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How to Save Thousands while Building your Dream Barndominium!

Building a barndominium can be a dream project that combines the functionality of ample space with the comforts of home living. While the concept is enticing, the construction costs can be significant. However, with smart planning and strategic choices, it is possible to save a considerable amount of money during the build process. This article explores the best ways to economize while constructing a barndominium, emphasizing the choice of framing materials and the value of a DIY approach to building equity.

1. **Choose the Right Framing Material**

**Steel Framing:**
Steel frames are increasingly popular in barndominium construction due to their durability and low maintenance. While the initial cost might be higher than traditional wood framing, steel offers long-term savings due to its resistance to pests, rot, and mold, and minimal upkeep requirements. Additionally, steel is incredibly durable against environmental stressors, which can reduce repair and replacement costs over time.

**Wood Framing:**
For those with a tighter budget, wood framing can be less expensive upfront compared to steel. However, it’s important to factor in potential long-term costs such as pest treatment, weather damage repairs, and more frequent maintenance. Choosing high-quality, treated wood can mitigate some of these issues and provide a balance between cost and durability.

2. **Optimize Your Design**

**Simpler Floor Plans:**
Choosing a simple, more traditional floor plan can significantly reduce costs. Complex designs with multiple corners, custom angles, and unique elements can increase labor and materials costs. A rectangular or square floor plan maximizes space efficiency and reduces waste.

**Multi-purpose Spaces:**
Designing spaces that serve multiple functions can also reduce the total square footage needed, lowering the overall cost. For example, an open-plan living area can double as a dining space, or a loft can serve as both a guest room and a home office.

3. **DIY to Build Equity**

**Hands-on Building:**
Taking on as much of the construction work as you can handle is a significant way to cut costs. Labor can be one of the most expensive aspects of building a home. By doing the work yourself, you’re not only saving on labor costs but also gaining valuable equity in your property. Tasks like painting, installing fixtures, and even laying floors are manageable for many DIY enthusiasts.

**Learning and Preparation:**
Before starting, invest time in learning the necessary skills for construction tasks you plan to DIY. Use resources such as online tutorials, workshops, and advice from experienced builders. Proper preparation ensures that the work you do is safe and up to standard, which is crucial for both the integrity of the building and its long-term value.

4. **Source Materials Wisely**

**Bulk Purchases:**
Buying materials in bulk can lead to significant savings. Plan your shopping to take advantage of bulk deals and discounts offered by suppliers.

**Recycled, Second-Hand, or discounted Materials:**
Using recycled or second-hand building materials can reduce costs without compromising quality. Many materials like bricks, doors, and fittings can be sourced from demolition sites or second-hand material suppliers.

5. **Timing Your Build**

**Off-season Construction:**
Costs can vary depending on the time of year. Building during the off-season can sometimes reduce costs as suppliers and contractors may lower prices during slower periods to keep workflow steady.

6. **Long-term Energy Savings**

**Energy-efficient Design:**
Incorporating energy-efficient features such as proper insulation, energy-saving windows, and solar panels can reduce long-term operational costs. Although the upfront cost might be higher, the savings on utility bills will add up over time, offsetting the initial investment.

7. **Energy-efficient HVAC Systems**

Mini split systems, also known as ductless air conditioners or heat pumps, offer several significant benefits when installed in barndominiums. These systems are especially well-suited for the unique structural and lifestyle needs of barndominium living due to their efficiency, flexibility in zoning, and ease of installation. Here’s a detailed look at why mini split systems can be an excellent choice for barndominiums:



Mini split systems are highly efficient for several reasons. First, they operate on less power than traditional forced-air systems that rely on ducts. They are also smaller in size and can heat or cool rooms only when needed, thanks to their zoned operation capability. This targeted approach reduces energy waste, as unused areas can be left without heating or cooling, cutting down on energy costs significantly. Moreover, many mini split units come with high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratios (SEER) and Energy Efficiency Ratios (EER), indicating their low-energy consumption for the amount of cooling they provide.

**Zoned Heating and Cooling**

One of the most appealing features of mini split systems is their ability to create “zones” in a home, each of which can be controlled independently. This is particularly advantageous in a barndominium, where the space may be used for a combination of living and working areas, each with different climate control needs. For instance, a workshop or garage area might not require the same level of heating or cooling as the living quarters. With mini splits, you can easily manage the temperature in different zones without affecting other areas, enhancing comfort and reducing energy consumption.


**Ease of Installation**

Unlike traditional HVAC systems that require extensive ductwork, mini split systems are much easier to install. They require just a small hole to be drilled into the wall to connect the indoor and outdoor units. This makes them ideal for barndominiums, where the construction or layout might not easily accommodate extensive ductwork. The installation process is generally quick, does not disrupt the existing structure significantly, and can be completed in a shorter period.

**Quiet Operation**

Mini split systems are known for their quiet operation, both inside and outside the building. This is a considerable advantage in a residential setting, ensuring that noise does not interfere with the comfort and peaceful environment of a home. This feature is particularly beneficial in a barndominium, where part of the space may be used for activities requiring a quieter environment, such as a home office or studio.

**Improved Air Quality**

Mini split systems often come with multi-stage filtration features that can drastically reduce dust, bacteria, pollen, allergens, and other particulates in the air. This is especially important in a barndominium, where part of the building may be exposed to more outdoor elements or workshop-related particles. Improved air quality contributes to a healthier living environment and is beneficial for residents with allergies or respiratory issues.


white barndominium with cupolas

Building a barndominium on a budget requires careful planning and a willingness to get involved in the process. By choosing the right materials, simplifying the design, taking a DIY approach, sourcing materials wisely, and building during the off-season, you can significantly reduce costs and add personal equity to your home. Remember, every dollar saved during the construction process enhances the overall value and satisfaction with your new barndominium.

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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We are super excited with results and service. Tony offered really helpful suggestions. Our dream build was pretty complicated but he and his designer were able to meet our needs.

James B

Recent Client