If you’re planning to build a barndominium, chances are very high that you want to do a lot of the work yourself. That will often mean learning to DIY a home and to learn steps as you go.
For many parts of the home building process, that’s relatively easy enough. Once you understand the steps, putting your home together yourself isn’t that hard. However, you will need expertise and expert help at many stages.
In addition, you’ll always need at least one other person to help with framing your home for safety reasons. Why? A framed interior wall weighs an average of about 9 pounds per 8 feet of 2×4. You’ll have about 5 of those for every 4 feet of wall, or 36 lbs. of dead weight that you have to lift.
When you consider that even bedroom walls are typically about 10-15 feet long, you’ll quickly see why you need help.
Otherwise, there’s nothing stopping you from getting friends together and doing the framing on your own barndominium. The following steps cover everything you need to know to get started.
1. Check The Floor Plan
In most cases, you’ll have a floor plan submitted with the barndominium as part of your planning permission request. This means you have a floorplan ready to go.
That floor plan should detail the interior and exterior layout of the walls. This means where the walls go, what materials they are made of, and other details.
Of course, you can always make changes at this point. Just because you put something in the floor plan doesn’t mean you’re bound to it. However, changes could mean complications during your final inspection, so try to stick as close to the plan as possible.
Here you want to note:
- Which materials you’re building with. 2×4 pine lumber is the most common.
- How many feet of walls do you need? Where?
- How many doors are there? What about interior windows?
- Are you adding framing to the exterior walls of the barndo? In most cases, the answer is yes.
Knowing the answers to these questions will allow you to calculate materials you need. It will also give you a good place to plan how to get started.
For example, the most common option is to frame around the outer walls first. This allows you to hang your new walls from those frames. However, if you’re opting for a wall system or aren’t framing around your outer walls, you’ll need a different solution.
If you don’t have a floor plan yet, now is the time to design one. Your floor plan has to cover your interior walls including the home layout. That means bathroom placement, bedrooms, any offices, how and where you want rooms and walls to line up.
Here, most people prefer to partition off an entire section of a home with a long wall and then build smaller rooms into that – rather than building individual rooms for every enclosed area of the home.
Either way, take some time to look at floor plans online, figure out what you like, and design the interior accordingly.
Barndos are extremely easy to design because no interior wall is load-bearing. You’ll just build a wall and often cap the room with a drop ceiling, and that’s it.
2. Frame The Exterior
Framing the exterior of your barndominium is normally something you’d leave to the erection crew. That’s important because metal building kits can weigh a great deal.
However, if you have a lift or a crane, you can also do the work yourself. In every case, it’s critical that you do the work according to the delivery instructions included with the kit.
Normally, that means either erecting the poles and hanging the frame off of them or framing the walls and standing them up one at a time.
Most barndominium kits are fully prefabricated. Therefore, all you have to do is bolt them together and erect them. You’ll also get differences in attachment, but most will secure to concrete piers under or in your foundation.
Whichever you choose, you’ll need a full erection crew of likely 10 people to do the work. You’ll then fit framing for doors and windows, any reinforcements you need, and bolt in any supports for a second story or loft.
Once that’s finished, your crew needs another 2-10 days to sheathe the exterior of the home. This step is important for protecting the interior walls after you start to put them up. Therefore, you’ll want to wait until the siding is fully up on the outside of the home.
Then, you’ll want to install the doors and windows, so the interior of your home is fully dry. That will protect the interior framing from rot, mold, and mildew – so your home lasts as long as possible.
3. Choose An Interior Wall Style
Most people building a barndominium use a metal building kit for the exterior of the home.
However, inside, you’ll have a few options. The most common is to use 2×4 or 2×6 framing to build interior walls around the home.
Some metal building suppliers also deliver interior wall systems. These suspend off of the exterior framing and will save you a lot of time on building and manually erecting interior frames.
They also don’t attach to your floor, which means you’ll have less effort putting them up. It also means that your metal building company will supply the materials for the interior walls and will erect them. You can essentially just skip to step 9 if you choose this option.
However, most people opt for timber frame interior walls. These are constructed of 2×4 pine lumber.
In most cases, you’ll erect them, fasten them to the exterior walls, and bolt or nail them to the concrete floor. This provides stability.
However, you follow up by putting ceiling joists over the walls, providing further stability, and enabling you to lower the ceiling for a bedroom or other room division.
In either case, you’ll be able to insulate, add drywall, install plumbing, and anything else you want. In addition, not every metal building manufacturer provides interior wall systems, so you will have to shop more carefully if you want the wall kit.
Otherwise, both have pros and cons, and you can choose what works for you.
4. Buy Materials
If you’re opting for timber-framed interior walls, you’ll have to buy materials. In most cases, it’s best to wait to buy materials until you can directly store them inside, out of the rain and sun.
Of course, some people opt to place timber on a covered pallet outside. It’s still better to store your wood inside and away from the elements to ensure it stays in good shape.
