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Navigating Barndominium Financing: What You Need to Know

Financing a barndominium would require you to know the terms and take preparations with your documentation. There are options such as conventional financing, mortgage refinancing, USDA loans, VA loans, and FHA loans. However, the journey will always begin with your credit score, gathering documents, and getting ready to make a down payment of roughly 20%.

This article guides you through the necessary information on barndominium loans.

Understanding Barndominium & its finance

A barndominium, or “barndo” for short, is a blend that combines a barn (typically a garage or a shop) with the comfortable amenities of a condominium. Originating from the vast agricultural landscapes, these structures have been reimagined into residential lofts, workshops, and expansive homes. It offers a unique living space that combines durability, style, and functionality (especially in urban areas).

When it comes to financing a barndominium in the USA (or, other countries like Canada and Australia) , the roadmap can be as unique as the structure itself, with a few things to consider.

Unlike traditional homes, barndominiums can sometimes puzzle lenders due to their dual nature as both a residence and a potential agricultural or workshop space. However, lenders are now offering plenty of financing options to the barndo owners subject to having a decent credit score and payment ability.

Barndominium loan

Here’s how the uniqueness of a barndominium affects financing:

  • Appraisal Challenges: Valuing a barndominium can be tricky for appraisers due to the lack of comparable properties (For example, two properties in Texas would not be the same due to structural & designing changes). Moreover, appraisal process would require future economic gain that can be tricky to calculate sometimes. These can influence the loan amount a bank is willing to offer.
  • Loan Type Availability: While you can finance a barndominium with a conventional mortgage, construction loan, or through USDA, VA, and FHA loans, the terms and availability might differ. For instance, some lenders may be hesitant if the barndominium will be used for commercial purposes mainly. If so, the return on investment would largely depend on how the owner flips from its commercial operation as it affects the loan repayment largely.
  • Down Payment and Interest Rates: The perceived risk associated with barndominiums might lead to higher down payment requirements or interest rates compared to traditional homes. However, this largely depends on the lender’s familiarity with such properties and the borrower’s creditworthiness. We have seen that the downpayment varies from 10% to 20% noawadys. However, in earlier times, downpayment was not the sole motivating factor during financing options.
  • Insurance and Regulations: Securing insurance for a barndominium can be more complex due to lack of historical data and limited policy availability. Because of that, it can potentially affect financing your shouse. Furthermore, local building codes and zoning regulations can impact the feasibility of constructing a barndominium, which lenders will consider.
  • Builder and Contractor Selection: Financing often hinges on the credibility and experience of the builders and contractors you choose for your barndominium project. Sometimes, the owner chooses a builder without considering his past success rate or somehow fails to notice any of the negative sides affecting the financing option. Lenders may require detailed plans and proof of the builder’s ability to complete the project.

Preparation before seeking financing

When it comes to preparing for financing your dream barndominium, think of it as gearing up for a major expedition. You wouldn’t climb a mountain without first assessing your fitness level, ensuring you have the right gear, and mapping out your route, right?

The same goes for getting ready with your financial landscape of a barndominium loan.

Preparing for a barndominium loan

Here’s how to get yourself ready for the financing.

Assessing Your Financial Health

First things first, take a hard look at your financial health. This is like checking the weather before a hike—you need to know what you’re dealing with.

Your credit score is a good starting point. It’s like your financial temperature, giving lenders an idea of how well you manage debt. The higher your score, the better the loan terms you’re likely to get. Think of a credit score of 700 or above as sunny weather, making your loan journey smoother. (Usually, a credit score of more than 620 is fair enough to convince the lender for a barndo loan).

Also, examine your debt-to-income ratio (DTI). This is the part where you weigh your backpack before making any journey. If it’s too heavy (high DTI), you’re going to struggle on your climb (loan approval process).

Lenders typically prefer a DTI below 36%. If yours is higher, consider paying down some debt before applying for a loan. For instance, if you have a DTI of 45%, you can offer 30% or even more down payment. The overall concept is not to make the loan burden too heavy on your shoulders which enables the lenders to doubt on your future credibility.

Importance of a Down Payment

Next up, the down payment. This is your base camp—the stronger it is, the better your position.

A sizeable down payment reduces the lender’s risk, potentially securing you a lower interest rate.

It’s like choosing a sturdy tent for your base camp; it gives you a secure starting point.

While 20% is the gold standard, not everyone can reach it. However, the more you put down, the less you’ll pay in the long run.

The down payment for a traditional home is not similar to the barndo due to its dual nature (residence + commercial).

