Building A Coastal Barndominium: 8 Things To Consider (2024)

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Barndominiums are quickly becoming one of the most popular new-build home options in the United States.

That often chalks up to the fact that you can build them quickly and at an average of 30% less than a home of equivalent size and interior quality with a stick build.

If you’re concerned about getting your money’s worth, the barndominium, with its reduced build costs and an average of a 50-year structural warranty certainly makes sense.

That’s also true if you’re building on the coast, whether your permanent home, a vacation paradise, or a retreat to spend the rest of your days after you retire.

Coastal barndominiums continue delivering no matter what you’re building. 

Still, there are plenty of things to consider. You have to look at the environment, the noise levels, and the ground. You’ll have to watch out for pitfalls, make sure you’re making the right choices for your environment, and plan your building around your coastal region.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can get your coastal barndominium project off to the best start. 

Why Build A Barndominium In A Coastal Area?

If you intend to live on the coast, you need a home there. Those homes are often in high demand, might not have all of the amenities or the layout you want, and may not even have the location you want.

Choosing to build your own is always going to be part of owning a home. Plus, there’s nothing quite like choosing your property, planning your own home, and then bringing that vision to life to create a home that is uniquely yours. 

If you’re on the coast, a barndominium is a uniquely good fit. Here, you can benefit from factors like fast build times.

Barndos can often go from erection to finished build in as little as 6 months. That means you’ll save costs on having an erection and construction crew out at your probably not very centrally located lot. You’ll save a lot on erecting the building. 

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Barndominiums are also highly durable. Steel buildings make a very popular choice for coastal areas because they can be constructed to withstand even very high winds.

It’s normal to see barndominiums with a wind rating of 170 miles per hour or more. That means your structure is protected, even in the face of hurricane-force winds. 

Barndos are also extremely durable. That means your coastal retreat will be there for you for decades to come.

Barndos are low maintenance, so you’ll spend less of your time caring for your dream home, even around rough weather and strong coastal winds, and more time enjoying your shelter. 

8 Things To Consider When Building A Coastal Barndominium

If you’re planning to build a barndominium on the coast, there’s a lot to consider. Here, you’ll mostly want to consider exactly where you’re living.

For example, the specific challenges you’ll face will be very different if you’re building in Rhode Island versus Washington state. However, you’ll almost always have the following considerations to keep in mind when building a coastal barndominium. 

1. Wind Rating 

Most coastal areas experience heavy winds, even if you’re not in a hurricane area. This means you’ll want to pay attention to the wind rating and the warranty on your barndominium.

You might also want to take steps to windproof the design and build of your barndominium to ensure it’s durable and stable no matter what comes. 

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For example, you’ll want to consider: 

  • Wind Rating – Barndominiums typically start with wind ratings of resistance up to 120 miles per hour. You can also get a barndominium with a wind resistance rating of 170 miles per hour or higher. Here, the higher the wind resistance rating, the better. You’ll also want to check local regulations. The roof will also always be more important for wind rating than the siding but you want both. 
  • Shape – Coastal buildings should be lower than barndos that don’t have to manage coastal winds. Here, you’ll typically want to look into lower sloped roofs with a pitch of 6/12 or less. Choosing a hip rather than a gable roof will also reduce wind shear. You’ll also want to reduce roof overhangs or remove them wherever possible. 
  • Flashing and Sheathing – It’s important to use seamed or overlap seam paneling to reduce wind tears. Here, you normally install flashing over the seams to prevent wind from picking up the corner of a metal panel and ripping it off. 
  • Impact Resistant Windows and Doors – Choosing impact-resistant windows and doors ensures that the weakest points in your building are still durable. In addition, you’re recommended to opt for single garage doors to reduce potential wind damage

Wind can be a lot, no matter which coast you’re building on. However, barndos, with their sturdy steel frames and durable metal flashing, are an ideal choice for standing up to it. 

