What Is A Barndominium 101: The Ultimate Guide (2024)

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What are barndominiums? Barndominiums, or barndos for short, are also called barn homes or barn houses.

Be careful; the name can mean various things in different regions. For example, they can be a sheet metal or wood framed structure, with upstairs accommodation for humans and downstairs for horses. But it might just be for humans.

A barndo could also be a home built in the style of an agricultural building or converted from a derelict barn.

Some barndos have habitation areas upstairs and a garage, workshop, or hobby room on the first floor. Alternatively, other owners use the entire space as residential.

When doing your research, check which version you’re going with and be consistent to compare like-for-like. Furthermore, you may have it fixed in your mind what you want.

But, when talking to builders, finance companies, insurers, zoning authorities, and manufacturers, make sure you spell out everything and know which barndo type you’re talking about.

Table of Contents

What Is A Barndominium?

Depending on your preferences and what’s traditional in your region, you can build a barndo from steel framing and siding, wood framing with structural lumber beams, or, more commonly, a mixture of the two.

If you choose a manufacturer’s kit, it’ll usually be a structural steel framework with sheet metal siding and roof. In contrast, porches and similar features will be lumber.

A barndo’s design uses steel’s greater structural strength than lumber and is designed without structural interior walls. Instead, all the building’s weight and associated loads travel down through the exterior walls to the foundations. This allows the entire interior space to be open-plan if required.

Sometimes, many people use the first floor as a workshop, garage for a fleet of cars, RV, boat storage, or even a light aircraft hanger. Alternatively, the space could be a manufacturing space, home gym, or horse riding arena.

Overall, you can see that a barndo design allows the building to have a flexible interior space suited to the owner’s preferences.

History and Origins

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Barndos have risen in popularity recently, so much so that you might think it’s a modern invention. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

The original barndo would be a living space in a barn, perhaps similar to something from the 1800s to mid-1900s when the settlers turned our nation’s agricultural land into a literal bread basket.

It makes sense to live in the same building as the animals for many reasons:

  • There’s only one structure to build, saving materials and labor.
  • Living above the animals used their body heat to warm the family upstairs.
  • The homesteader wouldn’t have far to go to feed and look after the animals.
  • The farmer could keep the animals safe and away from predators.

The 20th & 21st Centuries

In the 1980s, people built barndominiums as combined living spaces with workshops, garages, and storage units.

A barndominium, as we know it today, became a common household term in 2016 due to the popularity of television home makeover shows, notably the HGTV show “Fixer Upper,” where Chip and Joana Gaines converted a horse barn into a family house.

Since then, people have bought derelict barns and other agricultural buildings and converted them into much sought-after residences.

From the outside, the structures look like an authentic rustic barn. But inside, they’re a modern-looking and functional living accommodation.

More elaborate and intricate designs became available as demand grew for this “new” type of residence. However, the number of derelict barns decreased and weren’t always in the most favorable locations near schools, hospitals, and other modern conveniences.

Also, not everyone could turn an old barn into a modern house or have the money to pay someone to do it for them. So, barndominium kits came along.

Some companies specialized in producing steel DIY kits, while others used lumber. Even better, the kits arrived with all the necessary materials and complete instructions for assembling and turning it into a habitable home.

Of course, to be a barndominium, the finished structure must maintain some of the original rural aesthetics. But, these can be as few or as many as the owner wishes, which is the beauty of using a kit or buying a barndo plan and building from the ground up.

Popularity and Market Trends

Are barndominiums a fad, or are they here to stay? According to Glimpse, the number of “barndominium” internet searches increased by 3% over the past year, totaling about 106,000 monthly searches as of July 2023.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a central database showing us all things barndo. But, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), around 91% of all new-build homes constructed in 2020 were built using traditional wood framing.

The same article also states that 831,000 wood-framed houses were completed in 2020, a 2% gain from 2019. In comparison, steel-framed homes increased from 3,000 in 2019 to 5,000 in 2020, a rise of 67%. This rise is partly due to increased lumber prices and the change in homeowners’ preferences.

So, we can see that although the number of traditional wood houses vastly outnumbers the amount of steel framed homes, probably due to inertia, the rate of increase is slowing while the steel home rate increases.

