ashley evans | design consultant
IS A CUSTOM BARNDOMINIUM RIGHT FOR YOU?
Updated: Feb 19
Can you hear all the budget-friendly buzz surrounding the barndo? We do! These buildings can be fully customized – whether you need a bare-bones affordable version orcrave a high-end getaway loaded with upscale fixtures and finishes. It’s really up to you and your wallet! Of course, with any home design trend, some misconceptions are floating around. Barndominiums are essentially economical multi-use buildings used as homes and once Fixer Upper’s Chip and Jo renovated one in Texas, a trend was born!
If the idea of having your office, workshop or warehouse just steps away from your home sounds AMAZING, then a barndo could be your dream home. If you have a large family or crave extra storage to house all your toys but your construction budget is limited, then a comfortable, casual barndominium may be the answer.
BEFORE you get too carried away with the affordability factor, carefully consider your lifestyle. If you’ve had your fill of the open floor plan craze, then a true barndominium may prove to be too much of a good thing. A super-sized open-air family room may leave you feeling like you’re living in an aircraft hangar. And if you have a dozen rowdy kids, well… you can imagine the racket you’ll endure while you’re on that zoom call.
But there's no denying the appeal of this versatile style. The internet's loaded with barndo inspo like this...
Barndos are certainly trending online and some of our inspo photos here are from a popular site called Barndominiumlife.com, a great resource if you're seriously considering this type of build. Since people are so interested in learning more about Barndos, many builders, fabricators and bloggers use the term frequently, but they’re not all speaking the same language. From a builder’s point of view there are two general types -so let’s break down the difference, because it’s important.
DIY BARGAIN BARNDO
There’s the real deal Barndo- this is the bargain-build pole barn you'll convert into a home. It's also the one you see advertised for an unbelievable $30-40 /sf. Is that too good to be true? Yes and no. If you are extremely handy, know local building codes, have the tools, and free time to build your own pole barn-style home, then more power to you!
However, the majority of homeowners do NOT fall into this category. They simply do not have the expertise, energy or time to build this type of home. Once you begin hiring professionals to help you build and finish this home for you, that ridiculously low price tag understandably starts to climb.
The bargain DIY barndo usually features some elements of traditional residential interiors, but their more rustic aesthetic isn’t for everyone. They require less structurally- for instance, most of the weight distribution falls to the exterior walls, rather than interior load-bearing walls. This translates to less lumber, overhead framing and finish work, thus the lower price tag.
The truly econo-style barndominium will have concrete floors and partition-type walls and few, if any low ceilings. Many designs will include a loft to create additional living space above and provide a ceiling (and privacy) for the areas directly below.
BUDGET FRIENDLY BARNDO
The other type of barndo is the one MOST people (or Pinterest) are referring to. This is a budget-friendly but professionally built barndominium. These charming homes may be sold as a metal building kit or can be stick-built, then clad in vinyl, wood or cement siding. They often feel more “rustic farmhouse” or “modern barn” than metal outbuilding. Often the footprint of this floor plan is a square or rectangle to keep costs down. Rooflines are simple with a 3:12 or 4:12 pitch to accommodate more affordable trusses. Interior and exterior customization like beautiful front doors, wraparound porches and lush landscaping go a long way to make these structures feel more like a comfortable home and less like a commercial building.
If budget allows, the interior can be finished just as any traditional stick-built home would be with vaulted drywall or planked ceilings, stone fireplaces, recessed lighting, crown moldings, vinyl or hardwood flooring, etc…
TAKE AWAY: For most buyers, the perk of building a custom multi-use barndo is this: It can be extremely versatile for those seeking a live/work residence or expansive home. And of course, the money you SAVE on the structure itself can go towards additional square footage or interior “extras” you may not otherwise have been able to afford. This is exactly why we see the beloved barndo popping up more and more in various styles and settings across the US.