Is Building a Barndominium Worth It? Cost Benefits Pros Cons

Is Building a Barndominium Worth It
Is Building a Barndominium Worth It

A barndominium is a portmanteau of a barn and a condominium. These buildings originated from regular barn structures, and have evolved into luxury homes and rentals. But is building a barndominium worth it?

Building a barndominium is worth it in terms of cost and durability. Additionally, many people opt to build a barndominium instead of a conventional home due to its cost-effectiveness in terms of construction. Barndos are also highly energy-efficient and low maintenance. 

But you needn’t simply take my word for it. In this article, we’ll focus on the major cost differences between a barndominium and a house, and also walk through the advantages and disadvantages of building and owning a barndominium. Once you’ve read this article, you’ll be able to make a reliable decision!

Cost Difference Between a House and a Barndominium

Let’s tackle the most important question: how much are you going to save if you opt to build a barndominium over a house, and is it worth it? Speaking from a purely economic standpoint, building a barndominium is going to save you big bucks up front and also in the long run (but more on that later). 

When it comes to the construction of a regular home, you will have to spend at least $172,000 even for a modest 1500 sq ft (166.7 sq yd) home. This is because you’ll be spending money on the exterior framing of walls, windows, and doors, which will then have to be covered with wood or brick. Then comes the added expense of a roof. 

However, with a barndominium, you have the benefit of buying a barndominium ‘shell’ or ‘kit.’ This significantly reduces the cost of construction, as you can buy affordable kits beginning at $38,000.

When buying a kit, you’ll be getting more than just a 1500 sq ft (166.7 sq yd) home, as most barndo kits are available at $10,000 for a 900 sq ft (100 sq yd) kit. 

Benefits of a Barndominium Kit

Barndominiums are cheaper because of their pre-engineered designs, which come in different sizes and structures. Buyers can choose a shell based on the floor plan and area, and can even opt for customizable kits with certain manufacturers. 

Barndominium kits generally provide the following materials:

  • A strong slab of concrete for the base of the building. 
  • Stained concrete floors for the interior of the building.
  • Energy-efficient doors and windows.
  • Exterior and main doors.
  • Spray foam insulation (most barndominium owners prefer steel barndos over wooden ones).
  • A full metal roof.

As you can see, a barndominium kit provides the entire skeleton of the building at an affordable price, making it far cheaper where materials are concerned. Even though the prices can vary among manufacturers, building barndominiums are more cost-effective than conventional homes, which is one reason why barndominiums are popular among homeowners.

Advantages of Living in a Barndominium

The only way to truly know whether a barndominium is worth building or not is by weighing its pros against its cons. Let’s have a glimpse at all the advantages a barndominium has and whether it’s worth the cost!

The Durability 

Most barndominiums are made of steel, which is one of the most durable materials used in construction. It is also highly resistant and can withstand great impact and damage. For this reason, people opt for steel barndos rather than wooden ones that are more aesthetically appealing.

Here is a list of reasons barndominiums are known as durable structures that can withstand the test of time:

  • Steel barndominiums are resistant to environmental elements like heat, water, and wind.
  • Its material prevents it from easy combustion during fire accidents, unlike wooden buildings.
  • It is not prone to be damaged by pests like termites and other bugs that chew through wood.
  • Its steel walls won’t rot, which means you get to have a home lasting for a long time with minimal maintenance.
  • It also has a strong foundation made out of concrete, which adds to the building’s sturdiness and durability.
  • Barndominiums generally have strong poles and beams that support the entire structure, ensuring that there is very little chance of the building ever collapsing from heavy snowfalls, blizzards, or winds.

The Material

When it comes to measuring the worth of a barndominium in terms of longevity and resistance, barndominiums that are made out of steel make it to the top of the list. This is because steel is stronger than most materials and is also cost-efficient. Additionally, it is currently the world’s primary building material. 

Let’s look at a few of the benefits of investing in a barndominium made of steel:

  • Steel is known for its strength, and a steel barndominium has the ability to withstand and thrive in volatile conditions.
  • The flame retardant nature of steel makes it a safer investment, both physically and financially.
  • An insulated barndominium can withstand heavy rainfall, snowfall, and strong winds, with little to no damage to the building.
  • Any steel structure is usually built to resist winds up to 120 Mph (193 Kph).
  • Steel can also withstand excessive snow loads.
  • It is far more resistant to water than wood and will not rot or warp. 
  • Additionally, moisture penetration caused by heavy and prolonged rains will not be able to seep into the building. 

Open Floor Layout 

Barndominiums are prized for their size and structure, and its ability to be modified to suit the owner’s convenience. Houses are usually built with ceiling heights that measure up to 8 to 9 ft (2.4 to 2.7 m), whereas barndos have incredible vaulted ceiling heights of 14 ft (4.3 m) or more. 

Barndominiums usually have an open floor plan, giving you the ability to customize the living space with various interior designs meant for open concept homes. This allows you to have flexibility in styling the entire living area with very little expense. 

