

Because the only load-bearing walls are those around the perimeter of the building, you can configure the interior as you please without worrying about compromising your barndo’s structural integrity.

If you also wish, you can have the entire first floor devoted to garaging your vehicles or as an equestrian arena, with the family’s living space moved upstairs.

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Alternatively, if you need a workshop or work from home and need space, an open-plan first floor is ideal.

Minimal Maintenance

Steel barndominiums have a structural strength many times greater than wood or masonry, so you need less material to build an equivalent home using other materials.

Furthermore, they rarely suffer weather-related or accidental damage, and steel is impervious to insect pests, fungi, and rodents. Also, steel doesn’t suffer from the continuous expansion and contraction cycle that wood has when exposed to changes in humidity and temperature.

Therefore, the surfaces don’t need regular repainting and staining like other materials. Overall, these structures need much less maintenance than conventionally built houses.

Land Price

The price of land in some areas of the US makes building a barndo prohibitive.

However, in Arizona, among the country’s top ten cheapest land prices, you can generally buy an acre of building land starting at around $4,300. 

Easily Built

Steel barndos are manufactured in a factory and delivered to the construction site for assembly. Therefore, all the pieces easily fit together without the complications of traditional building materials like wood frames or masonry, which are cut to fit on-site.

Typically, a barndo kit takes about half the time necessary to build a conventionally built house. So, depending on the size and layout, the time from laying foundations until moving in can be around six months compared to over a year for conventional homes.

Is Constructing A Barndominium Allowed In Arizona?

Definitely, yes. However, there are a few provisos.

Building a barndominium in the Grand Canyon State requires compliance with local zoning regulations and building codes. That’s unsurprising, as this is the case across the country.

But you should realize that, unlike some states, the laws may vary depending on your county, town, or city.

Furthermore, each neighborhood has its local Homeowners Association, which also has its own rules. The Arizona Homeowners Association has a useful website full of helpful information that is essential to know. 

Don’t imagine that all of Arizona outside the cities is arid desert; there are plenty of forest regions that are pleasant to live in. But, you might find the zoning regulations stricter in these areas. 

Zoning Regulations

Before starting a barndo construction project in AZ, research all the zoning regulations and other rules in your area and understand them thoroughly. This is very important because if you don’t comply, the local authorities can shut down your work until you have corrected the mistake.

Some areas restrict the type of building you can build and its usage. Some also limit the building’s footprint.

You should also find out if your property has a residential zone or if it allows agricultural/residential combinations. If you aren’t sure, contact the office to find out which class your barndo is in. 

Building Codes

Building code compliance ensures the structure is inherently safe to live in.

To ensure this, use licensed professionals who know the area’s requirements. Contact an architect or general contractor who will be very familiar with building standards in Arizona State.

For your research, UpCodes is a valuable resource detailing the building codes of Arizona.

However, the city of Phoenix has unique regulations. So, if you’re outside the city, check with the local government office to determine which codes apply to your barndominium project.

Choosing the Ideal Location

When choosing the right location for your new home, consider factors such as:

  • Views and scenery
  • Schools
  • Hospitals and healthcare
  • Recreational amenities
  • Accessibility
  • Zoning regulations. Check with the local town hall to understand all the building codes and zoning requirements.
  • Choose an appropriate county. The top three counties in Arizona for building a barndo are Maricopa, Yavapai, and La Paz, and these links take you to their county zoning websites. Although these counties hold all the major cities, they also have plenty of rural lands full of natural beauty. And don’t forget the Grand Canyon.

Utilities

Confirm with your local zoning board the utilities you must have for your property. If you haven’t got the relevant connections nearby, you must account for the extra cost in your budget.

Alternatively, some counties allow a property to install a septic tank, drill a freshwater borehole, and install solar photovoltaic electricity generators. Check the regulations to determine what you can do before purchasing the land.

A real-estate attorney will probably be the ideal person to find this information.

Estimated Cost For An Arizona Barndominium

The cost of an Arizona barndominium construction project varies depending on the size and complexity of your barndo design. These factors include labor, land price, style, materials, building permits, zoning, and ground conditions.

Typically, expect to pay between $115 and $250/sq. ft. for a barndominium compared to a conventional house costing $150-$500/sq. ft. or more. Therefore, a regular 60 ft. x 40 ft. (2,400 sq. ft.) barndo structure may cost $276,000 to $600,000. 

However, spending a bit more can buy high-end kitchen cabinets, countertops, appliances, etc.

Alternatively, spend less, and you can buy a shell and finish the interior with the help of a local contractor to your tastes and within your budget.

Barndominium Kits

If you prefer buying a basic barndo kit for your Arizona dream home, you can often buy one for between $20,000 and $110,000. 