Perhaps as wood becomes more expensive, we’ll see steel-framed homes outnumber wooden in the not-too-distant future.

A chart published by the NAHB compares wooden, metal, and concrete framed homes from 2009 to 2020.

What Do Barndominiums Look Like?

The size and appearance of a typical barndominium vary so much that it’s almost impossible to say what a barndominium looks like. However, to a lesser or greater degree, we can say that the design has elements of a rural agricultural building.

Generally, the first floor is an open-plan area containing animals, garaging, a workshop, a hobby space, or an ample living area. At the same time, the family’s living space is on the upper floor.

Furthermore, like a traditional home, a barndominium can be made to any size and floor configuration. However, we find that specific sizes are more popular than others:

  • 30 ft. x 40 ft. (1,200 sq. ft.)
  • 60 ft. x 40 ft. (2,400 sq. ft.)
  • 75 ft. x 40 ft. (3,000 sq. ft.)
  • 60 ft. x 60 ft. (3,600 sq. ft.)
  • 70 ft. x 60 ft. (4,200 sq. ft.)

Choosing one of these sizes or something entirely different depends on your desired space and how it’s configured.

Furthermore, as there are no interior load-bearing walls in a steel-framed barndominium, you can quickly erect and dismantle partition walls to separate the different areas.

Who Uses Barndominiums?

Historically, farmers used a barndominium, or something very much like it, to combine their living areas with agricultural requirements.

However, today, homeowners from many walks of life have found the barndominium to suit their family’s needs and no longer use the first floor for agricultural purposes.

Typically, the types of people who use barndominiums are:

  • Those needing a dual-purpose dwelling. They combine residential with a workshop or a home office.
  • Growing families needing plenty of space.
  • People who require a large space to host events and meetings.
  • Eco-friendly homeowners who prefer to use energy-efficient, sustainable structures for ecological and financial reasons.
  • Those who want a durable home, with minimal maintenance.
  • Those who want to customize their homes to suit their lifestyle.

How Much Do Barndominiums Cost?

The cost to build a barndominium varies depending on many factors. Typically, on average, it ranges from $30-$150/sq. ft. depending on:

  • Its location
  • Labor costs
  • The building’s size and configuration
  • The project’s complexity
  • The quality of material
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Building a barndominium that won’t break the bank is perfectly feasible, but you might have to make compromises along the way. Instead of using top-quality materials, choose mid-range quality and concentrate on impressive design to get a barndo that stands out.

Barndominiums can be even more affordable if you purchase a kit. Many companies offer cheap kits that include only the bare necessities of roof and walls.

Alternatively, choose a turnkey barndo providing everything, including the kitchen sink. The only difference is the price.

Material and Construction Process

Building your barndominium doesn’t have to be intimidating. Many kit companies use contracting crews to erect the barndo. Alternatively, you can use a contractor of your choice. Or, if you have DIY skills, you can often do much of the work yourself.

However, many finance companies insist you use an approved installation company. So, before you unpack your tools, ensure you won’t jeopardize the terms of your loan agreement.

Furthermore, some zoning regulation boards also insist on certified contractors, so don’t take any chances.

If you’re a DIYer and want to build from a kit, it helps to know the steps to erect your barndo. Remember, there are as many kits as designs and manufacturers, so each will differ.

However, they all have standard procedures, which we’ll look at now.

Using a Barndo Kit

Most inexpensive kits provide the more significant components ready-cut to size, leaving you to buy smaller pieces such as doors and windows. More complex and expensive designs offer everything that’s on the plan.

Remember, you’ve already customized these to suit your tastes, and the kit will reflect those changes.

If you’re new to construction, choosing a kit with ready-made pieces and a professionally drawn plan will make life much easier and ensure you don’t make mistakes during construction. However, we advise leaving more complex designs to the professionals.

1. Constructing the Foundation

There are several ways to secure the barndo to the ground. But, the most common method is to use steel posts concreted into excavated trenches. An experienced contractor will know what to do.

Ensure the steel is the correct distance apart and at the proper levels, or else nothing will fit.

Using concrete slabs as the floor pad is typical if the ground is horizontal. Typically, slabs are about 4 inches thick, with the perimeter load-bearing concrete up to three times as deep. This is the foundation to support the structure’s total weight.

