5 Ways To Save On Your Barndominium Build (2024)

We get questions all the time about how to save money on a barndominium or shop house. Honestly, there are a LOT of ways, big and small, to make your build fit in to a budget, but here are the top ways we have found to be simple, and effective, in reducing construction costs!

1. Be strategic about where you put your framed openings:

Steel buildings can be manufactured using portal framing, or X-bracing. Portal framing is essentially two upright beams, connected by a third beam running horizontally (often called a header) to help reduce movement. X-bracing is where you use “X” configured cables on one (or both) of the gable ends to of the building to create structural stability.

X-bracing is almost always a less expensive than portal framing (typically, we see this run about 20% lower cost). The challenge with X-bracing is that openings have to be strategically placed, as to be able to accommodate the cables without interfering with windows and doors.

Working with a draftsman to strategically place your openings to maximize both aesthetics and and frame type can save you thousands of dollars on the cost of your steel building envelope!

2. Use concrete floors

Once upon a time, the only option for concrete floors was a polished slab. Now, however, there is a near-limitless amount of design and aesthetic options for concrete! Using your existing concrete slab can save you a lot of money on flooring. Here are some of our favorite finish options:

Good ol’ fashioned polish

Cheap, cost effective, and can look super sharp, especially when paired with darker colored design features.

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Leggari Coatings (Epoxy or Overlays)

Leggari flooring solutions are quickly becoming some of our favorite flooring products for barndominiums. Plus, they make it super easy to DIY, with little prep, and have awesome warranties. They also have a great YouTube channel full of ideas!

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Stamped, Stained, Acid Washed

There really are so many options for concrete! You can stamp it, stain it, acid wash….or any combination! Knowing what you want to do

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3. DIY finish work (Stairs, Barn Doors, Light Fixture Installation)

Little things add up fast! Even if you’re not a big “DIY” person, or feel like you have limited craftsman skills, here’s several simple ways you can save thousands on your finish work:

DIY Floating Stairs:

This is likely a blog post in itself, but we have found that it is pretty simple to build and install your own loft stairs! Just make sure that you understand the building code in your area for railing, and rise. Here’s stairs we did in our own home, using stringers ordered online from Fast Stairs, and treads bought at our local lumber store. Total cost was around $1000, plus an additional $800 for stair railing, made at our local welding shop

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DIY Barn Doors:

If you’ve checked barn door pricing lately, you know how ridiculous it can be! With the rise in popularity of barn doors has come a big price increase. We bought the barn doors in our home stock/unfinished, then painted them and added the hardware. This saved us about 2/3 of the cost. There are also a lot of really good, super simple tutorials for making your own inexpensive barn doors on Pinterest, like this one.

DIY Light Fixture Installation:

Talk to your electrician about hanging your own fixtures. This can be a simple, straightforward way to save money, and it’s pretty easy! Purchasing your own fixtures is also often a great way to save, as most contractors will charge you “cost plus” (price of the fixture, plus a markup typically of 5-10%) if you buy materials through them. We love Houzz for purchasing lighting, as it often allows you to see it in homes, or used in other projects, and provides a super wide variety of unique options!

4. Ask for “builder grade”/“build program” or scour the remnant yard for countertops

If you’re considering solid surface countertops like quartz or granite, this can save you thousands! Most countertop stores and warehouses will have a “builder program” where they have a handful of countertop options that can be ordered by the square foot. Builders use these in spec houses and developments where they do the same design repeatedly, and the warehouse can order in bulk, and also justify cutting slabs down to any size, due to volume.

Typically you have to purchase countertops by the slab (resulting in excess), but “builder grade” can be purchased by the square foot, therefore eliminating waste and you only having to pay for what you need.

Similarly, the remnant yard is a great place to find beautiful slabs that have been cut down as excess for larger jobs. Remnants are priced by the piece, and can be great candidates for vanities and small islands.

5. Work with a designer or experienced residential draftsman.

This may seem like an obvious tip, but many times we see clients with floor plans that are’t functional, or, once built, require major, costly adjustments down the road. It is one thing to engineer a structure that “works” and meets code, and an entirely different thing to intentionally design a floor plan that feels like home. Some ways a designer can help save you money include:

Designing for the future (if you were to add a patio, where would it go? What structural supports need to be in place to inexpensively accommodate that in the down the road? How will you be using rooms 10 years from now so that minimal remodeling is required to accommodate your next phase in life?)

Spatial awareness (How does it feel to be in the space? Where does your existing furniture go? Do you have enough counter area? When a door opens, is it cramping or impeding what’s around it?)

Optimized layout (Can we save money by placing bathrooms against one wall and not having to run plumbing across the house? Where are HVAC returns placed to be as inconspicuous as possible?)

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Have you built a barndominium or shop house and found great ways to save money (or, made costly mistakes you’d avoid if doing things again!?). We want to know! Drop your tips in the comments below, or share them with us on our Instagram and Facebook!

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5 Ways To Save On Your Barndominium Build (2024)


5 Ways To Save On Your Barndominium Build? ›

Barndominiums have a quality that often makes them very customizable, which is that typical barndominiums are often constructed from a metal building. Metal structures are usually less expensive to construct than traditional buildings, which is one reason why they are used so much in commercial construction.

What makes a barndominium cheaper to build? ›

Barndominiums have a quality that often makes them very customizable, which is that typical barndominiums are often constructed from a metal building. Metal structures are usually less expensive to construct than traditional buildings, which is one reason why they are used so much in commercial construction.

What do I wish I knew before building a barndominium? ›

Here are the most important things to know about building a barndominium.
  • Obtain a permit for your project. Photo by Bridger Steel, Inc. ...
  • Test the paint. Photo by Justin Doyle Homes. ...
  • Prepare for surprise costs. ...
  • Plan for electrical work. ...
  • Choose your windows and doors wisely. ...
  • Add insulation—it's important.
Mar 14, 2022

What is the best type of flooring in a barndominium? ›

Polished concrete flooring is LEED certified and does not release any volatile organic compounds (VOCs) the way many vinyl and nylon flooring options can, making it the ideal choice for the barndominium builder that's alternatively seeking a chemical-free home.

What is the most expensive part of building a barndominium? ›

The biggest cost of building a barndominium comes from purchasing and building the metal shell, including the roof, doors, and windows. Other major exterior features that can affect the building cost include: Metal siding.

What is the downside to a barndominium? ›

Pros of barndominiums include a cheaper cost, fully customizable space, and lower maintenance. They're also highly durable with lots of extra room and are a more eco-friendly housing option. Meanwhile, cons include higher upfront costs, difficulties finding financing, and not all cities allow them.

Why can't you finance a barndominium? ›

Many USDA lenders are unfamiliar with these structures and may be reluctant to finance their purchase. Borrowers may also experience added difficulty when seeking a USDA construction loan to build a new barndominium, as some USDA lenders, including Neighbors Bank, do not offer this loan type.

What's the cheapest you can build a barndominium? ›

The cost to build a barndominium is $65 to $160 per square foot or $130,000 to $320,000 on average for a 2,000 SF home. Barndominium prices depend on the size, materials, and interior finishes chosen. Barndominium kit prices are $20 to $35 per square foot for materials only.

Is building a barndominium a good investment? ›

A barndominium is a wise investment if you plan on entering the Los Angeles real estate scene. Barndominiums are cheaper and easier to build than conventional houses, are low maintenance, and are more durable against earthquakes and fires. They are also unique and will set you apart from other real estate investors.

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