Assembling it with a local contractor’s help will probably cost between $20,000 to $65,000 for additional labor. 

Foundations and Land Clearance

Before building any house, you must grade the land, clear the soil of vegetation and tree roots, and dig foundation trenches. Typically, land clearance costs around $1,000-$5,000, depending on the amount of vegetation present and the plot size.

Then, excavate and pour the concrete foundations to comply with the structural engineer’s calculations submitted with your building permit applications. Typically, a foundation may cost up to $20,000. 

Additional Items

To make your barndo habitable, you must also pay for the following extras:

  • Drainage – Up to $10,000
  • Electrical – $2,000-$4,500
  • Plumbing – $2,000-$3,000
  • HVAC – Up to $15,000
  • Insulation – Depending on the R-value specified in the building codes, $2,000-$4,000
  • Roofing & sidings – You must pay extra if these don’t come with the kit. Typically, sidings may cost up to $25,000, and a roof may cost up to $20,000.

11 Trusted Barndominium Builders In Arizona

Barndominiums require less time spent on design and erection, producing a finished home for around half the cost of a conventional home build.

Although it’ll pay you to try and do some of the work yourself if the lender and City Hall allow, hiring a professional will give you better value for money.

The following 11 companies supply or work on barndominium kits for Arizona residents. Research them to find a contractor that suits your circumstances. 

  1. Absolute Steel specializes in agricultural and barndo kits, delivering some in 2 weeks. However, there’s minimal customization and no foundation, erection, or finishing services. Address: 5806 E. Mineral Road, Guadalupe, Arizona 85283. Phone: 480-768-1618
  2. Arizona MD Barn Company builds steel agricultural barn shells, allowing you to convert yours into a residential barndo. They also offer customized residential features like doors and windows. Address: 6209 E Juniper Avenue Scottsdale, AZ 85254. Phone: 480-767-0884
  3. Bunger Steel designs and erects steel barndo kits. Address: 8112 West Buckeye Road Phoenix, AZ 85043. Phone: 800-328-6437
  4. Desperado Steel is a prefabricated steel building company specializing in barns, garages, and barndominiums. The team also takes on foundations, interior finishing, and project management. Address: 13794 W. Waddell Rd. Suite 203 #301 Surprise, AZ 85379. Phone: 602-466-0955
  5. Southwest Building Solutions is a metal building prefabrication company offering custom barndominiums, turnkey installations, and barndo kits in Arizona. Address: 9299 W Olive Ave STE 213, Peoria, AZ 85345. Phone: 623-505-3179
  6. Portal Peak Builders offers metal post-frame barndos and barn-home shells. The team also constructs foundations but does not finish the build. Address: 4453 S Sauk Ave, Sierra Vista, AZ 85650. Phone: 520-234-7803
  7. Timberlyne Barn Homes provide high-end all-wood barndominium kits. The company doesn’t offer erection or finishing services. Address: 116 West 1st Street, Wayne, NE 68787. Phone: 888-489-1680
  8. Country Wide Barns supplies and installs prefab wood and steel barn-homes or barndominiums. The team also provides basic interior finishing and foundations. Address: 1020 Industrial Dr #20, Pleasant View, TN 37146. Phone: 800-615-9720  
  9. Rhino Steel Buildings provides prefab metal barndo kits customized to your liking. They do not handle foundations, assembly, or finishing. Address: 4305 I-35 North Denton, Texas 76207. Phone: 940-312-7646
  10. Elite Metal Buildings offers barndo kits, some with three-week delivery. However, you have to arrange erection, foundations, and finishing. Address: 6224 E Encanto St Mesa, AZ, 85205-5958. Phone: 800-348-1305
  11. Western Steel offers built-to-order barndominiums with erection services. Also, the team provides mixed materials. Address: 1441 W. Ute Blvd. Suite 360, Park City, UT 84098. Phone: 800-763-0461
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View the list of barndominium builders in Arizona in complete detail here.

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Steps To Erect A Barndo In Arizona

Ordinary people usually avoid organizing a project like constructing a barndo, primarily because they don’t know where to start. Generally, the detailed procedures should be left to professionals as they need specific skills to comply with the building codes.

However, the overall protocols are relatively easy to understand, and even if we hire a general contractor to manage the project, it’s sensible to appreciate what’s going on.

After all, we’re the people footing the bill. So, let’s look at each step and try to understand what’s happening.

Find a Building Plot

Finding the right plot for your dream home takes time and patience. Don’t rush headlong into buying the first plot you see, as there’s often something better just around the corner.

Use a realtor and tell them what you need and your price range. When you find somewhere, ask yourself if it’s the place you want with the best view available for your budget.

