A barndominium shell kit can cost as little as $20,000 out-of-pocket. But, if buying a brand new home for just 10% of the average home’s price seems “too good to be true,” that’s because it is. Barndominiums need to be “finished out” to officially turn them into your next family home.
It costs about $123,880.98 to finish out a barndominium that’s 2,301 square feet. On the high end (including a fireplace, high-end insulation, luxury appliances, and an expansive HVAC system), you’ll be spending up to $123,880.98. DIY work and making cost-effective choices can cost you just $83,268.
The last thing you want is to erect your barndominium frame, only to realize that you’re short on cash and can’t even afford to add drywall. Keep reading to find out what goes into finishing a barndominium. We’ll also review how much each upgrade costs and what your options are.
One Quick Point
Finishing out a barndominium doesn’t come with one consistent price point. That’s because a lot of the features and upgrades that you choose to add will be based on how many square feet your barndominium is.
Now, we know that barndominiums can range between 1,000 and well over 4,000 square feet. So, all values we’ll be giving in the next several sections will be based on the average-sized home in America today: 2,301 square feet.
Getting insulation installed is one of the first jobs you’ll hire a contractor for once your barndominium’s frame is erected.
Insulation makes sense for a barndominium for a few reasons. First, there’s the fact that steel buildings (like barndominiums) attract both heat and sunlight. On a hot and sunny day, this can send your exterior, and eventually interior, temperatures to 90℉ (32.2°C) or higher. It’s harder that your air conditioning unit has to work to keep your indoor temperatures at that desired 68℉ (20°C).
Insulation also helps keep the heat or A/C from escaping through the walls, ceilings, and flooring throughout the day. This can keep your monthly energy bills low and affordable.
Closed-cell spray foam insulation is most often recommended for barndominiums.
This style of insulation will adhere easily to the interior metal walls and beams, expanding rapidly once sprayed and easily filling in tiny gaps and crevices. In the process, both air and water won’t leak in or out of your new home.
Closed-cell spray foam insulation is a little pricier than other options (like open-cell). That’s because you’ll likely need several layers to meet the recommended R-value in your zone.
This insulation costs about $1 to $1.50 per board foot. So, for a 2,301 square foot home at 3” of spray foam insulation across, you’re looking at between $6,903 and $10,354.50.
After the insulation is installed and your barndominium is protected against the elements, the next big project is adding drywall. This is the plasterboard installed directly over the insulation to turn your metal frames into actual walls.
Installing drywall is about a lot more than giving you something to paint to liven up your new barndominium and add a splash of color. Drywall is also fire-resistant, which is a safety feature that you need to keep your family safe at home.
Another benefit is that this feature will hide the steel beams and poles installed throughout your barndominium. That means that visitors to your home won’t even realize that they’re in a metal home unless you tell them!
Drywall will have to be installed over all insulation in your ceiling and your walls.
Since drywall is sold by the panel (usually 4’ x 8’), you’ll have to calculate wall and ceiling space in your home. A 200 square foot room typically costs about $300 to $500 to drywall completely.
So, considering the average home is about 2,301 square feet, this averages out to around $3,451.50 and $5,752.50.
Unless you like bare white walls or steel sheets surrounding you 24/7, then the next big project is going to be painting your new barndominium from top to bottom. Fortunately, this is a job that you can take on yourself if you’re good with your hands and have good attention to detail.
The paint itself is typically the most affordable part of this task (as compared to hiring a laborer to do the job). A single gallon of paint will usually range in price from $15 to $30 for a gallon. For reference, a gallon of paint may be able to cover up to 400 square feet in total.
If you’re painting on fresh drywall, you’re likely going to want to add an additional layer of paint to your walls. Additionally, if you decide you’re not willing to put in a little elbow grease, then it’ll be about $2 to $6 per square foot extra to have a painter do the job.
For a home sitting at 2,301 square feet with two layers of paint, you’re looking at between $172.60 and $345.15 to paint your barndominium yourself.
To hire a pro, you’re likely going to spend closer to $9,376.60 to $27,957.15.
Wood Flooring ($14,700+)
The good thing about living in a barndominium is that you don’t necessarily have to install some flooring of your own. That’s because most manufacturers will provide your new abode with stained concrete flooring. So, that saves you from that unsightly bare concrete slab look.
Hardwood flooring is the most common upgrade seen in newly-erected barndominiums. To cut costs, you have to consider what your options are when it comes to types of hardwood.
