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Rainwater Collection Systems for Barndominium Roofs

The rainwater collection system is a trendy concept for barndominium owners especially from the Green Light States (e.g. Texas).

Such a system allows you to save utility bills, ensures reuse of the water, and in fact, you can purify the water to a drinkable one.

Mostly, barndominium owners prefer rainwater harvesting on gardening and flushing which cost approximately $1000 or slightly above that.

How does rainwater collecting work for barndominium roofs?

The rainwater collection works like you’re wearing a giant hat that catches raindrops.

The process starts with catching the water, channeling the water to travel to the designated place, and storing it in a tank for safe use in the future. From our experience, a metal roof always works best in terms of collecting raindrops.

Rainwater collection system from barndominium roof

What is needed for a rainwater collection system on a barndominium roof?

So, to catch water from the roof of your barndo, you will need the following things:

  • Catchment Area (Your Roof): First up, your roof is your main player. It’s where the rainwater hits first, so you want to make sure it’s suitable for collecting clean water. Metal roofs are great for this, as they’re durable and less likely to leach chemicals than some other materials.
  • Gutters and Downspouts: Think of these as the pathways that guide the rainwater from your roof to your storage. You’ll want to make sure they’re clean and clear of leaves and debris.
  • First Flush Diverter: This gadget is pretty neat. It diverts the first bit of rainwater (which might carry dirt and debris from your roof) away from your storage tank. It’s like having a doorman that ensures only the clean water gets into your exclusive water party.
  • Storage Tanks: The heart of the system. You can use barrels, cisterns, or tanks to store your collected rainwater. Think about how much water you want to store and use, as this will determine the size of your tank. It’s like choosing the size of your backpack before a big hike, depending on how much you need to carry.
  • Filters and Screens: These are crucial for keeping leaves, bugs, and other unwanted guests out of your water. You can have them at various points in your system, like at the gutter downspout or just before your storage tank. It’s like having a bouncer at the door of your water’s home.
  • Pumps (Optional): If you’re planning to use your collected rainwater for more than just watering plants and need it to go uphill or through pipes, you might need a pump. It’s the muscle that moves your water where it needs to go.
  • Treatment System (Optional): If you want to use your rainwater for drinking or bathing, you’ll need to treat it. This can involve filtration systems and UV purification to make sure the water is safe. It’s like making sure your water is dressed up and ready for a fancy dinner.

What are the benefits of installing a rainwater storage system?

In a nutshell, installing a rainwater storage system is a smart play for saving money, helping the planet, and ensuring you’ve always got water when you need it.

Below are the summarized version of the core benefits of rainwater collecting.

  • Save Your Coins: Think of every drop of rainwater you collect as a penny saved. By using rainwater for things like watering your garden or flushing toilets, you’re cutting down on your water bill. It’s like nature’s own discount on your utilities.
  • Be Kind to the Earth: Using rainwater instead of tapping into the city’s supply or drilling a well is super green. You’re easing the strain on our natural water sources and reducing the energy needed to treat and pump water to your home. It’s a high-five to Mother Nature.
  • Water on Tap for Your Garden: Plants love rainwater because it’s soft and free of chemicals and minerals found in tap water. Your garden gets a sip of the good stuff, leading to happier plants and possibly a greener thumb for you.
  • Emergency Water Supply: If you’re in an area where water supply can be hit or miss, having a rainwater storage system is like having a backup generator but for water. It’s peace of mind, knowing you’ve got an extra stash when you need it.
  • Reduce Flooding and Erosion: By catching rainwater, you’re also helping to manage stormwater runoff. This means less water flooding streets and less erosion in the environment. It’s like you’re part of the community’s flood defense squad.
  • Flexibility and Independence: Having your own rainwater storage system gives you a bit of independence from local water restrictions and supply issues. It’s like being the captain of your own ship, water-wise.

Are there any legal restrictions/incentives on storing rainwater?

In the USA, rainwater collection laws vary from state to state, kind of like how food preferences change as you travel around the country.

Some states are like, “Heck yeah, collect all the rainwater you want!” while others have a few more hoops to jump through.

  • The Green Light States: Places like Texas and Ohio are super chill with rainwater harvesting. They offer incentives to encourage you to set up your rainwater collection system. San Antonio, San Marcos, and Woodlands Water are some communities in Texas that provide incentives on the equipment. Such incentives can be tax credits, rebates, or grants.