2. Corrosion Resistance 

If you’re living by the ocean, you’re living in conditions where the ocean is a part of your life. That also includes in the air.

Coastal regions can have significantly higher percentages of highly corrosive salt in the air than any other region. That means your buildings are more likely to risk corrosion damage.

No matter which coastal region you’re building your barndominium in, it will have building codes outlining the types of materials you can safely build with. 

However, it’s also important to keep corrosion resistance in mind when you’re choosing your barndominium. That means paying attention to the metals you choose.

For example, galvanized steel is the strongest choice for most paneling indoors. However, corrosive salt can strip the thin galvanized coat off the steel.

Aluminum siding is more corrosion resistant. However, it’s not as durable and tears more easily in strong winds.

So, your best choice for coastal barndominiums is Zinc-Alum coated steel, often known as Galvalume. This has many of the corrosion resistance properties of galvanized steel but the coating stands up better to salt, so your steel is protected for longer.  

Most builders will also prefer to use a PVDF (Polyvinylidene Difluoride) coating on the frame and the panels. Many barndominium manufacturers will sell panels with this coating. In other cases, you can simply buy it off the shelf and apply it yourself. 

In either case, this coating will keep the salt off your steel, reducing corrosion of the steel and the finish. As a tip, talk to your barndominium builder about the location and buy a product that’s warrantied against corrosion in your region.  

What else? Try to have your barndo erected by a professional crew. That will ensure it goes up quickly, minimizing the amount of time your steel frame is out in the open and exposed to corrosive salt. 

3. Ground Quality 

Coastal areas can be very stable places to build. However, they might not be. That’s true anytime you’re building near water. So, you’re going to have to plan a soil test and a core test into your barndominium build timeline. 

Here, it might be an idea to simply work your soil test requirements into your deal with your real estate broker. If you’re buying property to build on, you want to know that you can build on it. You’ll eventually have to conduct a core test, after excavating to know for sure.

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However, in the worst-case scenario, you can account for poor or unstable soil with better piers or a better foundation. That will cost more though, so it’s better to ensure that your property is a good build site. 

4. Flooding and Drainage 

Coastal regions are significantly more likely to flood than almost anywhere else. This means it’s important to consider drainage, water diversion, and flooding in your build site, barndominium design, and foundation.

Here, you’ll always want to talk to a local builder to figure out which steps are reasonable or necessary. However, you can also make sure you’re: 

  • Accounting for Water Diversion – Implementing water diversion as part of your property design will help to reduce flooding and water damage, unless you’re right next to the sea. 
  • Planning for Flooding – Your foundation and building footings should be designed to allow water to move through them. That often means using deep pile and pier foundations that allow water to flow through them. This also means you probably don’t want a basement or a crawlspace foundation. Instead, your foundation is likely to be a slab-on-fill with perimeter piers. 
  • Keep Your Interior in Mind – Your home might not be likely to flood but when it does, you want to ensure your home is safe and livable. Taking that into account and situating utilities and equipment out of floodable areas will ensure your home remains safe even in the worst weather. 

Flooding isn’t likely even in coastal areas. But, it is more of a risk. You’ll also likely be required to take out flood insurance in most U.S. coastal areas. 

5. Insulation 

Insulation is important in any part of the United States. However, you might be trying to protect your home from heat or cold.

In either case, you’re likely to have spray-in insulation. Here, you can get away with less insulation in warm climates. You’ll still want to opt for high-density closed-cell foam. 

Why? You’ll get sound protection and isolation, heat isolation, and insulation from the cold.

Using multiple layers of insulation, such as foam board and spray foam, will ensure that you don’t hear rain or hail on the roof, that you don’t hear the wind outside, and that your air conditioning keeps your home cool at a minimum cost. 

Here, you’ll want to pay special attention to the roof, which can be a source of a lot of extra noise in a barndo. Those same metal roofs that offer extra durability and windproofing also add extra noise, so investing in good insulation will pay off in terms of peace and quiet in your home.