For example, engineered wood flooring is a thinner wood option that allows you to get that hardwood look at a fraction of the cost. After all, it’s the top layer that matters most. You also have the option to choose beautiful legitimate solid wood flooring.
Engineered wood flooring and solid wood flooring cost $6.40 per square foot and $7.80 per square foot, respectively (including labor).
In a 2,301 square foot home, wood flooring throughout will cost you anywhere between $14,726.40 and $17,947.8.
Note: There is another alternative, albeit less durable and cheap-looking: Laminate flooring.
Unless you purchased a turnkey barndominium, then it’s up to you to build a kitchen from scratch. That includes buying and installing wood cabinetry and cabinets that give your kitchen a luxurious and welcoming vibe to your visitors.
A brand new custom kitchen (which is similar to a major remodel) costs an average of $62,200 in America. This investment will include custom cabinets, new light fixtures, a luxurious deep sink, and brand new granite countertops.
However, it’s also possible to get a brand new kitchen at discounted rates by choosing less pricey fixtures. Opting for quartz or recycled materials, installing cheaper appliances, and doing some DIY work will bring you closer to a $25,000 budget.
Given the fact that it’s the 21st century and the days of handwashing clothes and dishes are over, you’re going to want to invest in appliances before moving into your new barndominium. Now, there may be a little overlap in this section, as compared to the previous section, since it’s possible you purchased kitchen appliances with your kitchen renovation.
Here’s a look at some of the major home appliances and what they cost:
- Refrigerator: $900 to $8,000
- Oven/Stove: $650 to $2,000
- Washing Machine: $350 to $1,000
- Dryer: $400 to $1,000
- Dishwasher: $400 to $700
Some of these are optional and can even be purchased “used,” which can help you save some money when finishing out your barndominium. For example, dishwashers are truly for convenience, and a washing machine and dryer aren’t necessary if you go to a local laundromat.
In total, the cost to buy appliances for your barndominium will be between $2,700 and $12,700.
It’s practically impossible to get the Certificate of Occupancy (CO) to move into your barndominium if you don’t even have running water. From the standpoint of plumbing, you’ll need to have piping installed and purchase items like sinks and showers.
Before we get to the pricing, we want to review what might impact the total cost of plumbing. The more water-based appliances you have, the more you should expect to spend. So, anticipate extra spending for each additional bathroom that you have and whether or not you have a water heater, washer, or dishwasher.
Taking into account the cost of piping and to hire a plumber, the average seems to be about $4.50 per square foot for plumbing.
So, for a home that measures at about 2,301 square feet, you’re looking at a bill of $7,000 to $15,000 for plumbing alone.
The most important feature you can install in your brand new barndominium is electric. This isn’t optional in 2020, as you need a source of power to run your appliances and turn on the lights inside your barndominium. Getting electric also means having outlets installed, light switches set up, and a circuit panel fully installed.
The problem with having your house completely wired is that it’s risky to turn this into a DIY project (electrocution or even fire). That means you’re going to need to hire an electrician to have the job done right. Hiring the right electrician will guarantee your home passes inspection.
It seems that it costs about $4 per square foot to have a brand new barndominium wired.
So, considering additional hookups you might need for appliances and light fixtures, a 2,301 square foot barndominium should cost between $9,204 and $10,354.50.
Let’s face it: It gets extremely hot in the Southern states (where you probably live), and insulation can only do so much when it comes to temperature control. That’s why you need to install an HVAC system in your barndominium as soon as possible.
HVAC means “heating, ventilation, and air conditioning.” So, a complete HVAC install will include the following features:
- Air conditioning units (sometimes several zones, considering your home’s size)
- Furnace (or boiler)
- Air ducts
- Air filtration
Just how much you’ll end up spending on HVAC will vary based on how powerful the system needs to be. That means: How much space is inside your barndominium that needs to be heated or cooled?
A brand new system costs between $5,000 and $10,000 (including new ductwork).
Keep in mind that having high ceilings, multiple levels, and more people living in your barndominium might require you to need a more powerful HVAC system. That means more money out-of-pocket for upgrades.
Windows & Doors ($7,700+)
While many barndominium shell kits will come with windows for you to install, some simply have open spaces where windows and doors are supposed to go. Barndominiums are also known for having large windows that extend up the high ceilings.
Barndominiums are typically built with energy-efficient windows to keep energy bills low, sometimes cutting costs by up to 20% each month. This helps keep heat from transferring easily through the windows and sending your HVAC system into overdrive on a slightly hot day.
Let’s talk about price.
