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All About Barndominium Pros & Cons

As the real estate market continues to rise, buying a new home can seem daunting. This is leading more and more people to explore innovative alternatives, such as barndominiums. But what should you be aware of before deciding to invest in a barndominium of your own?

Barndominiums have several benefits that are worth considering. Firstly, they’re typically less expensive than traditional homes. Plus, they offer a flexible, customizable space that allows you to design your dream home according to your own specific needs. They require less maintenance than conventional houses, are built to last with their robust nature, and offer ample space. Additionally, they’re a greener choice for those interested in reducing their environmental footprint. 

However, it’s worth noting that there are also some potential drawbacks. The initial costs can be higher than traditional homes, mainly due to the customizable nature of the build. Securing a loan for a barndominium can also be more challenging, as some lenders are not familiar with this type of property. Lastly, it’s important to keep in mind that zoning restrictions and building codes in some cities may not permit the construction of barndominiums.

If you’re contemplating buying or building a barndo, you should be aware of a few things that could be deciding factors. To learn more about the pros and cons of barndominiums, keep reading.

Black barndominium with breezeway and 3 car garage

The Pros of Barndominiums

Barndominiums emerged on the scene in the early 21st century, capturing attention for their affordable construction costs. They have since grown into a viable alternative for those navigating the contemporary real estate market.

Barndominiums Offer Economical Alternative to Traditional Homes

In comparison to conventional homes, the expense of creating a barndominium is markedly lower. But what does “significantly cheaper” mean in real terms?

Consider this: acquiring a barndominium, securing the land it sits on, and conducting all necessary interior modifications to turn the barndo into a cozy dwelling generally costs between $180,000 and $380,000. This price range represents a substantial cost reduction, especially when compared to houses of equivalent size that may be priced upwards of $400,000.

Being hands-on in the construction and finishing of your barndominium can result in substantial financial savings, further enhancing the economic appeal of these unique homes. Additionally, brandominiums provide an avenue for cost-cutting in terms of insurance premiums and taxes. 

This is due to the fact that, in many regions, the calculation of your insurance premiums and taxes hinges on the ‘habitable’ area of your home. Consequently, if you’re occupying your partially finished barndominium during its construction, there’s a high probability that you’ll enjoy reduced insurance and tax charges until the completion of your home.

Therefore, when it comes to money-saving, barndominiums stand out as a clear frontrunner in comparison to conventional homes.

Barndominiums Offer a Convenient Assembly Kit 

One of the interesting aspects of barndominiums is that they can be bought in kit form from various vendors. These kits are generally simpler to assemble than the framework of a traditional home, especially with some guidance from online tutorials or manuals. Some vendors even provide the option of having the pre-assembled structure delivered to your site, though this service usually comes with an added cost. 

These barndominium kits being readily available also means there’s a wide array of designs at your disposal. Multiple established manufacturers produce these kits, allowing you to browse through their design portfolios to identify one that aligns with your family’s preferences and requirements. 

Furthermore, some manufacturers may even offer customization possibilities. It’s certainly worthwhile reaching out to them via email or phone call to inquire if they can accommodate specific design modifications to better meet your barndominium expectations.

great room with fireplace and loft area overhead

Your Barndominium Space, Your Rules 

One of the prominent attractions of barndominiums is the freedom to personalize a vast area at a relatively lower expense. The open-plan nature of a barndominium gives you unlimited customization and creative design opportunities.

When you purchase a barndominium or barndominium floor plan, you’re essentially buying a blank slate. The power to define the entire layout is in your hands. You can determine the number of bedrooms and bathrooms and set the size of your living spaces.

Moreover, you get to select the stylistic direction for your home. Whether you’re charmed by the rustic appeal of a barnhouse or enamored by the sophistication of a Victorian design, the decision is entirely yours. With a barndominium, everything and anything is achievable.

Here are a few aspects of your new dwelling that you can personally tailor:

  • Abundant natural light: Should you relish the warmth and luminosity that natural light brings to your abode, you have full control over the placement and quantity of your windows. For an additional touch of radiance, you might consider installing skylights.
  • Stylish wooden ceiling beams: With the savings accrued from constructing your barndominium, you can easily adopt the fashionable trend of wood ceiling beams.
  • Distinctive woodwork accents: Elevate the elegance of your space by incorporating ornate woodwork on door frames and archways.

Plus, with a little ingenuity, you can handle much of the designing and decorating yourself, leading to substantial savings on your overall project cost. Moreover, there’s a distinct pleasure in crafting a space that is a true reflection of your taste and personality. A great way to get ideas on designing and decorating your barndo is to check out Pinterest to find inspiration. 

The Flexibility to Reside in Your Barndominium During the Interior Construction

A key advantage of buying a barndominium kit is the flexibility it provides to inhabit your home even as you’re completing the interior construction.

Some individuals choose to finish essential areas of the home, like the bedroom and bathroom, first and move into their barndominium while gradually working on the remaining construction tasks in-house. Others opt to reside in an RV or a trailer parked inside the barndominium as they progress with finishing the internal living space.

