May 11, 2022


Have you dreamt about living in your own barndominium? Barndominiums are a stylish and affordable way to get into the housing market. They can offer the benefits of a detached, single-family home without the high cost. 

If you are interested in living in barndo, this article will help you make an informed decision. We'll cover all aspects, from construction costs to financing options and by the end of this article,you’ll know if this is for you. Let’s get right into it.

Barndominium Cost

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What Is A Barndominium?

The term 'barndominium' or 'barndo' refers to a unique type of housing that has features of a barn with living space. They are metal structures and come in different sizes.

A barn is a building typically used for storage, farming, or other activities. They range from sparse hunting cabins to high-end homes. They are typically made with steel and wood and use a building technique called post-frame construction.

There are three types of barndominium:

  • A newly built post-frame structure that looks like a barn but with living space that you would find in a typical home.
  • Taking a traditional barn used for agriculture and converting it to provide liveable space.
  • Retrofitting the exterior of a house to look at a barn from the outside.

Why Should You Consider A Barndominium?

Barndos are becoming a popular option for people who want something different than a single-family home. You can get all of the benefits of a single-family home without spending a fortune.

Almost all barndominiums feature:

  • Vaulted ceilings
  • Energy-efficient windows
  • Spray foam insulation
  • Concrete floors, stained or unstained
  • Engineered concrete slab

Barndominiums are also an excellent option for those who want to live in a rural area. They offer the perfect blend of country living and modern amenities. 

Another reason to consider a barndominium is that they are versatile. Barndos can be used for various purposes, such as a home, office, or studio. They are also an ideal option for those who want to downsize or live in temporary housing.

What Are The Benefits Of Barndominiums?

Building a steel barndominium has many benefits not found in other types of housing. The benefits include, but are not limited to:

  • Quicker construction - They're built using a technique called post-frame construction; this allows you to complete construction in under 6 months. Plus, because barndominiums kit components are made off-site, the contractor can put the home's shell together much faster and spend most of their time on the interior.
  • Versatile design - You're less restricted with steel buildings than traditional homes, so you can maximize your space. Whether you're looking for extra storage, somewhere to keep your horses, or a traditional home, a barndominium kit can provide you with everything you need.
  • Save money on energy - Barndominiums are some of the most energy-efficient homes available. They feature high ceilings, energy-efficient windows, and spray foam insulation. This combination makes them incredibly energy efficient and allows you to save on your utility bills.
  • Lower carbon impact - Steel construction is always superior to wood in terms of environmental friendliness. It's a building that outlasts others, requires less maintenance, and consumes fewer resources.
  • Longer-lasting - When building with steel, you're getting a far more durable product than traditional building materials. Not only does steel resist rotting, termites, and fire, but it is also stronger than wood.
  • Less upkeep - Steel structures are low-maintenance. While interior walls, worktops, doors, and other materials will require the same care as conventional homes, the building itself will require less attention.

In a nutshell, a barndominium is ideal for those who want to upgrade from a small cabin or move into something quickly. 

Now you know what a barndominium is, let's consider how much a traditional house costs to build and then compare this to  what a barndo costs.

Cost Of Building A Traditional Home

According to the NAHB Economics and Housing Policy Group,  it costs about $300,000 to build a house in the U.S.

More specifically, Americans who are considering building vs. buying and end up going with the latter, end up spending between $100 and $200 per sq. ft. on building a new home. This means a 2,000 sq. ft house can cost between $200,000 to $400,000 to build. 

The majority of the costs depend on your home's size, finishes, and features. If you want granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, and hardwood floors, you will need to increase your budget. Labor makes up close to half of the build cost, with permits, design fees, and materials making up the rest. 

That's a lot of money, but there are ways to reduce those costs.

One popular option is to build a barndominium instead of a traditional home. Barndominiums offer all the benefits of a conventional home (and more) at a fraction of the cost.

Which Is Cheaper: Building A House Or A Barndominium?

Barndominium kits are less than $70,000, depending on size, and include the roof, beams, and walls. The exterior framing is done off-site in a factory, reducing labor costs. This means you may spend less on materials and finishes, with most savings on interior finishing labor.

A barndo's steel construction will save you money in the long run because it is a more durable and long-lasting material than wood. You won't have to worry about making repairs or replacements as often.

It usually also takes less time to build a barndominium than a house. This is because post-frame construction is much faster than traditional construction methods. Your barndominium floor plan designs can be less restrictive because the load-bearing walls are always on the exterior walls.

A load-bearing wall is a wall in your house that helps support the roof and other parts of the structure. It is important to have these walls intact, as they help keep the house standing during major storms.

Thanks to their energy efficiency and insulation levels, barndominiums will keep the heat in during the winter and out during the summer months, which means lower utility bills for homeowners.

Barndominium Cost Per Sq. Ft.

