Barndominiums are the latest real estate trend that is sweeping across the United States. They are more prevalent in states such as Texas, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Oklahoma. These unique homes have several pros as well as cons.
Barndominiums come with numerous advantages that far outweigh the disadvantages. They are cheaper to build and take a short time compared to traditional houses. Besides, they have a low maintenance cost. On the other hand, it can be challenging to find.
This article explains in detail the history of barndominiums, advantages, and disadvantages. Go on reading to know more.
What Is a Barndominium?
The term barndominium is wordplay for the words barn and condominiums. Essentially a barndominium is a barn that has been converted into a modern living space. They are buildings constructed using metals and have living quarters inside. Barndominiums are easy to adapt to growing needs in the future compared to traditional homes.
With the metal construction, it is easy to increase space, raise a wall, or even knock it down long after construction.
History of Barndominiums
When most people think of barndominiums, the first place that comes to mind is Texas. That’s because the barndominium concept has exploded in popularity in the state. However, it is believed that Barndominiums originated in Texas and spread to other states like Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Oklahoma.
However, according to the New York Times, the term barndominium was coined by Karl Nilsen, a real estate developer from Connecticut. At the time, Karl was working on a planned community concept that centered on living near horses. To get a better idea of the idea, picture a community living around a golf course only now horses are the centerpiece.
After initial interest, the barndominium concept faded from the limelight and only resurfaced in the mid-2010s. This was when barn to barndominium transformation was featured in the third season of HGTV’s Fixer Upper show. Since the feature, barndominiums have become increasingly popular across Texas and the rest of America.
Today, barndominiums come with a range of modern features, including foam insulation, energy-efficient windows, plumbing, and high-quality finishes.
Who Are Barndominiums For?
The answer to this question is pretty much anyone. Barndominiums are continuously attracting attention from various publics. The concept is particularly alluring to people who work in the trades who also need space for their work.
Pros of Barndominium
Barndominiums have several advantages over the traditional houses, and the following are some of them:
Among the main reasons the idea of barndominiums is taking off is that most of them are built from a durable material such as steel. While some are built using wood and other material, your standard barndominium can withstand severe weather conditions that can bring down an ordinary house.
Using metals means that your property is more resilient to damage caused by adverse weather. With a low risk of damage, your maintenance costs will always remain low.
Relatively Easy to Construct Taking a Short Time
Barndominiums typically take less time to assemble compared to ordinary houses. While it takes several weeks or months to build a house, a barndominium will only take 2 to 3 weeks to finish.
Pre-designed plans and pre-cut components can further reduce the time needed to set up a barndominium.You also save on design and construction costs thanks to the ready-made components and plans.
Despite taking less time to construct, barndominiums come with quality interior design found in modern houses. A customized interior deco can further add to the homely feel of your barndominium.
Seeing your newly constructed barn with high-end finish in such a short time almost feels like you gave yourself a surprise gift.
Barndominiums are built to accommodate various activities. The unique designs incorporated in these houses allow you to use them for both business and leisure. You don’t have to leave that house for work every morning as you can easily pop into an adjacent space designed for commercial use. Indeed only 40 percent of clients use a barndominium as single-use structures.
Barndos are also commonly used by distillers, wineries, breweries as well as homes.
Other commercial uses of barndominiums include hardware stores: yoga studios, art studios, wedding venues, and retail shops. You can also use the extra space in your barndominium to grow indoor plants and medicinal herbs.
If you have a passion, a hobby, or a business, a barndominium can be customized to suit that purpose.
The dual-purpose use of barndos also comes with significant cost savings.
Barndominiums are characterized by open space under a span of the roof that allows for creativity. The case is different from traditional houses where you have to pay close attention to the load-bearing walls. These walls could easily stop your creativity in interior design. Therefore depending on your vision and tastes, you have limitless options to customize your interior.
Eco-Friendly Living Choice
Most barndominiums are constructed with environmentally friendly materials that reduce your carbon footprint. For example, the insulation technology used to help the metal frame retain internal temperature saves you on heating and cooling costs and negates the need for energy-guzzling air conditioners.
Barndominiums can also incorporate energy-efficient windows if you desire. With the cost of living rising steadily across the world, homeowners are opting for an energy-efficient abode. Barndos generally report lower utilities, particularly in heating and power compared to ordinary houses. Some barndo owners have reported as much as 25% to 50% in power saving.
