What is the Most Expensive Part of Building a Barndominium? (2024)

What is the Most Expensive Part of Building a Barndominium from the Ground Up?

Building a barndominium from the ground up presents an exciting opportunity to create a unique and personalized space that blends the simplicity and rustic charm of a barn with the comfort and amenities of a conventional home. However, like any construction project, the process comes with its share of costs, some of which can significantly impact the overall budget. Identifying the most expensive part of building a barndominium is crucial for planning and managing expenses effectively. In this article, we delve into the costs associated with constructing a barndominium, highlighting the areas where you’re likely to spend the most.

Foundation and Framing: The Initial Expense

One of the initial and most significant costs in building a barndominium is laying the foundation. The foundation is critical to the structure’s integrity, affecting its durability and resistance to environmental factors. The cost of the foundation can vary widely depending on the type of foundation (slab, pier and beam, basem*nt), the soil conditions, and the overall size of the barndominium. On average, foundation costs can range from $4 to $7 per square foot. However, for more complex foundations or those requiring extensive ground preparation, costs can escalate quickly.

Framing is another major expense in the construction process. It involves creating the skeleton of the barndominium, including walls, floors, and roof structure. The cost of framing largely depends on the materials used (wood or steel), the design complexity, and the building’s size. 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.

Customization and Interior Finishes: Where Costs Add Up

While the structural elements of building a barndominium are unavoidably pricey, customization and interior finishes can also contribute significantly to the overall cost. Barndominiums are known for their open floor plans and high ceilings, features that can increase the cost of interior finishes due to the larger areas to cover and the need for custom fittings. High-quality finishes such as hardwood floors, granite countertops, custom cabinetry, and energy-efficient appliances can drive up costs. Additionally, large, energy-efficient windows and doors, necessary for the aesthetic and functionality of a barndominium, can be costly.

The cost of interior finishes and customization can vary widely, with estimates ranging from $50 to $100 per square foot, depending on the quality and luxury of the materials chosen. This aspect of construction provides some flexibility in budgeting, as homeowners can choose where to splurge and where to save based on their priorities and financial plan.

The Cost of Customization

Customization is one of the primary reasons homeowners opt for a barndominium. The ability to design a floor plan that caters to specific needs, from the layout of living spaces to the inclusion of workshops or home offices, is highly appealing. However, each customization, especially those that deviate from standard designs or sizes, requires additional planning, materials, and labor. For example, custom cabinetry designed to fit unique spaces or to accommodate specific uses can be significantly more expensive than standard off-the-shelf options.

High-End Finishes and Materials

The choice of finishes and materials has a substantial impact on the overall cost. High-end materials such as granite or quartz countertops, hardwood flooring, and custom tile work in bathrooms and kitchens can drive up costs considerably. According to HomeAdvisor, granite countertops can cost between $2,000 and $4,500, including materials and installation, while hardwood flooring can range from $6 to $22 per square foot, depending on the type of wood

Appliances and Fixtures

High-quality appliances and fixtures are another area where costs can accumulate quickly. Many homeowners choose to invest in top-of-the-line kitchen appliances, energy-efficient HVAC systems, and luxurious bathroom fixtures to enhance their living experience. These choices, while contributing to the functionality and aesthetic appeal of the barndominium, can add tens of thousands of dollars to the budget. For instance, a high-end kitchen appliance package alone can exceed $20,000.

Lighting and Electrical Work

Custom lighting designs and advanced electrical systems, including smart home technology, can also add to the cost. Specialty lighting fixtures, dimmable LED lighting, and comprehensive home automation systems require additional planning and labor to install. The cost of lighting fixtures varies widely, with high-end options often costing several hundred dollars each. Home automation systems, depending on their complexity, can add anywhere from a few thousand dollars to over $10,000 to the project.

Labor Costs

The labor involved in installing custom finishes and features can significantly impact the budget. Custom work requires skilled craftsmanship, which comes at a premium. The cost of labor varies by location but can account for a substantial portion of the budget for high-end finishes and customization. For complex projects, labor costs can exceed the cost of materials.

