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Can you build a shouse with basement? Ultimate guide

Yes, a shouse or a shome can have a basement.

When barndominium was introduced, building them above the basement was not the standard practice since the open floor concept was implemented using barn style frame structure.

So, while building your shouse, you need to plan whether you need a basement or not. Because, if you decide to ignore the slab foundation and build the shouse over the basement, the side walls of the shouse need to be supported by the steel structures.

Shouse with basement

More importantly, you cannot suddenly make a basement in your old shouse because the steel structure you need to build needs to be weight-calculated and well-designed.

To summarize, you can make a basement in your shouse or barndominium but, you cannot introduce a basement in your old barndo.

What are the positive sides of shouse basement?

First and foremost, the primary advantage of making a basement in a shouse is to have an extra storage facility. Since the shouse is an open frame concept, many owners prefer to store it in the basement to make the spaces more breathable and cozy.

There can be extra opportunities to place plumbing fittings and electrical panels including a distribution box in the basement.

Shouse basement

Another advantage could be making an extra room in the basement which can be your alternative workstation or a place to install wine cellars. However, any rooms built in the basement of a barndominium will not be counted as livable square feet when reselling it. The main reason is, that a livable room should have accessible windows to escape during an emergency.

We strongly suggest not building a room in the barndominium’s basement for your own safety. However, the space is always ready to use as storage or a second workshop but with the necessary fire protection system.

Here’s the top shouse plan with basement and other features.

Negative sides of shouse basement

The first disadvantage of the shouse basement would be to cater the concept in the architectural designs which ultimately affects the final cost of building a barndominium.

Since you are going to buy an open floor shouse plan from any architectural farm, you may need to ask them to modify it with the basement concept.

The second challenge would be to incorporate the basement and its respective architectural issues in the prefabricated steel structures. It may also affect the steel structure pricing and there would be more steel needed to support your modification.

Furthermore, having a basement will also put you in a challenge to excavate and make a deeper slab foundation. There might be additional challenges such as temperature volatility, moisture, damp wall,s etc.

Erection could be another potential problem as the regular contractor may not install the prefabricated steel pieces properly due to insufficient knowledge about it. Appointing a licensed engineer is highly suggested which may require additional costs.

The most crucial problem would be protecting your valuable machinery. If there are hollow spaces underneath workshops, there is always a chance that someday things can drop down to the basement. However, to address this you need to implement the hollow core engineering concept which is again an incurring decision.

Sometimes, it is impossible to fix and often unnoticeable if there is rust building up in the shouse basement, especially in crawlspace.

Types of shouse basement

Usually, slab foundation is used to build a house above. To implement a basement in the barndominium, there will be four choices for you. These are:

  • Full basement
  • Partial basement
  • Walkout basement
  • Crawlspace

Let us describe them one after another.

Full basement

A full basement concept is when the basement is fully structured, with tall masonry walls and a well-supported pillar. Such a basement with barndominium is just perfect for farm shops, especially if the barndominium is exposed to natural disasters.

The main advantage of the full basement is proper structural strength. Since the basement actively supports the upper structure with pillars and walls, it’s safe to be in and also acts as a structural support system for the shouse as well.

Full basement

Moreover, damp-proof walls in the full basement keep everything free from molds and moisture. However, such a full basement needs to be at least 8 feet deep from the freezing level.

Also, a full basement would increase your square foot count and influence the future buyer with a better price. Most importantly, people love to buy a full basement barndo just because it is easier to maintain compared to the partial basement or the crawlspaces.

However, such a full basement does have some disadvantages as well. and these are:

  • It requires more structuring equipment and civil costs which skyrocket average shouse-building costs.
  • There is always a risk of flooding since you cannot protect the place in case of heavy water flow. So, make sure to check if your area is in the flood zone.
  • The third biggest problem is the inadequacy of the natural light. If you are a natural light lover, it’s better to avoid the basement while building a shouse.

Partial Basement

A partial basement represents that there will be one basement under the livable area but a pure slab foundation will be made under the workshop.

A partial basement is also popular because no one wants to put the workshop machinery at risk of falling.

Another advantage of the partial basement is the cost-effectiveness since the basement is only built under the livable spaces as a means of storage and storm protection.

The disadvantage could be less storage space and less resale value. You may not save a lot of money while building a partial basement, but it will act against you and future buyers will always prefer the full basement shouses.

Need a Barndominium Floor Plan with a Basement?

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

Walkout basement

The walkout basement represents that the ground floor or the basement would be accessible through a separate door and there will be (maybe less) daylight.

Modern houses nowadays implement walkout basements mainly due to separate entryway and it is somehow energy efficient.

The main advantage of the walkout basement is that you can place a guest bedroom and potential storage underneath your main living space.

People living there would not feel that they are below the ground as the main floor is slightly elevated to support the light and ventilation to the basement.

Another big advantage of the partial basement is that you can place a garage now or in the future if there is minimum ground clearance.

The negative side of building a walkout basement would be the additional cost and making it separate doorways. On top of that, you will need additional costs to elevate the main floor since everything in your house needs to be supported by steel structures.

Lot preparation could be quite challenging and costly as a partial basement fits well in a traditional house but you need to work well to fit it right with your shouse or barndominium.


The crawlspace is not a livable basement. It is just leaving some space underneath the floor to utilize for a storage purpose.

Creating a crawlspace is somewhat cost-effective but very challenging to repair anything as no one even can walk freely inside the crawlspace.


Which basement suits you?

If you are going to choose a basement style for your shouse, you need to think what is your purpose and how it affects your budget. Never forget the future resale value and challenges as discussed in this article.

Making a basement in your shouse is always a good idea and we always recommend a partial basement since the necessity of keeping the workshop apart is always important.

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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