You Can Convert Existing Structure
There are numerous farms across the US that have multiple barns on their land. More often than not, all the barn space is not utilized. So when you decide to retire or take a break from city life, you always have the option to convert one of the barns into a barndominium.
You can create an inclusive property that has an open floor plan that can still offer all the possibilities of a traditional home.
When deciding on a style for your new home, safety is almost always the biggest concern. After all, we all want to feel safe in our homes. Since barndominiums are sometimes situated in the countryside away from other residential homes, they seem ripe to get ripped apart by a tornado. However, you will be surprised to learn that these structures are incredibly safe.
Most barndos are sturdy structures made of steel, which can withstand tornados and any other harm that comes your way. Indeed in many places, steel buildings are used as tornado and storm shelters.
Low Maintenance Requirements
On the inside, barndominiums are virtually no different from modern houses, except for the additional space that comes with the barndo. However, on the outside, barndos are quite distinct. While ordinary homes are built using a wide range of components, materials, and intricate roofing, barndominiums tend to have a rather standard steel exterior.
So how does this translate to lower maintenance costs? A barndominium’s exceptional structural integrity compared to ordinary houses means that they have a longer lifespan and overall require little repair. With the right contractor, barndos made of wood can also have the same level of durability as most traditional houses.
Barndominiums also don’t require a fresh coat of paint every few years like the average house. Your repair and renovation expenses over the years will be less and far between. All in all, there is little chance that an ordinary house will outlast a steel barndominium.
|Dimensions||Recommended Use||Roof Pitch||Structural Warranty|
|200 X 400||Gymnasium, Casino, sports facility, warehouse, etc||1:12||50 years|
|100 X 500||Commercial use, manufacturing, Strip mall, warehouse, etc||1:12||50 years|
|80 X 100||Industrial, manufacturing, commercial||1:12||50 years|
|40 X 75||3 bedroom Barndominium home||1:12||50 years|
Good for Short and Long Term
Most barndominiums are used as second homes, weekend homes, or interim homes. By some estimates, approximately 65% of barndominiums constructed end up being used as weekend homes or second homes. The remainder is used as permanent residences. Depending on whether it’s a temporary home or permanent residence, barndominiums can accommodate all your needs.
Some people who have moved into a barndominium on a temporary basis have ended up making them their permanent homes.
Cons of Barndominiums
Although barndominiums have numerous advantages, they also have a few disadvantages.
Their Exteriors Might Not Be to Everyone’s Liking
The most obvious thing you notice about a barndominium is its unconventional exterior. If you are more of a common type of house person, the idea of living in a home that somewhat looks like a barn might not be too appealing. Some barndominiums look fabulous on the outside.
But let’s be honest, those designer barndos are the exception and not the norm. Your typical barndominium looks more beautiful on the inside compared to outside.
Therefore, you might have to sacrifice the exterior style to get your dream barndo; however, if you can hire a designer to transform the interior and exterior of your barndominium into the most stylish home in town.
You May Not Find Mortgage Financing
Technically, barndominiums are not considered houses because securing conventional mortgage financing might be difficult. Financing has been the most daunting obstacle for new barndominium owners across the US. Appraisers have often complained about a lack of comparable sales in the market, which consequently inhibits the appraisal process.
Therefore, new owners have to struggle to find alternative financing for their dream primary or secondary homes. However, there is hope that the situation will change soon.
As more barndominiums spring up, appraisers find that these trendy structures hold their value and even sell at competitive prices.
Limited Pool of Buyers When It’s Time to Sell
Barndominiums are still relatively new in the market, and hence not many people are familiar with the concept. That means few people are in the real estate market looking for them. Put simply, people who might potentially like them are not aware such a concept exists.
Also, in most cases, barndos are highly customized to suit the needs of the current owner, which further limits the pool of potential buyers. That is because we all have different tastes and preferences. The customization is reflected in the overall design, use of space, and other amenities.
For example, wild color schemes used by the original owner may not be appealing to the new owner. A warehouse or art studio incorporated into the barndominium may not suit a potential customer’s needs. Conversely, you might have a fully furnished barndominium while another may want one with commercial space.
If you wish to sell your property, be prepared to deal with a small pool of potential buyers.
Not Immune to Corrosion
Building with metal often means that your home is likely to suffer corrosion overtime. Such challenges are particularly common in areas with a tropical climate. Therefore, you have to keep in mind that you will need to manage the corrosion issues occasionally. There are several recommended ways of managing corrosion, including painting and specific exterior treatment.