6. Home Layout and Windows 

The closer you are to the coast, the more you want to ensure your home makes the most of your beautiful surroundings. At the same time, you want to consider the sun, wind, and sea as well as your lifestyle.

Let’s take a look at how those factors are going to impact your floor plan and general barndominium layout. 

Wind

You’ll want to keep porches and overhangs to a minimum. In fact, in many coastal areas, you’re better off not having a porch, unless you face it directly away from the ocean.

The windier your region, the more you’ll want to keep this in mind. Of course, if you’re building in a shelter of trees, it won’t be that big of a deal. 

View

You’ll want to maximize your view with your barndo. At the same time, you want to keep light and heat in mind. That might mean making strategic decisions around your windows.

For many people, having ocean-facing glass walls or sliding glass doors is a great way to ensure you see as much of the coast as possible. At the same time, you’ll want to ensure those windows can be shaded in the bright sun if you’re in a warmer climate.

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You can also add patios onto the design to ensure you can sit outside – and then bring shade out on-demand with an umbrella or awning.

Of course, if you don’t live in a hurricane zone, fitting your home with wraparound porches will ensure you can maximize the enjoyment of your beautiful environment. 

Heat

Heat may not be a concern. If it is, you’ll want to look into how your home naturally cools itself.

High transom windows with slight overhangs can also allow light into your home, while blocking the hot midday sun. Breezeways can help you cool your home and around it. 

Parking

Keeping your cars out of the hot sun and corrosive air is going to be important as well.

Most coastal homes should have an attached garage for that reason. 

Sunlight

If you live on the coast, you can take advantage of a lot of natural light for your home.

If you’re on the East Coast, try adding extra windows, transom windows, and big glass walls to capture as much daylight as possible. If you’re on a warmer coast, you’ll want to be a bit more conservative so you can more easily isolate and insulate against heat. 

In every case, your home layout will have a big impact on how livable your home is. 

7. Storage for Extra Hobbies 

If you’re living on the coast, chances are you’re going to pick up hobbies that require extra storage. Whether that’s deep sea fishing, kayaking, or surfboarding doesn’t matter.

You probably want to make sure you have extra garage space and some storage rooms that aren’t already filled.

Of course, not everyone is going to move to the coast and realize they love boating. But, chances of eventually doing so are very high and it’s a great idea to make sure you have the space available. 

That means having extra garage space is going to be a plus. And, if you don’t end up using it for a water-based hobby, you can pretty much always end up using it for a workshop or other home space.

In general, it’s a good idea to think about what your lifestyle might look like in 10 years and plan around that. 

8. Outdoor Living

Whether you’re moving to sunny Florida or the more temperate coast of Vermont, you’ll want to enjoy the view.

Coastal living means having a beautiful view and a beautiful environment around you. That means you’ll want to consider what kinds of outdoor living spaces you can fit into your barndominium plan.

For example, if it’s windy, you can consider creating a sheltered space with a U-shaped barndominium and a porch or patio nestled in the middle. You can also align your home to block wind so you can have patios and outdoor spaces.

Breezeways, outdoor kitchens, and guest houses are also all great considerations because they allow you to make more use of your outdoor space. 

What you end up with should definitely depend on where you’re living. However, you can discuss options with your builder and settle on things that work for you and your lifestyle. 

Conclusion

Barndominiums are a great choice for almost anywhere. There are some extra considerations if you’re building on the coast. For example, you’ll want to double-check the wind rating and the panel or siding options.

You’ll also want to consider how your home layout, mechanical layout, and floor plan suit your environment. If you live in a flood zone, you probably want to have an upstairs and keep all your utilities upstairs.

You’ll also want to pay attention to wind-proofing with flashing and trim, soundproofing with good insulation, and designing your home around letting light in and keeping heat out.

Otherwise, you’ll really just have to keep your lifestyle in mind and you should be ready to get started building your coastal barndominium.

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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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