Barndominium Cost vs. House Cost: What You Need To Know
The average cost of a barndominium is $150,700. That’s a far cry from the average $295,300 sales price of a home in the United States. Barndominiums — also called “barndos” — are metal or wooden buildings that are fashioned to house living space. They are often more energy-efficient, costing less to run utilities. Just like with traditional homes, the cost of barndominiums fluctuates with the location, size, and design.
Renovation vs. New Build
Depending on your situation, you may have a barn at your disposal. If that’s the case, it’s possible to use the existing structure and renovate the inside into the home of your dreams. You could also look into purchasing an existing barn structure and upgrading the inside before you move in. Both of these are viable options, but they may not be the most cost-effective.
Issues With Converting Traditional, Existing Barns
Often, traditional barns are exposed to wear and tear. Converting them to comfortable living spaces may take more than a trip to the home decor aisle at Target. Whether you already own or plan to buy a traditional barn, you will have to factor in the replacement of rotted wood and other structurally important materials. You may also run into issues where you need to fumigate or even rewire the entire structure, adding on the dollars as you go.
You may find yourself putting more money into the purchase costs and renovations than you would have put into a new build. Starting from scratch could save you money, increase structural integrity, and allow room for even more customizations. You may also think about buying a barn already converted for living purposes — but that will run you about the same as a traditional home.
Weigh Your Barndo Options
Differences in size and location make it virtually impossible to predict how much you will have to shell out for a barndo project. However, here are some ballpark estimates for each option mentioned above:
- Traditional barn purchases cost an average of $23 per square foot — or $10,000 to $50,000 or more;
- Traditional barn conversions cost an average of $300 per square foot;
- New-build barndos cost an average of $35 per square foot.
Traditional homes average about $123 per square foot. Remember that if you buy a traditional barn, you are going to have to pay the conversion costs on top of the original purchase price. It’s still cheaper to build a new barndominium, even if you have an existing structure.
Land Costs — and Possible Money-Saving Tactics
You also have to factor in the cost of the land on which you will be building or purchasing the barn. This may run around $12,000 an acre on average in the United States. However, farmland costs less, averaging around $3,160 per acre. There are no known restrictions that force you to farm on this type of land — but there are grants for those wishing to restore a barn for farming purposes.
The cost of land will also fluctuate with location and proximity to urban amenities. Land may also not be prepared adequately for building, so make sure to check zoning laws and land-clearing costs when applicable. If you happen to purchase an old barn with acreage, you may be eligible to register the structure for historic preservation. If you choose to build a barndominium on the property, learn everything about the different types of barndominiums and the costs associated with each.
Ready-Made Barndominium Kits
The most cost-efficient option is to purchase a barndominium kit. These come in several options — from two-story, wooden barns to metal-constructed barns. The type that you choose will depend on your unique taste, preferences, and budget. Whichever kit you go with, our professional contractors will install it for you.
Type, Size, and Materials
In addition to the location where you choose to build your barndo, the cost will fluctuate depending on the type, size, and materials used. The main two types of barndominium structures are made of wood and steel. Each material has its perks, and you have to think about long- and short-term costs.
Initially, steel may cost more — anywhere from $7 to $25 per square foot. The benefits of wood, such as yellow pine wood, are that it costs only about $1 to $5 per square foot, and it looks aesthetically appealing. However, upkeep involves refinishing about every five years — while metal structures may last well up to 50 years with little-to-no maintenance.
The costs to construct a barndominium also vary by material. Wooden structures may look more aesthetically appealing, but they almost always require master craftsmanship. They also take about twice as long to erect, meaning longer labor hours and subsequent labor costs if you’re building your barndo.
Steel construction, especially that of the premade barndo kits, is much faster and easier. If you are particularly skilled, you may be able to construct these barndominiums on your own. They are cheaper, but still, fluctuate depending on the style — typically coming in gabled, gambrel (barn-style), single slope, and Quonset (arch-style). Usually, the more complicated the structure, the higher the DIY price tag for parts and labor.
Preparing the Ground and Foundation
The basis of good barndo construction is a solid foundation. It’s not in your interest to opt for a cheap job when preparing your land for building. Proper foundation preparation will include examining the soil on your particular plot. The soil integrity must be solid enough to support the concrete slab that serves as the barndo foundation.
The size of your concrete slab should be the same width as your barndo, two inches longer, and at least four inches thick. You should also check concrete-footing depth requirements in your area to ensure proper installation. Once you have calculated the amount of concrete you need poured, you can then calculate the total cost. Concrete pouring typically costs about $6 per square foot.
Installing Insulation, Wiring, and Plumbing
Unfortunately, you can’t just start moving in furniture once you’ve erected the barndo walls. Although steel structures will generally be more energy-efficient from the get-go, you still need to install proper insulation. Other costs that rack up include wiring and plumbing. Here are some estimated costs for each so that you can calculate your total:
- Insulation typically costs between $2 and $7 per square foot — depending on your insulation requirements, you may need:
- Spray foam;
- Rigid board;
- Vapor barriers.
- Electrical wiring costs an average of $8,000;
- Plumbing systems cost about $1,500 to install.
Make sure to think of every nook and cranny that will need tending to in your barndominium. If you want premium finishes inside, remember to tack that on to your total estimate. Again, consider long-term maintenance.
Which Is Better: Barndominium or House?
Objectively, barndominiums have the potential to save you money. Not only that, but they can be completely customized to your taste. The steel or wooden structures have different types of curb appeal. Traditional homes have their perks, and it is up to individual interpretation. Just remember the benefits of barndos when making your decision:
- Energy efficiency;
- Customization options;
- Long-lasting materials;
- Low maintenance costs;
- Less flammability;
- Lower insurance rates due to durability.
Use this guide to determine if a barndominium is right for you. List out your wants and needs in a living space. If you prefer customization, durability, and low costs, a barndominium may just be the best choice.