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Is Building a Barndominium Cheaper Than a Traditional Home?

How much does a Barndominium cost? Is a barndominium cheaper than a traditional home? These are the most frequently asked questions about barndominiums and questions construction company, Ace’s Custom Builds in Huntsville, Texas can help answer as Jason Strange and his team have been building barndos for years.

The housing market has seen a surge in unconventional and cost-effective alternatives to traditional homes, and one such trend gaining popularity is the construction of barndominiums. A portmanteau of "barn" and "condominium," a barndominium combines the rustic charm of a barn with the modern comforts of a home. In this blog post, we will look into the factors influencing the cost of building a barndominium, or metal home, and whether it is truly a more economical choice compared to a conventional house.

Ace's Custom Builds Co-Founders, Jason and Chad Strange having been building metal homes for 20 years.
Jason and Chad Strange, Ace's Custom Builds Co-Founders, have been building metal homes since 2004, turning construction into an art.

What is a barndominium?

Before diving into the cost comparison, let's first understand what a barndominium entails. Typically, a barndominium is a metal building that serves as both a residence and a barn or workspace. It often features an open floor plan, high ceilings, and a durable exterior. The versatility of barndominiums appeals to those seeking a unique living space that combines functionality with aesthetics. This blog post goes into a bit more detail and answers some classic metal home questions.

Factors Influencing Barndominium Cost

Several factors contribute to the overall cost of building a barndominium. Understanding these elements is crucial for anyone considering this alternative housing option. Jason Strange, general contractor at Ace's Custom Builds, suggest thinking about these six factors.

1.Location Matters. Just like traditional houses, the location plays a significant role in determining the cost of a barndominium. Factors such as land prices, accessibility, and local building codes can impact the overall expense.

2.Size and layout. The size and layout of a metal home are major cost drivers. Larger structures with intricate floor plans will inevitably cost more due to increased material and labor requirements. Consider your space needs and budget constraints when planning the size and layout.

3. Construction Materials. Barndominiums can be constructed using a variety of materials, each with its own cost implications. While metal is a popular choice due to its durability and affordability, other options like wood may be selected for a more traditional look. The choice of finishing materials for the interior also influences costs.

4.Foundation Type. The type of foundation chosen for a barndominium significantly impacts costs. Slab foundations are generally more cost-effective than basements or crawl spaces, but the specific requirements of your land and the local climate can affect this decision.

5.Utilities and Infrastructure. The cost of connecting to utilities, such as water, electricity, and sewage, should not be overlooked. Remote locations may require additional investments to ensure a reliable and efficient supply of essential services.

6. Customization and Upgrades. Just like in traditional homes, the level of customization and the inclusion of upgrades can significantly affect the final cost. Fancy fixtures, high-end appliances, and unique design features will add to the overall expenses. Ace's Custom Builds, interior designer Dana Wallace, helps with the process of customizing the interior of your metal home, from paint to fixtures and design features.

Breaking Down the Costs

Now, let's dive deeper into the estimated costs associated with building a metal home. Keep in mind that these figures are general estimates, and actual costs can vary based on the factors mentioned earlier.

Construction Costs.The construction costs of a barndominium typically range from $100 to $200 per square foot. This includes the basic structure, exterior finishing, roofing, and insulation. A 2,000 square foot barndominium could cost anywhere from $200,000 to $400,000, depending on the aforementioned factors.

Foundation Costs. Foundation costs vary based on the type chosen. A concrete slab foundation may cost around $5 to $10 per square foot, while a basement could range from $10 to $25 per square foot. The choice of foundation is not only influenced by costs but also by the geographical and geological considerations of the site.

Utilities and Infrastructure. Connecting to utilities can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands, depending on the distance from existing lines and the complexity of the installation. Off-grid solutions, such as solar power or well water, may incur additional costs initially but can lead to long-term savings.

Interior Finishing Costs. The interior finishing costs include flooring, cabinetry, appliances, and other fixtures. On average, budgeting $50 to $100 per square foot for interior finishing is a reasonable estimate. Customization and high-end finishes will push costs toward the higher end of the range.

Land Costs. Land prices vary widely based on location, accessibility, and size. In some rural areas, such as Huntsville, Texas, where barndominiums are more common, land prices may be more affordable than in urban or suburban settings.

Is Building a Barndominium Cheaper Than a House?

Now comes the critical question – is opting for a custom built barndominium by Ace's Custom Builds a cost-effective choice compared to building a traditional house? Let's examine the pros and cons.

Advantages of Barndominiums:

Cost Savings: Barndominiums often offer cost savings, especially in terms of the initial construction costs. The simplicity of the design and the use of cost-effective materials contribute to a potentially lower price tag.

Construction Time: Metal homes can be constructed relatively quickly compared to traditional houses. The simplicity of the design and the use of pre-engineered materials can expedite the building process. Ace’s Custom Builds have established relationships with suppliers, subcontractors, and other stakeholders in the industry. This network can streamline the building process, ensuring timely delivery of materials and efficient coordination among various trades. 

Versatility: The open floor plans and high ceilings characteristic of barndominiums provide a versatile living space that can be adapted to various needs, such as a home, workshop, or even a combination of both.

Energy Efficiency: The metal construction of barndominiums can contribute to energy efficiency, reflecting sunlight and helping maintain a more consistent indoor temperature. Additionally, it allows for easy installation of insulation. Metal framing allows for more efficient insulation, reducing energy consumption for heating and cooling. This energy efficiency not only benefits the environment but also translates into lower utility bills for the homeowners.

Drawbacks of Barndominiums:

Resale Value: While barndominiums are gaining popularity, their resale value may not be as high as that of traditional homes. The unique design may limit the pool of potential buyers.

Limited Financing Options: Securing financing for a metal homes can be more challenging than for a traditional home. Some lenders may be unfamiliar with this type of construction, making it essential to work with those experienced in financing non-traditional homes.

Zoning and Building Code Challenges: Barndominiums may face zoning and building code challenges in certain areas. Some municipalities may have restrictions on the use of metal structures for residential purposes.

Aesthetic Considerations: While the industrial aesthetic of a barndominium appeals to many, it may not be everyone's cup of tea. Traditional homebuyers may prefer the classic look of a conventional house.

Conclusion: Making the Decision

The decision to build a metal home versus a traditional home ultimately depends on your priorities, preferences, and budget. If cost savings, a quicker construction timeline, and a versatile living space are your priorities, a barndominium could be an excellent choice. However, it's essential to weigh the advantages against the potential drawbacks, such as limited financing options and resale considerations.

Before embarking on the journey of building a barndominium, thoroughly research local zoning regulations, secure financing, and work with experienced professionals such as general contractor Jason Strange, who understand the unique challenges associated with this type of construction. With careful planning and consideration, a barndominium can provide a distinctive and cost-effective living space that meets your needs and looks great while doing so.


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