What Is a Barndominium? Here’s All You Need to Know

By: ROS Team

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Ever dreamt of a home that’s spacious, customizable, and unique? Look no further than the barndominium, a rising trend that blends rustic charm with modern living. But what exactly is a barndominium, and is it the right fit for you?

Dive into this blog to explore the history, advantages and disadvantages, and costs associated with these intriguing homes, and discover if a barndomium could be your dream dwelling.

What Is a Barndominium?

A barndominium, also nicknamed a “barndo,” is a building that merges the style of a barn with the comfort of a living space. Typically made of metal with a simple, rectangular design, barndominiums can be converted from existing barns or built from scratch. They often feature open floor plans and can be customized to include residential areas alongside workspaces, garages, or even animal areas.

barndominium houses
Photo Credit: Canva


History of Barndominium

“Barndominium” is a relatively new term, originating with Karl Nilsen, a Connecticut real estate entrepreneur. It was coined by Nilsen, who mixed barn and condominium. At first, it referred to the idea of living near a master-planned group where horses would be kept.

However, in the middle of the 2000s, the term got new meaning and life. Then it meant metal houses used mostly as primary residencies. These barndominiums, many originally built from converted barns or to look like barn-style structures, provided a fresh and unusual living option that combined contemporary comfort with rugged aesthetics. The way people used the term again signaled newfound interest in unconventional living arrangements and a return to living in the lap of nature.

What Do Barndo Look Like?

Barndominium houses come in a variety of styles, but they typically share some common features. They often have a simple, rectangular shape with a gabled roof, and are constructed from metal, wood, or a combination of both. They frequently boast open floor plans, high ceilings, and large garage or workshop spaces.

What Is a Barndominium Made Of?

As already mentioned above, barndominiums are typically constructed with metal frames and sheet metal siding, offering durability and a modern aesthetic. While wood can also be used, steel is more popular due to its strength, resistance to elements, and ease of construction.

Different Types of Barndominium Houses

There are two types of barndominiums houses: either steel frames or post frames. Steel frame barndominiums are the most common and they are durable in harsh weather conditions. Post frame barndominiums are made using wood, they are less scenic and they are cheaper to buy.

Photo Credit: Canva


Pros and Cons of Barndominiums


  • Durability: A barndominium is constructed of steel or metal and is fire-resistant, insect-proof, and impervious to harsh weather, requiring far less maintenance than conventional homes.
  • Customization: With an open floor plan and simple structure, you can register for extended variations that fit your personal needs in exactly your style.
  • Cost Effective: Although initial investment is comparable to regular homes, building a barndominium may be more economical and faster to execute, especially if you do some work yourself.
  • Energy Efficiency: The metal skin can reflect heat potentially reducing costs for heating and cooling.


  • Financing Challenges: Barndominiums may not be approved for loans as easily as traditional houses.
  • Zoning Restrictions: Not all areas allow for barndomium, so you need to check the regulations in the place where you want to build.
  • Potential Lack of Features: Barndominiums typically require additional construction for features like interior walls, insulation, and plumbing, adding to the cost.

Where Can You Find a Barndominium?

Barndominiums houses have become increasingly popular as single-family homes, particularly in rural areas away from coastal regions. Some of the most popular locations for barndomium include states like Texas, Tennessee, and Montana. These regions offer ample space and a rural atmosphere that aligns well with the rustic charm and practicality of barndominium living.

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Barndominium?

According to HomeAdvisor, when using a builder, the average construction cost of a 2,400-square-foot barndominium is from $120,000 to $500,000 and even more. However, it is critical to mention that the total cost may differ greatly due to several factors such as location, materials, the cost of labor, and one’s requests for the level of customization.

What Do Converted Barns Cost?

As indicated by House Digest, the costs of converting a barn on average are around $30,000. However, this number may vary depending on a whole slew of aspects, including the size of the announcement, quality and amount of materials, need for additional workers, and location .

What Are the Standard Barndominium Sizes?

Barndominiums come in various sizes, but some common options include 30×40 feet (1200 sq ft), 40×60 feet (2400 sq ft), and 60×70 feet (4200 sq ft). While these offer flexibility, customization is key, allowing you to tailor the size to your specific needs and budget.

