For years we were taught that the only way to build a barndominium was by using a steel building and framing the interior as a living space. This information is misleading and outdated. Barndominium can be built using conventional wood frame with metal siding and metal roofing, all steel frame with metal siding and metal roofing and post frame (aka pole barn) with metal siding and metal roofing. Currently (as of the Summer of 2023) the most economical way to build a barndominium is by using a convention wood frame with metal siding and metal roofing.
Pole barn kits are gaining popularity but why do pole barn homes cost more to build than conventional framing? The only real savings when building a pole barn home is in the foundation. The wood package of a pole barn is more expensive since it is recommended that you use 3-4 ply laminated/finger jointed/screwed and glued posts when the sidewalls will be over 14′ high. The old way of building a pole barn (using 6×6 post) is not the best method these days. Also some building departments will not allow “post in the ground” methods. That means your post frame columns must be mounted to a metal bracket that is wet-set into the concrete slab. Similar to these Midwest Perma Brackets. Because of the extra cost of special columns and metal brackets and screws, in the end post frame buildings cost more for framing than a conventional framed barndominium. Keep in mind that if you have skilled post framers in your area that you may be able to save money on framing labor using this method but most of the time the labor figures (approx. $10-$12 per square foot under-roof framing and siding included) should be close.
Metal building kits are still popular but because of their higher prices metal building kits have lost a little luster. Prior to 2020 steel buildings were the best choice for a barndominium kit, but not today. The only places we are seeing people build with all steel is near the coast like Florida, South Carolina and Louisiana. Primarily all steel buildings range about 40-50% higher in price than conventionally framed barndos. That means if a stick-built barndo is $100K then an all steel barndo would be around $140K. Although there are many advantages to steel, like fireproof, termite proof and a lifetime product not everyone is willing to pay extra for these features. When interest rates and materials are elevated many people look for ways to save and an all steel building may not be the answer. Another cost factor to think about on a steel building is that once the shell is complete you still have to wood frame the exterior walls for drywall.
Conventional wood framing is the most popular building method these days due to the lower cost of wood materials. Another advantage to stick-built barndominiums is you won’t have an issue finding a framer that is familiar with this method of building. Steel on the other hand can be challenging. Finding a builder that know how to erect a steel building can be very hard. Searching local steel building manufacturers in your area is a good place to start if you have your heart set on steel. But if you plan to build conventionally then start with a local lumber company, they always have good leads on builders.
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I really wish there was a quick and easy answer to this question but the truth is there are a lot of factors that go into pricing out a home. BuildMax can help you get started but a General Contractor will need to give you a turn key price. Barndominium kits start at $18.00* a sq ft to $29.00* depending on the design, wind/snow load and distance from the factory. Barndominium framing labor cost around $10.00 per sq ft.
*total under roof square footage