Building A Barndominium In Illinois, IL: 2024 Guide

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Do you live in Illinois, or do you want to? Have you ever thought about building your own home? If so, read on, and we’ll tell you how to build an affordable barndominium, or “barndo” for short.

A barndo is typically a modern structure designed and built in a classic American barn style. Or, it’s a derelict agricultural building tastefully renovated into a sophisticated home with all the modern fixtures.

Generally, the most popular barndos use a structural steel frame covered in steel sidings and roof. However, some manufacturers choose a wooden pole support structure.

Both have pros and cons, but we’ll concentrate on the metal design in this guide, as we believe the steel barndo has distinct advantages. You’ll see why later.

Instead of constructing a conventionally built house or renovating an existing barn, choose a metal self-assembly barndo from one of several Illinois barndominium kit providers currently trading here in the Land of Lincoln.

Some even supply a complete turnkey package and handle everything from design and organizing permits to foundations, assembly, and finishing.

Alternatively, forget all the issues with zoning, building permits, and managing contractors, and buy a pre-owned barndominium in Illinois. You may not have the customization you would get from your design. But it’s much more convenient.

So, why choose to build a barndominiums in Illinois? Well, a barndo’s exterior façade looks suitably rural, doesn’t look out of place in the Prairie State, and will complement the existing agricultural landscape better than a modern house.

So, let’s get on and find out more about barndominiums in Illinois.

Why Build A Barndominium In Illinois? (5 Reasons)

Barndominiums are highly durable and easy to maintain in places with extreme weather conditions like the American Midwest. Snow is commonplace during winter, and there’s plenty of rain during the remainder of the year.

Steel buildings are easy to clean, protect your family and belongings, and are immune to expensive moisture-related damage like mold, mildew, and rot, common in the Prairie State wooden buildings. 

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There are several benefits to building steel-framed barndominiums in Illinois, compared to conventional houses made from masonry or timber-frame.

1. Affordable

Compared to conventional masonry or timber-frame homes, steel barndos are more affordable, allowing many people in Illinois access to home ownership. Constructing a barndominium is relatively cheap, and you won’t sacrifice quality.

Furthermore, the initial assembly takes a short time to complete, saving money on materials and labor. Therefore, lower construction costs allow you to spend more on the finishing touches, features, and fixtures that make a custom home unique.

2. No Mold and Pests

The southernmost part of the Land of Lincoln has hot, humid summers and moderate winters; conditions that insects, rodents, and mold love.

Therefore, wooden buildings often fall prey to mildew, mold, fungi, and pests. These can cause severe damage, requiring continual expensive maintenance.

Steel barndos don’t have this problem, so they are ideal for this state.

3. Quick Build

Illinois has a very variable weather pattern, from rain (32″ -48″) and snow (14″ -38″) to thunderstorms (50 days/year) and tornadoes (35 per year). So, construction projects need quick completion.

Typically, a barndo kit project takes 4-6 months from pouring foundations to moving in.

4. Minimal Maintenance

We’ve already seen that metal barndos aren’t affected by mold and pests, so they don’t need much maintenance and repairs. Also, because of steel’s higher structural strength than wood, metal barndos suffer less weather-related and accidental damage.

Furthermore, an Illinois builder knows what maintenance needs doing, and can repair most problems relatively cheaply. Also, they don’t have conventional sidings like wood slats or other traditional construction materials.

And if the outside gets dusty or grubby after a storm, you only need to clean it with a pressure hose to restore its pristine appearance.

5. Resilient and Robust

Because of the hot, humid weather in the summer and cold winter temperatures, wooden structures suffer from continual expansion and contraction, causing splits and allowing water, wind, and pests to get inside. However, steel doesn’t have this problem.

Furthermore, to cope with the many tornadoes the state experiences, on average, 35 per year, you need a home that can withstand these additional wind loads. The official tornado shelters are usually made from steel.

So, if you have a metal barndo fixed to a suitably designed concrete foundation, you have a private storm shelter that’s proof against most types of weather.

Therefore, considering everything, a metal barndominium in Illinois is more robust and resilient than a comparable wooden structure.

Can You Build A Barndominium In Illinois?

Yes, it’s no problem to build a barndominium in the Prairie State, so long as you comply with the various legal requirements:

  • Comply with zoning regulations.
  • You need a building permit.
  • Follow the local building codes. At present, you can find these on the Capital Development Board website. Currently, there is no statewide building code. However, The State of Illinois General Assembly enacted legislation bringing in statewide regulations effective January 1, 2025.
  • You can only build it yourself if you have a trade license. Your local government specifies the licenses necessary in their Building Codes & Regulations Departments. However, you can hire a licensed contractor and work as an owner-builder.
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Like many other states, the local, state, and federal governments require you to register your barndominiums after completion.

