If you live in the South, then you’ve probably passed by barndominiums without even realizing what they were. Chances are, you thought those metal barn-like structures contained horse stalls or some sort of warehouse space. They did, but they likely had living quarters as well.
You can live in a barndominium, as they’re a barn/condo combination. Barndominiums are cheaper to build, tend to be energy efficient, and are a low maintenance housing option. To live in a barndo, you’ll need a Certificate of Occupancy and “finish it out” (flooring, windows, cabinets, etc.).
It can be a little unusual to picture yourself living in a metal building. So, keep reading to find out what barndominiums really are and what it’s like to live in one. We’ll also go over things you’ll have to do in order to make them more comfortable and inhabitable by you and your family!
What Is a Barndominium?
The term “barndominium” is somewhat of a play on words, combining the concepts of a “barn” and a “condominium.”
These metal structures typically have a “workspace” area that can include anything like horse stalls, an auto shop, an art studio, or a workshop. The other half of a barndominium is typically considered the “living quarters” and appears very similar to a typical spacious home with an open floor plan. Barndominiums tend to be more popular in America’s southern states, especially the state of Texas.
Key Features of Barndominiums
It might be hard to picture yourself living in a barndominium, particularly if you’ve lived in a typical wooden home up until this point. What’s it like to live in a metal home? Let’s go over some key barndo features:
- A 50:50 split of workspace to living quarters (though, it could be more in either way)
- Open floor plans on the first floor
- Loft areas overlooking the living room or great room area (with cathedral ceilings)
- Individual rooms for bedrooms, bathrooms, pantries, and closets
- Exposed beams and poles, barn doors, and metal staircases for a rustic farmhouse feel
- Large windows that allow natural light to enter
- Either wraparound or front porches
- Typically two-story structures
- Completely finished kitchens, flooring, bathrooms, and fireplaces
The inside of a barndominium closely mimics a cliche farmhouse style home in the Lone Star state. They can also range greatly in size, with small varieties being just 1,000 square feet and luxurious barndominiums being 4,000 square feet or larger.
Looking to see what a barndominium could end up looking like when it’s fully finished? Then, check out this video that’ll walk you through a luxury barndominium out in Texas:
Making Your Barndominium Livable
Simply building a structure somewhere in America doesn’t guarantee that you can actually live inside of it. You’ll have to put forth a little bit of legwork to get the appropriate permits and make your barndominium better, livable!
Let’s talk about what that might entail.
Finishing Your Barndominium Out
Don’t expect to move into your barndominium as soon as the steel frames are officially erected. Like a home, you want to be sure that you’re “finishing” your barndo before you pack up the moving truck and settle in.
A barndominium that isn’t finished out is basically steel beams, steel walls, and concrete floor. So, take a look at what will go into “finishing” your barndominium and actually making it livable:
- Installing windows and doors
- Putting insulation into all walls, flooring, and ceilings
- Painting walls and installing appropriate flooring
- Setting up electricity, plumbing, and gas lines
- Purchasing and installing appliances
- Putting in showers, toilets, sinks, cabinets, and all the other basics
No matter how cheap you purchased your barndominium shell for finishing the interior of this structure is what’ll cost you the most. It’s important to keep these additional costs in mind before purchasing the shell and putting it together.
Getting Your Certificate of Occupancy (CO)
Whether you’re planning to live in a barndominium or a conventional house, your state is likely going to require: A Certificate of Occupancy (also known as the CO). This is a legal document that proves your barndo is safe and legal to live in.
To get your CO, your barndominium must pass inspection and be approved by the town the structure is in. Take a look at a few things that may be checked with an inspection:
- Active gas, electric, and plumbing
- Functioning smoke detectors (located on all levels and in bedroom areas)
- Appliances hooked up and functional
- Hand railing on stairs meeting specific requirements
- Sturdy wall, ceiling, and floor construction (especially if a pre-owned barndo)
It’s important to note that each municipality has its own unique requirements when it comes to CO criteria. Be sure to contact the appropriate town officials before deciding to move into your brand new barndominium.