However, the actual concrete thicknesses depend on the ground conditions and weight of the barndo. A structural engineer must calculate concrete thickness before the building permit office’s approval.

2. Framing

After setting the structural posts in concrete, erect the remainder of the skeleton framework. Typically, the framing can be steel, lumber, or a combination of the two. Usually, because the components are so heavy, you need a crane to lift them into place.

When you’ve fixed all the structural framework according to the manufacturer’s instructions, the skeleton will be a solid and stable structure on which to assemble the remaining pieces.

With a metal barndo, the outer structural steel skeleton transfers the loads into the ground without needing load-bearing interior walls or pillars. Once the exterior walls are in place, cover them with steel siding.

The roof is part of the structural skeleton, which you make watertight as soon as the structure is complete to keep the interior dry and weatherproof.

Typically, a barndo uses a sheet metal roof, the same as an agricultural barn. But some owners prefer shingles or tiles.

Finally, install rainwater management systems such as guttering, fascia caps, and energy-efficient exterior doors and windows to finish the weatherproofing.

The interior is usually made from lumber to make installing drywall, insulation, and wood flooring easy. However, some systems use metal studs and tracks in place of wood.

Unless you’re using specialist steel workers to erect the barndo, it’s best to use general carpenters for this phase, as their skills are more readily available.

When the shell is watertight, you can erect the interior partition walls, drywall, skim plaster, and hang interior doors. We also need flooring, which is usually natural or engineered wood floorboards.

3. HVAC Electrical Wiring, Plumbing, and Drainage

This stage is the same as a traditional home. Call the contractors to install their rough work before covering it with drywall.

Typically, install HVAC, plumbing, and drainage first to allow plenty of room for the pipework and ducting bends. Next, the electricians do their rough work, as installing a cable around a pipe is more straightforward than vice versa.

4. Insulation

When all the rough plumbing and cabling are in place, it’s time for the insulation.

The amount and R-value of insulation depend on the climate region you live in. Fortunately, your local building codes specify values for each of these.

5. Drywall, Flooring, and Paint

Next comes the drywall, which effectively hides the rough cabling, plumbing, and insulation. After you’ve plastered the boards, the contractors return to install the trim work, kitchen cabinets, bathroom sinks, showers, internal doors, etc.

Sometimes, because the owner wants a rural feel to their home, they use stonework, wood paneling, or rough-sawn logs instead of drywall and plaster. Once again, this is a matter of choice.

After finishing the walls, you can paint them and install the finished flooring, baseboard, and trim.

How Long Do Barndominiums Take to Build?

Typically, barndominiums usually take from 3 to 6 months to build. But they can take a few weeks up to over a year.

Like any other construction project, the project duration depends on the following:

  • Size
  • Level of customization
  • The design’s complexity
  • Amount of interior design elements
  • The number of people in the crew
  • Concrete curing time
  • Availability of lifting equipment
  • The weather

As you can see, specifying the exact project duration isn’t easy.

However, we can say that a barndominium kit takes about half the time needed to assemble a conventional home and 85% of the time taken to build a comparable wood-frame home.

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Pros and Cons of Barndominiums

The main advantage of a barndominium is its flexible design, which means you can use it for almost anything.

Let’s look at some other advantages and disadvantages.

Pros

High Ceilings

Because the barndo’s structural loads travel through the exterior walls without interior loadbearing supports, the structures are suited to high ceilings and mezzanine second floors.

Open Plan Floors

Because the barndo doesn’t need interior load-bearing walls, its shell allows you to design and build large open spaces or simple partition walls wherever you want them to be.

Customization 

The open-plan, high-ceilinged shell allows you to customize the inside to be almost anything.

Low Maintenance

Structural steel frameworks and steel sidings need minimal maintenance.

High Durability

A steel barndo’s structure is long-lasting and highly durable. Unlike lumber, it’s pest and mold-resistant.

Because of steel’s high structural strength and impermeability to water, the building is proof against extreme weather, flood damage, fire, and earthquakes.

Low Insurance

A steel barndo doesn’t burn and isn’t greatly affected by flood water or wind.

Therefore, its structural insurance is cheaper than a building made from traditional materials.

Energy Efficiency and Incentives

Generally, barndominiums use low-energy usage designs.