When applying for a zoning permit, you’ll find it difficult in many parts of Illinois to build barndominiums, especially in suburbs and urban districts. This is mainly because the structure looks like an agricultural building.

Therefore, go for rural areas with less strict zoning regulations.

Points to Remember

When looking for a suitable plot of building land in the Prairie State, remember the following points:

Restrictive Zoning

Illinois and most other states have zoning regulations categorizing land as agricultural, commercial, industrial, recreational, and residential.

Therefore, you might find problems if you build in the wrong one, remembering that if renovating an existing barn, it may already be registered as agricultural rather than residential.

Building Codes

Most states, including Illinois, require new buildings and renovations to comply with the local building codes. This ensures a safe home.

UpCodes is a valuable resource for consulting Illinois building codes. However, remember that building codes will be consistent across the state from 2025.

Drainage

Your barndominium needs a connection to sewerage drainage. Generally, you should connect to a septic tank if no drain connections are nearby.

Check with your local municipal building department to confirm septic tank regulations and whether your area allows them.

Off-grid Systems

Some cities don’t allow harvested rainwater as the primary domestic water source.

Consult the International Property Maintenance Code for guidance on this and other possible issues. Then, confirm with your local permit office for confirmation.

Homeowners Associations

The Illinois Common Interest Community Association Act manages and controls the operation of all Illinois homeowners associations.

Check the local ordinances to ensure you can build your barndominium where you want.

How Much Does An Illinois Barndominium Cost?

Let’s assume you’ve set your heart on living in The Prairie State. Now, we must determine if buying a barndo rather than a conventional building is more affordable.

When discussing construction costs, it’s usual to speak in dollars per square foot ($/sq. ft.), so that’s how we’ll talk about the cost comparison in Illinois.

Knowing your budget for buying and assembling the barndo, you’ll learn how much money you have left for the finishing touches and whether you have to compromise somewhere along the line.

Building a conventional house in the Prairie State costs around $280-330/sq. ft. For this amount, you’ll get the bare shell, but you won’t buy the finishing work or any fixtures or furnishings.

All these cost extra but must be built into your overall budget to make your home liveable. This additional work always makes your new home more expensive than you first thought.

In comparison, building a barndominiums kit costs significantly less. On average, a barndo basic structure costs around $220-240/sq. ft. 

For a 60 ft x 40 ft (2,400 sq. ft.) structure, you pay around $672,000-$792,000 to build a conventional house shell and $528,000-$576,000 for a barndominium.

This is a significant difference, and you can immediately see how much money you’ve saved, allowing you to afford the fixtures and furnishings to make your barndominium something special.

Illinois Barndominium Builders

One of the most significant decisions we make when deciding on a barndo is which Illinois barndominium kit provider, construction company, or general contractor should we use?

Everyone is different, and you may get on with one company over another. So, browsing those companies based in Illinois or serving the Prairie State makes sense.

Choosing one over another will make the project sing and impact how you feel about your barndominium. However, choosing one that suits you can be difficult due to the number of companies available.

Fortunately, you can look at a few pointers to help you with your choice.

Reputation

Getting a truthful reputation review can be tricky unless you know someone who has previously worked with this company. However, those companies who publish their customers’ reviews and testimonials are usually proud of their reputation.

The chances are that if someone else is happy with a company, so will you.

Experience

Decide what you want beforehand, whether a steel or wood barndominium, and select a specialized company.

Usually, you can be sure that a specialist will do a better job than someone who does a bit of everything.

Lender approved

Many home loan and mortgage lenders insist an approved company builds your barndo. This ensures they don’t lose their money. So, find out who your lender approves and go for one of those.

Conversely, many construction companies keep a list of finance companies that approve them.

Illinois Builders List

To help you search, we’ve compiled a list of companies that specialize in wood and metal barndominiums and are based in or serve Illinois. The companies aren’t in any particular order.

