A Kentucky Build: Tim Elder’s Budget-Friendly Barndominium Under 1,500 Sq. Ft. + Tips From Tim


Welcome to Tim Elder’s barndominium! His home was built at less than $120k, excluding the land.

Spanning just under 1,500 square feet, this property boasts 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a generously sized 1,200-square-foot garage/shop measuring 30′ x 40′. 

The foundation of this remarkable property was laid with a shell costing $77k, expertly constructed by Blitz Builders, followed by a labor of love where Tim took over to complete the rest. 

With cost-effectiveness in mind, Tim’s family undertook most of the work themselves, but they paid for labor on the shell, electric, and drywall to ensure top-notch quality. 

The insulation, a key aspect of this energy-efficient home, comprises fiberglass R19 in the walls and wool in the attic, providing an approximate R40 rating. 

Tim fondly acknowledges his wife’s exceptional interior decorating skills that have transformed this property into a true gem. 

The entire construction journey spanned nine months, and below, Tim shares valuable insights gained during this remarkable build.


This inviting property boasts a covered front porch, creating a charming outdoor space for relaxation and enjoyment.

A grand double-door entranceway welcomes family and friends into the home, setting the tone for style and elegance.

For added convenience, a separate door entrance leads to the garage/shop, offering easy access to workshop activities.

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Sustainability is a priority here, with solar panels adorning the garage roof, harnessing renewable energy to reduce utility costs.

Furthermore, the gutter system has been thoughtfully designed to efficiently direct rainwater into the ground, ensuring proper drainage and minimizing water-related concerns around the property.

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During the construction process, the side view of the home reveals the careful planning and design.

Two windows grace the side, allowing natural light to permeate the interior.

At the front, four windows adorn the facade, further enhancing the aesthetics and brightening the living spaces.

Towards the rear of the home, a covered porch takes shape, promising a delightful outdoor retreat once the construction is complete.

The front porch features stamped concrete, adding a distinct and visually appealing texture to the surface.

The back view of the house presents two windows, double doors, and a covered porch, offering a balanced blend of functionality and aesthetics.

The fireplace was added after the homeowners moved in. It stands as a striking focal point, framed by expertly crafted stone work.

Above the fireplace, an outdoor TV is thoughtfully mounted, creating an ideal space for relaxation and entertainment.

Additionally, the back porch is equipped with an outdoor grill, seamlessly integrated into the surrounding stone work.

This setup enhances the outdoor living space, making it perfect for al fresco cooking and dining.

Great Room

The great room extends to about 25 ‘x 16’, providing a spacious and comfortable area for relaxation and gatherings.

It features four perfectly positioned windows that allow ample natural light to flood the space.

Thoughtfully arranged, comfortable couches invite relaxation and conversation.

An inset fireplace serves as the room’s centerpiece, providing both warmth and visual appeal.

The floor paneling adds a touch of character and warmth to this inviting living area.


The kitchen, an extension of the great room, is designed with ample lighting, featuring both recessed and pendant lights that illuminate the space brilliantly.

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It occupies roughly 22 ‘x 16’, offering ample space for culinary activities.

The kitchen layout includes a convenient island, offering additional workspace and seating.

Open upper shelving adds a contemporary touch and showcases decor, while ample cabinetry below ensures efficient storage and organization in this well-appointed culinary space.


Branching off from the great room, this home contains three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a laundry area, offering convenience and functionality at its core.

A distinctive feature is the unique barn sliding doors, which serve as a corner entrance to the first bedroom, adding character and style to the living space.

In this photo, the entrance reveals a single sliding barn-style door that conceals the master bedroom behind it.

The ceiling is adorned with richly stained pine board flooring, expertly attached with Barbed Brad nails, adding rustic charm and character to the space.


The master bathroom features a unique design with both a shower and tub integrated into the same space.

This elegant bathroom showcases a variety of stunning tiles, adding a touch of luxury and style to the bathing area.

Within the master bathroom, the toilet enjoys a dedicated space, offering privacy and functionality. An accent wall tastefully adorns the area behind it.

The master bathroom boasts a stylish vanity with dual sinks, providing convenience for two.

Above the sinks, rectangular mirrors add a modern touch to the space. Ample under-sink storage ensures practicality and organization in this well-appointed area.

The second bathroom is a full bathroom, complete with a shower/tub combination, a single sink vanity, and a toilet, offering all the essential amenities for comfort and convenience.


Tim’s garage/shop, affectionately referred to as his “man cave,” boasts an impressive 1200 square feet of space, measuring 30′ x 40′.

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Despite its generous size, it seems it’s never quite big enough to accommodate all his needs.

The garage roof is adorned with solar panels, contributing to sustainability and energy efficiency.

Floor Plans + Tips From Tim

With almost 1,500 square feet of space, Tim’s barn home was meticulously planned with the help of an architect.

He emphasizes the beauty of a barn home lies in its open canvas interior, allowing for endless customization possibilities.

Tim and his wife gathered ideas from the internet, collaborated with an architect to create detailed floor plans, and secured financing from the bank, despite initial skepticism from others.

Their determination and rebel spirit fueled their dream.


Tim shares some valuable tips:

He decided to act as his own builder, saving on the 20% typically charged by builders. Even if you can’t physically build, knowing the right steps at the right time is crucial.

Tim emphasizes the importance of getting quotes for every aspect of the build and scheduling accordingly.

Additionally, he highlights the cost-saving potential of building up instead of out, although this was constrained by county regulations.

Lastly, Tim’s loan journey involved obtaining a conventional loan through a friend in the lending industry, allowing them to realize their dream of a barn home and enjoy it to the fullest every day since.

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Lisa Young

Lisa Young, writer and construction pro, crafts custom homes. Captivated by barndominiums for four years, she shares insights and advice in engaging articles, empowering readers to create unique living spaces mirroring their aspirations. Join her exciting journey exploring barndominium living.

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