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Barndominiums 101: Your Essential Guide to Construction, Costs, and More!

With the costs of housing rising, more and more families are looking for other building options. Building a barndominium is a great option to consider. This in-depth guide will not only explain what is a barndominium but will help you learn everything you need to know when it comes to building a barndominium. This will allow you to build the home you have always wanted in less time and as the most cost-effective option.

In this in-depth guide to building a barndominium, we will cover everything you need to know. The things you will find in this article will be helpful in your search on what is a barndominium as well as how to build a barndominium.


You will find the following information when it comes to building a barndominium:

This is a comprehensive guide about barndominiums to help give you all the information you are searching for all in one place. We have gathered the information from personal experience from building our own barndominium, barndominium construction experts, and barndominium homeowners who have built barndominiums to help provide you with the most up-to-date research and answers that you are searching for.

So if you are thinking of joining the hottest trend in home building, dive right in and start turning your barndo dreams into a reality.

What is a Barndominium?

what is a barndominium

Let us first define what is a barndominium. A barndominium is a metal building (that can be fairly large) that has a living quarters and, many times has a shop or garage attached.

Barndominiums can even feature horse stables for the horse-loving family. Many barndominiums are actual barn to home conversions, but an increasing number are brand-new construction projects built from the ground up.

The sleek farmhouse design style has exploded in popularity, and the barndominium helps you get that farmhouse look on the exterior, not just the interior. On the other end of the spectrum, other farmhouses are heavy on the rustic countryside look.

Many barndominiums feature an expansive, open-concept living room with high vaulted ceilings. Almost all barndominiums have a rectangular foundation, allowing the barndominium floor plan to be customized to your exact liking.

Many individuals love barndominiums because they offer several advantages over traditional homes:

  • Cheaper and quicker to build than conventional houses
  • Flexibility in space management
  • Lower maintenance requirements
  • Lower insurance costs and associated taxes

Not only that, but barndominiums are super affordable, easy to maintain, and can be very energy efficient. You will find highly desirable features in barndominiums like

  • Energy efficient windows
  • Designer floor choices
  • Great insulation
  • 9 ft. Ceilings
  • A completely customizable structure to make your own

beautiful barndominium

What is the History of the Barndominium?

When most people think about barndominiums, the first place that comes to mind is “Texas,” and rightfully so. The barndominium concept has exploded in popularity recently, and much of that can be attributed to Chip and Joanna featuring a barndominium conversion on their hit show Fixer Upper.

While we may think that this was the first time a barndominium was created, what may surprise you is that the origin of the barndominium starts very far from Texas, in the state of Connecticut. In fact, the first time the word “Barndominium.” was used was in the New York Times in 1989.

the very first mention of what is a barndominium in the NY Times
C/O NYTimes
barndominium in the new york times continued
C/O NYTimes

The person who coined the term “barndominium” is a gentleman by the name of Karl Nilsen, who was a real estate developer in the Connecticut area. He was working on a new style of planned community that centered on living near horses. Think of a community that’s built around a golf course, and this was essentially the same idea with horses. Karl is the one who came up with “barndominium” as the name for his new concept in the 1980s.

From this point in the 1980s and after a single New York Times article as an artifact, it wasn’t until the mid-2010’s that the term regained popularity again. This was when the popular HGTV show Fixer Upper featured a barn to barndominium conversion on its third season. This is really when the barndominium concept started to take off across Texas and the rest of North America.

barndominium shop

Who Are Barndominiums For?

Barndominums are for anyone. From the first-time homeowner to those retiring, to those who want a nice shop connected to their home to house all their tools. More and more people are considering building a barndominium, and for good reason. You will find small barndominiums to very large barndominiums, depending on your needs and desires.

Aside from all the advantages of the barndominium, such as faster construction and efficiency, there are some major lifestyle reasons folks are attracted to the barndominium.

In the BarndominiumLife Facebook groups, we’ve been polling nearly every new member and asking them two questions – “Where are you from?” and “What attracts you to the barndominium lifestyle?”

Many people who responded just said they love how barndos looks. That said, many of the reasons for barndominiums are lifestyle related!

