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What is barndominium? Types, Pros and Cons

Barndominium is a concept of making an all-purpose house by converting an existing barn. The term ‘barndominium’ was first initiated by Karl Nilsen in 1898 and then it surged in 2016 through a TV show.

Barndominium (a combination of two terms ‘barn’ and ‘condominium’) is often called ‘barndo’ and was initially a concept of having both housing and barn facilities with the same structure. Now, it has been used as utilizing space as a housing facility with a garage, shops, and workshops by utilizing the surrounding spaces of a workshop without harming the earlier one.

A structural conversion is needed to make a barndominium which typically requires a metal pole barn and sheet metal along with other structuring variables. Normally, you need to choose a design first, and then someone will make those DIY barndominium kits for you. After that, a builder would assemble and install the barndominium kits for you.

However, other skills are needed such as interior and exterior beautification which we will guide you further.

The barndominium alternatively referred as shouse that represents a shop/workshop with a house under the same roof.

Why did the barndominium concept surge?

The main advantage of a barndo is its open space layout that gives ultimate freedom to organize however the owner wants it to be. Such highly customizable housing options can also offer you a two-storied dwelling space where the old shop or workshop is still in function.

These are the main positive sides of a barndominium:

  • Open frame highly customizable dwelling architecture
  • More freedom in choosing the interior
  • It’s budget-friendly because the structure is built first and the owner can slowly work with the interior and furnishing
  • Barndominiums are usually built with a steel structure that makes them durable and saves the owner’s time with maintenance of the exterior
  • This is a concept where a large garage or a play zone is attached to the house which represents a peaceful choice for the city dwellers
  • You may also build a full or partial basement for your barndominium that can be used as larger storage and extended work stations. Barndominium basements would also increase the future resale value of a shouse or, barndominium.

Are there any negative sides?

To be very honest, there are some cons of the barndominium.

First, outdoor noise can be an issue as the steel sheets sometimes get louder in the rain. Even though strong insulation is placed in between the steel sheets, such a structure cannot stop noises compared to civil constructions. However, we found so many people who found the rain sounds even more classy.

Limitation style can also be a problem for you if you are a big fan of stylish modern villas. The concept focuses on indoor open spaces which are highly customizable but you cannot give it a modern villa-typed look from the exterior.

Different types of barndominium

There are mainly two types of barndominium, one being wood made and the other being metal barndo.
3000 sft 4 bedroom steel barndominium in Texas, built by

The main difference between both is the structuring material. Since wood is cheaper than metal frames, initially cost per square foot tends to be lower but it requires the same structural engineering and specialized skills to erect.

However, metal condominiums are easy to build and the steels are pre-fabricated. Notably, steel is more durable than wood so, the maintenance time and cost will be less in the future.

A popular barndonium type is shouse – which represents a combination of workshop and house. Here’s a detailed comparison.

Additionally, in a metal barndominium, you will get better fire resistance compared to the wood pole barn and there will be no risk of rotten frames in the future.

We prepared a list for all all possible questions you may ask your steel kit supplier that aims to ensure negotiation gain from your side.

Need a Barndominium Floor Plan?

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

How to build?

Below are the steps you need to follow while building a barndominium:

  1. Choose the appropriate location considering the environmental issues and building code.
  2. Modify and prepare the land for a barndominium construction.
  3. Create or choose a floor plan. There are plenty of barndominium floor plan architects with amazing ideas.
  4. Bring the floor plan to the local regulatory authority and get the building permission.
  5. If you are interested in getting a loan, bring the permit and floor plans to the financers.
  6. If your plans, permits, and fund arrangements are ready, order your barndominium kits from a prefabricated steel structuring company.
  7. After a minimum lead time, the barndo kits will be delivered and you now need to start the construction. You may also hire a contractor to build the home for yourself.
  8. After it’s done, move into your new home!

How much does a barndominium cost?

Experts believe that a barndominium costs 40% of the total cost we incur for a traditional modern house. A traditional house would cost somewhere between $50 to $400 per square foot whereas a barndominium would cost around $45 to $130 per square foot.

Even the final cost depends on so many other variable factors such as size, material types, location, ambiance, and land cost; this is still cheaper than building traditional villas.

By nature, a barndominium is a DIY nature project that gives you ample opportunities to save over time. Again, you need to build the exterior first and then slowly work with the furnishing and interior so, the cost can be well-designed as per your ability, time, and choice.

Altogether, it will give you big financial savings.

Frequently asked questions

These are some frequently asked questions you may find useful.

What is the best style of barndominium?

Steel barndominium is considered to be best when compared to the wood barndo (pole barn) due to its life, weather resistance, strength, and customizing ability.

What is another name for a barndominium?

Barndominium can alternatively referred to as ‘barndo’ (barn + condo) or ‘shouse’ (shop + house).

What is the expensive part of a barndominium?

The largest cost center of a barndominium is its metal siding. Apart from that, roof, insulation, doors and windows are in second.

Is barndominium right for you?

If you love to live in a big place then a barndominium is surely for you. This is not only living in a large space but also having your shop or workshop in the same place where you live. Usually, this concept is pretty amazing in areas like Texas and Alabama where you can turn your existing modern barn (workshop) into a modern house without compromising its earlier shape.

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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