Also, they can use federal tax incentives to help with passive and active domestic energy efficiency.

Appearance

If you renovate an old barn or spend money on a customized barndo kit, your new home will look unique and full of rustic charm.

Cons

Things aren’t all great when buying or building a barndominium.

There are some disadvantages too.

Finance

You might find difficulty financing the build from traditional lenders.

Many banks won’t fund non-conventional houses like a barndo.

Appearance

Many cheap kit-based barndominiums can look dull.

Location Issues

Many zoning regulations are cut-and-dried and won’t allow mixed-use houses like a barndo. It must either be “agricultural” or “residential,” never a combination.

Before deciding on the building’s location, check with the zoning regulations office on what you can build.

Insurance Problems

Not all insurers have policies to cover barndominiums, especially if it’s a mixed-use structure rather than purely residential.

Read more about pros and cons of barndos here.

Barndominiums vs. Other Home Types

It’s helpful to compare barndominiums with other house types.

Barndominium vs. Traditional Homes

Because of how barndominiums are designed and built, they’re generally less expensive than a traditional home.

They’re easy to customize because of the lack of load-bearing interior walls and popular because of their rustic, unique appearance. However, you can make your barndo look like just about anything.

Once built, barndos tend to be more energy efficient, allowing for easier heating and cooling. Therefore, you have lower energy bills.

Costs

A typical basic DIY barndominium kit ranges from $30-$40/sq. ft., and a large build costs around $75-$150/sq. ft. In contrast, a traditionally built house costs $100-$200/sq.ft.

Typically, a 2,000 sq. ft. conventionally built home costs about $290,500, equating to around $145/sq. ft. In contrast, a barndominium of the same size costs about $200,000 on average, equating to about $100/sq. ft.

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Furthermore, if you choose a smaller barndo kit, we can further reduce this to around $70-$100/sq. ft.

Typical advantages and disadvantages when comparing a traditionally built house to a barndominium are:

Pros

Easier Financing

Conventionally built houses have a more straightforward borrowing process with more lenders available.

Typically, this is because barndominiums are not as well known and are considered a higher financial risk.

Better Resale

There are more potential buyers for a traditional house, which positively impacts the resale price.

Familiarity

Conventional houses have been around for hundreds of years and are a known commodity.

Architects, designers, and contractors all learned their craft in traditional homes. Hence, a larger pool of professionals is available to draw from.

Furthermore, a traditional house will gain approval from the local community, which also has conventional homes.

Cons

Construction Costs

Higher material and labor costs make building a traditional home more expensive.

More Repairs and Maintenance

Over time, traditional buildings need more maintenance and are prone to weather and pests.

Longer Construction Duration

Traditionally built houses take longer to construct than barndominiums.

Barndominium vs. Pole Barns

Even though pole barns appear very similar to barndominiums at first sight, there are fundamental differences.

A pole barn uses large laminated wood posts to provide structural support. However, most wooden structures suffer from wood degradation and ground settling.

Costs

Because of their simple construction, pole barns tend to be less expensive than barndominiums, ranging from $15-$35/sq. ft., plus the cost of interior finishing.

Typically, pole barn materials cost $15-$25/sq. ft., whereas a barndominium’s materials cost around $20-$45/sq. ft.

Considering the 2,000 sq. ft. structure we used previously, a pole barn would cost around $60,000 ($30/sq. ft.). Although this is less expensive than a barndominium, you must also consider its disadvantages.

Pros

Cheaper

It costs less to build than a barndo.

Easier Ground Preparation

A pole barn doesn’t need a foundation.

Barndo concrete foundations can take up to 8-weeks to cure.

Faster Construction Time

It takes less time to build than a barndo.

Simpler to Build

Depending on the design complexity, it needs less time and fewer materials to construct.

Rust-resistant

Wood buildings are rust-resistant.

However, steel barndominiums are fully protected and guaranteed for many years.

Cons

Structure Not Stable

A pole barn moves with the ground throughout the year.

More Maintenance

Wooden buildings need more care than steel barndos.

More Pests

Wood is prone to rot, rodents, and termites.

Fire Risk

There is a high fire risk, so there are increased insurance premiums.