The number one reason folks are attracted to the barndominium is so they can have a shop/house combination. This is attractive for people who work in the trades and need a covered area to work during the day. It also has the added benefit of making your commute pretty easy!

Another major lifestyle benefit of the barndominium is the ability to fit large families and relatives. Barndominiums tend to be cheaper to build on a per-square-foot basis, so a large family has the room it needs to run around and enjoy.

famous barndominium

Lastly, people love the open concept floor plans for their living room and kitchen areas. Many older homes do not have open areas like this, as it’s considered a luxury in current design trends. With the barndominium, you can get a great open space for less cost than most other methods.

barndominium kitchen

What Can You Do With a Barndominium?

There are so many different things you can do with a barndominium. While more and more people are using them as homes, barndominiums are popping up all over the country for various uses. Some uses include:

  • Shops
  • Churches
  • Schools
  • Businesses
  • Meeting centers
  • Entertainment Facilities
  • Baseball Practice Facilities
  • and more!

While some may wonder if their barndominium will look like a metal building inside, the answer is no. It can have all the luxuries that you desire in a traditional home. We see more and more luxury barndominiums that include things like:

  • Hardwood/tile floors
  • Spa-like/luxury bathrooms
  • Huge Pantries
  • Mudrooms
  • Massive Bedrooms
  • Lofts
  • Great Rooms
  • Marble/Granite countertops
  • High end cabinetry throughout the home

The possibilities and upgrades are endless when building a barndominium. If it is within your budget, you will most likely be able to include it in your barndominium build.

There are many different looks of a barndominium. Whether you are looking for a black barndominium, a black and white barndominium, a white barndominium, a green barndominium or something else, there are plenty of examples to fall in love with.

A huge trend that we see often are rustic barndominiums as well as farmhouse barndominium interiors.

Here are some of our favorite Barndominiums in our Barndominium Photo Gallery. To see even more homes, check out our featured homes.


Pros and Cons of a Barndominium

When building a barndominium, you want to be aware of some of the barndominium pros and cons. Here are some that we think are important to mention.


  • Cheaper and quicker to build than conventional houses
  • Flexibility in space management
  • Lower maintenance requirements
  • Lower insurance costs and associated taxes


  • Financing a barndominium can be difficult without proper knowledge and guides.
  • A smaller pool of buyers due to high customization if you decide to sell.

How Much Do Barndominiums Cost?

An important question regarding barndominiums is “how much do barndominiums cost?“. While this is a difficult question to answer because the cost will vary based on the size of the barndo, the features you include, and the area, we can help you with a general idea of how much it may cost to build a barndominium.

One of the major selling points of the barndominium is that they are cheaper to build than the typical home. The average in 2023 is around $95 to $125 per square foot for a new build. This number, however, can vary wildly based on a few different factors.

barndominium kitchen

The first and most important factor in figuring out how much your barndominium will cost relates to how much you’ll do yourself. If you’re going to hire a general contractor to handle everything for you, you’ll be looking at closer to $125/sq ft (or more). If you feel capable of being your own general contractor, this will save a lot of money.

In our Facebook groups, we have members who have taken on nearly every aspect of the construction themselves. With just the materials to worry about, they’re reporting construction costs as low as $30/sq ft! Unless you’re a pro, we don’t necessarily recommend going this route.

How Much Does A Barndominium Cost Vs Building a Regular Home?

Now that we know building a barndominium usually costs between $95 and $125 per square foot let’s compare that with traditional home building.

We wrote extensively about barndominium cost vs house, but here are the numbers in plain English. Building a traditional home usually starts at $145 per square foot for an average-sized house. A good chunk of that cost is devoted to exterior framing of the walls and covering that with brick, stucco, or another material. And then, there’s the roof, of course.

Barndominium Cost vs House? What’s the difference? Houses are typically built of wood or brick and have ceiling heights limited to 8-9 feet. Barndominiums on the other hand are typically made of metal and can have incredible vaulted ceiling heights of 14 feet+, they are as different as night and day — on the outside. But on the inside, anything you could imagine doing in a custom home you can do it in a barndo (rustic chic or modern farmhouse) — and make the ceilings as high as you want.