While this approach might not appeal to everyone, it can undoubtedly lead to substantial savings during the construction phase, particularly if you’re self-financing the entire project. Others opt for this because they like being on-site as the construction is being done. 

Barndominiums Offer Greater Durability Than Many Conventional Homes

The exterior shell of most barndominiums is constructed from steel, resulting in a robust structure that shows slower signs of wear over time. This also means your dwelling will require less maintenance, and you can bid goodbye to concerns about:

  • Pest infestations, including termites
  • Damp-related issues like mold, mildew, and rot
  • Severe weather conditions
  • Fire damage

The average lifespan of materials used in a barndominium’s shell is about a century. While this is already quite impressive, with appropriate care and in a suitable environment, your barndominium could potentially stand even longer.

Barndominiums Offer an Abundance of Versatile Space

As hinted at earlier, barndominiums boast a significant amount of flexible space, a feature that aligns perfectly with the current trend of expansive open floor plans.

The generous roominess not only imparts a luxurious and expensive feel to the home, but it does so at a fraction of the typical cost. This space can also facilitate the needs of larger families, providing plenty of room for everyone.

Some ways to utilize this additional space might include:

  • Creating a large kitchen: The spacious layout allows you to craft the kitchen of your dreams, where everyone can move around freely without bumping into each other.
  • Implementing an open floor plan: An open floor plan promotes family togetherness and typically integrates the kitchen, dining area, and living room into a cohesive space. Open floor plans are extremely common in barndominiums, though it is possible to go for a more conventional floor plan.
  • Designing an ample bathroom: Seize the opportunity to construct your ideal bathroom, complete with a deluxe walk-in shower, double vanity, and a jacuzzi tub.

The beauty of it all is that the utilization of this open space is entirely dependent on your vision and creativity. If you’ve ever fancied having an indoor swimming pool occupying half of your home, a barndominium can make it possible!

Barndominiums: A Greener Housing Alternative

Finally, it’s worth noting that opting for a barndominium over a conventional home significantly contributes to ecological preservation.

But what factors make this form of dwelling more environmentally friendly?

Primarily, many barndominium kits are manufactured using materials sourced sustainably and are more environmentally considerate. Furthermore, the longevity of these structures ensures that the resources used will have ample time to naturally biodegrade and return to the earth.

Moreover, you can enhance the eco-credentials of your already green home by ensuring the interior is designed with low-impact, environmentally sensitive products. Barndos are also perfect for renewable energy such as solar panels, which will not only benefit the environment but save you money in the long run.   steel shell, metal framing of a barndominium

The Potential Drawbacks of Owning a Barndominium

Let’s explore some potential disadvantages of barndominium ownership. As with any housing type, it’s crucial to understand potential challenges before investing in such a distinctive property.

Securing Financing for a Barndominium Can Be Challenging

One of the most significant challenges of buying a barndominium instead of a standard house is the difficulty in securing financing for such unconventional properties.

If you have sufficient cash on hand to fund such a project, that’s excellent! However, if you don’t, your financing options might be somewhat restricted.

Most conventional banks are hesitant to provide loans for barndominiums. Nonetheless, securing financing for such properties isn’t impossible. Some banks might agree to provide a loan for a barndominium under certain conditions. Typically, these conditions involve having an outstanding credit score and a comprehensive construction plan, including detailed cost estimates and contractor bids.

The process of securing approval for your barndominium construction can consume a considerable amount of time. It will necessitate investing hours into tasks such as creating floor plans and contacting contractors for precise build estimates before you even consider approaching a lender.

Moreover, finding a bank willing to finance your project can take time, and it is crucial to scrutinize the types of loans available to you. You will need patience, as it’s likely you won’t receive approval from the first bank you engage.

Even though certain financial establishments employ specialists with expertise in barndominiums, a significant number of banks might not have a clear understanding of what a barndo involves. Rather than introducing your project as a barndominium, it might be more effective to describe it as a customized home construction. This alternative description could simplify the process of obtaining the necessary financing.

Barndominium Resale Market Is Limited

Considering potential resale is essential when investing in a barndominium. One downside is that the pool of prospective buyers for a barndominium is smaller than for traditional homes.

Although barndominiums generally retain their value quite well, the resale market is somewhat restricted. However, the popularity of these unique homes has been growing, creating uncertainty about the future market landscape.

If you don’t anticipate selling your barndominium, this shouldn’t be a significant concern. Moreover, depending on the location of your property, you could always consider transforming it into a rental property, if needed.

white shophouse with grey roof

Initial Costs of Owning a Barndominium Can Be Steep

The initial expenditure involved in acquiring a Barndominium is often significantly greater than that for a conventional home. This is typically because you may need to put down a larger amount of cash, depending on the type of loan you secure or if you are covering the build costs yourself.

The upfront payment you’ll need to make can vary substantially based on several factors:

  • The scale of the barndominium you aim to build
  • Your geographic location
  • Your chosen interior design style
  •  Whether you are meeting all the costs of your new home yourself
  • Your chosen lending institution
  • The type of loan you secure

As demonstrated, several variables can influence your direct costs when embarking on a barndominium project. Hence, it’s critical to shop around and ensure you’re obtaining the best value for your kit and the most suitable terms for your loan.