The Benefits of Living in a Barndominium
It’s clear that barndominiums are livable and, in fact, could be an affordable choice (as compared to other housing options). But, you still might be curious as to why you would want to choose a barndominium when there are thousands of pre-existing homes to pick from already.
Ready to find out what the benefits of living in a barndominium really are? We’re about to go over some of the greatest perks of living in a barndo.
Insulation & Temperature Control
It’s true that steel and metal homes tend to be a bit more durable. But, they can also be a nightmare when it comes to interior temperature control. That’s because metal roofing and siding attract heat and sunlight, which can send your indoor temperatures soaring well-above 37.8°C (100°F) in those hot Texas summers.
Luckily, this is all controlled, thanks to insulation.
Closed-cell spray foam insulation is considered a good option for all interior walls, ceilings, and floors in your barndominium.
Just hire a professional to spray it on before installing your drywall, and your barndo is protected from sudden temperature changes. It’ll keep your HVAC system from working too hard and will even resist water leakage when it rains or snows.
Did you know that it may really be cheaper to build a brand new barndominium from scratch than to build or buy a conventional home? That’s actually true! While an existing home costs $223,000 and a new home costs $289,415, barndominiums can be built and finished out for well-under $220,000. Finishing it out on your own, hiring your own contractors, and building it from a shell kit can save you even more money in the long-term!
You might be thinking that homeownership is a pretty simple task, but that’s just wishful thinking these days. Owning a conventional home comes with roof repairs (sometimes every 25 years), repainting the siding every decade or so, and making repairs when water or fire damage wreaks havoc on your abode.
Barndominiums are a bit of a unique story. Here’s why:
- Metal roofing only needs to be replaced every 40 to 70 years.
- Treated steel can resist leaks and fire better than a wooden home.
- Steel homes can last 50 or more years, while wood homes last about 37 years.
In the long run, owning a barndominium often comes with fewer repairs and greater integrity when up against heavy winds, snowstorms, and even fire. This can give you the most bang for your buck and peace of mind when it comes to raising your family.
What you might not know is that barndominiums are quite a bit more energy-efficient than a conventional home in America. That’s because barndominiums are often built with energy-efficiency windows and doors installed!
So, what does that mean for you?
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, investing in energy-efficient features can cut back on heat and energy loss by between 25 and 30% (on average). This can save you a great deal of money on your monthly electric bills, keeping more cash in your pocket!
What to Do With the “Barn” Portion
Not all barndominiums have a workspace portion, though that’s somewhat of a requirement when considering the concepts behind the portmanteau. You may be wondering what your options are with this extra space that you won’t actually be living in.
In reality, you can turn that extra barn space into anything.
You may want to use that extra space to store your farm equipment, your favorite cars, or even a mass amount of motorcycles. Or, you may want to install a car lift and a few toolboxes and turn your open indoor space into a local auto shop.
That extra space can be used to house your farm animals indoors via horse stalls or a chicken coop. Or, you can even turn your workspace into your very own art studio or create cubicles to develop office space.
To say that you can live in a barndominium would be an understatement. In fact, many proud Texans have lived in barndominiums for decades, as they’re the perfect way to run your shop or place of work directly out of your family’s home.
Keep in mind that a barndominium isn’t livable until you get the required permits within your town or state. It’s a good idea to have a hefty savings account in order to finish your barndominium out of pocket to cut costs long-term.
- Tiger Foam: Open Cell vs. Closed Cell Foam: Which Should I Choose?
- Elite Steel and Supply: Benefits of Metal Barndominiums
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- Realtor: Far From a Boring Barn, These 9 Texas Barndominiums Offer Stylish Digs
- Wikipedia: Barndominium
- Wikipedia: Certificate of Occupancy