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What Do I Wish I Knew Before Building a Barndominium?

What Do I Wish I Knew Before Building a Barndominium?

Building a barndominium can be an exciting and rewarding journey, combining the rustic charm of a barn with the modern comforts of a home. However, like any major construction project, it comes with its own set of challenges and considerations. Here, we explore the important things you should know before embarking on your barndominium journey to ensure a smooth and successful project.

Understanding Barndominiums

Before diving into the construction process, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of what a barndominium is. A barndominium, or “barndo,” is a type of home that combines living space with a barn or workshop area. These structures can be built from the ground up not usually converted from existing barns like people think but do typically feature open floor plans, high ceilings, and metal or wood exteriors Like bars often have.

Important Considerations Before Building a Barndominium

1. **Budgeting and Costs**

– **Initial Estimates**: Barndominiums can be cost-effective, but it’s crucial to have realistic budget expectations. Initial estimates might not cover all expenses, so factor in additional costs for permits, site preparation, and unexpected expenses.
– **Hidden Costs**: Be aware of hidden costs such as utility hookups (water, electricity, sewage), interior finishes, landscaping, and furnishings. These can add up quickly and significantly impact your budget.

2. **Choosing the Right Location**

– **Zoning and Regulations**: Ensure that the land you choose is zoned for residential use and that building a barndominium complies with local regulations. Check for any restrictions or requirements imposed by the local government or homeowners’ associations.
– **Soil and Site Preparation**: Conduct a soil test to determine the suitability of the ground for construction. Proper site preparation is crucial for a stable foundation, which may involve clearing, leveling, and grading the land.

3. **Design and Layout**

– **Customization Options**: One of the main attractions of barndominiums is their flexibility in design. Work with an architect or designer to create a layout that meets your needs and preferences. Consider factors such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, open versus enclosed spaces, and the integration of the barn or workshop area.
– **Future Needs**: Think about your future needs and how the design can accommodate potential changes. This might include adding more living space, expanding the workshop area, or creating spaces that can serve multiple purposes.

4. **Foundation Choices**

– **Slab Foundation**: A slab-on-grade foundation is the most common choice for barndominiums due to its cost-effectiveness and ease of construction. However, consider other options such as pier and beam or basement foundations based on your location, soil conditions, and personal preferences.

Steel Frame Barndominium package waiting for pickup

5. **Construction Materials**

– **Metal vs. Wood**: Barndominiums are typically constructed with metal or wood frames. Metal frames offer durability, low maintenance, and resistance to pests and fire. Wood frames provide a more traditional look but may require more upkeep.
– **Insulation and Energy Efficiency**: Ensure proper insulation to enhance energy efficiency and comfort. Metal buildings can be prone to temperature fluctuations, so high-quality insulation is essential for maintaining a comfortable indoor environment.

6. **Working with Contractors**

– **Experienced Builders**: Hire contractors with experience in constructing barndominiums. They will be familiar with the unique challenges and requirements of these structures and can provide valuable insights and expertise.
– **Clear Contracts**: Ensure that all agreements with contractors are detailed and clear, covering timelines, costs, materials, and responsibilities. This can prevent misunderstandings and disputes during the construction process.

7. **Utilities and Infrastructure**

– **Utility Access**: Plan for access to utilities such as water, electricity, and sewage. The cost and feasibility of connecting to these services can vary based on the location of your property.
– **Internet and Communication**: Ensure reliable internet and communication services, especially if you plan to work from home or use smart home technology.

8. **Insurance and Financing**

– **Insurance Challenges**: Insuring a barndominium can be challenging due to its non-traditional construction and mixed-use nature. Work with an insurance agent experienced with barndominiums to find suitable coverage.
– **Financing Options**: Traditional home loans may not always be available for barndominiums. Explore financing options such as construction loans, agricultural loans, or personal loans.

9. **Living in a Rural Area**

– **Lifestyle Considerations**: Barndominiums are often located in rural areas, which can offer peace and privacy but may also mean longer commutes, limited access to amenities, and potential isolation. Consider your lifestyle preferences and how they align with rural living.
– **Emergency Services**: Check the proximity and availability of emergency services, such as hospitals, fire departments, and law enforcement.

10. **Maintenance and Upkeep**

– **Regular Maintenance**: While barndominiums are generally low-maintenance, they still require regular upkeep. Metal buildings need to be checked for rust and leaks, while wood structures should be inspected for rot and pest infestations.
– **Long-Term Durability**: Invest in high-quality materials and construction practices to ensure the long-term durability and performance of your barndominium.


Building a barndominium can be a fulfilling and practical choice, offering a unique blend of residential and functional space. However, it’s essential to be well-informed and prepared before starting your project. By understanding the costs, choosing the right location, planning a suitable design, working with experienced contractors, and considering future needs, you can navigate the challenges and enjoy the benefits of barndominium living. Taking the time to plan and research thoroughly will help ensure that your barndominium meets your expectations and serves your needs for years to come.

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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