If you plan on building a barndominium, you are likely aware of the advantages of these unique structures. A barndominium is often quicker to build and more durable compared to a traditional home. Barndominiums are even available in kits, simplifying the construction process. The materials come partially assembled or delivered in flat-packed packages.
These structures tend to be low maintenance, energy-efficient, and affordable. However, there are still a lot of details to consider when building a barndominium. If you want you a home that can last a lifetime, here are the top 12 mistakes to avoid when building your barndominium:
Top 12 Mistakes to Avoid When Building Your Barndominium
1. Forgetting to Check Your Local Building Codes
Depending on where you live and the size of your barndominium, you are likely to need the approval to build your new structure. Most cities and towns have specific building codes for residential properties. The codes help ensure that new structures are fit for habitation. They cover everything from the size of the building and materials to electrical and plumbing work.
Forgetting to check the building codes in your region is perhaps the biggest mistake you can make. If you fail to get the necessary approvals or follow the required building codes, you may face fines. The worst-case scenario involves tearing down anything that you have completed and starting over after getting approval.
Luckily, this is a relatively easy mistake to avoid. Search online or consult with a contractor to learn more about the building regulations in your local area.
2. Not Including Add-ons in Your Budget
Barndominium Kits are convenient, but they typically include a set number of doors, windows, and other features. If you want more doors and windows, you may need to order more materials. Along with doors and windows, you need to consider fixtures and cabinetry for the bathroom and kitchen. Some kits may include everything you need while others come with a bare-bones design.
Every add-on from windows to cabinets increases the cost of building your new barndominium. Keep these details in mind when determining the total cost. Having an accurate estimate is essential whether you plan on obtaining a mortgage or paying cash. Overlooking the details may keep you from building the home of your dreams.
3. Overlooking the Site Works Before Building
As with a traditional home, barndominiums often sit on foundations. However, before you build the foundation you may need to prepare the ground. Leveling the ground and ensuring that the soil can support a foundation are often necessary steps for new home construction. Do not overlook the importance of stable, even terrain.
If the ground is uneven or the soil is not compact enough, the foundation may slowly sink or shift. Foundation problems are difficult and costly to fix after the home is built. In some cases, fixing a damaged foundation is not worth the cost. To ensure that the terrain is ready for a home, get a soil test. Allow experts to test and inspect the soil profile.
Taking the time to review the soil and terrain helps you avoid costly damage later. With a stable foundation, your barndominium has the potential to last for generations.
4. Underestimating the Height of Two-Story Barndominiums
A two-story barndominium gives you more square footage for adding extra bedrooms and bathrooms. However, the extra story also increases the overall height of the property. Some areas have restrictions on the heights of homes. Depending on the local building restrictions, a two-story barndominium may require you to use a lower roof pitch.
The frames of barndominiums also impact the total height available for second floors. The beams of the frames are sometimes 12 inches or thicker. These details may impact the design and available clearance for the second floor. If you want to have a two-story barndominium, ensure that you have enough room and account for the size of the frame.
5. Not Adding an Overhang Over Doorways and Large Windows
Gutters and eaves help direct water away from the sides and foundation of the property. Unfortunately, gutters and eaves are not enough to completely protect your property. Unless your frame sits on a raised foundation, heavy rain can cause pooling and flooding around the property. Over time, the soil around your foundation can slowly erode, increasing the risk of leaks and damage to the foundation.
To protect your barndominium, consider adding an overhang over the main doorways and any large windows. You may even think about adding a covered porch over the front entrance to shield against rain and severe weather.
6. Not Adding Enough Insulation in the Walls and Roof
Many barndominiums are constructed with steel frames and metal walls, essentially making them metal buildings. A metal building is good at accumulating heat during warm weather but loses heat during the winter. If you want to stay warm during the cooler months, your barndominium needs proper insulation. Insulating your barndominium helps maintain a comfortable temperature. It keeps the warm air inside during the winter and keeps it out during the summer.
Choosing the insulation also helps protect against condensation. As the warm air inside your home reaches a cool surface such as a metal wall, the water vapors condense, leading to moisture problems. With a steel frame and metal components, you do not need to worry about wood rot. However, condensation can cause rust.
Batting is a common choice for insulation due to its low price but it’s not the most effective option. Foam boards, insulated panels, and spray foam insulation offer more heat resistance. Choosing the right insulation material before constructing a home can save time and money compared to adding it afterward.
7. Drawing Your Own Floor Plans for a Barndominium
Building a barndominium gives you a lot of flexibility when it comes to the overall design and layout. This gives you more freedom to adjust the floor plans to suit your needs. While you have the option of drawing your own floor plans, you may want to work with an experienced builder. There are a lot of details to consider for the layout that may impact heating, cooling, natural lighting, structural support, resale value, and your overall comfort.
