Close your eyes and picture your dream Barndominium turned home sweet home. See where your windows are positioned, letting the morning light peek into your breakfast nook as you blissfully sip your coffee? See where your beloved family members arrive through the front door during the holidays, bags of gifts in tow? Can you imagine every perfect detail of your life in your new barndominium turned dream home?
While many have come to believe that a barndominium (or “barndo”) is the cost-efficient solution to having their dream home, it’s not the truth.
Imagining Your Dream Home
When you picture your dream home, do you have light pouring in through skylights across the entire ceiling or just one or two? And those sparkling windows, are there rows upon rows or just a few that are well positioned here and there?
As for the exterior, do you have wide awnings or a big wraparound porch? Is your roof an a-frame, or do you prefer a gable, hipped roof? Do you have an attached garage or maybe a breezeway that links to a stunning barn where your favorite faces peek from around the corner?
There are so many things to consider when building a home fit for your dreams, and by now, we figure you have pretty much considered it all. While you were considering it all, you might have come across a non-traditional home being referred to as a barndominium.
What is a Barndominium?
If you haven’t become familiar with the term, Wikipedia describes a barndominium as “a metal pole barn or barn-like structure with sheet metal siding that has been partially or fully converted into a furnished home or living area.”
Across the United States, barndominiums (also referred to as “barndos”) are all the rage, and (on the surface) we can see why. With sleek finishes, chic interiors, open floor plans, illuminated living spaces, and the bonus of a steel frame’s formidable strength ensuring that your home will stand the test of time, barndominiums appear as a logical answer to our most elaborate housing dreams.
Barndominuims are popping up everywhere, changing the face of modern home architecture as we know it. What’s more, if you wish to share your living space with special barnyard friends, want that exceptional countrified look, have an attached garage, or even a large workspace, it appears that there is nothing better than a barndominium; but you know how some things are, unfortunately, just too good to be true?
We hate to burst your barndominium bubble, but this seemingly idyllic type of home falls into that category for several reasons.
We aren’t here to tell you that barndominiums offer little value to your dream home goals, but we want to make sure you have all the facts before you invest in building something you expect to accommodate the next chapter of your life. At Premier Building Systems, we specialize in custom steel buildings and steel building kits across the United States. We love helping people find the steel building that truly fits their needs.
Together, let’s look at some of the pros and cons associated when you design and build a barndominium.
Pros and Cons of Barndominiums
When most people mentally formulate their barndominium dream home, they fail to consider that the steel frame, as cost-effective and energy-efficient as it may be, is not the end of the design.
Building your barndominium is similar to building out an entire house within your steel frame.
Pro: More total square footage than with traditional housing.
You indeed capitalize on square feet and square yards when it comes to space when building a steel building. Your barndominium floor plan is likely to be bigger in length and width than the floor plans of many traditional homes. However, all that open space will not automatically equate to your dream home. In fact, the work on your barndominium has just begun.
Con: Your windows and doors can only go in certain places and occupy more specific, limited spaces.
When you design your own home, you generally can take your pick as to where doors are placed and where windows will be. You can also customize the shapes and sizes of your windows in a traditional home; however, with a barndominium, you have to work within the steel frame of the beams and trusses. You have a lot less room to play with square feet and inches as you try to bring your dream home to life. It’s unfortunate, but steel buildings have limitations.
Your steel barndominium floor plan is certainly something you can play with, but remember; you will have to build in your ceilings and stairs if a second floor is ever something you desire.
Con: Your home within a custom steel building racks up added costs when designing, during the construction process, and once your build is complete.
Steel barndominiums and steel buildings can be beautiful structures, making impressive homes that last, but when you figure in the cost of building your home within a home and the added cost of the steel exterior, you are highly likely to spend more money building a barndominium than you would if you opted for traditional housing.
Many people we talk to have this misconception that barndominiums are going to offer them tremendous savings, but after it’s all said and done, the reality is quite the opposite.
