From tiny homes on wheels to recycled shipping containers, non-traditional homes are an up and coming trend in the housing market. Among them are barn houses – homes made from existing barns or built in the same style.
Here’s everything you need to know about building a barn house!
Types of Barn Houses
There are many different kinds of barn homes, but most of them stay true to most of the iconic barn features including an open floor plan, gabled roof designs, and cupolas. Some barn homes are existing, actual barns that have been gutted and renovated to become dwellings, and others are new construction built in the traditional barn style. There are several different styles of design for barn homes.
- Round barns, which, as the name implies, are named for their shape.
- A pole frame barn, constructed of large posts sunk into the ground that supports the entire structure.
- A timber-framed barn, in which beams are left exposed.
- A bank barn, a design built into the side of a hill that allows a multistory design where each story is accessible at ground level due to the slope.
There are also custom designs that don’t fall into one of these categories but still utilize the main elements of a barn.
Why Build a Barn Home?
When you’re choosing what kind of home to settle in, there are some advantages to consider in a barn home.
- They work with a variety of terrains. Because they don’t require the same foundational elements traditional homes need, they are suitable for pieces of land a regular house may not be able to be placed.
- Foundation work is usually cheaper. This is especially true of the pole frame designs, where the only foundational work is the holes the posts are set into before a concrete slab is poured. Most barn homes don’t have a basement, which means you’ll save quite a lot of money over a traditional home with an excavated foundation.
- You’ll save time. Building a traditional home takes months of work to complete. The simplified building process of most barn homes means you’ll be living in your new space sooner.
- They are energy efficient and easier to insulate. Because of their design and construction process, they possess fewer thermal breaks, making them both easier to insulate and more energy-efficient than traditional homes.
Planning Your New Home
When planning your barn home, you’ll want to research every element of the build, including a few you may not have thought of.
- Financing. In the case of a pole frame building, many lenders won’t consider this a permanent dwelling because of the foundation, meaning you may not find financing for your project. This also applies to insurance companies. You’ll want to check with your bank and insurance first to make sure both are willing to finance and insure your new home.
- The open design. While the open floor plan most barn homes employ feel airy and have good flow, it means there aren’t a lot of inside walls in which to hide plumbing and electrical elements. You’ll need to be clever about your design if you want to keep the large open space when placing your bathroom, kitchen, and electrical components.
- Heating. While energy-efficient if insulated correctly, barn homes typically have high ceilings, which means forced air heating won’t be your friend. Consider installing a wood stove, which gives off radiant heat. Besides adding a cozy charm to your space, a wood stove fits in perfectly with the design aesthetic of a barn home.
- Ventilation. The one thing most traditional barns lack is windows. If you’re building a barn home, you’ll want to make sure you install enough windows for sufficient light and ventilation. You could also install a barn ventilation system to ensure plenty of air circulation.
Building a Barn House
Once you have a design and floor plan in mind, you’ll need to decide if you’re going to construct the home yourself or hire a company to build it for you.
Because of their popularity, you can now find complete kits for barn homes that come with everything necessary to construct the building itself, finishes not included. By purchasing a premade kit and acting as your own general contractor, hiring out jobs you can’t complete yourself, you might save yourself a bundle of cash. If you’re quite unsure of some terms and techniques, joining some woodworking forums online or reading the best woodworking books will definitely help.
On the other hand, if you don’t possess construction experience or have a very specific floor plan with custom elements in mind, hiring a professional company that builds barn homes will probably entail less of a headache for you and ensure you get exactly what you want.
The Cost of a Barn Home
How much you spend on your barn home largely depends on the type of building you choose, where you’re building it, and what kinds of finishes you decide on. Most barn homes are built cheaper than a traditional home. The cheapest option in barn homes is the pole frame building. Because it requires very little foundation work and can be purchased in kit form, pole frame buildings are very inexpensive to build.
Interestingly enough, renovating an existing barn structure can sometimes be your most expensive option! Because it requires updates to the existing structure, rebuilding structural components, and sometimes, demolition of certain areas that will have to be rebuilt, a lot of time and money can go into taking care of the structural integrity of the barn before anything goes into making it a home. Also, keep in mind that it’s always a smart idea to find good pole barn insulation if you want to save some money in the long term.
If you are planning a minimalist or modern design, leaving exposed areas of wood or metal and finishes like the concrete floors, you’ll save money in interior building areas like flooring. However, some barn homes are designed with top of the line finishes and additions like skylights, in which case the cost for finishing will be substantially higher.
Is a Barn House For You?
Barn homes are cost and energy-efficient, quicker to build with an open floor plan, and offer an alternative to traditionally built homes. If you’re considering building a barn house, check out the rest of our articles to find DIY projects and building tips for your new home!