Everything You Need to Know About Building a Barndominium

Annie Sisk
Written by Annie Sisk
Updated April 28, 2022
Glass sliding doors of a renovated barn home
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  • Barndominiums originally referred to combined residential and agricultural properties.

  • “Barndos” can be a dedicated living space or a hybrid space.

  • Expect to pay anywhere from $30,000–$120,000 for a new build.

  • Site work, size, and features will impact the price.

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If you’re thinking of building a new home and the country life appeals to you, consider a barndominium—it might just be the ideal way to construct a livable space for yourself and your family in a rural setting at a fraction of the cost of traditional construction. While they may not be for everyone, they have a lot to offer space-wise and are incredibly versatile. Here’s everything you need to know about building a barndominium. 

What Is a Barndominium?

As you might have guessed, "barndominium" is a mashup of two words: "barn" and "condominium." The term is at least 30 years old when real estate developers used it to refer to a mixed-use residential development that included both single-family homes and facilities for horses.  

Today, it means a barn or barn-like structure with a dedicated living space. Modern "barndos" vary widely in style, layout, and materials, but most have steel frames, some with rustic stone or wood facades. They also typically include open floor plans and non-residential space.  

While some barndominiums are converted from existing, functional barns, many today are built from the ground up for residential or hybrid use. These layouts include a ground floor area devoted to commercial, hobby, or agricultural uses with living areas above or adjoining.

What’s the Appeal of a Barndominium?

A closet and a bathtub in an open-space modern bedroom
Photo: Mint Images / Mint Images RF / Getty Images

Barndominiums offer a lot of attractive features to folks with land to spare, including the construction time, space, and resilience against weather elements.

Easy to Construct

Barndominiums are pretty straightforward to construct and can be built custom or with a kit. You can even DIY the frame if you have strong construction skills, although hiring a reputable general contractor will ensure a well-constructed result.  

Fast Construction Times

Because they’re fairly simple to put up, barndos become move-in-ready faster than other home construction methods. In some cases, you can move in within six months or less, compared to about 10 months or sometimes longer for traditionally built detached homes. 

Customizable and Versatile

You can do a lot with the barndo and turn the space into your preferred configuration because it’s relatively easy to build additions or reconfigure the interior space by changing interior walls. 

Location and Lifestyle

Love the idea of having space for all of your hobbies? For many, living in a rural setting is a big draw of the barndominium. They’re more likely to be found on larger parcels of land outside major cities and towns. 


Barndominiums are frequently made of steel and can stand up well to strong weather. For the same reason, they’re not susceptible to rot or pest infestations and are generally more fire-resistant than wood-framed structures. In some cases, this can mean lower insurance premiums for homeowners.

Design Characteristics of a Barndominium

Most barndo designs offer a rustic aesthetic but there’s lots of design flexibility in a barndominium too. From a clean, modern style to a more traditional Americana flair, you have plenty of interior design options, in addition to a spacious floor plan.

Some of the common design elements you can find in barndominiums:

  • Open floor plans and living areas

  • Wooden exposed beams and staircases

  • High vaulted ceilings

  • Rustic farmhouse touches like sliding barn doors and gabled roofs

  • Sustainable construction, including spaces for solar energy panels and energy-efficient windows

What Are the Drawbacks of a Barndominium?

While a barndo offers many advantages, there are a few challenges you might want to consider, especially with a steel building or building kit.

  • Permits: Your local laws and building codes should be thoroughly researched before you choose to build a barndominium. Steel buildings may have additional requirements or restrictions, while some areas only permit wood materials to be used. 

  • Financing: Some lenders are reluctant to approve loans for barndo construction. Make sure you have access to the required funds before you begin. 

  • Corrosion risk: While metal barndos are more durable than wood-framed buildings, they may be more prone to rust or corrosion, especially in warm, humid climates such as coastal areas. 

Talk to a general contractor about these risks and downsides during the pre-build planning phase.  

Cost of a Barndominium

One of the most appealing aspects of a barndominium is its price tag. Homeowners are often drawn to its wallet-friendly project price tag, especially when compared to a more conventional construct range around $123,000 to $451,000.  

In contrast, barndominiums average between $30,000 and $120,000. Your specific costs will depend on a number of factors, including: 

  • Construction method (i.e., kit vs. original construction, and whether you DIY or hire a contractor)

  • Location

  • Topography and whether it requires additional site work

  • Square footage

  • Water, sewer, and other utility service connections

Building a Barndominium

Unless you’re converting an existing barn into a barndominium, you can choose from three basic construction methods: 

  1. Hire a contractor to build your barndominium from the ground up. 

  2. Hire installation contractors to build your barndo using a purchased kit.

  3. Do it yourself, using a purchased kit.

With the first option, you’ll need to provide blueprints and construction drawings to your contractor. Expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $20,000 for barndominium blueprints. If you choose either of the remaining options, you’ll need to buy a kit, which can average $20,000 to $90,000 or more. 

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