A typical new barndominium kit or shell with no finishes can cost as little as $30-$40 a square foot. When you add insulation, utilities, flooring, paint, cabinets, and lighting, the costs could rise to around $75 - $160 a square foot.

Here is a range of estimated construction costs based on a basic barnomium to something turnkey:

Types Of Build

Square Footage 

Price per Sq. Ft.

Total Cost to Construct

Basic Barndominium




Middle Ground




Turnkey Solution




Basic Barndominium




Middle Ground




Turnkey Solution




Basic Barndominium




Middle Ground




Turnkey Solution




This table shows that you can get a turnkey 2,000 sq. ft. barndominium for around the final cost of $320,000. Remember the costs not factored in are location, cost of land, or permits.  

Additional Barndominium Costs

While a barndominium is potentially cheaper than a traditional house, it's important to remember that the cost savings come from using less expensive materials and a faster construction time.

One of the most significant expenses is the land your barndo will sit on. 

Here are a few additional construction costs you need to consider:

  • Fees associated with obtaining a loan
  • Clearing and grading
  • Expense of Foundation
  • Labor costs for the interior finish
  • Interior floor plan design and materials
  • City or county building permits
  • County Inspection
  • Removal of a previous structure

These costs vary based on where you are in the country and the type of barndominium you choose to build. Always talk to several building professionals to get an accurate estimate of how much your barndominium will cost.  

Cheapest Way To Build A Barndominium

If you are looking for the cheapest way to build your house and willing to do all the labor yourself, it can set you back as little as $80,000 to build. A basic barndo shell goes for around $10,000. The right way to find out is to get quotes from multiple contractors and research the price of kits from different outlets. That way, you can find the best deal that suits your needs and budget.

Where To Build A Barndominium

The best places to build your barndominium are in rural areas such as farms, ranches, and mountain homes. They have fewer regulations when it comes to construction permits. You can even build it on vacant lots in an urban area if you want the luxury of living near town with the privacy of acres of land surrounding you.

Things To Consider Before Building A Barndominium

The following are a few points to keep in mind before making a final decision.

Some might consider these as negatives, but it totally depends on your point of view when it comes to each factor.

  • Smaller Buyer Pool: If you're thinking of selling or 'flipping' your barndominium, you may be in for a long wait. The barn-look is trendy right now, but traditional homes are still easier to sell because they appeal to a broader market. Barndos don't always have that "homey" feeling that people desire.
  • Financing can be tricky: More lenders are beginning to offer loans specifically for post-frame construction and steel buildings. You may have to deal with a hard money lender that charges high fees. Just have a good idea of what you are committing to with your lender before you start building.
  • Check your local zoning ordinances: You may find that your dream barndominium is not permitted. Some areas are surprisingly stringent regarding what kind of barndominium you're allowed to build. So be prepared for some creative re-designing if you want to stick to your guns (or screws).
  • Not hooked on the look: Barndominiums are all the rage in cities across the country, but the barndominium look and exterior may not appeal to everyone in your neighborhood. But don't worry, contractors are now allowing you to build a barndominium with more eye-pleasing exterior options.
  • Risk of corrosion: In areas with high humidity, corrosion is the most significant risk with building a barndominium. However, your builder will talk with you about it and provide you with advice about any potential hazards associated with using specific materials on your property.

Barndominium Costs - FAQ

See the most asked questions

Is A Barndominium Safe In The Event Of A Tornado?

While a barndominium may not be the first choice for some when it comes to tornado-safe housing, it is still a viable option. Metal buildings are actually very sturdy and can withstand quite a bit of damage. In fact, the steel structure can withstand winds of up to 150 mph.

Many people choose to build their barndominiums out of metal precisely because of their durability in severe weather conditions. If you are located in areas prone to tornadoes, make sure to talk to your contractor about ways to increase the safety of your barndominium.

You may want to add storm shelters or reinforced walls and ceilings to help keep you and your family safe during a tornado.

What Is The Average Lifespan Of A Barndominium?

There's no definitive answer to this question. Barndominiums can last anywhere from 10 to 50 years or more. It depends on various factors, including the weather, the materials used in the construction, and how well it has been maintained. Barndominiums are known to be incredibly tough and long-lasting, so you can rest assured that your investment will be well worth it.

Conclusion: Barndominiums Are An Affordable Option For Housing Without Sacrificing Quality

Choosing to live in a barndominium can be a great way to get into the housing market without breaking the bank. 

They offer all the benefits of a detached, single-family home but are much cheaper to build and maintain. However, there are some negatives that you should consider before deciding if this is the right choice for you. Make sure to complete your due diligence before deciding whether to build one or sticking to a traditional-style house.

About the Author

As a native Washingtonian, Carlos Reyes’ journey in the real estate industry began more than 15 years ago when he started an online real estate company. Since then, he’s helped more than 700 individuals and families as a real estate broker achieve their real estate goals across Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC.

Carlos now helps real estate agents grow their business by teaching business fundamentals, execution, and leadership.

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