Modular Homes vs. Barndos

Modular buildings differ from barndominiums because they’re built in a factory, transported to the site in modular units, and assembled into the final structure. Generally, up to 90% of the assembly work occurs in the factory.

Typically, the modules’ interior comes fully finished; they often have aluminum or vinyl siding and sit on a concrete slab foundation.

Costs

Modular homes cost $50-$100/sq. ft. compared to the $30-$150/sq. ft. of a barndominium. Suppose we consider the 2,000 sq. ft. example, the cost of both house types is comparable with one another.

Modular homes’ prices are similar to a barndominium, depending on the design’s complexity.

Pros

Quicker Build Time

You can have a home built much faster, sometimes in a few weeks, compared to the six to nine months or so for a barndo.

Mass-produced Modules in Stock

Each manufacturer has a limited set of designs, allowing them to mass-produce and hold the modules in stock.

It Looks Like a Conventional Home

When finished, they’re indistinguishable from a traditional house.

Therefore, it’s easy to comply with zoning regulations.

Self-supporting Construction

It’s easier to add a second floor as each module is self-supporting.

Cons

Difficulty Finding a Mortgage

Financing from mortgage lenders may be an issue.

However, many modular home manufacturers offer in-house financing packages.

Less Customization

The modules are mass-produced. Therefore, there’s less opportunity for interior customization.

However, you can have as many modules as you want.

Confusion

Many buyers and real estate agents confuse modular homes with manufactured homes (mobile homes) without foundations.

Therefore, they often avoid them.

Barndominium Floor Plans

Several floor plan providers supply ready made barndominium floor plans. Each one is different. But, there are favorites which are very popular with customers.

The following barndo floor plan details are the top 5 most popular plans from Houseplans.net. These specifications are typical of floor plans produced by all the various online suppliers.

However, if you take the time to browse, you may find a configuration that works for you.

Barndo Floor Plan #1

Specifications

  • Area: 2,040 sq. ft.
  • Dimensions: 86 ft. x 70 ft. x 25 ft. 8 in.
  • Story: 1
  • Garage/workshop: 1
  • Bedrooms: 3
  • Bathrooms: 2
  • Cars: 3

Home

  • Choice of foundations: Slab, Crawlspace, Basement, Daylight basement, Walkout basement
  • Roof pitch: 9:12
  • Exterior framing: 2×6
  • Open plan kitchen with kitchen island
  • Laundry room

Garage

  • Area of 2,123 sq. ft. with RV bay and workshop
  • Three cars
  • Loft above garage
  • Front or rear entry doors

Porches

  • Front or wrap-around porch

The plans for this barndominium start at $980.

Barndo Floor Plan #2

Specifications

  • Area: 2,765 sq. ft.
  • Dimensions: 112 ft. x 61 ft. x 28 ft. 8 in.
  • Stories: 2
  • Garage/workshop: 1
  • Bedrooms: 3
  • Bathrooms: 2.5
  • Cars: 3

Home

  • Choice of foundations: Slab, Crawlspace, Basement, Daylight basement, Walkout basement
  • Roof pitch: 7:12
  • Exterior framing: 2×6
  • Open plan kitchen with kitchen island
  • Laundry room
  • Double-story windows

Garage

  • Area: 2,245 sq. ft. with workshop
  • Three cars
  • Front entry door
  • Half bathroom

Porches

  • Front or wrap-around porch

The plans for this barndominium start at $1,150.

Barndo Floor Plan #3

Specifications

  • Area: 2,230 sq. ft.
  • Dimensions: 70 ft. x 44 ft. x 23 ft. 9 in.
  • Stories: 2
  • Garage/workshop: 1
  • Bedrooms: 4
  • Bathrooms: 2
  • Cars: 3

Home

  • Choice of foundations: Slab, Crawlspace, Basement, Daylight basement, Walkout basement
  • Roof pitch: 4:12
  • Exterior framing: 2×6
  • Open plan kitchen
  • Laundry room
  • Mud room
  • Loft

Garage

  • Area: 1,152 sq. ft. with workshop
  • Three cars
  • Loft above garage
  • Front or rear entry doors

Porches

  • Front porch.

The plans for this barndominium start at $978.

