Barndominium vs. House in Texas: What's the Difference? (2024)

As you look into building a new home in Texas, you are probably looking for a traditional type of homelike the ones you see all around you. But for some people, they are more interested in a tiny home, a container home or a barndominium - a unique style of home that fits their particular lifestyle.

While we do believe building a traditional home is the way to go for most people, we wanted to provide some helpful information for those of you looking for this new kind of home, particularly the barndominium.

Barndominium vs. House in Texas: What's the Difference? (1)

What Is a Barndominium?

In Texas, a barndominium has traditionally been a barn that has been converted into a living space so it’s easier to check in on your horses and other livestock. More recently, barndominiums come in steel home kits you can buy to build yourself or hire someone to build for you and have been taking the place of the traditional home.

We will be looking at the barndominium kits and some key differences you’ll find in building these barndominiums vs. a house in Texas.

What’s the Difference Between a Barndominium and a House?

There are several factors to consider when comparing a barndominium to a house in Texas, which includes:

  • Cost

  • Size

  • Building Material

  • Design

  • Lifestyle

Cost: Barndominium vs. House

Is It Cheaper to Build a House or Barndominium?

It depends.The average cost of a barndominium in Texas is $70 to $95 a square foot to build vs. the cost of a house is around $115 - $145 per square foot.

However, these numbers can be somewhat misleading. When it’s all said and done, the cost of most barndominiums in Texas are quite comparable to a traditional home at $117 to $135 a square foot for the base plan.

The cost varies greatlydepending on the way you build your home, where you build it and how much you put into it. So while the exterior shell of a barndominium comes out cheaper than a house, what you do on the inside can greatly outweigh the cost of a traditional home and exceed the budget you’ve set.

What Are the Main Cost Differences Between a Barndominium vs. a House?
  • For a traditional home, a sizable part of your home budget goes to the exterior framing of the house - walls, windows, doors, siding (brick, stucco, vinyl) and the roof.

  • For a barndominium,the exterior of the home costs significantly less money, so you usually spend more money on the interior of the home, but this can quickly get out of hand if you’re not careful. Additionally, where you are allowed to build a barndominium is limited so you may spend more money on site developmentthan you would building on developed land.

*Barndominium Costs: In 2021, as we write this, metal prices have soared, so the shell cost is significantly higher. But, like lumber, this cost should come down in time.

Why Is the Cost of Building a Barndominium vs. a House Unclear?

While on the surface, it looks like building a barndominium is cheaper than a house, when you dig into it a little deeper, there’s a reason for that.

What Is Included in the Barndominium Kit?

When you order a barndominium kit, it includes:

  • An engineered concrete slab

  • Stained concrete floors

  • Exterior doors

  • Energy efficient windows

  • Spray foam insulation

  • A continuous roof

What Is Included in a Traditional Home Build?

Check with your particular builder, but it usually includes (house cost + site development):

  • Excavation
  • Foundation
  • Framing
  • Exterior siding
  • Roofing
  • Exterior windows & doors
  • HVAC
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
  • Insulation
  • Drywall
  • Painting
  • Trim and interior doors
  • Flooring
  • Cabinets and countertops
  • Plumbing fixtures
  • Lighting fixtures
  • Appliances
  • Cleanup
  • Other contingencies

There is a lot more included in a custom home buiding estimate than you might think. And several of these items on the list for a conventional home are things you will need to add onto your projected barndominium cost, as well.

Size: Barndominium vs. House

Barndominiums are usually much larger than a house. Due to the nature of steel, you can have a lot more open space and achieve some design shapes and options that are difficult to do with a wooden structure.

To start with, a barndominium’s ceiling height is usually about 14 feet while a traditional house has ceiling heights of 8 to 9 feet.

Additionally, the name “barndominium” combines two different types of structures: a “barn” and a “condominium.”

A barn is often a large structure used to house horses and other livestock in the country. A condominium is a large property complex with individual units throughout the property. Put these two together and you can see where the structure of a barndominium would be much larger than a traditional house.

Building Material: Barndominium vs. House

A traditional house is usually built of wood or brick - or a combination of the two - whereas a barndominium is made primarily of steel. Learn more about the various types of building materialsand which is best for your particular home.

Design: Barndominium vs. House

While you can get creative with the exterior design of your barndominium, the majority of your options will lie in the interior look of your home. Anything you could imagine being done in a traditional custom home can also be done inside a barndominium.

But be careful: You will most likely be working with a larger space than you would a traditional custom home - with high ceilings and additional rooms - so your interior design materials can add up for that amount of living space.

Lifestyle: Barndominium vs. House

Barndominiums are not for everyone. Usually it’s a lifestyle choice.

If you want a home that is less maintenance and more durable, or maybe even something that can be used as a temporary home while you build your permanent residence, then a barndominium may be right for you!

It’s a great option if you are notbuilding in a subdivision, which often has restrictive building requirements.

What Are the Pros & Cons of Building aBarndominium?