Hire an attorney to find out if anyone has lodged plans with City Hall that may affect your property or if there are any restrictive zoning regulations you don’t know about. The last thing you want is for the fantastic vista you overlook to be replaced by a meat processing plant or a new housing complex.

When you’re satisfied that nothing untoward is on the horizon, choose your barndo’s design and ensure it blends in with the existing scenery.

Also, as Arizona is mostly rural, you’ll probably find your “farm building” complements the landscape perfectly.

Hire a Construction Company

Use the methods outlined in this guide to find a building company that knows about barndos or post-frame construction methods.

Ensure they are licensed to work in Arizona and hold appropriate insurance. Ask the contractor what barndominium experience they have and if they’ve previously worked with any mortgage lenders.

Alternatively, if you’ve already selected a bank to provide your home loan, ask them if they recommend local contractors. Using a lender-approved contractor will smooth the way and make loan approval easier.

Organize Building Permits

Before buying your barndo kit, find out which building permits you need to buy. Although you can do this yourself, it’s often easier to ask the general contractor or barndo kit manufacturer to ensure the design covers all building codes.

You must submit plans to City Hall, with the structural engineer’s calculations and design for the foundations. So, the regulations will be easy for a professional to sort out, not an amateur.

However, remember that building code compliance is down to you. To avoid hefty fines and other penalties, ensure everything is in order before you start the project.

Remove Undergrowth & Grade the Soil

Before starting on the foundations, remove all vegetation and tree roots that may interfere with construction. Furthermore, grade the soil to remove steep slopes and prepare the barndo footprint.

Often, this can be a lot of work depending on the plot’s slope, ground conditions, amount of undergrowth, and number of trees.

It’s a good idea to bring in the utility connections at this point to have essential power, water, and drainage available for the workforce. Also, contractors already have excavators available, so it’s easier to make utility trenches while on site.

Excavate & Pour Foundations

You already have the foundation plan designed by the structural engineer. So, the next phase is to excavate and prepare the oversite and foundation trenches to the desired depth.

The foundations depend on the property’s size and weight, the land gradient, the water table, building codes, and soil conditions.

Furthermore, the Planning Department has approved these calculations for this particular location. So, ensure your excavations match the engineer’s design precisely.

Theoretically, you have the choice of various foundation types:

  • Piled
  • Slab-on-grade
  • Pile-and-beam
  • Basement

However, the available real-life options depend on the location’s ground conditions. These will be specified in the building codes. So, don’t be surprised if City Hall has limited your foundation type to one or two from the list or maybe decided on a hybrid foundation.

After you’ve excavated the trenches and oversite, pour concrete of the appropriate strength to the design depth. Finally, allow the concrete to cure before assembling the barndo’s structure.

Barndominium Assembly and Finishing

The barndo kit comes with all the components ready to assemble. As we’ve already discussed, the perimeter walls are the load-bearing part of the structure, so they must be securely fixed to the foundation, usually by steel stubs embedded in the concrete.

See also  Top 15 Best Barndominium Design Software: Free & Paid

Generally, it’s sensible to use professionals when assembling your barndo. However, with contractor supervision, the local building codes may allow DIY assembly. Check with City Hall before attempting this stage, as you may require specific licenses.

We always recommend using professionals with the necessary skill set and appropriate insurance.

Furthermore, the lender may need assurance that their money is safe. So, don’t be surprised if they insist on an approved and insured contractor for each stage of the construction.

When you’ve assembled the structural frame, install the roof, sidings, doors, and windows to keep the interior weatherproof. Then, complete the work by finishing the interior.

Generally, if all goes well, and depending on the size and complexity of the barndo design, expect to be moved into your new home around six months after the foundation stage. 

Arizona Zoning and Legal Considerations

Before starting your barndominium project in Arizona, always consider the legal aspects of your project, as you may hit an obstacle that delays the work, sometimes for months, if not years.

Local, state, and federal laws govern all construction projects in the Copper State, laid out in the building codes and zoning regulations.

Building Codes 

All US states abide by the International Code Council and use building codes to ensure the building is safe for use and comply with local laws. Arizona is no exception to this. Furthermore, some codes are consistent across the entire State of Arizona.

In contrast, local government enforces others at a county and city level to consider the varying local conditions across the state. Generally, if your barndo is entirely residential, you must comply with the residential building codes.

However, suppose you intend to run a business from all or part of the premises. In that case, those parts must comply with commercial or industrial codes.

Generally, the residential building codes ensure safety and law compliance in many categories including, but not limited to:

  • Energy efficiency
  • Structural safety
  • Fire safety
  • Electrical safety
  • Plumbing
  • HVAC
  • Mechanical safety
  • Storm shelters

There is an online resource available for you to consult. The UpCodes entries for Arizona are helpful and give the researcher access to the list of building codes applicable in the state.