Steel is generally regarded as a versatile material; however, making field corrections if one or multiple components fail can be extremely challenging. While most metal component manufacturers have strict quality assurance procedures to ensure parts fit together. If they don’t fit together, making field corrections without introducing weakness to the structure can be nearly impossible.
Waiting for the manufacturer to make a replacement can also cause an unforeseen delay in completing the project. Working with a highly rated contractor with experience in barndominium construction can help mitigate this issue. Always remember to ask potential contractors how they plan to deal with such challenges before settling on one.
If you plan for a multi-story house, the barndominium metals may not be ideal. However, some barndos have an extended loft that you can use for an open second floor that can be part of interior design after the construction. Also, most companies put together the frames off-site, and there are few ways to customize the structure for a story building.
What Are Your Options When Building Your Barndominium?
If you are considering building a barndominium, you may want to know the options you have if you decide to go ahead with your plan. There are three main options: steel, custom, and kit. Each has unique benefits and drawbacks. But not to worry, the following section and video below will examine each:
Steel Barndominiums – Advantages and Disadvantages
In states like Texas, steel barndominiums are popular due to the little time that is required for construction. Steel barndos are also durable, fire-resistant, and relatively cheap to erect.
If you decide to go for a steel barndominium, it is essential to note that they are not energy efficient. However, you can improve the barndominium with insulation to help improve energy efficiency.
Custom Barndominium – Advantages and Disadvantages
Custom barndominiums are typically built to suit your preference. They can be of varying sizes and design specifications. Custom barndominiums are as unique as their owners.
However, these types of homes are priced like custom homes, which might be a bit expensive. Other potential disadvantages of a custom barndominium include wastage of building material and time to be invested in the project.
Barn Home Kits
When looking for a barndominium that requires less hustle, barn home kits could come as a great option. This option allows you to choose from a range of pre-designed structures with a variety of customizations. A common misconception is that by choosing a home kit, you effectively surrender all ownership of the end product. In truth, every model has dozens of interchangeable components to personalize the structure.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Going for barn home kits means that you can make considerable time saving because most of the components are pre-made. You also stand to make substantial savings since you no longer have to worry about design costs. These designs also produce significantly less waste compared to a home built from scratch.
Potential drawbacks of a barndominium kit include the fact that they come with less customization compared to a full custom home.
Cost of Building a Barndominium
The cost of constructing a barndominium will vary significantly depending on several factors, such as the location, design, size, price of the steel, and other custom features. You may find a large building could cost about $250,000, while other builders could charge $85 per square foot.
Others could charge you about $290,000 or about $145 per square foot for a house measuring 2,000 square feet. If the house is approximately 1500 square feet, the price could go down to $115 per square foot, which translates to $172,000.
Barndominium, on the other hand, with unlimited exterior doors, premium windows, engineered foundation, and the metal shell at the cost of $38,000. This will translate to about $70 to about $95 for every square foot.
On the other hand, you could save as much as 50% if you buy a fabricated barndominium kit instead of building from scratch. Some metal building companies can sell you the barndominium shell of a 900 square feet kit for $10,000 only. They deliver the shell, and you have to make a slab that agrees with the measurements of the kit.
Here is a video explaining further the cost of building a barndominium:
Tips on Building a Barndominium
When you decide to build that dream barndominium, there are a couple of steps and tips you should consider.
- Location of land – When looking for the ideal parcel of land to build your barndominium, it is always important to consider the area’s zoning. Zoning regulations are set up to protect the interest of everyone. Before constructing your barndo, make a point to consult a local building official to make sure your project is compliant with your area’s zoning regulations.
- The gradient of the land – Erecting a barndominium on a slope can be challenging. Therefore it is essential to consider a relatively flat spot. However, you must be cautious not to pick a flood-prone area.
- Always keep things within the budget – When building your dream home, there is the temptation to spend on items and components that are not part of the budget. Unchecked spending can deprive funding for critical components leading to stalled projects. To avoid this, always stick to the budget.
Watch this video before you build a barndominium:
Barndominiums are typically a cross between a barn and a condominium, also commonly known as barndo. Their popularity has increased significantly in the recent past because of their numerous advantages. Generally, they start as steel buildings and can be erected fast and relatively cheaper compared to other conventional home buildings.
They are characterized by minimum flammable materials like wood framing, and they are resistant to termites, fire, and molds. Insurance for bardos may be relatively low due to reduced fire hazard. If they are properly insulated and ventilated, they can be energy efficient.
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