When building a barndominium, you can skip most of those costs. The primary cost with a barndo comes from the metal “shell,” which includes a roof, typically. This keeps costs significantly lower than traditional methods. There is a clear winner when we compare barndominium cost vs. a traditional home, and that is a barndominium.

This barndominium cost calculator can help determine the cost of your barndominium.

Can You Use a Barndominium Kit?

Barndominium Kits Texas: Who Has the Best?

Barndominium kits come with the plans and materials that you need to build your barndominium all in one package at a reduced cost. It is possible to to get a barndominium kit for under 100k! This allows you to build your barndo quickly. All you need to do is pick the barndominium kit based on the size and floor plan you are interested in. There are several different options available to help you find the plan and size that is right for you. You can also customize them for an additional cost.

Barndominium Kit providers are located throughout the country and can help you find what you are looking for. Typically they work in specific areas, so you will want to find a barndominium kit provider in your area.

Once you purchase your kit, it will arrive on a pallet or semi-trailer, and you must put them together yourself after you’ve poured a concrete foundation.

While a barndominium kit is not exactly turnkey, it is still cheaper than paying someone to build it from the ground up. Many manufacturers will arrange for construction crews to come to your land to help you assemble it. We highly recommend the barndo kit for anyone looking to save on the overall cost of their build.

How Do You Get Barndominium Financing?

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One of the most common concerns we hear early on in the barndominium building process is, “where will I be able to get barndominium financing?

Where do you find a lender willing to make a new construction loan on a barndominium? This question gets asked a lot, so we set off in search of helpful answers on financing a barndominium.

While most lenders are still warming up to the idea of financing a barndominium, there are plenty that is lending for our beloved home. Coming prepared is the key. This in-depth post on how to get barndominium financing will help you get the financing you need.

Here’s what you need to prepare:

  • Solid barndominium floor plans
  • Actual contractor or subcontractor bids
  • A good credit rating

Getting a construction loan (which, let’s face it, most barndos are new builds) is harder than getting a loan for an existing home. This is because it’s harder to get an accurate appraisal. After all, there are no comparables! A barndominium in the middle of a rural area isn’t identical to other properties.

Not to worry. If you have a relationship with a local bank or credit union, try there first. They’ll have detailed information on your financial background, and a solid relationship goes a long way. If that fails, a farm credit shop may be a good place to turn. Last, online mortgage brokers are usually ready and willing to issue a new loan.

One of the more common questions we get on the topic of financing your barndominium is whether the barndominium VA loan exists?  Long considered one of the top mortgage products, the VA loan is for eligible veterans and available through many regional and national banks. The loans are guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the rates available are typically much lower than traditional products.

Just a note – many readers ask us about using a VA loan for a barndominium. While it is possible, we don’t suggest it because VA loans have many requirements for new construction. Instead, it’s best to use a traditional lender for the construction, then refinance using a VA loan!

barndominium insurance

Acquiring Barndominium Insurance

Once you’ve built your dream barndominium and are living in it, you’ve got to get homeowners insurance. That brings up your next question: Who issues the best barndominium insurance? Read on for more info.

Barndominium insurance is issued by most U.S. insurers — the same ones that provide coverage for single-family homes. And there are various factors to consider when evaluating the right one for your barndo, including:

  • What’s provided in the coverage
  • Types of Coverage
  • What they cover
  • What they don’t cover
  • Costs

So, when shopping for barndominium insurance, it’s essential to understand the types of policies available, what the policies cover, and how the rates for the policies are determined.

How to Get Started Building a Barndominium- Steps to Building

So you’ve decided that the barndominium life is for you. How do you get started building a barndominium?

Luckily for you, the future barndominium fanatic, you have plenty of ways to get the information you need. Between our two Facebook groups, our eBook “Build Your Dream Barndominium” and this very website, you have everything you need to get started.

Here is a quick snapshot of everything you need to consider to get started building your barndominium. We try to link to applicable articles where we’ve written about the topic in greater detail. If you want everything in one place, however, our eBook is a handy option with all the info you need in one place.

Buying the Land For Your Barndominium

Unless you’re one of the lucky ones who already has a plot of land upon which to build your barndominium, finding some land comes first. Finding the right plot of land can be a little tricky unless you know what you are looking for.

There are a few things you want to consider when looking for land for your barndominium:

Consider the Zoning

While you’d assume that most plots of land far away from the closest city will have minimal zoning restrictions, you’d be mistaken. Many counties and states have instituted zoning classifications as far out in the country as you could imagine.

Before buying a piece of land, consider what it’s classified for. Is it considered residential, commercial, agricultural, or something else? A call to the local planning and zoning department of the county or city you’re in is usually the easiest way to find this out.

Barndominium Taxes

One important thing to note is that different states can have wildly different tax rates, even for plots of land without buildings. For example, in Texas, there are no state income taxes. Sounds great, but they make up for it with some high property tax rates.

Make sure you’re aware of what the tax rate will be after you own it. You will need to pay taxes even if there is no building on it. Paying taxes on an unused plot of land can really hurt if you do not know how much the taxes are.

You should also consider the barndominium taxes after your barndo is built as well. Some jurisdictions have very different tax rates based on the value and size of the buildings built on a piece of land.


One of the more important points, running water and electricity, is taken for granted these days. But, if you’re looking for a house far out in rural America, it’s not a given.

When evaluating a plot of land, you’ll need to determine a few things:

  • Make sure there’s running water, or figure out if you need to drill a well.
  • Ensure you can hook into the city/county septic or sewer system. If not, you’ll need to install your own.
  • Is there a local electricity grid you can tap into? Many choose to be completely “off the grid” with solar panels.
  • If cell coverage is an issue, may people invest in cell coverage boosters.
  • Last, make sure there’s adequate cell coverage or internet options. Many opt for satellite internet.

Barndominium Floor Plans

Once you’ve figured out the “where” part of building your dream barndominium, you need to figure out the “how.” The “how” means answering questions such as:

  • “What do you want your barndominium to look like?”
  • “How big do you want your barndominium, including bedrooms and bathrooms?”
  • “What sort of features do you want your barndominium to have?”
  • And so much more

Once you know how big you want your barndominium to be, you will want to start finding the best barndominium floor plans. Finding existing floor plans will not only save you money but help you in a somewhat overwhelming process of narrowing down what you are looking for.

Looking for an open concept barndominium floor plan? A completely open kitchen and living room is one of the best features of the barndominium. Click through to view the best floor plans anywhere

As you begin tp look at barndominium plans, you will be able to think about various aspects of your lifestyle and decide what’s important and what isn’t.

For example, do you have a large family or a small one? Do you want a shop or a large garage area? Even basic questions like these will help you figure out a general idea of what you’re looking for. After you have a basic floor plan, it’s much easier to figure out the rest.

Finding Your Ideal Barndominium Floor Plans

These are some of the best floor plans that you want to consider when building your barndominium.

With these plans, you’ll be in an excellent position to start building. They will be you get the proper financing and find a barndominium builder near you.

While some sites sell extremely expensive plans that include elevations and electrical, we don’t suggest these. For one, many states mandate that your plans must be completed by someone with local knowledge of zoning mandates. The second issue is that some states go even further and mandate that your plans are stamped by an architect. While most aren’t like this, even if you bring some basic plans to an architect, this can reduce your costs tremendously.

Building a Barndominium in Your State

Are you looking to build a barndominium in your state? These Barndominium State Guides will teach you everything your need to know to build in your state.

Hiring a General Contractor or Building Your Barndo Yourself

Once you have floor plans ready to go, you’ll need to decide, “Should I build my barndominium myself, or let a barndominium builder do it for me?” “Can I do some of the work myself while contracting out most of it to various trades? Said differently, can I be my own barndominium general contractor?” “Can I build the entire barndominium DIY?

building a barndominium

All of these questions will likely be on your mind as you weigh how to get started building your barndominium. We have seen many readers take all three approaches to building their dream barndominium. Below, we’ll outline the pros and cons of each approach and give you some things to consider as you get started so that you can determine what is best for you.

Build a Barndominium Yourself

Saving money is the main advantage of building a barndominium yourself. Barndominiums are already more affordable compared to traditional homes. When you cut out contractors and subcontractors, you save even more money.

You also have greater control over the project. While contractors and tradespeople can fulfill your requests, doing it yourself ensures that everything matches your requirements.

Doing everything yourself is the best approach for those who enjoy do-it-yourself projects. It also helps if you have experience with home construction and power tools.

Building a barndominium yourself gives you more control and saves money. Purchasing a kit or a metal shell makes the building process easier than building a traditional home but still involves a lot of hard work.

barndominium porch

You need to lay the foundation, erect the frame, and add the subfloors and walls. You then need to add electrical and plumbing, the roof, siding, and fixtures. There are a lot of steps involved, and inexperienced individuals may run into trouble with some of the tasks.

Keep in mind that there are also many tutorials on how to handle each step of the building process. With enough ambition and physical ability, the DIY route is possible. It just involves more work compared to the alternatives.


  • Saving money
  • More control
  • Personal satisfaction


  • Involves hard work
  • May require experience

Hiring a Builder for Your Barndominium

Some people prefer to let others do everything. If you do not have the time, energy, or ability to build a barndominium on your own, hiring a barndominium builder is a convenient option.

By hiring a builder, you do not need to worry about interviewing and negotiating contracts with subcontractors and tradespeople. Laying a foundation, adding electrical lines, and installing plumbing are tasks that typically require specialized knowledge and skills. Contractors are responsible for finding the right people for each job.

barndominium contractor

Contractors also oversee the building process. They ensure that everything is built to your specifications while keeping workers and tradespeople on track. Thanks to these benefits, you are less likely to deal with delays and setbacks.

Hiring a builder is a good choice for those who want to sit back and let someone else handle the hard work. However, this option also costs more compared to doing it yourself or acting as your own contractor.

On average, contractors charge a 20% commission on most projects. Depending on the size of the barndominium, hiring a builder may cost significantly more compared to the DIY approach.

You also have less control when hiring a builder. General contractors try their best to execute your wishes. However, you are still likely to experience occasional communication issues. Some contractors also try to pressure you to accept their recommendations, which may not align with your vision for your barndominium.


  • Convenience
  • Professional results
  • Fewer setbacks


  • Higher costs
  • Less control

Being Your Own General Contractor

A third option is to act as a general contractor and hire tradespeople. You get to oversee the building of your barndominium while hiring skilled professionals to carry out the work.

Being your own general contractor provides flexibility, allowing you to choose how much you want to handle yourself. You have the option of hiring tradespeople for every step in the building process while overseeing their work or hiring for specific tasks.

For example, you may choose to erect the frame yourself and then hire electricians, roofers, and other subcontractors to complete the rest. Each project that you tackle yourself saves you more money.

As the contractor, you also have the freedom to hire tradespeople to complete the entire project. Compared to hiring a contractor, you have more control over every decision from the materials to the design and layout of the barndominium.

barndo insulation

Being your own contractor also comes with a few challenges. You need to compare and interview a variety of tradespeople for each job and then negotiate contracts. You also need to coordinate each job to complete your project within your intended timeframe.

For example, you need to wait until you lay the foundation to erect the metal shell. You need to construct the shell before you can start installing the interior walls and features. Barndominium insulation is a whole topic in and of itself. If you enjoy overseeing complex projects, this may be the right option for you.


  • Flexibility
  • More control
  • Saving money


  • Finding the right tradespeople
  • Extra responsibilities
barndominium exterior
Glenn Woodard

Buy an Existing Barndominium

If you love the idea of owning a barndominium but not wanting to build it, buy a barndominium that is for sale! Our barndominium for sale marketplace lists many barndos for sale throughout the country. Here you can search by state to find out what is for sale in your area to find the perfect match for what you are searching for.

FAQs of Owning a Barndominium

When it comes to owning a barndominium, there are a lot of questions that people have. Here we address many common barndominium FAQs to help you decide whether a barndominium is right for you.

Are Barndominiums Safe?