For barndominiums, which can sometimes be seen as unconventional by lenders, a robust down payment is even more critical. It shows you’re serious and financially stable.

Depending on your location, DTI, and credit score, the percentage of the downpayment may vary from 10% to 30%. However, 20% is a decent average that was found by analyzing the historical data.

Need a Barndominium Floor Plan?

We filtered out the trending barndominiun design layouts in one place.

Estimating Your Budget and Costs

Finally, map out your budget and costs. Building a barndominium isn’t just about the price of land and construction; there are permits, inspections, and possibly higher insurance costs.

Picture this as plotting your route. You need to know the terrain (total costs) and your stamina (budget) to make it to the summit (completing your barndominium).

Start by getting quotes from contractors, pricing out materials, and don’t forget to include a buffer for unexpected expenses—think of it as packing extra food and water.

Here’s our checklist for your negotiation with the metal supplier.

A hypothetical example to bring this to life could be:

Let’s say the land costs $50,000, and construction is estimated at $150,000. Add another $20,000 for permits, utilities, and other fees.

Your total project cost comes to $220,000. If you aim for a 20% down payment, you’d need $44,000 upfront.

With a budget mapped out, you can see if you need to save more, adjust your plans, or explore different financing options.

In a nutshell, preparing for financing a barndominium is all about knowing your financial landscape, setting a solid foundation with a down payment, and carefully planning your budget.

Approach it with the diligence of planning a major expedition, and you’ll be on your way to achieving your barndominium dream.

Financing options for barndominiums

Alright, let’s get you straight to the financing options for your barndominium.

Just like you’d need the right ingredients and equipment for brewing, you need the right loan to get your barndominium from blueprint to reality. Here’s the lowdown:

Barndominiam loan option

Conventional Mortgages

Conventional mortgages are like the classic ale of financing—they’re widely available and come with a familiar taste.

This concept is simple and straight forward. If the loan amount gets approved, start building your barndo and start paying on time as per the debt payment schedule. Sometimes, the interest rate can be fixed or floating (depending on your earlier negotiation with the bank).

Conventional loans are not directly backed by the government and typically require a minimum down payment of 5% to 20% (depending on the lenders’ flexibility and your financial wealth).

However, for a barndominium, lenders might want to see a down payment closer to 20%, especially since these properties can be harder to appraise. The better your credit score and financial situation, the better your interest rate.

Conventional mortgage

Construction Loans

A construction loan covers the cost of building your home, and then you’d typically refinance into a conventional mortgage once construction is complete.

The method works like you asking someone to pay for the work and then refinancing the earlier debt with a conventional mortgage. This becomes feasible as a complete barndominium itself becomes the mortgage of the financing where the lender is allowed to capture the property in case of any future default.

It’s a two-step process, with the first step being a bit hoppy. Interest rates can be higher, and you’ll need detailed plans and a qualified builder on your side.

USDA Loans (for Rural Areas)

If your barndominium is taking root in a rural area, USDA loans can be a great fit if you qualify with the benchmarks.

They’re backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and can offer no down payment for those who qualify.

There are income limits and the property needs to be in an eligible rural area, but if you fit the bill, it’s a great option.

The financing “limit” is more about what you can comfortably afford rather than a capped amount. The USDA uses a debt-to-income ratio to help determine this, aiming for mortgage payments not to exceed 29% of your monthly income. So, if you’re bringing home $4,000 a month, your mortgage shouldn’t be over $1,160.


  • No Down Payment Required: As appetizing as a zero-down payment sounds, it’s true. This is a godsend for those who haven’t saved a nest egg for a down payment.
  • Lower Interest Rates: Generally speaking, USDA loans offer interest rates that are competitive or lower than conventional loans, making your monthly payments more digestible.
  • Flexible Credit Requirements: USDA loans are more forgiving than traditional loans, ideal for those with blemished or limited credit history.


  • Geographic Restrictions: Your dream barndominium must be in an area deemed rural by USDA standards. This might put a damper on your plans if your heart is set on a location outside eligible areas.
  • Income Limits: There’s a ceiling on how much you can earn to qualify for a USDA loan. If you’re doing well for yourself, you might surpass the income threshold, making you ineligible.
  • Mortgage Insurance: While you don’t need a down payment, you will need to pay for mortgage insurance, which adds to your monthly costs.

VA Loans (for Veterans and Service Members)

For the veterans and service members out there, VA loans are like the stout of the financing world—robust, reliable, and offering a lot of support.

Backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, these loans can offer financing with no down payment, no private mortgage insurance, and competitive interest rates. Your barndominium will need to meet certain standards, and you’ll need a Certificate of Eligibility from the VA.

FHA Loans

FHA loans are like the wheat beers—accessible, lighter on the requirements, and a good entry point for many.

Backed by the Federal Housing Administration, these loans are known for their lower down payment requirements (as low as 3.5%) and more lenient credit score requirements. However, you’ll pay for mortgage insurance, which increases your monthly payment.

Local Credit Union and Bank Financing

Local credit union for barndominium loan

Don’t forget to check out the local scene—just like finding that hidden gem of a microbrewery. Local credit unions and banks might have more flexibility and a better understanding of barndominiums, especially if they’re common in your area.

They might offer customized financing options that fit your project better than a one-size-fits-all loan.

Each of these options has its unique flavor and fit, depending on your situation, location, and financial health.

Just like brewing the perfect batch, finding the right financing for your barndominium takes research, preparation, and a bit of experimentation.

Don’t be afraid to shop around and ask plenty of questions to ensure you find the best deal for your dream home. Cheers to your barndominium adventure!

A quick tip: If you are searching for a barndominium loan online, always confirm the lenders’ background and identify if there is any middle man who exists who takes part of your payment.

Need a Barndominium Floor Plan?

We filtered out the trending barndominiun design layouts in one place.

Navigating the loan application process

Let me help you to navigate the loan application process. First things first, you need to accumulate the documents required.

Documentation Needed

First up, gathering your documentation is like packing for the trip. You wouldn’t leave without your essentials, and the same goes for your loan application. You’ll need:

  • Proof of income (W-2 forms, pay stubs, and possibly your last two tax returns)
  • Proof of assets (bank statements, retirement account statements)
  • Credit history (your lender will pull this, but it’s good to know where you stand)
  • Identification (driver’s license, passport, or other government-issued ID)

Think of it as showing the lender your financial road map, giving them confidence you can handle the journey ahead.

Understanding Credit Requirements

Your credit score is like your driving record to lenders—it shows how well you’ve managed your financial vehicle over the years.

For most conventional loans, a score of 620 or higher is the ticket to getting approved, but the higher your score, the better the interest rate you’ll likely snag.

If your credit score is more moped than Ferrari, consider taking some time to buff it up by paying down debt and making all your payments on time.

The Appraisal Process for Barndominiums

Barndominium loan appraisal

Getting an appraisal for a barndominium is a bit like asking for directions in a foreign country—it can be complicated.

Since barndominiums are unique, finding comparable properties (comps) to determine value can be challenging.

The appraiser will evaluate the land, the construction quality, and the finished property’s functionality.

To smooth out this process, ensure your builder has a detailed list of all construction materials and costs, as well as any unique features that might add value.

Investing in insulation and weatherproofing would gather additional points while the appraisal takes place.

Potential Challenges and How to Overcome Them

  • Finding a Willing Lender: Not all lenders are familiar with barndominium financing, which can be as frustrating as trying to order a vegan meal at a barbecue joint. Overcome this by shopping around and considering local banks or credit unions that understand the local market.
  • Meeting Loan-to-Value Ratios: Because of the unique nature of barndominiums, some lenders might be conservative in their appraisals, affecting your loan-to-value ratio. You might need to put down a larger down payment to meet these requirements.
  • Navigating Zoning and Building Codes: Local regulations can be as confusing as trying to decipher an ancient map. Before you start, check with your local building department to ensure your barndominium project complies with all zoning and building codes.
  • Insurance: Finding insurance for a barndominium can be tricky since not all companies offer policies for them. You might need to talk to several agents or look for companies specializing in non-traditional homes.

Barndominium builders & contractors

Selecting the right builder for your barndominium project is a lot like picking the best quarterback for your fantasy football team. You want someone who’s not only got the skills but also understands your game plan and can execute it flawlessly. When it comes to barndominiums, this choice becomes even more crucial because you’re stepping into a realm where traditional homebuilding meets customized, multifunctional living spaces.

Barndominium builders

Selecting the Right Builder for Your Project

First off, start by scouting. Just like you wouldn’t pick a quarterback without checking their stats, don’t choose a builder without doing your homework. Look for builders with experience specifically in barndominiums. This niche requires a blend of skills that can handle both the robust, industrial aspects of a barn and the nuanced, comfortable elements of a home.

Ask for portfolios of completed projects and, if possible, references. Contacting past clients can give you insight into how the builder manages communication, timelines, and budget constraints. Think of it as watching game tapes before the big draft.