Here, you’ll want to start with a calculation. Timber-framed interior walls are made up of multiple parts:
- Wall Studs – 2×4 or 2×6 every 16 or 24 inches on the line. For interior walls that are not supporting weight, 2×4 on the 24-inch line is normally more than good enough. However, if you want to ensure extra durability, go ahead and do the same with a 2×6.
- Joists – Joists or blockings are fit into the space between the studs at the centerline of the wall. Some people prefer to have more blocking, for example, if you know you want to hang art at a certain height, you can add the supports for that now. Joists are the length of your space minus the width of the studs. So, normally, if you have a 2×6 on the 24-inch line, you’ll want joists of 22 inches each.
- Plates – You get a top, a bottom, and a cap plate for every wall. The studs attach to the bottom plate, which then attach to the floor. The top plate attaches to the studs. The Cap plate attaches to the ceiling joists. Then, both the top and the cap plate are attached together. Plates are simply the full length of the wall, times three.
- Bay – If you have doors or openings, you’ll normally need bays. These are just shortened portions of the wall. You can treat this exactly like a stud and blocking, but take into account that you’ll need shorter blocking.
- Door/Window Frames – Frames are built using two studs (Jack and King) placed side by side. The king stud supports the wall. The Jack stud supports the door or the window. You’ll also need a header for your frame, which means calculating the height of the door or window, and building the frame that goes over the door. Here, short studs or cripple studs should be spaced about every foot across the full width of the opening.
How does all of that come together? Let’s say you want to build a 45’ long interior wall with two doors. You want the walls to be 8’ high and the doors are 6’8”.
With 2×6 framing on the 24” line, your wood list would look something like this:
- 21 studs of 8’
- 131’ of plates
- 56” of header
- 4 cripple studs of 1’2”
- 4 jack studs at 6’10” each
You’d work that out to a material list of something like:
- 38 2”x6” x 8’
You might also want longer boards for the plates, as that will save you extra material and assembly. For example:
- 9 2”x 6” x 12’
- 30 2”x6” x 8’
Just look at the material you have available in your local hardware store and make decisions accordingly. If you’re not sure which measurements to use, keep in mind that it’s always better to buy as close to the size you need as possible to save on costs.
However, if you can get your cripple studs and other short pieces as rest pieces, from cutting another board, it’s probably cheaper to do so. For example, if you want an 8’ wall and you can buy a 10’ 2×6, you’ll generally create all of your studs and braces with just an inch and a half of waste per board.
So, look at what’s available, look at what makes the most sense with your measurements, and try to calculate the materials you need to reduce costs and reduce waste (as these are often the same thing).
5. Frame The Interior Walls
You have the lumber; what now?
First thing’s first: you measure out, mark, and cut the exterior of the frame. That normally means laying out the bottom plate.
If you’re using multiple pieces of wood, you’ll want to fasten it together into a single piece. Some people use a double-bottom cap for this reason.
You always want to assemble frames lying down. This allows you to secure them fully and attach the studs to the bottom plate.
This means you want to construct your frame in a wide open space in your barndominium. You can always move the frame later and construct another before you do so.
Fasten the outer studs or the king studs on each part of the wall. This should give you a rectangle that’s relatively stable, so you can more easily attach the rest of your studs.
6. Add Studs To The Wall Frames
Then, cut the studs. It’s easier to cut everything at once – just make sure you measure twice and get everything right before you do so.
This should be your desired wall height minus the top and bottom plates. So, if you want an 8” high wall, you’d want studs at 7’6”. On the other hand, if you want an 8’6” wall, your studs should be 8’. Simple, right?
You’ll want to leave spaces for doors and windows. You’ll also want to mark out spaces for king and jack studs for the doors, so you can be certain you’re giving the door enough space.
Mark out the 24-inch line down the full length of your top and bottom plate using a measuring tape and a pencil. That line should be from the center of the first stud, or 1” into the plate. You want the mark on the top and the bottom of the plate.
Then, lay out the wall. This means placing the bottom plate on the 2” side and lining every stud up with one of the 2’ marks. You may have to tap the studs into place depending on the lumber and how close your cuts are.
Then, have someone hold the pieces in place (or use clamps) and go down the line and attach them using wood screws. In most cases, you want two screws per stud, on each side of the stud so that it cannot twist.
It’s always a good idea to double-check the placement. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but the closer you are to perfect, the easier it will be to hang things later.
From there, you can cut your bracing. This should be about 22” for a 24” line stud wall. However, if you’ve opted for a different length, you can always use that. Just make sure you calculate the space required for the stud itself.
Then, measure out and mark out the halfway line down your frame. You’ll probably prefer to use a chalk line for this, as it will save you a lot of time. Attach the bracing with two screws per side.
Here, you’ll want to take special note of where the plumbing is going. If you’re running pipes or electric wiring through the walls, you may have to drill through your studs and bracing.