Barndo Floor Plan #4

Specifications

  • Area: 3,205 sq. ft.
  • Dimensions: 86 ft. x 62 ft. x 32 ft.
  • Stories: 2
  • Garage/workshop: 1
  • Bedrooms: 4
  • Bathrooms: 3.5
  • Cars: 3

Home

  • Choice of foundations: Slab, Crawlspace, Basement, Walkout basement
  • Roof pitch: 12:12
  • Exterior framing: 2×6
  • Open plan kitchen
  • Laundry room
  • Mud room
  • Loft

Garage

  • Area: 937 sq. ft.
  • Three cars
  • Room above garage
  • Front or rear entry doors

Porches

  • Front, rear, or wrap-around porch

The plans for this barndominium start at $1,445.

Barndo Floor Plan #5

Specifications

  • Area: 1,604 sq. ft.
  • Dimensions: 54 ft. x 50 ft.
  • Stories: 2
  • Garage/workshop: 1
  • Bedrooms: 2
  • Bathrooms: 2
  • Cars: 3

Home

  • Slab foundation
  • Roof pitch: 6:12
  • Exterior framing: 2×4
  • Open plan kitchen
  • Laundry room
  • Mud room

Garage

  • Area: 1,554 sq. ft.
  • Three cars
  • Drive-under, front or rear entry garage

Porches

  • Covered rear patio.

The plans for this barndominium start at $1,020.

Barndominium Kit Providers

There are many barndominium kit providers, each with its good and bad points. However, some shine above the rest for innovation, value for money, and customer service.

Here are a few of these in no particular order.

Green Building Elements

Green Building Elements offer four prefabricated metal barndo kits to choose from. The sizes are typical barndo floor sizes and are among the most popular across many manufacturers.

  • 30 ft. x 40 ft.
  • 40 ft. x 60 ft.
  • 40 ft. x 75 ft.
  • 60 ft. x 60 ft.

Each barndo size is large enough to provide living, vehicle garaging, and professional spaces.

The Company

The company is one of the most popular in the country. It’s known for assisting customers, homeowners, and landowners in choosing the best kit for them at an affordable price. Furthermore, they offer price finding and comparison at no extra charge.

The company provides many articles explaining the pros and cons of each of its products. It gives insights into the erection process and how to make your barndo more energy-efficient by maximizing the correct insulation for your climate zone and using solar power.

Its corporate headquarters are in Manchester, Connecticut.

Benefits of Using the Company

We recommend Green Building Elements because they keep things simple when dealing with customers.

The website is transparent with information on additional costs that many other companies don’t mention until they get to the “hard sell.” These include shipping, doors and windows, foundations, fixtures and fittings, and construction costs.

Green Building Elements help keep your building environmentally sustainable, which is always helpful,  especially if you live in a region with strict environmental regulations.

Overall, we believe the company is affordable and trustworthy in its dealings with the public.

Worldwide Steel Buildings

Worldwide Steel Buildings produce barndo kits for the DIY market.

The company supplies full instructions, stamped building plans, and all the barndominium parts you’d expect to find in a kit. And if you want, you can add windows, doors, and porches, to name a few extras.

Furthermore, suppose you intend to use another material for the roof or sidings, perhaps wood or plastic. In that case, you can buy the kit without those items, leaving it up to you to provide the additions.

You can customize the floor plan exactly how you want, choosing energy-efficient windows and doors, garage doors, and custom finishes. They’ll even provide a design expert to help you through the design and construction phases of the build.

The Company

The manufacturing plant is in Peculiar, Missouri, and all the components are built and tested before shipping. It ships its products anywhere worldwide.

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However, suppose you want to speak to a sales office near your home. In that case, they have representatives in Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri who can help you decide which kit suits you.

Also, when you receive your barndo kit, the company sends an expert technician to help with the assembly.

Because the company supplies to every US state, each product has an extreme weather condition guarantee to survive blizzards, tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes.

Benefits of Using the Company

Probably the best reason to recommend this company is that all its products benefit from having solid engineering designs based on a steel truss design. This system eliminates the chance of damage during transit and makes assembly easier.

All its products have a 50-year warranty and extreme weather guarantee. They design the kits to be DIY-friendly, even to the extent of supplying an expert for the construction phase.

