Barndominium vs. House in Texas: What's the Difference?
As you look into building a new home in Texas, you are probably looking for a traditional type of home like the ones you see all around you. But for some people, they are more interested in a tiny home, a container home or a barndominium - a unique style of home that fits their particular lifestyle.
While we do believe building a traditional home is the way to go for most people, we wanted to provide some helpful information for those of you looking for this new kind of home, particularly the barndominium.
In Texas, a barndominium has traditionally been a barn that has been converted into a living space so it’s easier to check in on your horses and other livestock. More recently, barndominiums come in steel home kits you can buy to build yourself or hire someone to build for you.
We will be looking at the barndominium kits and some key differences you’ll find in building these barndominiums vs. traditional houses in Texas.
What’s the Difference Between a Barndominium and a House?
There are several factors to consider when comparing a barndominium to a house in Texas, which includes:
- Building Material
Cost: Barndominium vs. House
Is It Cheaper to Build a Barndominium vs. a House?
The average cost to build a barndominium is sometimes advertised to be anywhere from $70 to $95 a square foot vs. the cost to build a conventional home usually comes out to around $115 - $145 per square foot.
However, these numbers can be somewhat misleading. When it’s all said and done, most barndominium builds in our market actually come out quite comparable to a traditional home at $117 to $135 a square foot for the base plan.
The cost varies greatly depending on the way you build your home, where you build it and how much you put into it. So while the exterior shell of the home comes out cheaper than building a traditional home, what you do on the inside can greatly outweigh the cost of a traditional home and exceed the budget you’ve set.
Main Cost Differences Between a Barndominium vs. Traditional Home
- For a traditional home, a sizable part of your home budget goes to the exterior framing of the house - walls, windows, doors, siding (brick, stucco, vinyl) and the roof.
- For a barndominium, the exterior of the home costs significantly less money, so you usually spend more money on the interior of the home, but this can quickly get out of hand if you’re not careful. Additionally, where you are allowed to build a barndominium is limited so you may spend more money on site development than you would building on developed land.
*Barndominium Costs: In 2021, as we write this, metal prices have soared, so the shell cost is significantly higher. But, like lumber, this cost should come down in time.
Why Is the Cost of Building a Barndominium vs. a House Unclear?
While on the surface, it looks like building a barndominium vs. a house is cheaper, when you dig into it a little deeper, there’s a reason for that.
What Is Included in the Barndominium Kit?
When you order a barndominium kit, it includes:
- An engineered concrete slab
- Stained concrete floors
- Exterior doors
- Energy efficient windows
- Spray foam insulation
- A continuous roof
What Is Included in a Traditional Home Build?
Check with your particular builder, but it usually includes (house cost + site development):
- Exterior siding
- Exterior windows and doors
- Trim and interior doors
- Cabinets and countertops
- Plumbing fixtures
- Lighting fixtures
- Other contingencies
There is a lot more that is included with that custom home price than you might think. And several of these items on the list for a conventional home are things you will need to add onto your projected barndominium cost, as well.
Size: Barndominium vs. House
Barndominiums are usually much larger than your typical house. Due to the nature of steel, you can have a lot more open space and achieve some design shapes and options that are difficult to do with a wooden structure.
To start with, a barndominium’s ceiling height is usually about 14 feet while a traditional house has ceiling heights of 8 to 9 feet.
Additionally, the name “barndominium” combines two different types of structures: a “barn” and a “condominium.”
A barn is often a large structure used to house horses and other livestock in the country. A condominium is a large property complex with individual units throughout the property. Put these two together and you can see where the structure of a barndominium would be much larger than a traditional house.
Building Material: Barndominium vs. House
A traditional house is usually built of wood or brick - or a combination of the two - whereas a barndominium is made primarily of steel. Learn more about the various types of building materials and which is best for your particular home.
Design: Barndominium vs. House
While you can get creative with the exterior design of your barndominium, the majority of your options will lie in the interior look of your home. Anything you could imagine being done in a traditional custom home can also be done inside a barndominium.
But be careful: You will most likely be working with a larger space than you would a traditional custom home - with high ceilings and additional rooms - so your interior design materials can add up for that amount of living space.
Lifestyle: Barndominium vs. House
Barndominiums are not for everyone. Usually it’s a lifestyle choice.
If you want a home that is less maintenance and more durable, or maybe even something that can be used as a temporary home while you build your permanent residence, then a barndominium may be right for you!
It’s a great option if you are not building in a subdivision, which often has restrictive building requirements.
Below are some of the other pros and cons of Barndominiums:
- Built to last
- Better-equipped to deal with water damage from floods
- Fire resistant
- Much more likely to resist high winds from storms than traditional builds
- Unappealing to termites, so you will never have to worry about termite control
- Less maintenance
- Convenience: Can be built as a shell and finished out over time
- Require only one contractor to supply and build versus a supplier and framing crew
- Eco-friendly because they require no chemical treatments for the preservation of the frame and are often built with recycled steel
- Hard to find a builder in your area who is ready to work with a steel frame
- Upfront cost can be higher than other materials sometimes
- You won’t be able to build a barndominium in most places; you have to find a development that allows it or find a rural plot of land to build
- The aesthetic of barndominiums is limited so you need to like the style of these homes
Where Are Barndominiums Most Popular in the U.S.?
Barndominiums have become most popular in Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Alabama, and Mississippi, but Texas is the number one place you’ll find them. However, that doesn’t mean if you don’t live in any of these states, you can’t build one!
People in many other states are also beginning to consider building a barndominium on land near them.