In addition to this, most barndominium owners use their barndos as both living and working spaces due to their large open area.

Here are some of the additional benefits of having an open floor plan to help you visualize what life would be like in a rustic barndo:

  • Improved real estate value: In most cases, open floor plans are valued more in the real estate market due to their ability to be customized easily. This increases the building’s value if you plan on selling it in the future. 
  • Daylighting: Having large windows all around the building allows a lot of sunlight to flood into the barndo and brighten up the entire living space. With fewer walls, more light spreads across space. Additionally, you can invest in fewer bulbs and not have to put up lighting in individual rooms as with normal buildings. 
  • Multifunctional spaces: As mentioned earlier, one space can be used for multiple purposes due to its wide area. Hence, the open floor space can function as a family room, recreational room, home office, entertainment space, etc.

The Resistance of Barndominiums to Natural Calamities

It goes without saying that a building’s resistance to natural calamities is essential when considering its worth in the long run:

  • Steel barndominiums are a safer option for earthquakes, as they are engineered to endure seismic tremors up to the seismic level 4 activity.
  • They can absorb more energy than other materials and do not attract lightning.
  • Even when lightning strikes, a barndominium can protect the people and electronic devices inside the building if it has a proper lightning protection system, which will ensure that the energy is grounded in the earth
  • Steel has the highest strength-to-weight ratio among most construction materials and is the best defense against destructive winds. A barndominium that has been made of steel stands a better chance at withstanding tornadoes and hurricanes than a regular or wooden building.
  • They are also the safest houses to reside in during an occurrence of a wildfire. While other houses can catch fire quite easily, a steel barndominium can withstand fire for quite a long period of time. Additionally, sparks that reach the structure will not ignite or let the fire spread.

Energy Efficiency of a Barndominium

One of the major plus points of a barndominium is its energy efficiency, especially if it is made of steel, which provides insulation and weatherization against natural elements. This removes the need for additional cooling or heating appliances. Additionally, it has a metal roof that also contributes to energy conservation.

However, you will have to spend some money while building the barndominium to make it energy-efficient. This includes insulation, weatherization procedures, cool metal roofing, adding solar panels, and daylighting. 

According to the US Department of Energy, families whose homes are energy-efficient save almost $358 on their first year’s utility bills. So even if you have to spend some money on proper insulation and weatherization, it reduces your electricity bill in the long run. 

Here are some of the pros of living in an energy-efficient barndo:

  • Reduces energy consumption and helps you save money
  • Long-term energy and cost savings
  • Reduces your dependence on energy from the outside
  • Reduces environmental pollution and degradation
  • Reduces the exploitation of natural resources
  • Energy-efficient buildings have a higher value when selling or leasing the property.
  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions and slows global warming

Ability to be Customized 

You may be wondering why there’s such a demand for an open floor barn-like building, but the truth is that most barndominiums have evolved to incorporate the finer features of expensive and lavish custom homes.

The building also allows layout flexibility. With no walls to separate the space into smaller rooms, it is easy to reconfigure furnishings and accessories to different room layouts.

Also, it has rustic aesthetics due to its resemblance to repurposed pole barns that have been converted into living spaces. 

Also, the basic structure of a barndo encourages indoor and outdoor living. With roll-up doors, big windows, and wrap-around decks, you get additional spaciousness to your interior living space. 

Disadvantages of Living in a Barndominium

As with all buildings, barndominiums have their own disadvantages and problems with the design. Let’s look at all the aspects of barndos that might be potential disadvantages in the long run.

Maintenance of a Barndominium

Though steel barndominiums are comparatively low maintenance compared to wooden barndos, they still need to be inspected and maintained regularly to increase their longevity. 

This may not necessarily be a disadvantage, but it’s better to know what you’re getting into before buying a steel barndominium.

Let’s have a quick look at the maintenance requirements of a steel barndominium:

  • You will have to clean leaves and other debris on the roof to prevent water from stagnating anywhere on your barndominium. 
  • Repair any scratches you find on the walls, as this might cause rust.
  • Regularly clean mud found at the bottom of the steel wall panels. Prolonged moisture against panels for a certain period of time can lead to rust formation.
  • Metal barndominiums are mostly held together with screws and fasteners, so you’ll have to check if all the fasteners are tight, as changes in the weather can loosen fasteners. 

Open Floor Layout

This can either be a boon or bane and falls under both the advantages and disadvantages of a barndo. Having an open floor layout can create poor sound control, as there are no walls to block noise from one part of the house. Additionally, you may not have as much privacy due to the lack of walls. 

The Final Word

After reading this article, you are now aware of most of the pros and cons of building and living in a barndominium. There’s no denying that barndos are excellent homes for urban dwellers who long for a unique yet classy home. Here’s a recap of the main pros of building a barndominium.

  • Cost of construction is cheaper.
  • Durable and customizable.
  • Energy-efficient and disaster resistant. 

Based on your lifestyle, needs, budget, location, and taste, you can now make an informed decision on whether or not a barndominium is the right choice for you!