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Top Things To Know Before Building a Custom House or Barndominium?

Building a Custom House or a Barndominium is an exciting adventure that promises the reward of a personalized space tailored to your preferences and lifestyle. However, the journey from conceptualization to completion involves myriad decisions and considerations that can significantly impact the success and satisfaction of the final project. Whether you’re drawn to the traditional allure of a custom home or the unique charm and efficiency of a barndominium, understanding the critical factors before breaking ground is essential. Here’s an in-depth exploration of the most important things to consider:

Couple’s balancing their budget with their Barndominium Dreams

**Budgeting and Financing**

**Budgeting:** Start with a clear and realistic budget that includes not just construction costs, but also land purchase, permits, utility connections, landscaping, and a contingency fund for unforeseen expenses. This holistic approach ensures you have a financial buffer and can make informed decisions at every stage.

Budgeting for your dream barndominium involves a detailed and strategic approach to ensure you cover all expenses without breaking the bank. A barndominium, blending the rustic charm of a barn with the comfort and efficiency of a modern home, offers a unique alternative to traditional housing. However, like any construction project, costs can escalate quickly without careful planning. Here are solid ideas to help you budget effectively for your dream barndominium:

1. **Define Your Vision Clearly**

Start with a clear understanding of what you want in your barndominium. Consider size, design, layout, and special features. Having a detailed vision helps in obtaining accurate quotes and avoiding costly changes mid-construction.

2. **Detailed Cost Breakdown**

Break down the costs into detailed categories, including land purchase, permits, construction (materials and labor), utilities setup (electricity, water, sewage), interior finishes, appliances, and landscaping. Don’t forget to account for the cost of any outbuildings or special amenities like solar panels or custom barn doors.

3. **Get Multiple Quotes**

Obtain quotes from several builders and contractors to compare prices and services. Be wary of quotes that seem too good to be true; they often are. Opting for the lowest bid without considering the quality and reliability of the contractor can lead to higher costs in the long run.

4. **Include a Contingency Fund**

Construction projects almost always encounter unforeseen expenses. Include a contingency fund in your budget, typically 10-20% of the total project cost, to cover unexpected costs without derailing your financial plan.

5. **Prioritize Your Spending**

Identify areas where you’re willing to splurge and where you can save. For instance, investing in quality insulation and windows can save on energy costs in the long run, while you might choose more cost-effective solutions for interior finishes that can be easily upgraded later.

6. **DIY Where Possible**

Consider taking on some of the work yourself if you have the skills and time. Tasks like painting, installing fixtures, or even landscaping can be done DIY to save on labor costs. However, always hire professionals for specialized work like plumbing, electrical, and structural construction to ensure safety and compliance with building codes.

7. **Source Materials Wisely**

Look for deals on materials. Sometimes, you can find high-quality reclaimed or surplus materials at a fraction of the cost. Local auctions, online marketplaces, and salvage yards can be excellent sources for unique finds.

8. **Consider Phased Construction**

If your budget is tight, consider building your barndominium in phases. Start with the most essential sections and features, then gradually add or finish other areas as your finances allow. This approach requires careful planning to ensure the initial construction phase doesn’t hinder future expansions or modifications.

9. **Opt for Energy Efficiency**

Investing in energy efficiency from the start can lead to significant savings. Consider features like high-efficiency HVAC systems, solar panels, and proper insulation. The initial cost might be higher, but the long-term savings on utility bills can be substantial.

10. **Stay Flexible and Realistic**

Be prepared to adjust your plans as you get into the details of budgeting and construction. Staying flexible and realistic about what you can achieve within your budget will help prevent financial strain and ensure you still end up with a barndominium you love.

**Financing:** Investigate your financing options early. Construction loans are different from traditional mortgages in terms of disbursement and interest rates. Some lenders offer specialized loans for barndominiums, but they may require more research to find.

 **Choosing the Right Land**

**Location:** Consider the land’s location relative to work, schools, amenities, and family. Also, think about the climate and local weather patterns, as these will affect your living experience and the home’s design and materials.

**Topography and Soil:** The land’s topography can influence the construction cost and design of your home. Soil tests can reveal the suitability of the site for building and the type of foundation you’ll need.

**Access to Utilities:** Check if the land has access to essential utilities like water, electricity, sewage, and internet. In remote areas, you may need to consider the costs of installing a septic system, drilling a well, or using alternative energy sources.

 **Zoning Laws and Building Codes**

Understanding local zoning laws and building codes is crucial. These regulations can affect everything from the structure’s size and height to the materials used and the types of utilities allowed. Ensure your plan complies with all local, state, and federal regulations to avoid costly adjustments later.


white barndominium with cupolas
Buildmax Event Venue or Custom Barndominium

**Design & Functionality**

**Personal Needs and Lifestyle:** Tailor the design to fit your lifestyle. Consider the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, workspaces, and entertainment areas. Think about future needs, such as family expansion or aging in place, to make your home adaptable.