Barndominium Pros

Barndominium Cons

  • Built to last
  • Better-equipped for floods
  • Fire-resistant
  • Resistant to high winds
  • Unappealing to termites
  • Less maintenance
  • Can be built as a shell and finished over time
  • Requires only one contractor
  • Eco-friendly because they require no chemical treatments
  • Hard to find a builder in your area who is ready to work with a steel frame
  • Upfront cost can be higher than other materials sometimes
  • You won’t be able to build a barndominium in most places; you have to find a development that allows it or find a rural plot of land to build
  • The aesthetic of barndominiums is limited so you need to like the style of these homes

Where Are Barndominiums Most Popular in the U.S.?

Barndominiums have become most popular in Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Alabama, and Mississippi, but Texas is the number one place you’ll find them. However, that doesn’t mean if you don’t live in any of these states, you can’t build one!

People in many other states are also beginning to consider building a barndominium on land near them.

Could I Build a Barndominium and a House?

Yes! Depending on where you build your home in Texas and how much land you own, you may be able to build a small barndominium home on your lot to live in while your home is being built, or you might consider building a small barndonomium on your property as a guest house or recreational center for your family after building your custom home. These are great options to get the best of both worlds.

Want to Know More About Traditional Home Building? Learn About Our Home Building Process

Interested in Building a Barndominium?

Barndominium vs. House in Texas: What's the Difference? (2024)


Barndominium vs. House in Texas: What's the Difference? ›

To start with, a barndominium's ceiling height is usually about 14 feet while a traditional house has ceiling heights of 8 to 9 feet. Additionally, the name “barndominium” combines two different types of structures: a “barn” and a “condominium.”

What makes a barndominium different than a house? ›

What's the Difference Between a Barndominium and Traditional Home? Traditionally, barndominiums were homes built into the interior of barns, taking up part of the building but leaving space for the barn for their animals.

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.

Can you live in a barndominium in Texas? ›

A hot real estate trend is growing all over Texas: barndominiums. A barndominium is a nostalgic alternative to conventional or new build homes, combining a barn's traditional exterior look while adding customizable living and workspaces.

Are barndominiums taxed in Texas? ›

The total property tax rate applied to a barndominium in Texas is the sum of the rates set by each local taxing unit where the property is located. These rates can vary significantly from one area to another, affecting the overall tax burden.

How much does it cost to build a barndominium in Texas? ›

The average cost of a barndominium in Texas is $70 to $95 a square foot to build vs. the cost of a house is around $115 - $145 per square foot.

What is the point of a barndominium? ›

Spacious Living

Unlike the compartmentalized layout of many traditional houses, barndominiums offer vast, open spaces that maximize your living area. This open concept design creates a sense of freedom and versatility that's perfect for various lifestyles.

What is the lifespan of a barndominium? ›

Longevity: Although they may not last as long as traditional homes, a well-maintained barndominium can provide comfortable living for around 50 years. 5. Durability: Barndominiums are built to withstand the elements, ensuring they remain sturdy and reliable over the years.

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.

Is it hard to insure a barndominium? ›

Insurance can be complicated for barndominium homes. According to, not all insurers cover barndos, especially if they're mixed-use instead of residential only, and those that do might have barndo-specific policies.

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

Can you insure a barndominium in Texas? ›

You weren't born in a barn but you can live in one. With Germania Insurance, we have unique coverage for barndominiums that Texans love. This new trend in construction involves constructing a residential space within the larger structure designed to be used as a barn.

Are barndominiums safe in a tornado? ›

Constructed with metal, a barndo offers superior protection from severe weather. The steel structure of a steel barndominium has a higher wind resistance than a conventional wood frame home. While the metal integrity of your home can endure a tornado, the windows and doors may not.

How long does it take to build a barndominium in Texas? ›

The construction time can vary based on size and complexity, but generally, barndominiums can take anywhere from 6 months to a year to build, which is often faster than traditional homes due to prefabricated elements.

Is it possible to build a barndominium for 100K? ›

It is not an impossibility that you can build a barndominium for 100K. However, it is not too common. If you seek to go that route, you need to cut down on expenses and do most of the work yourself. You will need to find the right piece of land to erect your barndominium.

How many acres do you need to be tax exempt in Texas? ›

These requirements vary by county. But you will usually need a minimum of 10-15 acres to be eligible for ag exemption. These rules could also vary based on the type of agriculture activity. For example, if you're a beekeeper, you'll need a minimum of approximately 5-10 acres to qualify.

Is a barndominium as strong as a house? ›

Constructed with metal, a barndo offers superior protection from severe weather. The steel structure of a steel barndominium has a higher wind resistance than a conventional wood frame home. While the metal integrity of your home can endure a tornado, the windows and doors may not.

Do barndominiums last longer than houses? ›

Durability. Barndos have metal or steel shells which make them resistant to mold, rot, termites, and the elements, which means they'll likely last longer than a typical home made from wood. Open Floor Plan.

What makes a barndominium unique? ›

Basically, they're converted barns or newly constructed barn-shaped buildings, usually made of metal. By combining some of the structural components of agrarian buildings with the upscale touches of modern design, these structures bring together rural and urban architecture to create an innovative mix of both worlds.

Are barndominiums more expensive to build? ›

A large prefabricated metal barndominium, like 2,000 to 3,000 square feet, will be less expensive than building a traditional house. Barndominiums can take half the time to construct—and time is money.

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