Insanely Practical Guide to get the Cost of a Barndominium Affordable

Barndominiums are a metal exterior shell base plus add-ons

Your barndominium is considered affordable if you build them as they were traditionally built. In the not so distant past people would convert a small section of a wood or metal barn into living quarters to more easily check in on livestock such as horses. Metal building kits that are certified pre-engineered turn-key solutions are often the product of choice to begin the barndominium project.

When you go into building a barndominium to save money over a traditional house consider first that a full build out of a barndominium starts at $150 a square foot. This price includes the base metal shell, concrete slab, all the electrical, plumbing, insulation, the windows, doors, drywall, carpentry, finishing, and any additional touches. 

If you want to stay affordable consider finishing out a small section of the base metal building shell as your living quarters and leave the rest an unfinished barn. Your slab only needs to be poured for the living quarters as the metal building can be secure to level ground, crushed rock, and asphalt. You can always add on to your barndominium later but this will keep your project affordable and as you initially intended. If you were after the look of a horse barn but the affordability of one too then this is the way to do it.

Note: Choosing a bolt together metal building over a weld together metal building will cost less and allow for easier future modifications.

Too Many Add-Ons Are What Kill Your Budget

In my personal experience if you assume that barndominiums will be less expensive than a conventional house and build it with that expectation you will be proven wrong. 

The numbers don't lie! By the time you add up all the details to finish out the house to go with the metal shell you have a full fledged house with all the costs to go along with it.

Instead of adding on to your budget by spray foaming the entire interior metal building shell just insulate the livable air conditioned frame out you construct inside the metal building shell. 

Several of my friends have built barndominiums on their properties and have insulated only the air conditioned livable area of their barndominium while leaving the rest of the building the original base metal building structure. 

Their property tax is only counted on the air conditioned space of the house while the rest of the structure is considered a barn. Only Add-on to the original base metal building shell when it is absolutely necessary for the livable portion of the barndominium. Your trying to save money not lose money in this endeavor. 

Tip: The metal trim, metal facia, and metal soffit  gets really expensive. If you can bend and cut this yourself or make your soffit from wood you can reduce the price of materials significantly. Substitute 2 inch thick cedar rough cut wood facia in place of metal facia and have a unique two tone textured building. If you eliminate these detailed metal cuts like the facia, soffit, and trim you can get the super structure up with it mostly complete and come back with wood or self cut metal later on.

Pre-engineered Metal Building Kits

Many barndominium styles are available in pre-engineered metal building kits. They are not always referred to as kits as most of these "kits" include installation in the price of the metal building materials for not much more. 

Of course, if you could get your hands on a cheap wooden barn out in the country that would be ideal but many of these have seen their days. The metal building kits offer the all in one solution most need for building their barndominium.

These kits have automated custom builds available allowing you to design a pre-engineered barndominium metal building shell based on your requirements. The custom build does not cost extra but the design software makes it a snap to produce the design you want and print out plans with an exact breakdown on the cost of every item.

Since you do not need to hire an engineer because the metal building kit is already a certified metal building structure you save on architectural planning.

You will need to have someone to design, do the plumbing, and pour the concrete slab for the livable portion of your barndominium but that is one of the easiest parts of a construction project. Many contractors would be happy to put something like this together for you.

So long as you can hire a good wood framer to construct your livable area inside the building you will have a carpenter to finish out most all of what you will need done on the inside. 

Don't forget electrical work, have a licensed electrician come in and put in your electrical outlets and get your service connected to your meter. This can be expensive but if kept to a reasonable footprint it won't be too much. You can always add on to what they did as you expand if you desire to learn some electrical work. Wiring outlets and lights is super simple and an easy step to do yourself as you expand your livable space. 

As you continue to add on yourself and complete more of the project with your own labor you will be on your way to an affordable barndominium. 

So Who Should Build The Metal Building Shell?

Ideally you should hire a contractor that has built a lot of metal buildings already. They know how to source and put up metal buildings. Sourcing the material at a lumber yard and having a contractor build it for you will save you money but this requires some project management and hiring skills.

Once you know how to build with metal it comes down to building it plumb and square. If you have access to an established crew that has put up lots of buildings then they will likely build you a nice plumb and level metal building provided your slab was poured square.

Every metal building manufacturer claims to have their proprietary "secrets" that makes their building the best in the world. What it boils down too is simply painted tin screwed to posts. You just need someone who will build it correctly.

If your not building a massive structure it becomes less necessary to spend time putting together your own work crew to build your building. Turn-key metal building kits make the most economic sense when your building is not a large warehouse but in the smaller range of 3,000 or less square feet.

If you get the metal building from a pre-engineered metal building kit manufacturer you are going to be charged about 20 % over the price of the metal building material if you were to have sourced it from a local lumber yard.

The smaller your building the less you will save by having your own work crew build it for you. You will likely save 5 - 10 % off the cost of the metal building turn-key solution by cutting and putting it all together yourself.

Not everyone wants to cut their metal to dimension or have to figure out how to hire a metal building company to do it for them. These projects where you hire your own crew to source and fabricate a building are done for much larger projects.

Hiring your own crew means you need to have metal building plans drawn up which is additional expense. Again, drawing up architectural plans so your crew can fabricate your building only makes sense if your dealing with a large commercial structure otherwise the pre-engineered and fabricated metal building kit is the way to go.

The turn-key metal building kit manufacturers speed up the process but that costs a little extra. You get your metal building completed in 4 weeks or less but it costs you 20% more in materials. You don't have to draw up your own plans, hire a crew, or figure out how it will be installed as they handle all of that and it's included in the turn-key price.