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Barndominium vs Shouse – Are they same?

We often get confused between a barndominium and a shouse. Both structures are closely similar with a few minor differences. A shouse combines a workshop or warehouse plus a residential house under the same roof. This is a conceptual duplication of a barndominium when a barn-like structure was converted into a residential place.

Both shouse and barndominiums serve dual purposes (commercial + residential) but the shouse is more commercially aligned than the barndos.

In a nutshell, the key differences between both are:

  • Difference in origin. Barndominium stands for a converted residence that was earlier a barn whereas a shouse is mixing up two things together (workshop plus house).
  • Differences in design & construction (Shouse is designed with dual purpose whereas a barndominium is a converted structure of an earlier barn).
  • The primary use of the barndominium is for residential purposes whereas the shouse represents dual purpose (primarily commercial + residential).
  • The difference is appearance & appeal. A barndominium is more aesthetic with rustic appeal whereas the shouse looks straightforward having focused on its industrial purpose.

These are the 5 modern shouse plans we analyzed from different aspect.

Shouse and Barndominium

What is a barndominium?

Barndominium (barn + condominium) is a concept that represents a barn-type structure converted into a residence. However, recently the term barndominium has been used to refer to a mixture of both residence and a workshop or a garage under the same roof.

Usually, barndominiums are built with steel frames or wooden poles with an open structure method. The term ‘open structure’ represents that the exterior is made first using the wood or prefabricated steel frames and then the concentration is placed over the indoor after the sidings have been made.

A barndominium may have a basement which primarily does not contradict its meaning but affects the designing and costs.

What is a shouse?

A shouse, alternatively shome or a shop-house is a type of barndominium which is also built with steel frame or wooden pole. When we call a structure ‘shouse’, then it surely represents a dwelling space plus a shop or a workshop that has been built together under one roof.

While barndominiums were originally known for a barn converted into home but, a shouse specifically defines a workshop or a shop built together with a home using the same roof and sidings.

Technically, you may call a shouse a banrdominium but, not all barndominiums are the shouse.

Key differences

In summary, the main difference between a barndominium and a shouse is the wording. However, from the broader aspect, discrimination can be made from the point of design, usage, cost, and popularity.

Let us discuss the key differences more extensively.


Shouse is a type of barndominium. So, the wording would mean a lot. When you define a construction as a shouse it sure represents that there is a mixture of both a shop and a house. (or, workshop & house).

Shouse definition

However, when you say barndominium, it can be a shouse or anything like barn & house, workshop & shouse, Garage & house, or large parking lot with a house built using one roof and the same sidings.

In both cases, whatever you call it, both shouse and barndominiums should look like large open floor constructions, no matter how you differentiate the inner layout.

Layout of the structure

Shouse and the barndominium may look like same from outside, but the internal layout purely differentiates both.

A barndominium, be it a barn & house or workshop & house shares the internal space together. This means, from the living space, you may see what is happening on the workshop (may be there are doors, but the workshop is close to where you live).

Shouse vs Barndominium key difference

Alternatively, shouse represents that the workshop and the house are built together under one roof but both are kept isolated. For instance, in a shouse, there may be different gates and internal partitions which keep the workshop completely isolated from the house even if both are built jointly.

Structure of the construction

A shouse clearly defines a mixture of commercial business and dwelling space whereas the barndominium can be a jointly made garage, parking space, and home, not necessarily a commercial one.

A shouse may be owned by motor mechanics or craftsmen who prefer to live and work at the same place but keep both places isolated. Alternatively, a barndominium may be owned by a farmer or a car enthusiast who has his garage or a workshop attached to his home. He may keep all of his necessary equipment or car collections in his own home and does not provide any commercial services from that particular place.


The barndominium concept is more popular than the shouse as it offers extended advantage of joining both dwelling space and workshops together. Banrdominiums are accepted in areas as well unless it is a highly humid coastal area which may cause rust in the future.

In comparison, the shouse concept is popular in a particular region where small and medium businesses grow near their home.

Need a Barndominium/Shouse Floor Plan?

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

Adantages of barndominium

In summary, barndominiums are popular because the are:

  • Quicker to build
  • Cost-effective (cheaper than traditional home)
  • Open floor concept
  • Protective from harsh weather
  • Can be built with a basement
  • Insanely large to customize

Barndominiums can be constructed too quickly compared to traditional homes. There are plenty of websites where you may find a suitable design that perfectly aligns with your land location. The design websites may also make a custom design for you within the shortest possible time as most of their tasks have already been completed before. Similarly, you may find a prefabricated steel supplier who will make steel frames and sidings for your structure within the shortest time.

What is barndominium

As building a barndominium is like assembling everything, you have the opportunity to build a house within a month or 15 days which is the biggest advantage of the bardnominiums.

However, we suggest that you should prepare yourself to negotiate well with the steel supplier.

Moreover, building a banrdominium is cost-effective. For example, your total cost would be in a range of $30 to $65 whereas the modern home would take up to $150 per square foot.

The cost range we mentioned is based on the average build cost which may be changed due to your added feature (such as the inclusion of a basement) or by the international metal price volatility.

Another nig advantage of the barndominium is that the exterior is built first. So, this is completely up to you how and when you work on the interiors. You may take a week or a year to get the interior stuff organized, it does not affect the exterior appearance or the livability at all.

Since barndominiums are built with steel frames, they offer extended protection against harsh weather. For instance, the siding insulation will protect you from the extreme cold weather and the full basement will help you during storms.

Whatever it counts, barndominiums are popular due to the availability of both large storage and workplaces which may not be achieved by modern dwelling spaces.

Disadvantages of barndominiums

This is true that the bardnominiums do have some negative sides as well. These are:

  • It may not look modern from the exterior perspective
  • Steel may cause rust and other types of corrosion unless they are coated
  • Sometimes it is difficult to get a loan for barndominiums
  • Barndominiums use steel and aluminium sidings which may become too noisy during the rainy season

However, these negative sides are always weaker than the advantages a barndominium offers.

Advantages of a shouse

In summary, the main advantages of the shouse are:

  • Flexible connectivity between living and workspace
  • Protecting tools and equipment is easy
  • Offers flexible work-life balancing
  • Flexible surveillance

A shouse refers to a workshop and a house built jointly using the same roof and sidings. That means, you will have the utmost freedom to manage your timings and traveling.

Moreover, from the safety concerns, shouse offers you the maximum option to oversee your working equipment especially if your workshop is located in an area where robbery is very frequent.

Overall, the shouse concept is cost-effective, convenient and efficient if you would like to merge your dwelling space and workshop.

Negative sides of the shouse concept

There might be some disadvantages of shouse, which are:

  • Noise generated from the workshop can be troublesome for the other family members you are accompanying
  • There might be oil and other flammable disposals from your workshop which may put the home at risk
  • If you construct a full basement, the hollow area underneath of your shop may be dangerous for your expensive machinery
  • Water and other chemical disposals coming from the workshop may cause corrosion to the steel frames


Even though there are very slight differences between shouse and the barndominium, both of them may look alike from the broader aspect. No mater if you choose to build a shouse or a barndo, you should carefully consider the positive and negative aspects of each construction.

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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