General Steel

General Steel offers more than the basic number of floor sizes. You can buy kits measuring:

  • 30 ft. x 40 ft.
  • 40 ft. x 60 ft.
  • 40 ft. x 75 ft.
  • 60 ft. x 60 ft.
  • 60 ft. x 70 ft.

Typically, a 40 ft. x 60 ft. kit gives enough room for three bedrooms, kitchen, dining, and living space.

Choosing a kit from General Steel couldn’t be easier. You pick one of the base barndo kits and start customizing its interior and exterior features to make your barndo unique.

For example, popular additions include insulation, rainwater systems, and sliding windows.

You’ll have an allocated project coordinator to help you make decisions when designing the kit and during the assembly phase.

Each kit has multiple warranties, such as a 50-year structural warranty, 40-year paint warranty, 25-year standing seam roof warranty, and 20-year Galvalume roof warranty.

The Company

The company’s corporate headquarters is in Littleton, Colorado. However, you’ll be pleased to know they ship worldwide from fabrication centers all over the US.

Benefits of Using the Company

We believe the company should be on this list because of its various warranties and dedication to helping clients understand what they want and need rather than making a fast buck.

It also has an excellent international shipping network and supplies a personal project coordinator at no extra charge.

Overall, General Steel is a company you can feel safe dealing with.

Metal Depots

Metal Depots offers three different barndominium products, each with a popular design. The smallest barndo is the “rustic cottage” kit measuring 1,250 sq. ft.

At the same time, the most popular is the “Austin” kit, measuring 2,400 sq. ft. This kit echoes the stunning properties in the hills around Austin, Texas. It includes a garage and workshop with the residence.

Alternatively, you can choose the largest barndo kit, the “modern farmhouse” kit with a floor area of 2,800 sq.ft., large enough to be an event space, meeting hall, or church, but can also be converted to a three-bedroom home with a garage.

The kits contain exterior framing only, so you must purchase interior framing, HVAC, and insulation separately.

Each kit has multiple warranties, such as fire warranties and extreme weather warranties, and each kit can withstand 130 mph winds and heavy rain or snowfalls.

The Company

Metal Depots has corporate premises in Houston, Texas, and is part of the Cornerstone Building Brands, North America’s largest metal building manufacturer.

It also has manufacturing facilities around the US from where it ships worldwide, with sales offices in South Carolina, North Carolina, Los Angeles (California), New Mexico, and Texas. Each office holds ready-built kits and roofing materials for your inspection.

Benefits of Using the Company

Metal Depot’s kits are simple to buy and straightforward to build. You also receive detailed instructions and visual aids when choosing your barndo.

The company guarantees the barndo’s reliability, fire and termite resistance, and ability to withstand extreme weather.

Barndominium Financing

Most people buying a barndominium, whether a new build, a kit, or purchasing an existing barndo, will need help financing the project.

Credit unions and banks typically offer construction loans that convert into a standard mortgage. However, you may have to search for a lender who will cover the cost of a barndominium unless this building type is common in your area.

Therefore, do plenty of research to find a shortlist.

When you’ve found the lender, you’ll need a downpayment like a standard mortgage and pay interest. Furthermore, some lenders require excellent credit ratings and large downpayments.

Alternatively, suppose you’re on a low to medium income. In that case, you can research several state and federal government home loan schemes.

Research your eligibility on the websites, as they have stringent requirements.

Barndo Insurance

While barndos are a good fire, security, and weather risk, many insurance companies won’t cover them because they don’t usually offer policies for residential buildings with metal siding.

However, persevere, and you’ll find more open-minded companies that have previously insured buildings like yours.

Insurance Cover

When you’ve found a company, find out what their cover includes. Usually, like a conventional home, you’ll have policies to protect against structural, electrical, plumbing, weather damage, and deterioration.

Furthermore, buy insurance to cover the contents and any injury to visitors to your property.

Types of Cover

Actual Cash Value

The most affordable policy is called “actual cash value” insurance.

This policy covers all interior and exterior items for their cash value before damage.

Extended Value

This policy is helpful if your barndominium suffers fire, hurricanes, floods, or similar issues.

The policy covers the total cost of rebuilding the property rather than its face value. Sometimes, this coverage also extends to certain repairs.

