What to Know About Barndominiums

Updated: Feb. 19, 2024

If you’re looking for a home with plenty of room, space to work and get dirty, perhaps it’s time to consider a barndominium, or barndo.

barnvia Metal Building Homes

If you’re looking for a home with plenty of room, space to work and get dirty, perhaps it’s time to consider a barndominium, or barndo.

A barndo is just what it sounds like—a barn that has been converted into a living space. Barndos have risen in popularity over the last couple years, especially since the concept was featured on an episode of the HGTV show, Fixer Upper.

If living among farm animals doesn’t appeal to you, just know that’s not always the case. Justin Harries of Barn Pros told the Equine Journal that only about 40 percent of his clients actually use barndominiums as an agricultural structure. “People love the way they look. There’s something romantic about the design,” he said.

So if you have a hobby in which a barn would come in handy, a barndominium can be customized for that very purpose.

barnvia Worldwide Steel Buildings

Why a Barndominium?

“In simple terms, these are metal buildings that have an inside living quarter. These are very affordable, energy-efficient and low maintenance homes,” according to Metal Building Homes, a company that specializes in new-construction barndominiums. Many of these homes feature energy-efficient windows, stained concrete floors, engineered concrete slabs, spray foam insulation, efficient plumbing and high ceilings.

“Think of a warehouse that has a beautiful front porch and a little masonry in the front of the building. A warehouse on the outside is normally boring and plain, but as houses, these are very affordable to make. This is the same concept, but when you own a barn home, you’ll be able to enjoy a beautiful, low-cost home that has had the exterior upgraded greatly from what a warehouse would look like.”

How to Build a Barndominium

While many companies specialize in barndo kits that you can customize into your dream barndominium, other builders start with an old barn.

If you choose to start with an old barn, T&T Construction notes that old barns usually have dirt floors, so you will likely need to have the building raised a few feet and pour concrete underneath to help create the foundation. Also, if the barn has become warped over the years, you may need to reconstruct the frame and install a new roof.

“Next will be to install anything that you may need inside your walls. This includes plumbing, HVAC system, and wiring for electricity. Keep in mind that the barn may not have exactly been climate-controlled in the past when you consider adding a kitchen, bathrooms, and all sorts of electrical outlets,” the company explains.

Final touches include adding insulation and interior finishes to make it feel like home.

interiorvia Sunward Steel Buildings

So What Does a Barndominium Cost?

When it comes to cost, a barndominium often costs less than a traditional home. According to barndominiumlife.com, a website run by Don Sloan and his wife Linda, a couple who are planning on building a barndominium for retirement, “building a conventional home costs around $145 per-square foot, while a barndominium may be as low as $70 to $90 per-square foot.”

Of course this all depends on the style, fixtures and design. While some barndominiums are simple, others can have luxury additions such as pools and wrap-around patios.

home: via Sunward Steel Buildings

Is a Barndominiumt For You?

If you think a barndominium is for you, there are some things to consider.

“Building a barndominium is a bit like the old proverb, ‘How do you eat an elephant?’ The answer: ‘One bite at a time,'” Don Sloan says on his website. “And whether you’re doing this seemingly insurmountable project yourself or with the help of a group of carefully selected subcontractors, knowledge truly is power.”

If you’re serious about building a barndominium, Sloan says you need to do these things:

  • Design or download a blueprint of your “ideal” barndominium. There are blueprints available online.
  • Know how much you can spend on construction.
  • Know the building codes for the county or municipality in which you will live.
  • Make a detailed list of features you know you’ll want (i.e., a mud room, bay window, etc.).
  • Know the difference between your wants and your needs.

BarndominiumFloorPlans.com offers barndo plans to explore.