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What Is A Barndominium And Is It Right For You?

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If you’ve been considering building a new home, you might be exploring all of your options, and there are certainly a lot of them out there. Gone are the days of choosing merely between a single-family ranch and a McMansion in the ‘burbs. From tiny homes to homes built from living materials, your options are vast. 

But have you heard about the barndominium trend? Sometimes, it’s simply shortened to barndo. And yes, the word sounds a little strange. Is it a barn? Is it a condo? Is it a mix of both? 

Leonard Ang, the CEO of iPropertyManagement, which is an online resource guide for landlords, real estate investors, and tenants, has defined barndos in a very simple and easy-to-digest manner. In his words, a barndo or “a barndominium is an old barn that’s been converted into one or more residences.”

And while this building and home design trend has only been around for a few years, it’s quickly gained traction as one of the coolest new styles. 

Here’s everything you need to know.

So, What in the World is a Barndominium? 

Yes, a barndominium is exactly what it sounds like — a rustic-style metal building, like a barn, but not always, that’s been repurposed into a stylish living space. While these barndominiums have gotten traction most recently due to the rise of ever-popular fixer-upper shows on HGTV and the like, the concept is nothing new. 

Historically, agricultural families often blended their work and living quarters into one building. Don’t worry, though — no one’s going to ask you to share the first floor with the family cow if you decide to build one of these unique structures.

Today, the modern barndominium building may include a working space. This is often the case if the living space is designed for use by farm workers, horse caretakers or those in similar professions but not always. Sometimes it can simply be that rustic-style building that’s been fully repurposed, no farm animals required. 

Related: How To Furnish An Apartment For Cheap [In A Way That Still Looks Lavish]  

Why Would You Want a Barn Home?

There are quite a few reasons why you might want to consider a barndominium for your family.

Potential Work Space 

If you’re specifically looking for a home that blends working and living spaces, then you might choose a barndominium design that offers not just space for livestock, but any other of a wealth of options. 

You could make the working space a garage, wood workshop, machinery shop, etcetera. If you need a space to get dirty and get some work done, you can have it directly connected to your living space with this dream home style. 

Rustic Design

If you don’t care for the workspace, though, you might just love the rustic look that a barndominium offers. Barndominums typically feature wide-open floor plans and loft spaces. 

Vaulted ceilings and exposed materials — from stone to wood to metal and timber — are standard. Indoor-outdoor space is also par for the course, so you can expect lots of porch and patio room. Large barn doors and roll-up windows make for an even greater blend of indoor and outdoor space.

Versatility

But beyond the functionality and the style that a barndominium offers, you’ll find these homes also come with an array of other benefits that attract new builders. They’re incredibly versatile, and you can often adapt a barndominium’s design to your specific needs. 

Quick Building Process

Since barndominium floor plans are a little simpler than the average home, they don’t take quite as long to build, meaning you won’t spend months or even years waiting for your new-build construction to wrap up. 

High Level of Durability 

Barndominiums are also known for their durability… At least when they’re constructed primarily from metal. Metal barndominiums are reported to easily withstand fire, earthquakes, pests and rot.

Energy Efficiency

Most barndo constructors create their homes with energy efficiency and eco-friendly living in mind.

Cost-Effectiveness

Additionally, there are ways to save money when building a barndominium, as you can buy barndominium kits online, similar to tiny home kits. You can find kits for as low as $20,000. However, do note that the cost is just for the kit alone. You’ll need to pay additional for things like preparing your lot for construction, installing needed septic tanks or hooking up electricity and water, as well as hiring laborers if you don’t plan on putting the kit together yourself. 

Endless Future Options 

Lastly, because barndominiums are so versatile, they can easily be changed later down the road if you decide you need more space or you want to change up the existing space. 

Related: Budgeting Tips To Save You Money [And 11 Things To Stop Paying For Now!]  

Why Would You Not Want the Barndominium Life?

However, despite all of this design style’s benefits, it also comes with a few downsides for homeowners. 

The Style Isn’t For Everyone 

It is a very unique style, so if you find you do prefer more of a traditional build, you might not care for this trend. 

Corrosion is a High Possibility

While a metal exterior is very desirable to some, thanks to its durability and the way it withstands fire, pests and other problems, it does corrode. This may not be a particular problem depending on your climate, but if you live somewhere that’s especially humid, rainy or wet, it’s something to consider. 

Obtaining a Permit May Be Difficult 

Some builders have found that it’s not possible to build a barndominium-style home just anywhere. Before you order your barndominium kit online, check your local permitting restrictions.

There Might Be Financial Difficulties 

While, yes, we did mention that the financial side of building a barndominium is a plus, because they’re often more affordable than building a traditional home, you may find the financing to be a little difficult if you’re not paying for your project with cash. 

Not every bank will give you a loan for this type of structure. Additionally, you may find that, if you ever decide to sell, you may take a loss. What’s desirable to some isn’t desirable to all buyers. 

There’s a Potential For Lack of Sound and Temperature Control

Additionally, because barndominiums usually feature high ceilings and huge, wide open spaces, it can be more difficult to control both sound and temperature. 