Managing Costs

To manage costs without sacrificing the vision for your barndominium, it’s essential to prioritize your needs and wants. Consider which aspects of the customization are non-negotiable and where you might be willing to compromise. Working with a skilled contractor who can provide accurate estimates and suggest cost-saving alternatives without compromising quality is crucial.

External Factors and Hidden Costs

It’s also important to consider external factors that can impact the cost of building a barndominium, such as the location, access to utilities, and permitting fees. Rural locations, while offering ample space and scenic views, may require significant investment in bringing utilities to the site or may be subject to higher transportation costs for materials and labor. Permitting fees and regulations vary by region and can add unexpected expenses to the project.

Hidden costs, such as changes in design, unforeseen construction challenges, or increases in material costs, can also affect the budget. It’s wise to allocate a contingency fund of 10% to 20% of the overall budget to cover these unexpected expenses.

While the foundation and framing represent the most significant initial expenses in building a barndominium, the cost of customization and interior finishes can also add up, significantly impacting the overall budget. Effective planning, budget management, and careful selection of materials and finishes can help control these costs. Understanding the potential expenses involved in each stage of construction allows future barndominium owners to make informed decisions, ensuring that their dream home combines both aesthetic appeal and financial practicality. Call Buildmax to discuss your Dream Barndominium today!

What is the Most Expensive Part of Building a Barndominium? (2024)


What is the Most Expensive Part of Building 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.

Why are barndominiums so expensive? ›

The biggest cost of building a barndominium comes from purchasing and building the metal shell, including the roof, doors, and windows.

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

Foundation – The Bedrock of Construction

When discussing the most expensive part of building a house, it all begins with the foundation. The foundation acts as the bedrock on which the entire structure rests. Depending on the type of foundation chosen, costs can escalate significantly.

What is the most cost effective barndominium? ›

Generally the most cost-effective barndominium size falls between 1,500-2,500 square feet. The Average size Barndominium in the US falls around 2500sqft as well.

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 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.

What are the negatives of barndominiums? ›

If you're considering building or buying a barndominium, consider this list of downsides before you sign your name on a dotted line:
  • Location Limitations. ...
  • Financing. ...
  • Corrosion. ...
  • Noise. ...
  • UV Exposure. ...
  • Wiring Challenges. ...
  • Reselling.
Oct 19, 2022

Which part of a building is most expensive? ›

A home's framing is its skeleton. Because so much material and skilled labor is required, this is an incredibly expensive part of building a home. While framing may not be as expensive as the foundation or lot, it is typically more costly than other items.

What is the biggest expense in building a house? ›

Labor. Labor is one of the most important costs involved in home construction — and also one of the most difficult to measure. The final price tag will vary significantly based on each new home's plans and the amount of work involved.

What is the most expensive part of a house extension? ›

Typically, the most expensive part of a house extension is the foundation work and structural alterations required to support the new space. Other significant costs can include: Labour.

How to save money while building a barndominium? ›

5 Ways to Save Money on Your Barndominium Build.
  1. Be strategic about where you put your framed openings: ...
  2. Use concrete floors. ...
  3. DIY finish work (Stairs, Barn Doors, Light Fixture Installation) ...
  4. Ask for “builder grade”/“build program” or scour the remnant yard for countertops.

How big of a barndominium can I build for 200K? ›

How big of a barndominium can I build for $200K? On the high end, barndominiums have an average cost of $150 per square foot. At that price, you can estimate a building of around 1,333 square feet for $200,000.

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

Are barndominiums hard to insure? ›

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.

Why not build 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.

Are barndominiums bad investments? ›

As such, it is more difficult to assess the resale value of a Barndominium. Unlike modular homes and trailers, Barndominiums maintain their value and are likely to increase over time. If you are purely looking for a quick resale investment, a Barndominium may not be your best option.

Is it cheaper to build a house or barndominium? ›

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.

Is buying a barndominium worth it? ›

Barndominiums can make fantastic homes for a fraction of the cost of traditional homes. This makes them an especially great option for those looking to purchase: A large home for less.

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.

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