Consider their expertise in integrating modern amenities into these unique spaces. Your builder should be well-versed in the latest building codes and energy efficiency standards, ensuring your barndominium is not only stylish but also sustainable and compliant.

The Role of Builders in the Financing Process

Builders play a pivotal role in the financing process, somewhat akin to a quarterback calling audibles. They can significantly influence the approval of your construction loan. Lenders often require detailed construction plans, cost estimates, and a timeline for completion before they green-light your financing. A seasoned builder will provide these, presenting your project as a sound investment to the lender.

Moreover, some builders have established relationships with local banks and credit unions. They can introduce you to financial institutions familiar with funding barndominium projects, which can be a game-changer. Think of it as having a quarterback with an inside line to the referee.

In the financing huddle, builders also contribute by breaking down the construction stages and associated costs. This detailed breakdown helps in securing a construction loan, which typically disburses funds in installments based on project milestones. Your builder’s reputation and financial stability can reassure lenders that the project will be completed on time and within budget.

I know a couple, dreaming of building a barndominium in rural Texas. They chose a builder with 10 years of experience in barndominiums, highlighted by a portfolio featuring energy-efficient designs and modern interiors.

This builder had connections with a local credit union experienced in construction loans for such unique projects. With the builder’s detailed construction plan and cost estimate, the Smiths secured their loan smoothly, setting them on the path to their dream home.

Insurance and its significance

Matching an appropriate insurance policy with your barndominium is another challenge that actively influences the availability of finance. It’s all about preparation, understanding the rules, and knowing how to play them to your advantage. Let’s break it down.

Barndominium Insurance

Insurance Requirements During and After Construction

During construction, you’re going to want to have Builder’s Risk Insurance. Think of it as your offensive line – it’s there to protect your project from theft, vandalism, and natural disasters while under construction. This coverage is crucial because standard homeowners insurance won’t cover a house that’s not yet habitable.

Once your barndominium is up and ready, switching to a homeowners insurance policy is like moving into regular season play. This is where you ensure your investment is protected long-term. Homeowners insurance for barndominiums can be a bit trickier to navigate due to their unique nature. Some insurers may have specific requirements or exclusions based on the fact that barndominiums can sometimes serve dual purposes – both as a home and as a workshop or agricultural facility.

How Insurance Affects Your Financing

Here’s where it gets interesting. Insurance doesn’t just protect your physical investment; it also plays a pivotal role in securing and maintaining your financing. Think of it as your credit score in the financial world – without it, you’re not playing the game.

Lenders typically require proof of insurance before closing on a construction loan. They want to ensure their investment (and yours) is protected. The type of insurance, the coverage amount, and the policy terms can all influence the loan approval process. For instance, a robust insurance policy might make a lender more comfortable with approving a higher loan amount or offering a more favorable interest rate.

Moreover, the cost of insurance can affect your debt-to-income ratio, an important factor lenders consider when evaluating loan applications. High insurance premiums could, in theory, limit how much you can afford to borrow since they increase your monthly expenses.

Let’s illustrate with a hypothetical scenario: Imagine Jane Doe is building her dream barndominium in the outskirts of Austin, Texas. She finds that Builder’s Risk Insurance costs her an additional $250 a month during the construction phase. Once completed, her homeowners insurance is estimated at $150 a month, due to the custom features and workshop space included in her barndominium. These insurance costs are factored into her loan application, influencing both the approval process and her monthly budget planning.

So, insurance is not just a regulatory hoop to jump through. It’s a critical component of the financial ecosystem surrounding your barndominium, offering protection and peace of mind through every phase of construction and beyond. Like a well-executed game plan, it requires strategy, foresight, and an understanding of the playing field to ensure your barndominium project crosses the finish line both protected and financeable.

Government programs & grants

There might be some government facilities or grants to support your barndominium. However, they are not so easy and readily accessible unless you are the right match!

Exploring Federal and State Assistance Programs for Barndominium Financing

On the federal level, programs like the USDA Rural Development loans stand out. They’re designed for rural homebuyers, offering 100% financing, low rates, and no down payment. For someone eyeing a barndominium in the countryside, this could be the golden ticket. Though the USDA doesn’t explicitly mention barndominiums, their focus on rural development means your dream barndo project might just fit the bill, assuming it aligns with their eligibility requirements.

State programs can vary widely, each with its unique set of benefits. For example, states like Texas have the Texas Veterans Land Board, offering land loans for veterans dreaming of building their own homes, potentially including barndominiums. Other states may offer similar benefits through their housing finance agencies, providing down payment assistance or tax credits to first-time homebuyers or those purchasing in designated areas.

