What is a barndominium?

Household 2 min read

A barndominium is typically a barn a builder has converted into an all-purpose living and workspace. The name combines barn and condominium; people often shorten it to “barndo.” Some barndominiums are new structures built from a kit and made of metal. Builders construct barndominiums so that the outer walls bear the building’s load, giving barndominium homes a flexible interior space that homeowners can use in several ways.

What are the pros and cons of barndominiums?

A barndo’s primary appeal is the ability to customize the interior space. Because they’re typically large buildings with flexible interiors, homeowners can use barndominium houses creatively to accommodate activities that traditional homes might not. The primary drawback is that, depending on where you live, it might be difficult to get financing or building approval for a barndo. Before you buy or build one, consider the following barndominium pros and cons:

Barndominium pros

  • Open floor plans: Once you’ve built the shell, you can divide the interior space however you want.
  • High ceilings: Even if you add a loft or second floor, barndominium structures are well-suited to high-ceiling designs.
  • Customization: Because the original intent for barndos was to be large, mixed-use spaces, you can put almost anything inside them.
  • Durability and maintenance: The metal construction typical of barndo kits is weather-resistant, low maintenance, long-lasting, and helps keep out bugs.
  • Efficiency and incentives: Barndominium homes often use high-efficiency designs to save on heating and cooling bills and may also qualify for federal energy efficiency incentives.

Barndominium cons

  • Location restrictions: Mixed-use barndominiums may be challenging to zone and obtain a permit in developed areas and may involve a home inspection from your city.
  • Curb appeal: Converted barns retain a lot of their rustic charm, but kit-based barndos may be boring to look at unless you spend money upgrading the exterior.
  • Cost and financing: Not all lenders will finance non-traditional homes.

Other considerations for barndominium homes

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.

Should I build a barndominium home?

That depends on what you want from a home, your budget, and many other factors. However, a barndominium house can be a great fit for people who work from home, anyone who wants complete creative control over their home’s interior, and people with hobbies that need a lot of space — like restoring classic cars or training for competitive sports. A barndo’s customizability can make it possible to live and pursue passions like these on a single property.

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