Choosing Between a Barndominium and a House: Here’s What to Know

If you’re thinking of purchasing your first property, the one that immediately comes to mind may be a house. However, barndominiums are a much more affordable alternative without compromising space. The average cost of a barndominium is $150,700, which is leagues away from the average $295,300 sales price of a house in the U.S.

Barndominiums, nicknamed barndos, are buildings made of metal or wood to accommodate comfortable living space. They’re more energy-efficient since they don’t need as many resources to power utilities. Here’s what you need to know about barndominiums and how they stack up against a traditional house:

Building vs. Renovating a Barn

If you have a barn available, you may want to consider using the current structure and renovating the inside to resemble your dream home at a lower cost. However, if you don’t have access to a barn, you can consider buying an existing barn structure and transforming it before settling inside. 

Converting Existing Barns

Traditional barns have experienced years of wear and tear, so converting them to a cozy living space will be a long process involving more than a few trips to your favorite homeware store. Even if you already own a traditional barn, you’ll have to account for the cost of replacing the rotted wood and other materials that are crucial to the structure. You may also encounter issues that go into ensuring the barndominium’s safety, like fumigating or adding a modern electrical wiring system.

The costs that go into renovating may exceed what you would have otherwise funneled into building a brand-new barn. Constructing a barn from scratch could help you save more money, improve its structural integrity, and give you more freedom to customize the space further.

Barndo Estimates to Keep in Mind

It is difficult to estimate how much you’ll need to set aside for a barndo project without factoring in the size and location. However, traditional barn conversions cost around $300 per square foot, and conventional barn purchases typically cost around $23 per square foot, adding up to $10,000 to $50,000 or more. Newly-built barndos are more expensive, costing an average of $35 per square foot.

On the other hand, traditional homes cost an average of $123 per square foot. If you purchase a traditional barn, you’ll have to consider the conversion costs that will go on top of the initial purchase price to make the space more livable. For this reason, it’s usually cheaper to build a new barndo, even when you have a barn at your disposal.

Accounting for Land Costs

Another factor to consider is the cost of the land where you want to build or purchase the barn, which may be around $12,000 an acre. Farmland tends to be cheaper at approximately $3,160 per acre. Although you aren’t forced to farm on this kind of land, you can use grants to restore a barn for farming purposes. Still, the cost of land will change according to the location and its proximity to urban conveniences. It’s also important to note that the land you’re looking at may not be prepared for building, so you should review zoning laws and land-clearing costs as well. 


Barndominiums can save you a lot more money than traditional houses while being styled entirely to your taste, whether you opt for wooden or steel structures. If energy efficiency, customization options, lower insurance rates, sturdy materials, and low maintenance costs are priorities for you, then you’ll be much happier purchasing a barndo as your first home.

If you’re thinking of building a barndominium, let us know at Prime Management! We are a local veteran-owned business specializing in roofing, remodeling, decking, new home construction, home restoration, and any type of concrete installation. Get a free quote from us today!