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Is It Cheaper To Build a 1 or 2 Story Barndominium?

Is It Cheaper to Build a Single-Story Barndominium or a Two-Story?

When it comes to constructing a barndominium, potential homeowners are often faced with the decision of whether to build a single-story or a two-story structure. Obviously, a single Story home is Going to Cost Less to build, it has a smaller overall footprint and uses fewer materials. This choice significantly impacts the overall design, functionality, and, most crucially, the cost of the project. While both options have their advantages, understanding the cost implications of each can help in making an informed decision. Additionally, the rising popularity of steel frame barndominium kits over traditional stick framing introduces another layer of consideration in the construction process.

Single-Story Barndominium

Single-story barndominiums are generally perceived as less expensive due to several factors:

– **Foundation Costs**: The foundation of a single-story barndominium typically costs less than that of a two-story structure since it bears less weight. This can lead to savings in both materials and labor.
– **Roofing Costs**: A single-story barndominium usually has a simpler roofing structure compared to a two-story building. The complexity and additional materials required for roofing a two-story construction can increase the costs significantly.
– **Accessibility and Safety**: Single-story homes do not require staircases, which can be costly to construct, especially if you’re opting for custom designs. Furthermore, the absence of a second floor eliminates the need for additional safety features, potentially reducing overall construction expenses.

However, it’s important to note that single-story barndominiums often have a larger footprint, which can increase the costs associated with the foundation and roofing materials per square foot of living space. Additionally, the land preparation and excavation costs might be higher due to the larger area covered.

black barndominium with large windows on the front

Two-Story Barndominium

Two-story barndominiums, on the other hand, offer a more compact footprint, which can lead to certain cost-saving advantages:

– **Land and Foundation Savings**: By building upwards, the foundation and land preparation costs can be reduced since the building covers a smaller area. This can be particularly beneficial on smaller or more challenging plots where maximizing usable space is crucial.
– **Efficiency in Plumbing and HVAC**: With a smaller footprint, the distance between plumbing and HVAC systems is reduced. This can lower the cost of materials and installation for these systems, as they need to cover a shorter distance between floors.
– **Potential for Lower Roofing Costs**: Despite potentially higher complexity, the overall roof area of a two-story barndominium may be smaller than that of a single-story structure with the same square footage, possibly leading to savings in roofing materials.

However, two-story constructions come with their own set of increased costs, including the need for staircases, enhanced structural support to bear the weight of the upper floor, and potentially more complex roofing designs. Additionally, second-story windows and possibly more elaborate exterior finishes can add to the expense.

metal building

The Role of Steel Frame Barndominium Kits

Steel frame barndominium kits have become increasingly popular, offering advantages in terms of cost, durability, and construction speed over traditional stick framing. Steel’s strength allows for greater design flexibility, including the ability to easily accommodate open floor plans and large, unobstructed spaces without the need for load-bearing walls. This can be particularly appealing for single-story designs where expansive living areas are desired.

For two-story barndominiums, steel framing provides the necessary structural support with less material than wood framing, potentially reducing the cost and complexity of constructing a multi-level building. The prefabricated nature of steel frame kits also simplifies the construction process, leading to faster build times and reduced labor costs for both single and two-story constructions.


Deciding between a single-story and a two-story barndominium involves a complex interplay of factors, including cost, land use, and personal preferences. While single-story barndominiums may initially seem less expensive due to simpler design elements, the larger footprint can offset these savings. Two-story barndominiums, with their compact footprint and efficient use of vertical space, can offer cost savings in the foundation, land preparation, and systems installation, but may incur higher costs in structural support and complexity.

The advent of steel frame barndominium kits adds an appealing dimension to this decision-making process. With their cost-effectiveness, durability, and flexibility, steel frames are a compelling choice for both single and two-story constructions, potentially offering the best of both worlds in terms of affordability and design possibilities. Ultimately, the choice will depend on individual needs, budget considerations, and the specific advantages each option presents in the context of the planned barndominium project.

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.

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