Can You Add Onto a Barndominium?

Can You Add Onto a Barndominium
Can You Add Onto a Barndominium

You built your dream home with a modest two-bedroom barndominium, and at the time, it was adequate for your needs. Now that you’ve outgrown your home and need more space, you don’t want to move. Can you add to a barndominium?

Since it is a metal building, adding to a barndominium might be as simple as putting an extra storage building on to your existing home with a sloped shed. Or you could add another story to your house or even spread out further. The advantage of this is not having to tear up roots from an area.

If you want to add to your barndominium, keep reading to find out how easy it can be. 

Determine the Condition of Your Existing Building

The existing building needs to be in top condition before adding onto the building. You don’t want to add a brand new structure to a building about ready to fall over. Look at the existing foundation and the load-bearing elements to see if the structure can withstand extra additions’ additional weight. If you’re spreading out, rather than up, then you might not need to worry about that.

Determine if the Structure Can Handle an Addition

A foundation is built to withstand the weight of the existing structure, but if you add upper levels to a structure where the foundation can only withstand one level, it may weaken the structure. However, if you plan on expanding outwards instead, you need to make sure you have the room to add an additional foundation. 

Older structures may not be built to code, even if it is a steel building. If that’s the case, you might not wish to add to your barndominium before bringing it up to code. If you did not build the original building, look for the local city hall documents to find out how old it is. 

If your structural load-bearing walls are crumbling or weak, then you need to fortify the existing structure before adding to it.

Choose How Much Additional Space You Need

Say your building is 40×60, and much of the space is used to house horses and other farming gear. Many builders add a modest 2-3 bedroom apartment to these, but if your family is growing and you’re outgrowing your space, you want to add more living space. You can either go upwards or outwards, depending on your needs and your existing building.

Review Your Structural Blueprints

The next thing to do before you start any addition is to locate any structural blueprints for your home. These will tell you things you need to know about how and where to add to your home. 

A structural engineer will also be able to tell you if your barndominium can handle an addition. The engineer will need your blueprints if you have them, but they can work without them if you don’t have them.

Are You Going to Use a DIY Kit or Hire a Professional Contractor?

Once you’ve decided how much space you need, if your barndominium can handle an addition, and if your structural beams can handle the addition, the next item you need to decide is if you will do the work yourself with a kit or hire a professional contractor. Granted, a DIY kit will be less expensive to acquire, but you will need a shopping list of the extra items to finish the addition. 

DIY Kits Are Less Expensive

You may have had experience with building your barndominium from a kit. If that’s the case, you know what you’re getting into and what you will need to finish it. On the other hand, if you’ve never built something before, you will need to research what you need to build the addition. 

If the addition to your barndominium is a home office, you can also create a backyard shed office for as little as $2,000 for the kit itself. Some companies provide everything you need to build the structure, while others provide only the base materials.

Additions to a barndominium will either need a sloping roof or a gabled roof. The addition must be water-tight and sealed. When you are doing it yourself, you need to make sure you’re getting the seal just right. 

Professional Contractors Have More Expertise

When you don’t know what you’re doing in the building department, a professional contracting business might be a better option for you. They have the expertise, the contacts, and the materials that they need to complete your additions. 

Figuring the Cost of Additions vs. Moving

Would it make more sense to move rather than put an addition on your home or business structure? If the addition looks to be more expensive than it would be to move somewhere else, you may consider moving. However, most additions do not equal the cost of buying a new place, contracting with a moving company, and uprooting your life. 

How to Calculate the Cost of an Addition to Your Barndominium

To calculate the cost of an addition, you will need to know how much the cost will be per square foot that you’re adding, whether it’s a DIY kit or a professional contractor, and what type of permits you need to pull. Any addition you add to your property requires a building permit to make sure you’re building it according to the established building codes.

If you’re going with a DIY kit, you need to factor in the additional costs of finishing supplies, such as nails, screws, electrical supplies, and other items to finish the project. On the other hand, a professional contractor will include those items and the labor it takes to finish it. 

There is no good way to express exactly how much an addition will cost for you, but based on averages, you will need to figure in the labor costs besides the cost of materials. However, if you also consider the cost of your time and effort, and any costly mistakes you might make, going with a professional contractor might be less expensive over the long term.

An Alternative: Change an Old Barn Into a Barndominium

Old barns are often renovated into barndominiums, rather than starting with new. If you found an old barn that is in good shape structurally and is for sale, it might be a better fix than an addition, especially if it is much bigger than what you currently have. Before barndominiums were built new, many people renovated barns into livable homes. 

Evaluate the Cost of Renovation vs. Additions

Renovation of a solid old barn, depending on how much you need to do to make it livable, could become quite expensive and labor-intensive. Then again, it could be cheaper than an addition. While there is no way to pin down the exact equation for your particular project, there are some things to consider for the cost.

  1. Evaluate the structure of the barn you want to renovate. If there is considerable damage in the foundation, walls, and roof, it could cost more to repair those things than add an addition to your barndominium. 
  2. How much space you need will also determine the cost. A larger addition may cost just as much as renovating an older barn, and you will have more space than if you add an addition. But if you need just a bit more space, then an addition might be the more economical option.
  3. If you already own the barn, then the cost will be greatly reduced. But if you need to buy the property in addition to renovating it, putting an addition to your existing barndominium could cost significantly less, considering the rising property prices. 

Older Barns Might Be More Solid

Depending on the quality of build and the barn’s age, an older barn might be more solid than you would have with an addition. For example, an old barn built with cement blocks or concrete that has stood for over 100 years would be a good choice to renovate. On the other hand, if the barn is made with wood and beginning to fall, you may want to leave it alone. 

There is a unique feel to a barn that’s been renovated into a luxurious and rustic home. However, if you cannot find a suitable barn, an addition is perfectly acceptable for whatever purpose you have in mind. A workshop, office, craft room, or even another bedroom or two can easily be added to your home or business.


You can certainly add to a barndominium, but you need to make sure that it’s done properly to secure from leakage and collapsing. If it’s going to be an additional living space, the ductwork and ventilation need to be put in properly to be heated and cooled like the rest of your home. 

In closing, there is an alternative to an addition to a barndominium that you might choose to do instead. If you need office space, you could build a separate structure without worrying about attaching it to your home. A stand-alone shed can be turned into a cozy sewing space, office, or even a craft room.