  • Johnson & Johnson Enterprises builds almost any type of barndominium. Often providing monthly price deals. Address: 1861 Route 37 South, Marion, IL 62959. Phone: 618-995-9243.
  • Cleary Building Corp. helps build barndominiums, offering the Shamrock Service Guarantee on all work. Address: Many bases throughout Illinois. Phone: 800-373-5550.
  • Pinno Buildings and R.A. Pinno & Sons Construction Inc. serve northern Illinois, providing all aspects and turnkey barndominiums. Address: W8856 County Road T, Rosendale, WI 54974. Phone: 888-567-7166.
  • Morton Buildings builds high-quality barndominiums. Address: 252 W. Adams St. Morton, IL 61550-1804. Phone: 800-447-7436. 
  • Sunward Steel Buildings builds barndominiums and other steel structures. Address: 6800 E. Hampden Ave. Denver, CO 80224. Phone: 866-535-8632
  • Timberlyne produces quality timber-framed post-and-beam houses. Address: 613 Hwy 46 E. Boerne, TX 78006. Phone: 877-680-1680.
  • Blunier Builders uses stainless-steel and concrete pier foundations for timber-framed, custom, turnkey barndominiums. Address: 1230 U.S. Highway 24. Eureka, IL 61530. Phone: 309-467-4847. 
  • Rural Renovators build timber post-frame custom barndos & other buildings. Address: 1353 Pine Hill Rd, Franklin Grove, IL 61031. Phone: 815-677-0265.
  • Countryside Builders specializes in post-frame buildings. Address: 7107 Montclaire Ave Hwy 111, Godfrey, IL 62035. Phone: 618-466-6337
  • Greiner Buildings, Inc. supplies Illinois with metal pole-frame buildings. Address: 4328 Walter Payton Memorial Hwy, Kewanee, IL 61443. Phone: 888-466-4139.
  • Lurkins Builders are local leaders in post-frame barndominiums. Address: 1602 E Bowman Dr, Greenville, IL 62246. Phone: 618-781-7672.
  • MilMar Post Buildings offer timber-framed barndos for the Midwest. Address: 7657 IN-2 La Porte, IN 46350. Phone: 260-589-6637.
  • FBi Buildings Inc. provides timber-framed pole-barn custom and DIY kits around the Midwest. Address: 3823 W 1800 S Remington, IN 47977. Phone: 800-552-2981.
  • Titan Steel Structures offers steel barndominium kits in most states. Address: 1280 SW 36th Ave, suite 102, Pompano Beach, FL 33069. Phone: 855-546-0988. 
  • D.C. Builders serves Illinois and specializes in high-quality, timber-framed barndominiums. Address: 11251 SE 232nd Ave, Damascus, OR 9709. Phone: 888-975-2057.
  • Worldwide Steel Buildings, based throughout the Midwest, ideally located to serve Illinois. Specializes in steel barndominiums. Phone: 800-825-0316.
  • Hansen Pole Buildings provides custom pole-barn home kits for Illinois. Address: 12167 Lake Rd Browns Valley, MN 56219-4064. Phone: 866-200-9657.
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Check out our list of barndominium builders in Illinois.

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How To Build A Barndo In Illinois

Constructing a home in Illinois isn’t difficult, and building a barndominium is no different from constructing a conventionally produced house.

You will find the detailed procedures differ because of the unique designs and materials used in barndo construction. However, the protocols governing the procedures remain the same.

Buy Some Land

Choose a building plot to complement your barndo design. Furthermore, ensure you can live with the view from your porch, as you’ll want to spend many evenings admiring the view. Additionally, consider the following points:

  • Is the plot’s access open all year round?
  • Check with your local city hall whether any zoning restrictions are in force.
  • Is the building plot’s area big enough for the barndo, sheds, gardens,  family vehicle parking, and any space necessary for your hobbies?
  • Are the utilities within easy reach? If not, how much will it cost to connect? 
  • Do I need to install a septic tank if the local regulations allow it?

If you’re lucky, everything will be okay.

Choose a Contractor

Use a local builder who has worked on barndominiums previously. Also, remember they must be licensed to work in Illinois and have suitable insurance.

Experienced barndo contractors have expert knowledge to help you choose land and the barndo’s design. Ask the contractor if they have approval from banks and other finance lenders to build residential houses using a home loan or mortgage.

Building Permits

Generally, a general contractor will organize building permits as part of their job if you ask them to do it.

Alternatively, go for a turnkey project from a barndo supplier. They will apply for permits as part of the project.

If you decide to manage the project, you can apply for permits. However, remember that even though other people may apply for them, the licenses are your responsibility, and you are accountable if you don’t have them.

Penalties for building without permits are very severe.

Clear the Site

The work involved in clearing the site depends on its size, the barndo’s floor area, and the chosen foundation type. Foundations and footings need graded land without vegetation or tree stumps.

When you’ve done this, you can also bring in the connections for drainage and utilities ready for connecting later. Alternatively, you can drill a borehole and install a septic tank if the zoning laws allow it.

Foundations

Always hire a structural engineer to design your foundations based on the building codes and your barndo’s specifications. You can have a slab-on-grade, pier-and-beam, basement, or piled foundation, whichever suits the ground conditions and your budget.

Then, excavate the foundation trench to the required depth and width. Afterward, the contractor can install reinforcing steel rebar and pour the concrete to match the foundation design.

Allow the concrete to cure before continuing.

Barndo Construction

When the foundation is ready, depending on the type you have to use, assemble the barndominium kit using the supplied plans. Remember that the footings must adequately support the barndo’s load-bearing walls, with a factor of safety.

Usually, you won’t be allowed to construct the barndo kit without professional help unless you have an appropriate license.

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Depending on the complexity and size of the barndo, it can take three to six months to finish your barndominium home before you can move in.