The position and size of each room and hallway are important to the livability of your barndominium. If you want to avoid creating an awkward or inefficient layout, think about hiring a professional designer.
An experienced barndominium designer can ensure that the floor plan includes the features you want while also ensuring that it is structurally secure.
8. Not Determining Your Financing Before Starting Construction
Running out of funds in the middle of construction may leave you with an unfinished home and no way of obtaining a mortgage. Instead of covering the costs of the construction project using future income, get approved for a construction loan. This ensures that you have the finances in place to cover the construction of your barndominium.
Obtaining a loan for a barndominium was a little more challenging a decade ago. Luckily, a growing number of lenders are willing to offer construction loans for barndominiums. You may even find a lender that offers a construction-to-mortgage loan. With this type of loan, the lender converts the construction loan into a mortgage after the completion of the project.
As with any loan application, lenders want you to provide details. You may need to provide floor plans, supply lists, deadlines, and budget estimates. These details give lenders greater assurance in your ability to repay the loan.
9. Not Choosing the Right Land for Your Barndominium
Unless you plan on building a barndominium on land that you already own, you may need to find a suitable residential lot. Barndominiums are often built in rural areas and are becoming a common sight as you head away from the cities. Rural areas also tend to have fewer restrictions for residential properties. In fact, building a barndominium may not be an option in some urban areas.
When searching for land for your barndominium, pay attention to the following:
If you purchase a small lot, a large barndominium may leave you with no yard. You may also need extra space for a garage or workshop. Another consideration is the location of amenities. You may still want convenient access to roads to reach stores, malls, and your place of employment. The location of neighbors may also influence your decision.
Along with choosing the right land, you need to decide where to place the barndominium on your property. Placing it too close to the edge of the property may limit the length of your driveway. Placing too far back may limit your space for a backyard.
When choosing the spot for your barndominium, remember to pay attention to your local setback restrictions. Some areas require you to build structures a specific distance from the property borders.
10. Not Setting a Schedule for Completion
Whether you hire a contractor or handle everything yourself, you need a deadline for completing your barndominium. Without a schedule, the project can drag on, which may increase the cost of building a barndominium.
Determine your schedule and coordinate with any professionals that you hire. Make sure that you discuss your intended deadline. This is especially important for those who are using the sale of an existing home to cover the costs of the barndominium.
If you need to sell your current home before moving into the barndominium, construction delays may force you to seek alternative housing. You may find yourself living at a hotel or motel until the barndominium is completed.
11. Trying to Do Everything Yourself
You can buy a barndominium shell and materials and attempt to build the structure yourself. However, building a barndominium is a major do-it-yourself (DIY) project. Unless you have experience building large structures, you should consider working with a professional. There are a variety of issues that can go wrong during construction.
An ill-fitting window or uneven door frame may not be a big deal immediately. However, even the smallest mistakes can gradually lead to major problems down the road. An experienced barndominium builder knows how to deal with potential challenges. They also have the experience needed to produce quality results.
You may also need to hire professionals to handle the electrical and plumbing. As mentioned, you need to follow your local building codes. In many areas, electrical and plumbing work must be completed by a licensed professional.
If you act as your own general contractor, you will face a wide range of challenges. You need to coordinate with different subcontractors, such as the electrician and plumber. You also need to ensure that the work is done correctly and within your budget and schedule.
12. Hiring the Wrong General Contractor
Hiring a general contractor can simplify the entire process. They deal with the hiring and monitoring of professionals and help you avoid many of the mistakes discussed. While most contractors are reputable, honest individuals, some contractors may not look out for your best interests. Choosing the wrong contractor could result in delays and increased costs.
Even if you find a reliable contractor, you need to consider their availability, costs, and experience. Before signing a contract, compare your options. Make sure that the contractor or company that you hire can work with your timetable. If they have a lot of current projects, your barndominium may need to wait.
You should also ensure that you can afford the contractor. Some contractors charge more compared to others, requiring you to shop around. When comparing contractors, pay attention to their experience. If possible, look for builders that have constructed barndominiums before.
These are just a few of the most common mistakes that people make when building a barndominium. Working with a general contractor may keep you from making others.
In the end, building a barndominium remains a suitable alternative to traditional homes. You just need to take the time to plan every detail. Spending a little extra time planning now may save you from making a costly mistake.
If you would like more guides like this one, check out the rest of BarndominiumLife.com. There, you will find more helpful tips and tricks from the pros. You will also find featured barndominiums, barndominium floor plans, and information on financing and insurance. Knowing as much as you can will help you get the best results for your dream home.
Gail currently spends her free time geeking out about what’s new and trending in the world of barndominiums.
She is the former executive editor of BarndominiumLife.com and loves working with the team and members of the barndominium community. She now contributes to the blog on occasion, but only when she feels like it!