Housing trends come and go, but in regards to the barndominium this might just be one that is here to stay. Its most unusual construction and features have made it very popular with hipsters and home builders alike. If your curiosity is peaked, it’s time to take a closer look at this very unique, and often fun, way to live.
Exactly What a Barndominium Is–and Isn’t
What, exactly, is a barndominium? Picture a barn, you know, the old-school type, not a modern barn. Now picture a condominium. Mush the two together and you have a barndominium!
Well, that’s the most basic answer, of course. The full answer is that a barndominium can be one of two structures. Either you build a barn-sized structure that essentially looks like it could have been a real barn at one point but is now a residence for humans, or you transform an existing barn into a residence. Really, barndominiums started out as the latter; barns that were renovated and made into homes.
All across America, there are lots of old barns standing in disrepair. Owners of the properties on which these old barns stand are faced with two choices; tear the structures down, or restore/renovate for the purpose of using the structures again. If you own the land, it is actually more cost-effective to restore/renovate the existing barn into a home than it is to build a home on the property. For anyone who loves the idea of reclaimed wood and reclaimed barn wood, it is a double bonus to use the barn to create a home because the old barn wood is already properly weathered and worn.
Along with the nice benefit of reclaimed barn wood, these homes contain many other eco-friendly features. Those features include:
- Lots of energy-efficient windows for the most amount of natural light you can get and the least amount of heat or air conditioning lost
- Wide, open living space that is easy to heat and requires minimal ventilation structures
- Prior barn plumbing that is re-engineered for human living
- Cathedral-high ceilings, if you like really high ceilings
- Doors to the outside where you can construct a porch or other entertainment space
- Literal barn doors that can open to allow for air circulation throughout in the warmer months
Some other creature comfort features may be added, like industrial fans to the roof of the barndominium, but they are not necessary. Some people spruce up the concrete floors of an old barn by staining them, coating them with epoxy, or acid-washing them. It creates the appearance of a very nice floor when really the floor is just the original concrete where animals once stood.
Not sure if you’re sold on the idea yet? You should be, considering how quickly this idea has taken off in the last four years. There’s more you should know about these homes.
It Can Fit Your Whole Extended Family During the Holidays
If you come from a large family (and I see some nodding their heads yes), then you know what it’s like to have dozens of people in a crowded space. Add half a dozen or more kids running around and tripping you up underfoot, and it’s nuts. Imagine what that would be like in a home the size of a full-sized barn. You could have more than enough furniture for everyone to sit on close to a chimney with a roaring fire on the hearth.
Then there’s the tree. You could easily put a ten- to twenty-footer in a barndominium! That would be a magnificent Christmas tree for everyone, not to mention the number of presents that would easily fit underneath. The amazing part is that you would still have plenty of room left over, and many owners of barndominiums report hosting huge holiday parties that never feel crowded or cramped. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?
When You Don’t Want to Reside in the Barndominium, But…
So much space lends itself well to literally anything you want to do with a “barndo”. Use it for storage when you have a ton of stuff, and even heat and cool the place so that stuff being stored is in environmentally-controlled storage. Keep vintage cars on display and stored there, or paintings by the dozens. It all fits and is protected.
You could use it for a hobby space too. A lot of artists, sculptors, woodworkers, etc., find that this much space really suits their creative needs. It is better than all of the solvents, paints, liquid metals, metal and wood shavings, etc., that could end up on the floors inside your home, too.
Use it for meeting and entertaining guests. Use it as a guest house if you already have a house on the same property. You can use it as a “little country church” too, if you feel so moved to do so. It has a lot of potential uses, and it only requires a little imagination to figure out what you will use the “barndo” for.
If you are actually building a barndominium from scratch, there are two more options. One involves a steel barn type of construction. The other involves wood.
Steel requires a lot of tweaking to get everything you want inside the structure, but the steel siding and roofing will never need any maintenance or painting. The wood construction makes it look more like a barn, but that can help the barn’s walls and roof breathe easier during hotter months. The downside of a wooden structure is that it requires frequent maintenance to keep it from deteriorating.
Either way, you can buy kits and modular versions of both building material types for your brand-new barndominium construction. Instead of building entirely from scratch, there are plans available to help.
There are also building contractors that specialize in building barndominiums from the ground up. You will have to hunt around to find the right contractor, but then you can discuss your approach and building material preferences with the contractor.
Costs of Barndominiums
There are several factors affecting the price of a barndominium build. For example, a barndo built from a current and existing barn will cost a little less than a total build from the ground up. The wood and main frame of the structure already exists, which is what reduces the cost with an existing structure.
Your contractor’s labor costs will affect the price too. Some charge by the square foot to build fresh, while others charge by the hour times the number of laborers needed to completely build or renovate an existing barn. It’s why it is so important to get multiple estimates and quotes before you begin this project.
Can I Add on to an Existing Barn to Customize It?
Absolutely. Just keep in mind that the more customizations you make, the costlier your barndo will be.
Can I Transform a Stable Instead of a Barn?
A stable is a barn for horses, so yes, this is doable. It will just look different from other barndominiums.
Can I Relocate a Barn Before Transforming It?
Depending on the condition of the barn in question, it’s risky, but it could be done. Rotating the barn so many degrees to maximize sunlight through the windows you intend to install may be possible too.