However, always contact your local Planning Department for more information relevant to your unique project, as some listed codes may have changed and not been updated online yet.  

Zoning Regulations

If building codes ensure a safe and legally complying structure, the zoning regulations maintain the local government’s long-term plan for the area.

Zoning rules allocate purpose to specific zones within the region and support the zones to benefit all residences and businesses.

Zoning regulations specify what and where you can build depending on your property type, size, and purpose. Typically, the local zoning board establishes rules the town enforces, and you must comply.

However, sometimes, issues with a category may need addressing, and the board may allow you an exemption.

Ensure your building plot has residential zoning suitable for the type of barndo you want to build. If not, apply for a variance to reflect its new purpose.

If in doubt about your plot’s zoning category or need other help with zoning matters, contact the planning inspector at your local planning or zoning department.

Land Use and Zoning in AZ

Arizona’s zoning boards categorize districts in the county for specific use.

Typically, some main zoning classifications include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Recreational
  • Retail
  • Commercial
  • Light industrial
  • Heavy industrial
  • Agricultural
  • Residential

Zoning Assessments

As we’ve already said, zoning regulations specify what you can build and where to maintain the county’s plan. Therefore, ensure your building plot has the correct zoning category before you purchase.

If it hasn’t, consult an attorney about applying for a variance to change it to the proposed classification.

Generally, the zoning laws restrict your plot to the following:

  • Your building plot’s purpose
  • The plot’s dimensions and area
  • The property’s floor dimensions
  • What is the property’s type and purpose?
  • How high are the property’s eaves and ridge?
  • What is your property’s position relative to neighbors and public boundaries?

Potential Issues

The zoning regulations benefit all residents and businesses in the area and restrict properties and their use to ensure complementary land usage within the zone. However, sometimes, you may want to change the zone’s category.

For example, something that often happens with barndominiums is that the existing farm building is currently on agricultural land, but you intend to restore the barn to a purely residential property.

In such cases, you must change the zoning category from agricultural to residential. Therefore, the owner must apply for a “zoning variance” to allow them to legally non-comply with the existing zone.

Usually, the zoning board grants a change of use for the owner, as the barndo cannot remain in its current classification. It’s a good idea to hire an attorney to apply for the variance as they have experience in zoning regulations.

Financing Solutions For Barndominiums In Arizona

If you already use a local bank in Arizona, apply for a home loan for your barndominium project. However, don’t restrict your research to this word as many people know them by other names, such as barndo, barn home, post-frame, Shouse, and Shome®.

If you don’t have an AZ bank or your existing bank’s home loan terms are too restrictive, there are two finance companies currently offering construction-to-mortgage home loans:

Farm Plus Financial

Farm Plus Financial, trading as FarmLoans.com, offers ranch and farm loans across the US, including Arizona.

They know about barndominiums and can offer everything you need to fund your project if you’re eligible.

Email: contact@farmloans.com
Phone: 866-929-5585

Western Banks

Western State Bank, or Western Banks, has seven Arizona locations offering construction loans to help build or buy your dream home.

The bank also provides FHA, USDA, and VA loans.

Address & Phone: Various locations

Government Funding Sources

The federal government has home loan programs to help those not eligible for regular bank mortgages because they’re on a low income or can’t raise a downpayment.

For example, the VA home loan is to help current armed forces personnel, veterans, and spouses own a home.

Alternatively, the USDA home loan helps those on very low incomes who can’t afford a downpayment to buy or build a barndominium in less populated US states such as Arizona.

Remember to satisfy their stringent criteria to qualify for any federal or state home loan.

Available Barndominium Listings In AZ

After reading everything, you may decide that building a barndo isn’t for you. Perhaps you are too busy or can’t cope with the potential hassle of dealing with contractors or City Hall bureaucrats. If this sounds like you, then don’t worry.

You can buy a pre-owned barndo built by a previous owner. Even if you don’t think you can live with another owner’s room layout, remember that the only structural walls are those around the perimeter.

Therefore, you can rearrange the interior partitions to suit your family’s lifestyle without compromising the barndo’s structural integrity.

If you prefer to buy rather than build, look at our lists of pre-owned barndos. There are plenty available in AZ, and you’re sure to find one that suits your preferences.

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Adam Marcos

Adam Marcos, a veteran with 25+ years in custom home building, now serves as Managing Editor of BarndominiumZone. He passionately helps people on their journey of creating their dream barndo homes, offering valuable insights and practical advice. With a warm and approachable demeanor, Adam inspires readers to embrace unique living spaces that reflect their aspirations. Join him on a transformative adventure, turning ordinary spaces into extraordinary havens of creativity and fulfillment. Experience the magic of bringing visions to life, one barndo at a time.

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