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Article Key Take Aways

  • What is a Barndominium?
  • Why are Barndominiums so Popular?
  • Design and Architecture of Barndominiums
  • Barndominium Customization Opportunities:
  • Building Process and Costs of Barndominiums:
  • Legal and Zoning Considerations:
  • Pros and Cons of Owning a Barndominiums:
  • Future Outlook of Barndominiums

What is a Barndominium and What is the Craze?

barnominium what is

Introduction: What is a Barndominium Exactly?

A barndominium, often referred to as "Barndo" or "Shouse," is a combination of a barn and a condominium. This structure combines the architectural elements of a barn with the comfort and design of a modern home. Originally used for agricultural purposes, modern barndominiums may include renovated or newly constructed buildings that offer spacious layouts and sturdy materials.

The term "barndominium" originated from Karl Nilsen, a real estate developer based in Connecticut, who combined the words "barn" and "condominium." Initially, it referred to a master-planned development centered around living near horses. However, in the mid-2000s, the term was repurposed to describe metal homes used as primary residences.


Joanna Gaines Barndominium

Its resurgence came in 2016 when Chip and Joanna Gaines, stars of the HGTV show Fixer Upper, applied the term to a metal building showcased on the program. This propelled the term "barndominium" into mainstream popularity, expanding its definition to include metal primary residences beyond those with horse barns.

Origin: Where did Barndominiums Originate From?

Barndominiums originated in the United States, gaining popularity primarily in rural areas during the 1980s. They were initially developed out of necessity by farmers and ranchers who needed economical living spaces that could double as functional work areas. These early barndominiums often included large workshops or storage areas for agricultural equipment. Over time, the concept has evolved and spread, becoming popular even in suburban and urban areas as a cost-effective, customizable, and versatile housing solution.

black barndominium

Popularity: Why are Barndominiums So Popular?

The recent surge in the popularity of barndominiums can be attributed to several factors:

  • Affordability: Constructing a barndominium is generally less expensive than traditional homes because it uses simpler, more economical building materials and designs, such as prefabricated metal panels.

  • Versatility and Multi-Use Functionality: Barndominiums are designed with large, open floor plans that can be easily customized to accommodate a combination of residential living, workshops, garages, and storage spaces.

  • Customization: Owners can tailor their barndominiums to their specific needs without the structural constraints of traditional houses, making each structure unique.

  • Durability and Low Maintenance: Built with materials like steel frames and metal siding, barndominiums are known for their durability and lower maintenance costs.

  • Energy Efficiency: With the right design considerations, such as insulated panels and strategic window placement, barndominiums can be highly energy efficient.

  • Rural and Urban Appeal: While they are traditionally more common in rural settings, the unique blend of rustic charm and modern design has also attracted urban dwellers.

  • Aesthetic Appeal: The aesthetic of a barndominium can be customized from sleek and industrial to warm and homey, featuring elements like exposed beams and high ceilings.

  • Community and Lifestyle: Promoting a simpler, potentially more sustainable way of living, the barndominium lifestyle resonates with individuals looking to downsize or live minimally without sacrificing space or comfort.

  • Social Media and Television Influence: Shows on networks like HGTV and social media platforms have showcased barndominium transformations, significantly boosting their popularity.

barnominium popular

Design and Architecture

Barndominiums typically feature a steel frame, metal siding, and a roof, creating a robust and weather-resistant structure. The interiors offer high ceilings and open spaces that allow for grand design schemes and a sense of openness not easily achieved in traditional homes.

3d barnominium rendering

Customization Opportunities

The significant advantage of a barndominium is its customizability. Owners have the freedom to design from scratch, selecting everything from the floor plan to interior finishes. 

Initially conceived as metal structures that incorporated living quarters, this design style has evolved to incorporate more sophisticated elements, including timber framing as an alternative to traditional metal barn construction.

You have the flexibility to choose from various construction methods when building your barndominium. Opting for a steel barndominium can be more cost-effective, as it generally involves simpler construction techniques and uses metal building materials that reduce the cost per square foot.

barniminium 3d

Building Process

Building a barndominium involves designing the layout, constructing the frame, and installing utilities. While it can be quicker and cheaper than building a traditional home, potential builders should understand the full scope of the project, including variable costs.

Legal and Zoning Considerations

It's crucial to understand local zoning laws and building codes, as some areas might have restrictions or require special permits for barndominiums.

Pros and Cons Barndominiums

While barndominiums offer reduced maintenance and utility costs, potential drawbacks include issues with financing and insurance due to their unconventional nature.


  1. Customization: Barndominiums often feature open floor plans and customizable layouts, allowing homeowners to tailor the space to their specific needs and preferences.

  2. Durability: Constructed from sturdy materials such as steel or metal, barndominiums are known for their durability and resistance to weather elements like wind, rain, and pests.

  3. Affordability: In many cases, building a barndominium can be more cost-effective than constructing a traditional home, thanks to the use of prefabricated materials and simplified construction methods.

  4. Energy Efficiency: With proper insulation and design considerations, barndominiums can be highly energy-efficient, potentially leading to lower utility bills over time.

  5. Versatility: Barndominiums offer versatile living spaces that can accommodate a variety of uses, from residential living to hobby spaces, workshops, or even small business operations.


  1. Limited Financing Options: Obtaining financing for a barndominium can sometimes be more challenging compared to traditional homes, as they may not fit neatly into standard mortgage or loan categories.

  2. Zoning and Regulations: Depending on local zoning laws and building codes, there may be restrictions on where barndominiums can be constructed or limitations on their use as primary residences.

  3. Maintenance Requirements: While durable, barndominiums still require regular maintenance to ensure their longevity, including inspections for rust, corrosion, and other issues associated with metal construction.

  4. Resale Value: Barndominiums may have a more limited resale market compared to traditional homes, as they may not appeal to all buyers or fit within certain neighborhood aesthetics.

  5. Perception: Some people may have preconceived notions about barndominiums, associating them with agricultural or industrial buildings rather than residential dwellings, which could affect perception and resale potential in certain areas.

Ultimately, the decision to live in a barndominium comes down to individual preferences, lifestyle needs, and budget considerations. While they offer unique benefits, it's essential for prospective homeowners to weigh the pros and cons carefully before committing to this alternative housing option.

bardominium designs

Real-Life Examples

Many have embraced the barndominium lifestyle, reporting significant cost savings and an enhanced quality of life through various case studies.

The popularity of barndominiums has grown steadily in recent years, fueled by their unique aesthetic appeal, durability, and potential cost savings compared to traditional homes. While precise data on the number of people living in barndominiums is not readily available, anecdotal evidence suggests that they have garnered a significant following, particularly in rural and suburban areas where larger properties are more common.

Barndominiums appeal to a diverse range of people, including homeowners looking for a rustic yet modern living space, individuals seeking a more affordable housing option, and those interested in the flexibility of a customizable floor plan. