The Complete Barndominium Guide for Beginners 2023

Written by: Keith Thornton

It seems like year after year there are certain trends that come and go when it comes to home design. Over the last few years we’ve seen the rise in styles such as Modern Farmhouse, Modern Cottage, Modern and even Cottagecore (more on that one later). While those styles are certainly still popular today, the style that may just be here to stay is Barndominium.

I’m sure you’ve heard the term, but some people still aren’t 100% certain what it is or why it’s so popular. Don’t worry, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the hottest trend in home design in this complete guide.

What is a Barndominium?

Some sites will tell you it's as simple as a metal building turned into a home…but it’s really not that simple. When the term was originally coined, it did mean a barn/house hybrid. The term was made famous when Chip and Joanna Gaines turned an old barn into a beautiful space on their television show “Fixer Upper”. But as they got more popular, some cities and municipalities really started making it difficult to build a Barndominium. 

Banks weren’t loaning money to people if the framing methods on the exterior walls were the same as a metal building or barn in some areas. That is when the term “Barndominium” started to evolve to the definition we give it today. The definition we give Barndominium is “a home with a simple footprint that has a barn-like aesthetic and typically includes a large shop area”.

Barndominium Pros and Cons

Now let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of barndominiums vs traditional homes. Whether it’s by the traditional definition or the modern definition, a couple of things stay the same. 

Pro - Wide Open Spaces

One of the pros is having large open spaces. Because the footprint of the home is typically simple and cost effective, trusses can typically be used for a simple roof line. Using trusses reduces the need for large load bearing walls making the living spaces and all interior spaces bigger and more open.

Pro - Energy Efficient

Now not every barndominium home plan is guaranteed to be more energy efficient than a regular home, but the simplicity of the design lends itself to lower energy costs. For example most barndos are 1 story and feature a slab foundation.

If you’ve ever tried to keep a consistent temperature between multiple floors with a basement you know that when the heat rises it’s difficult to keep the lower levels a consistent temperature. When everything is on one level, your HVAC system won’t have to work as hard to maintain a steady temperature. While this isn’t the case with every barndominium floor plan, it is true for most.

Pro - Cheaper Labor Costs

When looking at the barndominium cost vs house cost, people typically focus solely on materials. But labor costs can include a lot of savings when building a barndominium. A few examples are saving time if you are using trusses vs stick built roof framing. Reports show that on average builders can finish a roof 3 times faster when building with pre-built trusses. 

In the same way, for obvious reasons, it’s faster and cheaper to build a home with a simple foundation. So when you ask yourself the question “Is it cheaper to build a barndominium or a house?”, look deeper than just a steel barndominium vs wood frame.

Pro - Available Barndominium Kits

There are a few great options when it comes to getting the full house kit. Our friends at Menards offer barndominium kits that allow you to order the whole home package and have the material delivered to the job site conveniently. This saves you time and money by doing the bid work for you. Pick a plan and buy the whole material kit. Easy!

So what are the negatives of barndominiums?

Con - Exterior Style

While there aren’t many negatives to the barndominiums vs traditional housing, the main negative is that the designs aren’t quite as exotic as some people like. If you are looking for a plan with lots of complex roof lines and angles, barndominiums probably aren’t for you.

Con - Financing

If you are building the classic post-frame steel siding barndominium or turning an existing structure or existing barn into a house, you might have trouble getting a conventional home loan. Most lenders don’t classify the traditional barndominiums as a home making it difficult to find comparable home values and resell values. There is hope that this may change in the future as barndos get more popular but for now it’s still a concern.

Resale Value 

Even though we love them, and you love them, barndominiums aren’t for everyone. That may become a factor when the time comes to sell your home. By building what some people call a “niche” style, you are shrinking the pool of potential buyers when that time comes. 

We hope this blog gives you some more insight on everything about barndominiums. We would love for you to see our ever growing collection of barndominiums. Browse our large collection of barndominium plans and see for yourself!

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