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Everything you Need to Know About Barndominiums

Three shop homes with the text "The Ultimate Guide to Barndominiums"

What is a barndominium?

The word “barndominium” is a portmanteau of the words “barn” and “condominium”. They are sometimes called a “shouse” (shop + house), or simply “shop home”.

Barndominiums are often built using post frame construction (see What are the advantages of post frame construction?) and are popular with people who want to live in a rural or agricultural setting, with their home and workshop or storage space under one roof.  

Barndominiums can be customized in many ways to suit the needs and preferences of the owner, and can range from simple, rustic designs to more modern and sophisticated layouts. 

Is the barndominium lifestyle right for you?

A barndominium is a different kind of home for a different way of life. The barndominium lifestyle is a unique way of living that offers wide open spaces, both inside and outside. If you’re considering a post frame barndominium, it’s important to understand what this type of lifestyle offers and determine if it’s right for you – here is what you can expect from a barndominium:

Ideal for acreage or rural properties

Barndominiums are perfect for someone who will be living on an acreage, farm, or rural property. They can accommodate a mix of living, working, and recreational spaces under one roof, making it easy to have a dedicated workspace at home or to engage in hobbies like woodworking and car restoration. 

Wide open spaces

Barndominiums can have large clear-span spaces, high vaulted ceilings, open floor plans, and large porches or verandas. This provides homeowners with wide-open living areas that are ideal for family gatherings, recreational hobbies, and workspaces.

Multigenerational living

The barndominium lifestyle is well-suited for multigenerational living. Families can come together and enjoy the benefits of living on the same property, yet still have their own space and privacy.

Planning your barndominium – 5 key considerations

A barndominium with the text "Planning a Barndominium - 5 Key Considerations. Establish your building budget. Secure your land. Building design. Arrange your financing. Select your contractors.""

1. Establish your building budget

Post frame construction can be less costly than traditional stick-built construction, but there may be additional expenses due to higher ceilings, larger spaces, and expansive verandas. Barndominium buyers typically prioritize lifestyle benefits over cost savings, but it’s important to budget for every aspect of the build. Here are some projected costs to consider:

  • Finished home: $225 – $350 / sq ft
  • Finished shop: $60 – $80 / sq ft
  • Driveway/groundwork: $1,000 – $100,000 (difficult to budget due to variables in size and soil condition)
  • Septic system: $15,000 – $30,000
  • Water well: $8,000 – $15,000
  • Power service: $5,000 – $15,000
  • Natural gas service: $6,000 – $10,000
  • Development & building permit: $500 – $3,000

2. Secure your land

Before you start planning your post frame barndominium, you need a piece of land where you can build it. The land you choose will have a significant impact on the design and layout of your home, and it can be difficult or impossible to design and budget a barndominium without a clear understanding of the land. The size of the property, the slope of the land, and the local zoning regulations will all affect the placement of the building and the overall design of your home. For example, if you have a sloping piece of land, you may need to adjust the design to accommodate the terrain. Some sloped properties are better suited to a conventional walk-out home than a barndominium. 

3. Designing your building

The next step is to begin designing your post frame barndominium. It’s essential to work with a designer who has experience with post frame buildings, to ensure that your home is both structurally sound and will meet your needs. Remuda Building can help you find a qualified designer who can bring your vision to life. They will be able to create a customized floor plan that maximizes space, incorporates the amenities you desire, and fits your budget.

4. Arrange your financing

Financing a barndominium on acreage land is different from financing a home on a city lot. You may find that some banks are unwilling to finance land without the inclusion of a home, which means that owning the land makes financing a home much easier. Talk to your bank about financing options for your barndominium. 

5. Select your contractors

With your building design finalized, it’s time to select the contractors who will build it. You will need to hire two types of contractors for your post frame barndominium project. 

  • First, you will need a post frame building contractor to build the exterior structure. This contractor will be responsible for the shell and foundation of your home, ensuring that it’s structurally sound and meets local building codes. Remuda Building specializes in this work and is a leading post frame building contractor in Alberta. 
  • Next, you will need a general contractor who will complete the interior finishings — including electrical, plumbing, and HVAC installations — and any other customizations. It’s important to note that an accredited general contractor is required, in order to obtain a new home warranty, which is necessary to secure financing from a bank. 

The barndominium lifestyle offers a unique way of living that provides freedom, space, and the opportunity to create a home that truly reflects your individual wants and needs. It’s a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and live on your own terms. So, if you’re looking for a lifestyle that embraces wide-open spaces, allows you to combine living, working, and recreational space under one roof — and provides an environment where your family can come together and create lifelong memories — then a post frame barndominium might be the right choice for you.