Grants and Programs for First-Time Homeowners

For the rookies in the home buying game, there’s good news. First-time homeowner grants and programs are like finding an oasis in the desert. The HUD’s HOME Investment Partnerships Program provides grants to states and localities that communities use – often in partnership with local nonprofit groups – to fund a wide range of activities, including building, buying, and/or rehabilitating affordable housing for rent or homeownership. While it doesn’t specify barndominiums, if your project aligns with affordable housing initiatives, you might have a shot.

Another noteworthy program is the FHA loan, offering low down payments, low closing costs, and easy credit qualifying. Again, while FHA loans are generally more associated with traditional homes, a well-planned barndominium project that meets FHA standards could potentially qualify.

It’s important to note that the specifics of what qualifies can vary, and navigating the eligibility criteria is crucial. Engaging with local housing authorities or consulting with a housing counselor approved by the HUD can provide clarity and direction on leveraging these programs for your barndominium financing.

Long-term consideration & refinancing

Navigating the financial journey of a barndominium, from initial financing to potentially refinancing down the line, plus considering its future sale and market appeal, is like charting a course for a ship you’ve just built. It requires foresight, understanding the currents of the market, and making informed decisions to keep your investment sailing smoothly.

Refinancing Your Barndominium

Refinancing a barndominium isn’t much different from refinancing any other type of home, but it does come with its unique considerations. The goal is often to secure a lower interest rate, reduce monthly payments, or change the loan term. Perhaps when you first financed your barndominium, you opted for a construction loan with a higher interest rate. As you settle in and the market shifts, you might find opportunities to refinance to a conventional mortgage with more favorable terms.

However, the refinancing process for a barndominium can come with its hurdles. The uniqueness of barndominiums means that finding comparable properties for appraisal can be challenging, potentially affecting the loan terms offered by lenders. Additionally, lenders unfamiliar with barndominiums may be hesitant to offer the best rates. It’s like convincing someone to try an exotic dish they’ve never heard of; you’ll need to present it in the best light.

Future Sale and Market Appeal

Thinking about the resale value and market appeal of your barndominium is akin to considering the legacy of the home you’ve created. Barndominiums, with their blend of rustic charm and modern amenities, appeal to a niche market that values uniqueness, efficiency, and often, a connection to the land.

The future sale of a barndominium can be influenced by several factors. On the plus side, the custom nature of barndominiums and their often energy-efficient and cost-effective construction can attract buyers looking for something beyond the cookie-cutter suburban home. However, the niche appeal means your potential buyer pool may be smaller, requiring more time and effort to find the right match.

Enhancing the market appeal of your barndominium involves thoughtful design choices that balance personalization with broad appeal, maintaining the property, and staying informed about trends in rural and semi-rural living spaces. Like selling a specialty product, highlighting the unique features that differentiate your barndominium – such as sustainable materials, energy efficiency, and versatile living spaces – can help attract buyers who see the value in your vision.

Frequently asked questions

How do you finance a barndominium in Texas?

In Texas, a conventional loan is a familiar and readily available option to finance a barndominium that requires approximately a 20% down payment. Even though there are options for FHA, VA, and USDA loans the guidelines are stricter.

Who finances barndominiums in Florida?

In Florida, FHA loans are easily available which means that if you qualify, your payment installment starts after the home is built. However, lenders like Farm Credit of Northwest Florida and Farm Bureau Bank offers lucrative barndominium financing options.

Conclusion with a recap

In conclusion, financing your barndominium would become easy if you have a good credit score (at least 620) and are ready to make a downpayment of roughly 20%. You may try for a USDA loan that gives you the freedom to finance 100% of your barndominium cost and start paying after it is built. Unless you are a veteran, conventional mortgage financing is always easy to get.

Brian Cooper
Brian Cooper

I'm Brian, an architectural engineer from the University of Texas

Writing about barndominium is my passion. I try to bring informative and technical contents on barndominium so that the entire sourcing and construction process seems easy.

As an architectural engineer, I do have expertise of designing and building using prefabricated steel structures. Moreover, I am connected with 500+ prefabricated steel structure experts that helps me to gather and prepare the relevant information for your help.

I have experience of 250+ barndominium contrustion of which 75% are built with metal structure. Moreover, I am a trained energy audit professional, and with that specialization I can help you to bring your barndo's energy consumption at minimum level.

I hope you like my write-ups which is my greatest inspiration.

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