The average home in America has about eight windows, but let’s say your barndominium will have 16. Energy-efficient windows usually cost about $385 to $785 apiece (including labor).
Based on that, windows alone will likely cost you about $6,160 to $12,560.
Then, you have doors. Thankfully, barndominiums tend to have an open floor plan, meaning you may only have doors to your bedrooms and bathrooms. For a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house, you’ll need five interior doors in total. And, of course, you’ll want a rustic barn door at the entryway of your home to capture that perfect farmhouse feel.
Interior doors typically average about $100 apiece. The barn door (no matter where it’s located) can cost between $1,000 and $2,500. In total, doors will run you $1,600 to $3,000.
So, the total for windows and doors is looking to be between $7,760 and $15,560.
Light Fixtures ($300+)
All of that electrical wiring won’t mean much if you don’t have any light fixtures in your home. And given the farmhouse style that you’re going for inside your barndominium, there’s a good chance you’re not going to settle for bare bulbs.
There’s a little bit of leeway on this one since you don’t technically need to install light fixtures. After all, most rooms will be well-lit thanks to a lamp instead of an overhead light fixture.
You’ll probably want a nice chandelier in the dining room, some sort of lighting in each bathroom, and overhead lighting over the island in the kitchen. It costs between $75 and $125 per fixture to have it installed by a professional.
So, putting light fixtures in two bathrooms, a kitchen, and the dining room will run you between $300 and $500.
But, you may also want to factor in the costs of the fixtures themselves.
This one isn’t a necessity of sorts, but it’s hard to picture a modern-day barndominium that doesn’t have a classic fireplace. These make great focal points in your great room and are the perfect place to spend time with the family on cool winter nights.
If you’re going to install a fireplace, you have a few options. You can get a massive fireplace that extends from floor to your high ceilings layered with beautiful stone and brick. Or, you can choose a simple fireplace that’s nestled in the corner of the living room.
The price point will also depend on whether you’re going for a gas or electric fireplace. In general, a single fireplace may cost between $1,050 and $3,780.
Just understand that installing a fireplace might require you to also pay a contractor to set up a gas line or wire the electric fireplace. This can cost extra.
Tallying It All Up
In the above sections, we went over 12 individual upgrades and features that you should invest in before moving into your new barndominium. Some are comfort features (like insulation and fireplaces), while others are mandatory (like plumbing and electric).
So, what does it really cost to finish out a barndominium? Take a look at this chart that overviews what you should expect to pay for each upgrade and an estimated total cost overall.
For reference, we’re using the median new home size in America (2,301 square feet) to determine approximate costs.
|Feature or Upgrade||Low End||High End||Median Cost|
|Windows & Doors||$7,760||$15,560||$11,660|
Remember that a lot of these costs will depend on how many square feet your barndominium is. That’s because many materials (like insulation and electric) are charged by the square foot, unlike kitchens that typically have a fixed price (unless you choose to add extra features).
With that said, expect to spend $83,268 to $164,494.45 to finish out your barndominium.
You might be wondering if it’s worth it to spend the extra money on more luxurious features in your new barndominium. Well, take a look at this video that gives you an in-depth tour of a massive luxury barndominium:
To really put the term “luxury” into imagery, take a look at this 10,000 square foot barndominium out in Texas:
Finishing out your barndominium is a necessity if you plan to move in and use it as a residence. And, there’s absolutely no doubt that it’s expensive!
But, there are ways to cut costs along the way. For example, you can skip on the fireplace, choose low-cost appliances, or select batt insulation instead of spray foam.
Just be prepared to spend more on finishing out your barndominium than you paid to have the shell kit delivered and set-up. Factor in the costs to finish it out before deciding on a budget for your shell kit, in general.
- Census: Highlights of Annual 2019 Characteristics of New Housing
- Home Depot: Insulation R-Value Chart
- Fixr: Spray Foam Insulation Cost
- How Stuff Works: How Drywall Works
- Home Advisor: What Is The Average Price For Drywall And Sheetrock?
- Angie’s List: How Much Does it Cost to Paint a Bedroom?
- Home Advisor: How Much Does It Cost To Paint A Home Interior Or Room?
- Home Depot: How Much Does it Cost to Remodel a Kitchen?
- Angie’s List: How Much Do Home Appliances Cost?
- Fixr: Electrical Wiring Cost
- Home Advisor: How Much Does It Cost to Install or Replace an HVAC System?
- Modernize: How Much Do Energy Efficient Windows Cost?
- Home Depot: Light Fixture Installation