The Barndominum Living Experience
Have you ever walked into a steel warehouse with metal roofing? It’s likely a little structurally bare. You don’t feel the warmth of a home, which is why warehouses are warehouses and homes are homes; they play two very different roles.
In a warehouse, when you look up and to the sides, you will notice steel trusses and beams spaced at regular intervals, which support the entire structure. While these beams are incredibly strong and thick, the metal sheet that overlays them is incredibly strong…and thin.
Con: What’s that noise? You might not be aware of how much noise you can expect once living in your barndominium.
Steel, being an excellent conductor of heat, can cause the roof to creak, pop, rattle, and snap loudly—and often! Any time there is a temperature change, you can expect to hear about it. When the snow melts, as the sun comes out to warm up an otherwise cold day, or even the reverse, when it’s been warm out, and things start to cool off, your roof will be in a constant state of noisy flux.
We can’t forget about rain or hail, which will have you thinking, “Oh, hail, no!” It’s loud, and that’s ok because, again, it’s steel. Conducting heat and sound is what steel does well. However, when it’s your home, no one tells you that you might spend a lot of time listening to the symphony of overhead sounds if you opt for a steel barndominium over a traditional home.
If you are someone who likes peace and quiet, having a metal building as your exterior might be a barndominium dealbreaker.
Con: Exorbitant insulation costs compared to those of traditional housing.
While steel buildings are more energy efficient and cost-effective for heating and cooling than other structures, and they do offer energy savings when utilized as garages, workshops, or pole barns, the barndominium has yet more added considerations.
Once you build your wood frame within that metal frame, you must add another layer of insulation. Metal is not a great insulator, and so you will have to take on the added costs of the types of insulation your dream home will require. Insulation makes it easier to achieve your desired temperature, but you still need to factor in that your steel roof has different physical properties than a wooden roof.
Con: Nonporous materials (like steel) retain internal humidity more easily and for longer periods.
Another BIG factor with your custom home is preventing moisture from entering your structure. Internal moisture equals internal corrosion. Metal joists and beams that compose the frame of your barndominium may rust when exposed to any moisture, and that is not an easy fix. If you like your showers hot and steamy, or you use a humidifier, these things will need to be contemplated before your build.
Due to the nonporous nature of steel buildings, barndominium owners often note increased condensation around the interior of their windows. This condensation can also penetrate drywall. If that happens, you will have a bigger problem on your hands: mold.
Creating extended awnings or large covered porches to prevent water from reaching the windows can help with this problem, but it is another obstacle to easily maintaining your perfect barndominium home.
Con: Water and other wet elements affect the exterior of barndominiums differently because of their wooden or brick interiors.
We have considered internal moisture, so let’s talk about external moisture. While you can use an efficient gutter system to direct water away from the sides of your barndominium, the elements have a way of reaching your steel.
Elevated ground saturation can cause problems to your structure because water can leech inside the steel, impacting your wooden frame. You will want to consider using a raised foundation or thoroughly exploring the soil grading around your steel barndominium to eliminate the possibility of this potential headache.
We Aim to Make the Difference in Your Steel Building Experience
As builders, and especially as builders of custom metal buildings, we want you to have as few complications as possible when it comes to designing and enjoying your steel-frame building for decades to come. We believe in the brilliance of steel, but we are also intimately familiar with its limitations and complexities.
If you have your heart set on a barndominium, we aren’t here to talk you out of it. What we are here to do is tell you the truth that other barndo builders may be withholding.
We like to think of our clients as family; we don’t want to get you comfortably into your new home and then give you a list of things you might want to keep an eye on, especially when we already know these are problems real-world barndominium owners are experiencing.
If you would like to chat with one of our design specialists about the steel building of your dreams, please give us a call! We are happy to answer your questions and give you the straight talk you deserve about the things we feel are worth your consideration.
Reach out today and let us walk you through the ins and outs of your ideal steel building project, or request a quote from one of our design experts.