Insurance Costs

The price of insurance coverage depends on many factors, such as:

  • Property value
  • The state you live in
  • The coverage
  • Your insurance history
  • Typical weather in your area

Acquiring Land For Your Barndominium

If you intend to build a barndominium instead of buying an existing one, you need some building land.

There are several steps to purchasing a building lot, and it’s helpful to understand the process.

Search for Building Land

First, find the correct sized lot for an affordable price in your area. Easier said than done!

However, several websites display vacant building land. A few of the best sites include:

Don’t underestimate the knowledge of a local real estate agent.

They keep their eyes and ears open and often know what’s available before it comes on the market.

Financing a Land Purchase

Some of the available finance options include:

New Construction Loan

A new construction loan lets the buyer purchase the building land and covers construction costs.

Usually, these loans convert to a standard mortgage at the end of the construction phase (construction-to-permanent loan), but not always. Check that your agreement does what you want before you sign the contract.

Typically, unless you’re using a federal government home loan, you need an excellent credit score, a low debt-to-income ratio, professionally drawn plans, and a hefty downpayment (10%-20%).

Lot Land Loan

A lot land loan allows the borrower to buy the construction separately from the land if the land already has the following in place:

  • Zoning approval
  • Building permits allocated
  • All year-round access to public roads
  • Municipal sewer connection or septic tank system
  • Utilities nearby

If you take out a loan like this, the downpayment is 10%-20%.

Raw Land Loan

You’ll need a raw land loan if your building lot doesn’t qualify for a lot land loan.

However, lenders consider this a high-risk loan and expect a 50% downpayment and higher-than-average interest rates.

Understand Zoning Restrictions

Your potential purchase may have restrictive zoning regulations. If so, you’ll probably find that barndos also suffer from strict building codes in your area.

Usually, this is in urban or residential areas where it’s not normal to have an agricultural building. Therefore, choose a rural setting instead.

Failure to comply with the zoning and building codes results in significant fines and penalties, so don’t try to bypass them. Instead, build in an area where large steel buildings are more acceptable.

The local government agencies that handle zoning and building permits will need professionally drawn architect’s and structural engineer’s drawings. If you hope to buy a barndo kit, the manufacturer will supply these.

Take care if the land you want to live on was previously agricultural or industrial. Probably, the authorities haven’t previously registered it as residential land.

Therefore, get an attorney to discover your land’s category and apply to change it if possible.

Is the Land Suitable?

A professional land surveyor should assess the lot you want to buy to determine its exact dimensions and gradient, whether there are issues such as its accessibility, and if another person has rights over it.

The surveyor will also determine whether the land drains correctly and is safe to build on, if environmental issues restrict specific processes, and if you can drill a borehole and dig a septic tank.

Connecting Utilities

Don’t assume utilities such as electricity, water, gas, and sewage drainage are on your site. If the land isn’t residential, these may not have been connected and might be far from the construction site.

Hiring A General Contractor vs. DIY Approach

If you have experience with construction tools and procedures, you can sometimes save money by doing some work yourself.

Generally, this will be unskilled work, as home loan companies and zoning boards often specify that an approved contractor must do the construction work to ensure the property remains safe and looks attractive.

However, this doesn’t prevent you from clearing the undergrowth and doing non-structural work such as painting.

Hire an approved contractor who has previously worked with the lender to ensure you keep within the rules. They can then hire specialist contractors such as plumbers, roofers, steel fixers, and electricians.

Typically, contractors charge the following rates. But remember that these are average estimates and will vary depending on your state and whether you’re in an urban or rural environment.

TradeHourly Rate
General Contractor$50-$150/hr.
Electrician$50-$150/hr.
Plumber$40-$150/hr.
Interior Designer$50-$220/hr.

There are other advantages to hiring a contractor that you shouldn’t overlook.

They’ll be professional, certified to work in your state, and most importantly, hold insurance because unavoidable mistakes or accidents sometimes happen.

Summary

Whether your barndominium is a pre-existing structure, a kit, or you’re building it from scratch, you need to know what you’re doing. Although you should hire a contractor to construct the barndo, there’s plenty of research and planning you can do beforehand that will save money in the long term and ensure everything goes smoothly.

Finally, when you’ve built the barndo and moved in, fire up the grill and have a few friends over. You can then relax and look back on the experience with satisfaction.

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