**Energy Efficiency and Sustainability:** Incorporate energy-efficient designs and sustainable materials to reduce your environmental impact and save on future utility bills. Consider features like proper insulation, energy-efficient windows, and renewable energy sources.

**Choosing the Right Builder**

Selecting a builder experienced with your type of project is paramount. For barndominiums, find someone familiar with both the aesthetic aspects and the unique structural challenges. Validate their credentials, review past projects, and check references. Effective communication and a clear understanding of your vision are essential traits of a good builder.

**Customization vs. Resale Value**

While personalizing your home, balance your unique desires with considerations for future resale value. Highly customized features may appeal to you but could limit the home’s marketability down the line. Striking the right balance can ensure your home serves your current needs while maintaining its appeal to future buyers.

Customization: Personal Touch vs. Broad Appeal

**Personalization Advantages:**
– **Reflects Individual Style:** Customizing your barndominium allows you to create a space that perfectly reflects your personal style, needs, and preferences. This could include open floor plans, lofted spaces, large workshop areas, or eco-friendly materials and technologies.
– **Enhanced Living Experience:** Tailoring the layout and features of your barndominium to fit your lifestyle can significantly enhance your day-to-day living experience, making it a more comfortable and functional space for you and your family.

**Challenges for Resale:**

– **Niche Market:** The unique nature of barndominiums already places them within a niche market. Highly personalized features may narrow this market further, making it more challenging to find interested buyers when the time comes to sell.
– **Personal Taste vs. General Appeal:** What appeals to one person might not appeal to another. Custom features that are too unique or tailored to specific hobbies or tastes may not be valued or might even be viewed as a detractor by potential buyers.

Resale Value: Broad Appeal vs. Unique Features

**Broad Appeal Advantages:**

– **Wider Market:** Design choices that appeal to a broader audience can make your barndominium more marketable when you decide to sell. This includes choices in layout, interior finishes, and amenities that cater to what most people are looking for in a home.
– **Flexibility:** Keeping some elements of your barndominium more neutral or adaptable allows future buyers to easily envision themselves in the space, potentially leading to a quicker sale and better resale value.

**Potential Drawbacks:**

– **Losing Personalization:** In the effort to maintain broad appeal, there’s a risk of losing the personal touches that make a barndominium a tailored fit for your lifestyle. This balance requires thoughtful consideration to ensure the space still meets your needs while remaining attractive to future buyers.
– **Underestimating Unique Value:** Sometimes, unique features can indeed enhance a property’s appeal, especially if they are well-executed and align with emerging trends or preferences in the housing market. For example, eco-friendly features or high-quality, durable materials can be attractive selling points.

Striking the Balance

The key to balancing customization with resale value in a barndominium is thoughtful planning and design choices that allow for personalization without over-specialization. Consider the following strategies:

– **Timeless Design Choices:** Opt for architectural and design elements that are timeless and widely appreciated. This doesn’t mean you can’t infuse your personality into the space, but consider doing so in ways that can be easily changed or updated.
– **High-Quality Materials:** Investing in high-quality, durable materials can enhance both the customization and resale value. Quality never goes out of style, and future buyers will appreciate a home built to last.
– **Flexible Spaces:** Designing spaces that are flexible or adaptable can allow for personalization now while appealing to future buyers. For example, a workshop area could also serve as a garage, studio, or additional living space.
– **Eco-Friendly Features:** Sustainability is increasingly important to many homebuyers. Incorporating energy-efficient appliances, solar panels, or other green features can be attractive to a broad audience and boost resale value.

Customizing a barndominium involves balancing your immediate desires for a personalized home with the long-term consideration of its resale value. By making strategic choices that allow for personal expression while maintaining broad appeal, you can enjoy a home that meets your needs and preferences today while also being a valuable asset in the future.

7. **Long-Term Maintenance and Upkeep**

Consider the long-term maintenance requirements of your chosen materials and design. Some materials may offer savings upfront but could require more maintenance or have a shorter lifespan. Opt for durable materials and timeless designs to minimize future upkeep costs.

8. **Legal and Insurance Considerations**

Ensure you have the proper permits and insurance coverage before construction begins. Property insurance during construction is different from standard homeowners insurance. Additionally, understand the warranties provided by your builder and subcontractors for peace of mind after completion.


Building a house or barndominium is a multifaceted process that requires thorough planning and consideration. By addressing these critical factors—budgeting, land selection, compliance with laws, design, builder selection, customization, maintenance, and legalities—you set a solid foundation for a project that meets your expectations, fits your lifestyle, and stands the test of time. Remember, the decisions you make early on have long-lasting impacts, making it crucial to approach each step with diligence and foresight.

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