How Long Does It Take to Build a Barndominium?

Building a barndominium typically takes 3-6 months, though it can vary depending on size, complexity, and weather. This is faster than traditional homes due to their simpler structure, but customization and permitting can add time.

How Do You Build a Barndominium?

Building a barndomium involves several key steps: laying the foundation (slab, piers, etc.), erecting the metal frame, installing roof and exterior walls, putting in insulation, plumbing and electrical systems, and finally, the interior finishing touches like drywall, flooring, and cabinetry. This process typically requires professional help, especially for aspects like foundation work and setting the steel beams.

Is It Cheaper to Build a House or a Barndominium?

While barndominiums generally boast lower base construction costs due to simpler structures and materials, final costs can be comparable to traditional houses. Extensive customization and additional features in barndomium can bridge the initial cost gap, making the overall cost highly dependent on your specific project and desired features.

Barndominium vs Modular Home

While both offer cost-efficiency and faster construction, barndominiums boast flexibility with open floor plans and potential customization, while modular homes win in variety with pre-designed options, easier financing, and potentially better resale value.

Barndominium vs Container Home

Choosing between barndominiums and container homes comes down to aesthetics and customization vs. sustainability and portability. Barndominiums offer more flexibility in size and design, while container homes are often smaller, unique-looking, and built with repurposed materials.

Examples of Barndominium

Examples of barndominiums include:

  • A converted barn in Texas featuring a spacious living area with modern amenities.
  • A metal-clad home in Tennessee blending rustic barn aesthetics with contemporary design.
  • A barndominium in Montana offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

Barndominium Houses: FAQ’s

Is a Barndominium Considered a Stick Built Home?

No, a barndominium is not considered a stick-built home. They usually use metal frameworks instead of traditional wood framing.

Is a Barndominium a Manufactured Home?

Contrary to what some may think, a barndominium is not truly conside­red a manufactured reside­nce. They follow different construction standards and usually lack the transportable­ chassis. While certain similarities can be obse­rved, barndominiums align more with custom-built houses that incorporate­ a rustic appeal.

Are Barndominiums Safe?

Barndominiums, often built with steel and metal, offer strong resistance to fire, pests, and severe weather, making them potentially safer than traditional homes in some aspects.

Are Barndominiums Taxed?

Yes, barndominiums are taxed similarly to traditional homes, based on the value they are assessed at. Though, some areas may differentiate between living space and unfinished work areas, which can lower the overall tax.

Can You Finance a Barndominium?

It is possible to finance a barndominium, though it is somewhat more complicated than financing a traditional home. The options include loans from the bank, conventional loans with a higher down payment, and government-backed loans such as USDA loans that require specific location and property conditions.

How Much Are Barndominiums in Texas?

Barndominiums in Texas can vary widely in price. The cost depends on size, location, and the finishes customers desire. A previously-constructed basic structure starts at $150,000. However new build cases with high-end finishes will hit close on the heels of nearly $1 million a piece. On average, the price of building a new barndominium featuring nicer finishes falls around $300,000.

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Barndominium in Florida?

As reported by HomeGuide, building a barndominium in Florida typically costs between $62 and $152 per square foot, translating to a total cost of $124,000 to $304,000 for a 2,000 square foot barndo.

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Barndominium in Tennessee?

Building a barndominium in Tennessee can cost anywhere from $64 to $157 per square foot, with an average total cost of $102 per square foot. This is generally more affordable than traditional homes in the state, but the final price depends heavily on factors like size, materials, and desired finishes.

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Barndominium in Alabama?

Building a barndominium in Alabama can cost anywhere from $62 to $154 per square foot, depending on size, materials, and finishes.

Is the Resale Value of the Barndominium Good?

Barndominiums generally maintain their value over time, but may not appreciate as quickly as traditional homes. Their unique style can limit the buyer pool, but proper construction, desirable features, and good maintenance can help them retain value.

Is a Barndominium For You?

A barndominium might be right for you if you value affordability and independence of space design. It will also provide some unique living spaces with potential work or storage areas thrown in. Before you decide whether barndominium houses are right for you, think about your needs, budget, and your family’s lifestyle.

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