Erik J Martin | CTW Features
“Green Acres” was a 1960s TV sitcom that depicted the comical possibilities that ensue when an urban socialite from the Big Apple marries a man intent on living on a farm. If they ever reboot this show, they might want to have the characters live in a barndominium.
That’s because a “barndominium” (also known as a “barndo”) combines the best elements of a barn with a condominium—kind of.
According to Don Howe, editor-at-large for BarndominiumLife.com, a barndominium is usually a metal building, sometimes quite large, that has room for both living quarters and usually has a shop or garage area. Increasingly popular in rural areas, barndos often provide interior space comparable to a single-family home – commonly 1,500 to 2,000 square feet. And the open-style layouts usually accommodate three to four bedrooms and two to three baths.
“Barndominiums boast modern living spaces with open floor plans, high ceilings, and a loft,” explains Brandon Hall, owner of America’s Best House Plans in Marietta, Georgia. “A wonderful benefit commonly tied to this style is a large attached garage that includes enough space for storage or a workshop. The exterior of a barndo is inspired by agricultural barns and is often made of wood, board and batten, metal materials, or steel framing. The shape can be narrow and rectangular for steel-framed barndos or wide with gambrel roofing.”
Added distinctive features inspired by agricultural barns may include a silo, exposed support beams, hints of modern spaces, and/or wraparound porches.
Dennis Shirshikov, a strategist for Awning.com and a professor of economics and finance for City University of New York, says barndominiums are particularly preferred by young families, “especially people looking to live in a more rural area. If moving from the city, having remote work is often important since jobs are harder to find outside of cities, which makes a barndo a good option for some.”
Howe notes that he’s also seeing “a huge acceleration of folks who live in suburban areas and want to do more hunting, fishing, and general outdoor stuff who are exploring building a barndominium.”
Barndos are most commonly found in southern states like Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Georgia, and Arkansas, according to Howe.
“We see tons of folks from Illinois, New York, California, and Florida interested in barndominiums. Our theory is that people in these states are dreaming of a more rural lifestyle and escaping hectic lifestyles for inland states,” he says.
A barndominium can be built from scratch or created via the conversion of an existing large barn. According to ExtraSpace.com, it often costs $62 to $136 per square foot to construct a barndo versus $100 to $150 per square foot for a traditional home.
“However, since they are a fairly new and fast-growing phenomenon, it can be tough to find a barndo builder, especially one who is knowledgeable about the exact style of home you are trying to build,” cautions Howe. “Also, finding a mortgage lender and homeowners insurance provider can be a drag since there’s not much precedent here. Additionally, some argue that finding comparable sales and properly valuing barndos effectively is hard. If you are comparing two homes in the same subdivision, you can do a comp, but in a rural area there can be so many differences between two tracts of land in the home on that land.”
If you are pondering building or buying a barndominium, check first with the local municipality on local building codes and anything required.
“Also, consider any and all costs associated with owning a barndo, such as how it will handle heating and cooling in the area, materials used to build the home, and its upkeep,” suggests Hall.
You want to ensure there is sufficient insulation in the walls to keep the structure insulated from varying temperatures, suggests Shirshikov.
“Additionally, research a history of charges and payments for various utilities in the area. And have your professional home inspector take a look at the foundation, since many barns were erected a long time ago and not with the purpose of supporting an entire house,” he adds.