They Are Usually Reserved For Rural Locations

Lastly, because these homes are often on the large side and are built, at least partially, with large working projects in mind, they’re often situated on large lots, in rural areas. This means you likely won’t have the convenience of living near your neighbors or in a neighborhood, if that’s something that matters to you. 

Buying a Barndominium Building Kit

So you’ve weighed the pros and cons and think a barndominium might be right for you? If you’re interested in buying a barndominium kit, here’s what you need to know.

What’s Included in a Barndominium Building Kit? 

Your barndominium kit will typically include everything you need to construct the exterior of your new home. Don’t expect anything interior to be included. That means no cabinetry, no appliances, no plumbing fixtures or the like. Those are extra costs to consider.

The kit will include framing, flashing, trim sealants, fasteners, roofing, wall sheeting and all the info you need to put it all together into one cohesive house.

In some cases, you can buy kits that come with extra such as windows, doors, gutters and insulation, but that’s not the standard, so double-check your kit before purchase. 

Can You Really Build This Kit Yourself?

If you’ve never constructed anything before, you may want to hire a contractor to take care of this project for you. That’s because this is literally building a house. You’re not just putting together a DIY project that you picked up at your favorite home store. 

You need to know what you’re doing if you want your home to be built correctly. Remember — while you may be tempted to put this kit together yourself for the cost savings, you’ll cost yourself more money in the long run by putting together your home incorrectly.

Related: Installing Solar Panels On Your House [The Ultimate Guide]  

Where to Buy a Barndominium Kit

You’ll have a few options when it comes to barndominium kits. Let’s take a close look at three of them! .

1. Worldwide Steel Buildings

Black modern Barndominum with wrap-around porch

Worldwide Steel Buildings offers barndominium kits that are either all steel or a steel-wood hybrid. Kits are customizable and start with an adaptable floor plan that the company’s reps help you to adjust to your needs. You have further options to customize the kits to include energy-efficient windows, garage or overhead doors, custom finishes, overhangs and more. The kits start at about $10 per square foot of space and financing options are available via a partnership with New Century Bank.

2. General Steel Buildings

General Steel Buildings

General Steel Buildings also offers barndominium kits. Just go on the site and start designing your custom barndominium right away. Pick from a range of windows, doors and colors. There are several starter layouts to pick from, whether you want a three-bedroom, 40 by 75 square foot barndominium or a multi-use, 60 by 60 square foot barndominium. 

3. Heritage Building Systems

Heritage Building Systems

Heritage Building Systems gives you several kit options and does a great job of helping you envision what your end project will look like. The company’s kits are also a little more modern and stylish than what you’ll find from some other providers. Additionally, the kits come with a few extras, like gutters and downspouts. 

Don’t Want a Kit?

If you aren’t finding a kit that really tickles your fancy, you can buy barndominium house plans instead. While these plans can be a little more difficult to source, they might be a good option if you want to have more control over the materials that are used in the building process.

Plus, you won’t have to be reliant on the materials that automatically come as part of the kit. You can purchase plans directly from one of the kit manufacturers or you can hire an architect to design custom plans, though this is the more expensive of the two options.

You also have the option of transforming an existing barn into a barndominium space. While this may seem like the easiest choice. After all, the shell of the building is already there, but do note that you’ll want to take those upgrades very seriously. 

Try speaking with a contractor about making sure everything is up to code. Different standards and building codes will apply to different living spaces versus barns. For example, you’ll want to inspect the paint being used, as the paint used in a traditional barn or storage building might not be safe for an internal space. 

Furnishing Your Barndominium

Furnishing your barndominium comes with a few challenges that you might not encounter if you were simply furnishing a traditional home. You’re typically dealing with a very large and open concept, so you might find that your current furniture looks tiny in your barndominium. 

In general, you’ll want to choose larger furniture that will fill the space in an adequate way. As such, the furniture won’t look bare or empty. Plus, larger furniture may be able to help with the absorption of some of the noise that can sometimes be problematic in a barndominium. 

Statement pieces can really make your space stand out as well, especially if they’re on the larger side. Don’t limit yourself to statement furniture, though. Other statement options include fireplaces, chandeliers, cabinetry or staircases. 

Try creating separate areas or rooms within the larger space by grouping like furniture and color palettes together. You can also create an illusion of different spaces via accent walls or varying paint colors. 

If you’re not sure that you’ve decided on the perfect paint color for such a large space, consider creating a peel-and-stick accent wall using wallpaper or temporary shiplap, for a look that you can change up if you decide you don’t like it. 

Add rugs to concrete floors to provide warmth and also help with temperature and noise concerns. Don’t want to keep the standard concrete or other floors? Add some wood flooring in a tone that compliments your space the most! 

Is a Barndominium Right for You?

Barndominiums might not be a perfect fit for everyone, but they’re certainly an eye-catching fit for some. Whether you want a dual-use space that can act as your small business’s home base, or a large and open home with a rural, rustic vibe, a barndominium can fit the bill. Explore all your options — plans, kits or refurbishing an existing barn — and decide which is best for your barndominium dreams. 

You might also be interested in: 8 Red Flags To Look For When Buying A Home [Complete Guide]  

3 Places To Buy a Barndominium From:

  1. Worldwide Steel Buildings
  2. General Steel Buildings
  3. Heritage Building Systems 

Holly Riddle

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