Zoning And Legal Factors In IL

Zoning regulations ensure you use your land according to the local government’s long-term plan for the area. They are in place to protect all the residents and businesses in your county.

Check that the land you buy already has residential zoning or that you can apply to change it to comply with the land’s new purpose.

Most states require residential owners to comply with local zoning and building code regulations, and Illinois is no exception.

The Prairie State is divided into counties, which in turn are subdivided into municipalities. Each has its local rules and regulations, which you must comply with or suffer fines and penalties.

Zoning Point is a helpful resource for researching your county’s zoning regulations. There’s even a map showing each of the zoning areas and their purposes. Alternatively, you can request a copy from your local zoning board office.

Zoning Assessment

Always check that your county’s zoning rules allow you to build your barndominium where you’ve bought your land. Typically, the zoning regulations restrict the building using the following parameters:

  • Land use
  • House type
  • House use
  • The plot’s area, in square feet
  • The building’s floor dimensions
  • Its height to eaves and ridge

Land Use

Illinois classifies districts into specific zones depending on the kind of property or activity they want to take place within it. However, some counties accept areas as mixed-use, such as small businesses or recreational parks co-existing with residential zones. 

The zones are listed as follows:

  • Commercial
  • Industrial
  • Recreational
  • Agricultural
  • Residential

Each of these may be further subdivided into other classifications. For example, the type of residential property allowed in the area, such as single-story, two-story, single-family, multiple-family, etc.

Potential Issues

Zoning regulations are fixed; they aim to ensure complementary land use within each zone. However, sometimes, this can be too restrictive for the average homeowner. Therefore, you can apply for an exemption by qualifying for a “zoning variance.”

Typically, a zoning variance allows the homeowner to legally not comply with the zoning ordinance if they can prove unusual circumstances make compliance impossible.

For example, a specific zoning area’s category may need to change from agricultural to residential, as in the case of renovating an existing farm storage barn into a residential barndominium.

In this case, the barndo is no longer part of a working farm, so it cannot comply with its current standing classification. If you want local government approval for a change of use variance, use a local real estate lawyer; don’t try it yourself.

Building Codes

Building codes are there to ensure the building remains safe at all times. The regulations apply to commercial buildings and residential properties but are slightly different considering the different purposes.

In our case, the codes ensure the residential barndominium’s structural integrity, fire safety, energy efficiency, electrical safety, etc.

All U.S. states, including Illinois, use the International Building Codes for one and two-story residences when referring to a single-family use barndominium.

However, if the barndo incorporates a small business, those areas devoted to the company must comply with commercial building codes. 

All local municipalities in Illinois have unique building codes based on local conditions and laws. However, effective on January 1, 2025, all codes will be consistent statewide.

Understanding what building permits you need and what regulations to follow ensures your project will remain legal.

Illinois Barndominium Financing Options

Financing a barndominium building project can be challenging as banks and other lenders often don’t understand the benefits of buying a barndominium and its unique nature. However, several lenders will finance barndominiums in Illinois.

So, we’ve compiled a list of lenders you should research to see if your circumstances allow adequate borrowing to finance your project:

Farmers State Bank

Farmers State Bank operates several offices in Illinois, so a branch should be near your home. The bank’s teams know their areas and have good standing in the community.

Without a doubt, Farmers State Bank knows the benefits of living in a barndominium, and this company is an excellent choice for funding.

Address: Various branches, depending on your location. Check the bank’s website for information.

Central Bank Illinois 

Central Bank Illinois has 15 branches and ATMs in the state, so there’s probably one near you. The company handles regular personal and business checking accounts and online banking. But, it also provides mortgage and business loans for its customers.

The bank’s mortgage team knows the area and understands the benefits of barndominiums as a residential property, so financing shouldn’t be a problem if you satisfy the borrowing requirements. 

Address: Various branches, depending on your location
Phone: 309-944-5601

Barndominiums For Sale In IL

Suppose you’ve read everything in this guide and decided that building a barndominium is too much trouble. You don’t want to be bothered with zoning, permits, contractors, and the other complicated stuff associated with building a house.

In that case, why not buy one that somebody has previously lived in? Does it matter if the previous owner’s setup doesn’t appeal to you?

The beauty of a barndo is that the only load-bearing walls are those around the perimeter. Therefore, it’s relatively easy to remodel the interior by moving the partition walls to a layout that suits you.

But, is buying a house cheaper than building one?

According to the National Association of Home Builders, the average cost of building a house in Illinois in 2019 was around $485,000, while buying a similar-sized house could cost $305,000. This price difference would reduce your mortgage by $177,000.

So, why not browse our list for one of our pre-owned barndos that may already have your name on it?

=> Looking for a custom Barndominium floor plan? Click here to fill out our form, a member of our team will be in touch.

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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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