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Barndominium Shell Showdown: Which Shell is cheaper?

Barndominium Framing Showdown – Steel Kits vs. Wood Stickbuilds

When preparing to construct the fundamental protective enclosure framing for a barndominium home built to have antique barn styling or newly built workshop-style shell, a pivotal decision arises early – integrate pre-engineered modular steel structural components ready for rapid on-site assembly using metal panels and posts. Or, frame traditionally using dimensional lumber sticks comprising hundreds of cut studs and rafters nailed sequentially into place? Let’s examine which approach proves most cost-effective long-term.

metal building

Pricing Comparison Overview

While wood stick framing certainly wins initially on raw construction material costs, with 2×4 and 2×6 boards running $.50 – $1.25 per linear foot, steel shell kits offer compelling savings regarding:

• Expedited construction timelines
• Reduced skilled labor demands
• Lower lifetime maintenance costs

Steel framing packaged and ready for delivery

Factor those downstream perks against steeper initial pricing, and steel reaches closer cost parity over the lifetime while delivering substantial quality and resilience advantages over wood.

Steel Framing Shell Cost Breakdown

For a weather-tight 1,600 sq ft steel barndo shell with windows, doors, insulation and all exterior finish coatings, pricing averages:

Materials – $140-$200 per sq ft ($224,000 – $320,000)
Labor – $40-$60 per sq ft ($64,000 – $96,000)
Total Turnkey Shell Cost = $284,000 – $416,000

barndominium being built

Stickbuild Framing Comparison

A wood-framed barndominium shell of identical size and specs would demand greater labor input across more complex construction stages, translating to higher per man hour expenditures:

Lumber Materials – $25-$40 per sq ft ($40,000 – $64,000)
Framing Labor – $90 – $130 per sq ft ($144,000 – $208,000)
Total Shell Cost = $184,000 – $272,000

barndominium being built

So theoretically, wood stickbuilds afford chance for shell savings between $100,000 – $140,000 upfront. Though cost parity happens within 5-7 years factoring utility bills, maintenance, and steel’s exceptional longevity. Either way, interior finish budgets match subsequently regardless of framing techniques. Value wise I feel like your getting so much more long term with a steel framed kit, The lead time for the kit delivery is as low as 4-6 weeks and it can be constructed with a smaller crew of 3-4 guys opposed to wood a wood framing job.

white barndominium farmhouse

In summary, while lumber enjoys minor initial cost advantage calculating pure shell construction costs, overtime durability, energy efficiency, weatherproofing and simplified structural engineering advantages make steel the superior lifetime value framing asset for barndominium builds.

Aaron Scott
Aaron Scott
Aaron Scott is a freelance writer and researcher that has written hundreds of articles for online companies in the area of construction, design, finance and automotive. He's a Southern boy that enjoys creek fishing, hunting and camping. He's rarely seen without his trusted beagle hound "Scooter"
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