What Is a Barndominium? | Progressive (2024)

A barndominium is typically a barn a builder has converted into an all-purpose living and workspace. The name combines barn and condominium; people often shorten it to “barndo.” Some barndominiums are new structures built from a kit and made of metal. Builders construct barndominiums so that the outer walls bear the building’s load, giving barndominium homes a flexible interior space that homeowners can use in several ways.

What are the pros and cons of barndominiums?

A barndo’s primary appeal is the ability to customize the interior space. Because they’re typically large buildings with flexible interiors, homeowners can use barndominium houses creatively to accommodate activities that traditional homes might not. The primary drawback is that, depending on where you live, it might be difficult to get financing or building approval for a barndo. Before you buy or build one, consider the following barndominium pros and cons:

Barndominium pros

  • Open floor plans: Once you’ve built the shell, you can divide the interior space however you want.
  • High ceilings: Even if you add a loft or second floor, barndominium structures are well-suited to high-ceiling designs.
  • Customization: Because the original intent for barndos was to be large, mixed-use spaces, you can put almost anything inside them.
  • Durability and maintenance: The metal construction typical of barndo kits is weather-resistant, low maintenance, long-lasting, and helps keep out bugs.
  • Efficiency and incentives: Barndominium homes often use high-efficiency designs to save on heating and cooling bills and may also qualify for federal energy efficiency incentives.

Barndominium cons

  • Location restrictions: Mixed-use barndominiums may be challenging to zone and obtain a permit in developed areas and may involve a home inspection from your city.
  • Curb appeal: Converted barns retain a lot of their rustic charm, but kit-based barndos may be boring to look at unless you spend money upgrading the exterior.
  • Cost and financing: Not all lenders will finance non-traditional homes.

Other considerations for barndominium homes

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

Should I build a barndominium home?

That depends on what you want from a home, your budget, and many other factors. However, a barndominium house can be a great fit for people who work from home, anyone who wants complete creative control over their home’s interior, and people with hobbies that need a lot of space — like restoring classic cars or training for competitive sports. A barndo’s customizability can make it possible to live and pursue passions like these on a single property.

What Is a Barndominium? | Progressive (2024)


What Is a Barndominium? | Progressive? ›

A barndominium is typically a barn a builder has converted into an all-purpose living and workspace. The name combines barn and condominium; people often shorten it to “barndo.” Some barndominiums are new structures built from a kit and made of metal.

What defines a barndominium? ›

A barndominium, also known as a barndo, is a metal pole barn, post-frame or barn-like structure with sheet metal siding that has been partially or fully converted into a furnished home or living area.

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.

What is the most expensive part of a barndominium? ›

Steel framing, popular in barndominium construction for its durability and resistance to pests, can be more expensive than traditional wood framing. Framing costs can range from $20 to $50 per square foot, making it one of the most significant portions of the construction budget.

Will a barndominium last as long as a house? ›

With proper care and attention, a well-built barndominium can last for several decades or even longer. It's essential for prospective barndominium owners to work with experienced builders, choose high-quality materials, and commit to regular maintenance to ensure their unique homes stand the test of time.

Why are barndominiums hard to insure? ›

While a barndominium is very similar to a traditionally built home, insuring them can be much more difficult. There can be several reasons why insurance companies are hesitant to insure these structures. The primary reason is that these homes are non-standard construction, which means they lack historical data.

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.

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 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 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.

How much does a 30x40 barndominium cost? ›

Barndominium kits with prices
DimensionsSquare footageUnfinished kit costs
30x401,200$35,000 – $59,000
40x401,600$42,000 – $75,000
40x602,400$69,000 – $120,000
40x702,800$74,000 – $135,000
4 more rows
Jan 12, 2024

Do barndominiums hold their value? ›

Barndominiums normally retain their resale value and may even increase in value gradually, although more slowly than a standard home. However, these homes are still rare in some parts of the country, and it may be challenging to get an accurate appraisal in an area where there are few.

How big is a 40x60 barndominium? ›

Choosing a 40×60 barndominium steel building for your next project comes with numerous benefits. Not only do you get a vast 2,400 square foot area to design your dream living space, but steel buildings also offer durability, low maintenance, and resistance to the elements.

Are barndominiums good in cold weather? ›

In summary, steel-framed barndominiums offer a slew of benefits for those living in cold climates, from efficient heat transfer and increased snow load support to reduced shifting and settling.

Are barndominiums hard to sell? ›

Families that build barndominiums tend to customize their layouts for their own needs. That's not a bad thing for them, but it could make it more difficult to sell in the long run. It also makes it extremely difficult to find comparable properties to determine if it's a good investment.

Is it cheaper to build a 1 or 2 story barndominium? ›

Single-story barndominiums are generally perceived as less expensive due to several factors: – **Foundation Costs**: The foundation of a single-story barndominium typically costs less than that of a two-story structure since it bears less weight. This can lead to savings in both materials and labor.

Why do lenders not like barndominiums? ›

Most financial institutions will not provide mortgage loans for barndominiums, largely due to a lack of comparable sales during the appraisal process.

Is it cheaper to build a barndominium or a house? ›

The most common estimate asserts that a new barndominium with basic amenities will cost about $30 to $40 per square foot to build, compared to the cost of building a traditional home is around $100 to $200 per square foot.

What is the difference between a barndominium and a metal building? ›

When you buy the materials for a wooden barndo, you're likely going to pay less than you would pay for a metal building. Wood buildings are also much better at absorbing sounds than metal buildings because of it's material composition and structure.

What is the difference between a barn and a barndominium? ›

A barndominium combines a living area, usually an extension of a larger open space used as a barn, a workshop, a shed, or some other hobby requiring extra square footage. Today's barndominiums may be new builds or existing barns that have been retrofitted to make them habitable.

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