In this case, you may want to reinforce or double up every stud and joist you are drilling through. However, barndominium walls are not load-bearing walls, which means that this is not required under building codes.
7. Add Doors
You frame a door just like you would add a stud. The calculation is normally:
- Door width + 1/4th of an inch + width of jack stud + any interior door frame or molding you want
- Door height + ¼ of an inch + molding or trim that you want
So, if you have a 28” door that is 6’8” tall with no molding, your door frame would work out to something like this:
- King studs 32 ¼” apart (34 ¼” to center)
- Jack studs 28 ¼” apart
- Header 6’8 ¼” from the floor or 6’ 9 ¼” to center of the board
- Cripple studs 1’ 1 ¾”
Here, you generally install the king studs first. Then, you fit the jack studs against the king studs. Attach the header to those, just as if it were a plate capping the studs together.
Then, mark out and fit the cripple studs in the top. That’s it, your door is done.
You also use the exact same mechanism for windows – except windows also have studs under the window.
If you’re fitting window frames, you always want to double-check the actual size of the frame. However, as most interior walls don’t have windows, that won’t likely be an issue, unless you’re framing against existing windows in your home.
8. Erect The Interior Walls
Your wall frames are all attached together and taking up space. They’re big puzzle pieces and all you have to do is put them in place.
Luckily, that’s relatively easy providing you have a few strong hands to help.
- Start out by marking the spaces for the walls. You want this to be as straight as possible. Pick a wall and measure off of that. Then double- and triple-check your measurements. Even a 1/8th of an inch difference in the line of your wall can severely complicate installing something like a wooden floor. You want this to be as close to perfect as possible. Mark out (usually with chalk) the space.
- Carry the wall into place and push it upright. You will need help with this.
- Use screws, a nail gun, caulk, bolts, or a mix of all three to attach your walls to the floor. You can also use brackets to attach your walls to the exterior walls of the barndominium.
- Repeat the process with your next wall section, securing it to the last wall section as you go. Connecting walls at corners always means you’ll have more stability. Some people also prefer to put temporary caps on their walls, using a 2×4 to tie frames together to reduce the risk of damage to the wall.
Erecting walls is basically just standing them upright and securing them in place. If all your walls are ready to go, it can go very quickly.
However, it might also take longer if you have a smaller crew. Try one wall, see how fast it goes, and go from there.
9. Connect The Ceiling Joists
Interior ceiling joists are very often nothing more than flat 2×6”s attached to the walls at 16” or 24” on-the-line intervals. Joists are erected in several fashions but as you’re doing the interior wall, you’ll normally want them flat.
Here, you can:
- Build a frame like you did for the wall and place it on top.
- Attach single-piece joists directly to the cap plate
- Add cross beams for support, normally at about every 8-10 feet
- Add blocking, typically at the center line of a joist
So, if you have a 14’ wide room, you’d probably want to attach the 2×6’s directly to the cap plate with a single row of blocking down the middle of the joists.
On the other hand, if you have a 16’ wide room, you might want to first attach a cross beam to the frame, at the level of the cap plate. You can then install two separate lines of ceiling joists and attach them at the cross beam.
You’d then add two rows of blocking, each down the center line of its respective joist board.
You’ll also want to take your ceiling material into account. For example, your joists should provide support for the drywall or other finishing material you want to use.
Once you erect and cap the framing for your barndominium, you’re only part of the way towards having finished interior walls.
You’ll still have to take a lot of other steps. These include:
- Electrical Wiring – whether you do it yourself or have a professional do it the electrical wiring has to go in before the drywall. Map out where you want the wiring, plan in outlet placement, figure out lighting, etc. You’ll want to run the wiring, fasten boxes, and otherwise finish the electrical work before moving forward. You’ll also want to have it inspected.
- Plumbing – Pipes, hoses, and drains should all be run before you move forward. This means drilling holes for plumbing, running pipes, and insulating pipes where necessary. You’ll also want to have it tested and inspected before closing anything off.
- Insulation – Many people don’t insulate interior walls but you often should. In fact, insulating some walls like your bathroom can actually save you a lot of hassle from the bathroom walls sweating or condensation. The colder your area, the more likely you are to want to insulate every interior wall of your home. However, you can always talk to a local builder for local best practices before you buy the insulation. Make sure you’ve had your plumbing and electricity inspected before adding insulation. If you don’t insulate the full home, be sure to insulate the bathroom and around water lines to prevent future problems.
- Drywall – Most people opt for drywall. This is the last stage of interior walls. It’s also often a simple matter of hanging drywall on the frame using sheetrock and sheetrock screws. Afterwards, you can tape, mud, and paint it as you want – it’s completely up to you.
Framing is a relatively simple process but it can take time. It’s also important to ensure you get it right, as good measurements now will mean predictable stud and bracing placement in the future. Otherwise, once your walls are up, you can do whatever you want with them.
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