The first concern and consideration folks have when considering a barndo is definitely safety. We wrote an in-depth post breaking down the 4 things you need to know, but here’s a quick summary for anyone concerned about barndominium safety.

#1 – Barndominiums offer greater protection against fire

Since most conventional homes are built using wood or stick construction, barndominiums have a distinct advantage over their timber counterparts. Not only does the metal used to construct barndominiums make them more durable, but it’s also better for withstanding potential fires.

#2 – Barndominiums are safer in a tornado

Since barndominiums are most popular in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and other parts of tornado alley, we get asked about their safety during these storms. A barndominium constructed with metal offers better protection against the elements, including tornados. Because of its steel construction, barndominiums may withstand up to an F-4 tornado.

#3 – Barndominiums are safe during lightning

A big potential concern we hear about relates to lightning strikes. Since barndos are made of steel, some wonder if they’re more susceptible to lightning strikes than traditional homes. That is NOT the case. Steel has a lower electrical resistance compared to other materials, helping to spread out the heat of the strike.

#4 – What about barndominiums during an earthquake?

If you live in an area that is along earthquake fault lines, you may have concerns about building a brand-new house on your land. With barndominiums, however, they are considered safe compared with other styles of housing. According to the World Steel Organization, steel buildings are considered safer as they tend to dissipate energy from seismic waves. 

Are Barndominiums Durable?

If you’re looking to build a barndominium, you likely want this house to be your forever home for you and your family. Because of this, many ask us if barndominiums are a durable type of house compared with traditional methods. The answer is a resounding YES! Here is what you need to know about barndo durability.

First, barndominiums provide better protection against the elements. Things like moisture, mold, rust, fire, and severe weather are all better withstood by a barndo. This durability is due to the unique design of barndominiums. Since most consist of a metal shell, this steel provides better protection against the environment.

sturdy barndominium

The next thing to know is that maintenance requirements on a barndominium are significantly less than traditional homes. Because they’re made of steel, you may never need to repaint your home – not once. Also, the metal construction results in easier renovations and repairs. Rebuilding a wall in a barndominium is way easier than other types of homes, where the wall may be part of the structure of the house.

The bottom line is that if you want a safe and durable home, with fewer repair and maintenance needs, the barndominium is an excellent choice.

Are Barndominiums Energy Efficient?

Energy efficiency is higher up on the list of “wants” when it comes to building a new house than it ever used to be. And when you consider the benefits, who can blame them?

From decreased heating and cooling bills to lower electricity bills overall, living in an energy-efficient home is a huge perk. Not only are lower bills a plus, but spaces that are energy efficient tend to have better air circulation, moisture levels, and temperatures overall. As icing on top, energy-efficient homes also tend to hold more resale value than wasteful homes.

Barndominiums are some of the most energy-efficient homes you can build. Here are some of the top reasons this is the case:

  • Tend to feature windows that are energy efficient
  • Usually made of prefabricated steel, which decreases energy needs and upkeep expenses
  • Easy to create more metal partitions and rooms, which closes off living sections and increases energy efficiency
barndominium insurance

Is it hard to acquire Barndominium Insurance?

Barndominium insurance is issued by most U.S. insurers — the same ones that provide coverage for single family homes. And there are various factors to consider when evaluating the right one for your barndo, including:

  • What’s provided in the coverage
  • Types of Coverage
  • What they cover
  • What they don’t cover
  • Costs

So, when shopping for barndominium insurance, it’s essential to understand the types of policies available, what the policies cover, and how the rates for the policies are determined.

Can a barndominium have a basement?

You may be surprised that a barndominium can have a basement!


Barndominiums have changed the housing market for the best. Not only are homes more affordable, but families are able to customize their homes on a budget to get just what they are looking for. Building a barndominium saves you money when building your home.

Not only that, but you can build barndominiums for all different purposes, like poolhouses, churches, schools, and more. There is no better time than now to jump on the barndominium bandwagon and start building your dream home.

Not only are barndominiums affordable, but they are also durable in all types of weather conditions. A barndominium is the perfect choice for your next build.

If you’re looking for more info on building your dream barndominium, get the Barndominium Life Program! This can help you substantially on your barndominium journey!