Remember, not all financing options are identical, and you may need to consider a variety of lenders before finding one that best serves your requirements.

Potential Corrosion Issues with Barndominiums

While barndominiums typically withstand standard wear and tear such as termites, mold, and excessive heat effectively, they aren’t impervious to corrosion over time due to their metal-based structure.

Several factors could accelerate the corrosion process of your building:

  • Inadequate maintenance: Leaving a barndominium exposed to weather conditions without any repairs could lead to the onset of rust in the metal components due to exposure to oxygen.
  • Severe and regular climatic fluctuations: Over time, extreme climates can influence the rate at which the metal structure of your barndominium degrades. This is particularly true in humid, tropical climates.
  • Substandard construction: Ensuring that your kit is in prime condition before assembly is crucial. A shoddy construction can potentially lead to early corrosion.

All of these issues can be mitigated through appropriate maintenance of the barndominium’s shell. There are specific paints and sealants available that can be reapplied periodically to protect the structure.

Nonetheless, the thought of your home’s metal structure potentially corroding can induce stress. Furthermore, if you reside in a humid area, your home may require more upkeep than usual, which might not be an ideal situation for all.

Barndominiums Tend to Experience Shifting and Cracking Over Time

An important aspect to keep in mind while considering a barndominium is how they age. These structures tend to exhibit more signs of shifting and cracking in components such as stucco and foundation as time goes on.

Nevertheless, it’s crucial to note that traditional homes also encounter similar issues, and there are several preventive measures you can employ to mitigate such damages as your barndominium ages.

To minimize the likelihood of your barndominium cracking or shifting over time, consider the following:

  • Get the soil of your property tested for components like blue clay. This substance could cause excessive movement in your home, leading to cracking.
  • Prioritize the recruitment of a competent crew to establish a robust foundation. A well-laid foundation is crucial in maintaining the stability of your home and avoiding shifts and cracks.
  • If you observe cracking or shifting in your home, seek the expertise of a specialist. Identifying the root cause of your home’s movement can assist you in tackling the problem and implementing strategies to minimize further damage.

By taking these steps, you can significantly decrease the chances of such damages. However, for some, this risk may be too daunting, prompting them to prefer a conventional home. Others might be more accepting of this drawback, considering the overall cost savings during the construction process.

To maintain the longevity and appeal of your barndominium, it’s critical to stay ahead of routine maintenance and be vigilant of minor issues like cracks in your drywall, flooring, and foundation.

Certain Urban Areas May Not Permit Barndominiums

There may be situations where the city of your choice may not accommodate your barndominium aspirations. Several larger urban areas have regulations against such structures, mainly due to their unconventional aesthetics.

Additionally, you might encounter constraints if your potential property falls under a Homeowners Association (HOA). Often, HOAs maintain stringent guidelines on the types of houses that can be erected in their jurisdiction.

Therefore, the optimal scenario for many aspiring barndominium owners is to acquire property in a rural area, typically less restricted in terms of architectural freedom.

However, this rural lifestyle comes with its own set of challenges, including:

  • Proximity to amenities such as fuel stations and supermarkets might be quite a distance
  • A considerable commute to work, unless you have the flexibility to work from home
  • Living remotely from family and friends

Embracing a rural way of life may present certain drawbacks, especially if you’re acclimated to the city’s bustle. However, for some, these are minor inconveniences when weighed against the affordable investment in a new home and the tranquility that the countryside offers.

Hence, prior to finalizing the purchase of your land for a barndominium, ensure to consult with the city authorities regarding their rules and regulations on constructing such edifices.

Barndominiums Don’t Offer Exceptional Sound Insulation

A downside that certainly warrants mention is the acoustic properties of barndominiums. Given that their primary construction material is a comparatively thin metal, it leads to a less than optimal sound insulation from external noises.

Consequently, sounds such as bustling highway traffic, weather elements, birds, raucous neighbors, and other auditory intrusions may be notably more perceptible compared to conventional homes. However, if you’re not particularly perturbed by these external noises, this issue may not greatly concern you.

An option would be to opt for soundproofing measures for your home, though many homeowners who do so still report hearing more external sounds than they would in a traditionally built house.

white barndominium with garage

Concluding Remarks

Barndominiums offer an appealing alternative to traditional homes, providing excellent value for money. They stand as particularly compelling options for those in search of:

  • An expansive home at a lower cost
  • A fully customizable living area
  • A home that requires less maintenance

Nonetheless, there are certain challenges associated with barndominiums, including:

  • Potential difficulties in obtaining financing
  • Structural issues such as shifting, cracking, and corrosion over time
  • Some cities’ restrictions or prohibitions

Although these issues can present challenges, there are strategies to address these drawbacks. In many instances, the advantages of owning a barndominium outshine the potential disadvantages, making them a worthy consideration for your dream home.

Brianna Euler
Brianna Euler
From a young age, Brianna has had an interest in reading, writing, and nature. When she isn't researching or writing for her own enjoyment, she enjoys hiking, reading, and spending time with her two dogs.
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