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Is a Barndominium Cheaper Than a House?

Learn about the potentially cheaper alternative to traditional houses to find out whether or not a barndominium is the choice for you!

A red barndominium house with white trim windows.

There will always be a demand for available housing as families continue to grow generation by generation. However, affordable housing is not something that everyone can find. As barndominiums are on the rise, the time has come for comparing costs between a traditional house and a barndominium.

On average, barndominium costs can be around $25 less a square foot than traditional house costs. The average cost of a traditional home, on the lower end of the spectrum, is about $115 per square foot, while a barndominium can cost as low as $90 per square foot.

Cost differences aren’t the only factors to consider when facing the difficult choice of barndominium cost vs house cost. While the two structures may be considered homes, the layouts, materials, advantages, and disadvantages are all extremely important to inspect. Knowing the differences between a conventional home and house barndominiums will help you figure out which choice is what will satisfy your needs!

What are the Benefits of Barndominiums?

A barndominium with a white façade.
A barndominium residence with a white façade exterior.

First of all, what is a barndominium?

Barndominiums, also known as barndos, are steel structures with open floor plans you don’t often find in a traditional house. Although these may not be considered a traditional home, it can still be transformed into a comfortable, natural living space – you can turn your own barndominium into a custom home while resting assured it has a lower cost per square foot than a regular house!

Cost Effective

The interior of the barndominium wood frame
The interior of the barndominium with framed wood.

Naturally, the benefit that should be mentioned first and foremost is the lower cost differences when it comes to barndominium cost vs house cost! Yes, to a certain extent, the total cost of a barndominium will save you money when you choose it over traditional homes. But, how exactly is this done?

The cost of a barndominium is about $25 less per square foot than a traditional house. This includes labor costs, construction costs, and what you earn from energy savings. Barndos are pretty energy efficient when it comes to things like heating and cooling, thanks to the insulation and the option of more energy efficient options such as spray foam insulation and specially insulated windows.

This means that less of your warmth and cooling will escape the building, so the AC and heating systems won’t have to work so hard to keep a stable indoor temperature!

Another way of saving money with a barndo comes in the long term in the form of low maintenance costs. Metal buildings not only keep total costs of energy use down, but they also require less maintenance than traditional homes. For example, metal roofing will take far less damage from weather than the average roof – which is why there is such a high demand to replace old roofing with metal, steel, and other stronger materials.

Even if the initial building cost is intimidating, in the years to come you will see how much more money you save with a barndominium.

Structural Integrity

A framework for constructing a barndominium home.
A framework for constructing a brand-new barndominium home.

Another brilliant advantage to barndominiums would be the modern materials. The entire structure itself will be far more sturdy than the average wood frame used in a traditional home. A steel home or steel frame, logically, will last years longer than the materials a regular house or frame does.

A wood frame faces potential issues like mold, fungus, deterioration, termite damage, water damage, weather effects, and so on. When it comes to steel structures the biggest threat is rust – which can be avoided with proper insulation and moisture protection!

Less Maintenance

A metal and steel frame for a barndominium
A metal and steel frame for a barndominium house.

As we’ve been talking about, materials play a big part in the value and lifespan of any building, not just a house. Metal buildings will always require less maintenance than wooden buildings, there’s no question about that!

Something else you can look forward to with barndominiums is the barndominium kit, which comes with all the materials you need to build one of these brilliant metal structures. This will undoubtedly lower labor costs and make the building process much easier for you or those you hire.

Theme & Aesthetic

Living room area with crimson accents
Living room area in a barnodominium with crimson accents.

Honestly, building a barndominium is like ending up with a custom home. It has stunning ceiling heights with vast customizability not only with the interior space but the exterior space, as well. Barndos present a custom floor plan for any homeowner, providing an open living space that a traditional home often needs to be renovated to achieve, with stylistic design components and the option for high-end features.

If you’re worried about the aesthetic interior walls and exterior walls being metal, there are several options to customize the appearance of the barndo to meet your standards! There are also many solutions to ensure you aren’t walking around on a concrete slab. Install a custom floor to improve the interior design using carpeting, vinyl flooring, tiling, laminate, and even wood flooring! Check out your local hardware stores for these materials, or mainstream stores like Menards and Home Depot.

Barndominium Kits

Prefabricated barndominium built from a kit
A manageable prefabricated barndominium built from a kit.

Ready-made barndominium kits come with all of the required building materials and basic amenities. Just like with other house kits, barndominium kits make the building process much easier and more manageable for those looking for their own DIY barndo project.

You can browse the different kits and prices on websites like or The benefit of working with an existing structure and floor plan is that it provides guidance for those less experienced in construction and design.

Although many barndominiums are only one story, you can raise the square foot count and available space by adding a second floor. Doing this with a loft is a cheaper alternative to paying for an entire second story, and is very possible because of the height of the ceilings. Not to mention, wooden beams have a highly sought-after aesthetic!

What are the Disadvantages of Barndominiums?

Large solid wood frame barndominium
Large solid wood frame barndominium with white painted walls.

Everything is bound to have some downsides, no matter how amazing the good aspects are. I wouldn’t lead you down the road to buying a barndominium kit or hiring someone to build you your own barndo without discussing the disadvantages of this versatile building!

Size-Cost Relativity

Barndominium in red and gray exterior
A bandominium with a red and gray exterior paint in a landscaped setting.

It is absolutely true that the final cost of a barndominium is cheaper than a traditional house, but it’s unlikely that you’ll see a definite difference if you’re looking to build a smaller home. In order to really make sure the initial price tag is more cost-effective – if you aren’t confident in the lesser cost of maintenance and energy – aim for a total square footage count of around 2,000 or more! This way, you know that you will undoubtedly save money on your purchase.


A barndominium's metal roofing panels in gray.
A barndominium’s metal roofing panels in gray color.

The average house has one continuous roof, with the occasional bump out or designed peak separated from the main roof. When you look at an existing barn, pay attention to the shape; this is what is known as a gambrel roof. Gambrel roofing can be very beneficial by adding more space and height to your house, traditionally used by farmers for storage.

You don’t want to end up spending more money on long-term maintenance regarding the disadvantages of this style of roof. Gambrel roofs tend to struggle with snow and water damage because the top sections aren’t slanted enough for the snow or rain to slide off. When water pools in one spot on the roof, it can cause water damage. Snow, before it melts, can cause the roof to bow inward due to the constant weight pressing down on it.

Deciding on a metal roof is one of the best solutions to this issue, as other materials are not as strong and resistant to natural weather damage. For more information, check out our article “What is a Gambrel Roof?”

Market Popularity

Weighing of a house's marketability
Weighing of a house’s marketability.

This style might be increasing in popularity among homeowners looking for cheaper alternatives, but the popularity of barndominiums on the market is a different story. Barndos are designed with the owner’s needs and preferences in mind, not for their potential in the mass market. If you ever decide to sell, you will end up catering to a very small selection of potential buyers with similar interests to your own and may not receive the amount you would hope for. It wouldn’t be impossible, it just wouldn’t be easy!