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The Barndominium Shell: Ideal for DIYers

barndominium shell

Building a barndominium, starting with a low-cost barndominium shell, is becoming a trendy and fashionable DIY challenge. Not only do they allow for a quicker build, but they also have some great low cost financing options. Find out more about building a barndominium using a barndominium shell.

The Barndominium Shell. Is it a cost-effective solution brought about by increased competition? Several kit builders make theirs available from $7,000 to $40,000 and up. But they come without slabs, doors, or windows as shells-only.

Inexpensive Barndominium Shell Options

Photo Courtesy Texas Barndominums

Many folks are looking for an affordable, small barndo or cabin. Something they can build themselves — perhaps with a little help with the slab and erection of the shell — and then finish it out themselves on property they own either in the country, in the mountains, or in their own back yard.

They want something that is unique and yet livable. And they’re in luck because there are actually quite a few kits that truly are DIY. Some can be built by only two people. There are still others that are a little larger.  They will require that you hire some outside services for the day — like a man-lift, a crane, or a cement truck.

Barndominium Shell Providers – Cost and Reputation

If you are looking to construct a barndominium shell you will need to find a shell provider. Here are some favorite barndominium shell providers to consider.

A DIY kitchen by Absolute Steel Texas

Absolute Steel

  • One of the current leaders in barndo building anywhere – they will ship you a shell DIY or help you find a contractor.

Who they are

These folks have divisions all over the country. With perhaps the highest visibility on the Internet, they derive 95% of their business from Do It Yourselfers. With that emphasis in mind, let’s see what you get when you buy a kit from Absolute Steel.

What they provide

They will deliver to your homesite just the shell components — metal walls, metal roof, flooring, and all the fasteners to make your kit go together

Their “Teton” style cabin — which can be as big as 1200 sq ft — is featured in detail elsewhere on this site. Here’s what the builders have to say about their cabin plans:

“House kits in the Teton style feature heavy-gauge exterior panels, designed with the appearance of wood shiplap siding. These panels and the Teton’s larger eave overhang give it an especially traditional, homey look. (see cabin image above)

“Because of the way the Teton’s walls and roof are engineered, home kits in this style are also a bit easier to erect than other styles. That saves time and effort if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, and can reduce labor charges if you’ve hired a contractor.”

What they don’t provide

The main item missing from Absolute Steel’s package is a high-quality cement slab. You must contract for this separately.

Here’s the bottom line

The best thing about these kits is their ultra-affordable price. $10,000 or less, depending on the number of square feet you want.

Create your own 3D rendering and request a quote using their unique online tool.

Worldwide Steel Buildings

  • They will ship your kit anywhere and offer tips on building it yourself or working with a contractor.

Who they are

This company, operating out of Missouri, holds a reputation for the highest quality rust-proof trusses in the industry.

What they provide

Price for a 30 X 40 steel building, with the following enhancements:

  • Height, 12 ft
  • Wainscot, front only
  • Gable, front only
  • Cupola, 3×3
  • Windows, 12 4×3
  • Door, Half Glass
  • Door, Overhead

What they don’t provide

From what we have gathered, there is nothing that the Worldwide Steel Buildings team does not provide in their barndominium shell offering.

Here’s the bottom line


Shelter Kit

  • “High-Quality Owner-Built House & Barn Kits”

Who they are

Shelter-Kit has been designing and producing kit buildings, for assembly by owners with no prior building experience, for over 48 years. Their product line includes custom homes, one-story cabins and houses, barn/garage kits, 1, 1 1/2 or 2-story house kits, and something they call their “GoodFit” house kits, all of which can be designed in a wide range of sizes and styles to meet the customer’s requirements.

What they provide

Sq. Ft: 875-3,000+

Bedrooms: 1-5+

Width: 16 feet and up

Length: 16 feet and up

Assembly time: 10+ days for 2 people, depending on size & options

Options: Higher ceilings, siding choices, full second floor, windows, doors, stairs, dormers, partial cathedral ceilings, our double-stud wall system which allows for additional insulation, and much more. They offer porches, decks and many types of additions, which can be added at any time-at the time of ordering or in the future.

Price: $28 to $49 per square foot of living space, depending on configuration, size and options. Prices for kits to be built on a slab will be at the lower end of the range.

Each house kit contains the materials required for a weather-tight shell, including the pre-cut frame, sub flooring for two floors, exterior wall sheathing, siding, roof sheathing, trim, shingles, hardware, and detailed step-by-step instructions written specifically for the inexperienced owner-builder.

What they don’t provide

Slab, interior framing, doors, windows and any other finish-out materials not specifically mentioned above.

Here’s the bottom line

These builders are very transparent about everything from their materials to their prices. However, you must still contact them by phone to get anything approaching a true estimate for one of their barn home kits. Not so for their “Good Fit” homes, where they provide a kit package price for homes ranging from $44,900 to $75,200.

Allwood Avalon – 540 SQF Kit Cabin – $33,990

Allwood Outlet 

  • Specializing in handmade wooden kits – no need for a contractor, but they sell mostly ultra-small cabin kits – not true barndos.

Who they are

Allwood Outlet is an online retailer of eco-friendly cabins. They import lumber primarily from Scandinavia and the Baltic States. And they are a family-owned and managed business devoted to providing high-quality products at reasonable prices.

What they provide

You and a friend can build one of these meticulously crafted cabin kits in under a week. And all the hardwood planks interlock neatly together using a minimum of tools.

Interior of Allwood Avalon (pictured above)

What they don’t provide

They don’t provide a slab or foundation of any kind. And, you’ll need to purchase an additional flooring kit, or buy flooring materials locally. But they provide all interior, exterior walls and the roof, as well as doors and windows.

Here’s the bottom line

These cozy cabins are mostly on the tiny house side of the equation and not true barndos. But they’re an excellent value for the money.

And, if you’re building a big barndo, might want to get one of these cabins to overnight in while you build out your big shell. Makes a great guest cabin later. Or disassemble and take to your deer lease.

Photo Courtesy Texas Barndominums

Texas Barndominiums

Who they are

Texas Barndominiums builds high quality barndos turnkey. They hold a stellar reputation for transparency, professionalism and value.  And lately they have also ventured  into the DIY shell market.

What they provide

Here’s what you get as part of that kit’s price:

  • Engineered foundation
  • Complete metal building
  • Continuous roof
  • Windows (as many as you want. and any type you want)
  • Exterior doors (again, as many as you’d like, and whatever type you’d like)

And all starting at $38 sq. ft.

What they don’t provide

Anything in the way of buildout — interior framing, drywall, cabinets, countertops, etc.

Here’s the bottom line

Buying a Texas Barndominiums kit of any size can provide a significant cost savings. But only if you are willing and able to (a) do all the finishing work yourself (b) take on the role of owner builder, managing all the trades yourself or (c) willing to hire a seasoned construction manager to oversee the work. We will have an article this next week on how to be a successful owner-builder, with quotes and recommendations from actual barndominium owners who have done it.

In the meantime, contact Erik Cortina and his staff of professionals over at Texas Barndominiums for a quote on their DIY shell package.


We will continue to add to this list of kit builders from time to time. Check back for updates. If you know of others who should be on the list — and we’re sure there are dozens of regional builders around the country — feel free to list them below.

The Barndominium Life Program is created to help make your barndo journey easier, especially for those who would love to DIY their barndominium builds, and help you avoid costly mistakes during the process.