Barndominium Cost vs House: How Much Can You Save? | 5 Basic Factors That Affect Cost

Barndominium Cost vs House

Building a barndominium should cost less compared to building a standard house. The average cost to build a barndominium is between $30 and $120 per square foot. Most houses cost between $100 and $200 per square foot.

Along with spending less on construction, you may spend less on upkeep. Barndominiums are highly durable and less prone to damage due to severe weather. You can also add more insulation to a barndominium compared to a standard home, resulting in lower heating and cooling costs.

Yet, many factors influence barndominium cost vs house. The following article examines the costs of building a barndominium compared to building a standard house.

Understanding the Cost of Building a Barndominium

The cost of building a barndominium largely depends on the following details:

  • Square footage
  • Location
  • Labor
  • Materials
  • Special features

Here is a closer look at each of these features.

Square Footage

Most quotes and estimates are based on the total square footage, whether you are paying for the foundation, frame, or roofing. You can also use the square footage to estimate the overall cost of construction.

Barndominiums cost $30 to $40 per square foot to construct the basic shell, which includes the foundation, roof, and framing. Finishing the interior and installing appliances can add up to $80 per square foot, resulting in an average price of $30 to $120 per square foot.

Modern homes cost $100 to $200 per square foot, with an average price of $250,000 to $500,000 for a 2,500-square foot home. A 2,500-square foot barndominium may only cost $75,000 to $300,000.

Location

Barndominium locations in USA

The location is another major consideration when determining the cost of building a barndominium. The cost of land, labor, materials, and building permits varies from one county or state to the next.

Land costs less in some areas. For example, you are likely to pay less for land in a remote area without convenient access to highways and nearby amenities.

The location also influences the cost of labor, as the minimum wage and average pay vary dramatically across the country. Workers in Arkansas earn an average of $12.38 per hour while workers in Illinois receive an average of $27.01 per hour.

The price of materials is also different in different states. Hawaii has the highest material costs while Michigan and Oklahoma have the least expensive materials.

Labor

If you plan on buying a DIY barndominium kit, you are likely to save a lot of money. You can cut the cost of labor by handling more of the work yourself and only hiring subcontractors when necessary.

DIY barndominium construction may cost about $30 to $40 per square foot, as you are mostly paying for materials and permits. If you decide to hire a contractor and subcontractors, the cost of labor will depend on where you live.

New England and the West Coast have some of the highest labor costs. The estimated hourly labor cost is $23.11 in New York and $21.26 in California. Labor is least expensive in Alabama, South Dakota, Arkansas, Nebraska, Mississippi, and Oklahoma.

No matter where you build, labor is likely to cost less when building a barndominium compared to building a standard house. Barndominiums require less labor and take less time to build, resulting in lower labor costs.

Materials

While the price of materials varies from state to state, the quality of the material also influences the cost of construction. Building a barndominium will cost less if you decide to use the least expensive materials but it may not hold up as well.

With barndominium cost vs house, some materials cost more when building a barndominium compared to building a standard house. For example, most barndominiums have steel frames, which cost more compared to wood frames. However, you are likely to save money on other materials, such as roofing and siding.

Special Features

Standard houses and barndominiums can include a wide range of extra features, such as pools, skylights, porches, and driveways. These features add to the cost of building your new home, whether you decide to build a barndominium or a standard house. However, some features, such as a garage or workshop, may cost less with a barndominium.

You can add extra unfinished space with less labor and material when building a metal barndominium, as the frame can typically support add-ons without major modifications.

Breaking Down the Cost of Each Stage of Construction

Building a barndominium or a standard home involves multiple stages, as you cannot complete certain tasks until other projects are completed. For example, you need to clear the land before you can lay the foundation.

Looking at the costs of each stage of construction can provide a better comparison between barndominium cost vs house. The stages of construction include:

  • Paying for plans and permits
  • Preparing the land
  • Laying the foundation
  • Completing the rough shell
  • Framing the interior
  • Interior finishes
  • Installing mechanical and electrical systems

Some of these stages will cost about the same, whether you build a barndominium or a standard house. For example, framing the interior involves about the same amount of work.

Paying for Plans and Permits

Before constructing your property, you need to pay for plans and building permits. Floor plans can cost $2,000 to $8,000.

If you plan on building a barndominium, you may find blueprints online at an affordable price. You can also buy blueprints from building companies. If you plan on building a standard house, you will likely need to work with a builder or hire an architect, which can cost more.

Building permits cost $400 to $2,250. The cost of building permits depends on where you live. However, you are unlikely to pay a different price for permits when building a barndominium compared to building a standard house.

Preparing the Land

Preparing the land is another area where you may pay the same price whether you build a barndominium or a standard house. You need to buy and clear the land where you want to build your property, which costs an average of $1,500 to $5,000.

The average cost for site preparation is about $2 per square foot. However, you also need to pay extra for each tree stump that you need to be removed and any extra work, such as leveling the land.

Laying the Foundation

Concrete slab foundation

Barndominiums are often built on top of slab foundations, which is the least expensive type of foundation to build. The average cost of a slab foundation is $4 per square foot.

Standard homes are typically built on full basement foundations, which cost about $10 per square foot. However, you can also build a barndominium on a basement foundation and a standard home on a slab foundation.

Completing the Rough Shell

The rough shell includes the overall frame, the roof trusses, sheathing, subfloors, windows, and doors. The initial cost of the barndominium is more expensive. Metal frames cost an average of $10 to $11 per square foot while wood frames cost about $6 per square foot.

Yet, the metal roof may save money. Corrugated metal roofing costs $1 to $2.50 per square foot while the asphalt shingles found on most residential properties cost closer to $5 per square foot.

Framing and Finishing the Interior

You will pay about the same price per square foot to frame and finish the interior of a barndominium or a standard house. Framing costs about $7 to $16 per square foot for either type of property.

The interior finishes include insulation, flooring, doors, cabinets, counters, and fixtures. The average cost is $42,000 to $167,000.

Installing Mechanical and Electrical Systems

Installing Mechanical and Electrical

Installing a furnace, water heater, electrical box, electrical wires, and plumbing can cost $17,000 to $72,000. The cost depends on the size of the property and the quality of the products that you choose.

Building a barndominium with an open floor plan may limit the cost of these systems, as you may not need the most powerful furnace to heat your property.

Living in a Barndominium May Save You Money

You may find that the cost savings continue after you build a barndominium and move in. Barndominiums with adequate insulation and quality HVAC systems cost less to heat and cool. You may save money on utility bills, which adds to the value of choosing a barndominium over a standard house.

The durability of a barndominium may also result in lower maintenance costs. Homeowners spend an average of $2,000 to $8,000 per year on household maintenance and upkeep. After building your barndominium, you may go years before needing to spend money on maintenance.

Summary: Barndominium Cost vs House

Building a barndominium is less expensive compared to building a standard house. Yet, the cost depends on the choices that you make. If you want the best material and furnishings, you are likely to spend more.

The location can also affect the cost of construction, as the cost of labor and materials varies across the country. Hawaii is the most expensive state to build a home while Arkansas and Oklahoma are the least expensive states.

Adding special features, such as a pool or large garage also increases the cost to build a barndominium. However, the square footage of your barndominium has the biggest impact on its cost. If your initial plans exceed your budget, try finding a barndominium design with a smaller floor plan.