    Notably, Senate Bill 2 of the 77th Legislature exempts rainwater harvesting equipment from imposing any sales tax. It also allows local governments to exempt rainwater harvesting systems from property taxes which eventually saves your money at the end of each financial year.
  • The Middle Ground: These places (Colorado, Utah, Arizona) might require you to get a permit or follow specific guidelines on how you can collect and use your rainwater, kind of like how a game has rules to make sure everyone plays fair.

    For example, in Colorado, you may store up to 110 gallons of rainwater without any complexity but you cannot drink it. That means, the use of outdoor purposes is okay but the limit stays strict at 110 gallons.
  • The Strict Ones: A few states such as Nevada & California have tighter controls on rainwater collection. They usually treat it like a resource that needs to be managed carefully. The rules keeps changing but you would be okay if your purpose is to reduce your carbon footprint. However, these states do not offer any incentives on it.

So, what’s the moral of the story? Before you jump into collecting rainwater, it’s a good idea to check out what your local and state laws say about it.

What type of roofing material is best for rainwater collection?

Metal roofs are like the superheroes of the rainwater collection world. They’re super slick, which means water slides off them easily, like a kid on a water slide.

In short, if you’re aiming to gather rainwater off your barndominium roof with the least fuss and the best quality, metal’s your go-to.

Other types of roof can also be used for the same purpose but we saw that metal roofs always did best.

Can rainwater collected from my barndominium roof be used for drinking?

Sure thing, collecting rainwater off your barndominium roof and using it for drinking is totally doable, but there’s a bit of a journey to make sure it’s safe.

Imagine you’re a chef: you wouldn’t just pluck a tomato from the garden and toss it straight into a salad without washing it, right? Same goes for rainwater.

Here’s the deal: rainwater is pretty clean to start with, especially if you’re far from pollution. But, it picks up bits and bobs from your roof and the air on its way down into your collection system. Things like bird droppings, leaves, or even some airborne pollutants can tag along for the ride.

To turn that rainwater into top-notch drinking water, you’ll need to put it through a few steps:

  • First Flush Diversion: This is like telling the first few guests who arrive at a party to wait a bit – it ensures the initial water that washes the roof, which might carry the most dirt, doesn’t get into your system.
  • Filtration: Think of this as your kitchen strainer, but fancier. It’ll catch any solids and larger particles still hanging out in the water.
  • Purification: Now we’re getting to the gourmet stuff. Using UV light treatment or chemical purification (like chlorine tablets) will kill off bacteria and viruses, making the water safe to drink.

How much does it cost to install rainwater harvesting on a barndominium?

Installing a rainwater collection system is like ordering a pizza. The price varies based on what customers need. Usually, such a setup would cost around $1000 to $5000.

You’ve got your basic setup, but the final price can vary based on how fancy you want to get with the toppings.

For a basic rainwater collection setup on your barndominium, you’re looking at a range that can start from a few hundred bucks to a couple of thousand dollars. This basic setup usually includes gutters, a simple filtration system, and a storage tank.

Now, if you decide to add some “additions” to your system, like advanced filtration for drinking water, the costs can jump. We’re talking potentially up to $5,000 or more, depending on how premium you want it to be.

Keep in mind, the size of your barndominium’s roof, the complexity of the system, and your location in the USA can all influence the cost. Installation in areas with higher labor rates might see prices at the higher end of the scale.

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What are the challenges of installing a rainwater collection system in cold climates?

Here are few challenges you may face while installing rainwater harvesting setup in clod climate:

  • Freezing Pipes and Tanks: Just like your favorite soda can explode if it’s left in the freezer too long, water in your collection system can freeze, expand, and potentially damage pipes, tanks, and gutters. It’s a real party pooper.
  • Snow, not Rain: In the heart of winter, you’re more likely to get snow than rain. Snow can be collected and melted for water, but it requires a different setup and possibly more energy to melt it down. It’s like needing a microwave for your picnic to warm up the sandwiches.
  • Reduced Efficiency: Cold weather means less evaporation and, consequently, less condensation. This can lead to a decrease in the amount of water you can collect during those cold months. It’s a bit like trying to catch butterflies in winter—you won’t find as many.
  • Overcoming the Freeze: To beat the freeze, you might need to install insulated pipes, heated tanks, or underground storage to keep water from freezing. It’s like dressing your rainwater system in a warm winter coat.
  • Maintenance Challenges: Keeping your system clear of ice and snow requires regular maintenance to ensure it’s functioning properly and not getting damaged by the weight of snow or ice build-up. Think of it as having to shovel the driveway; it’s just another winter chore.


Rainwater storage is a brilliant idea if you love gardening or are committed to lowering your environmental footprint. For barndominiums, such storage and channeling are always cost-effective.

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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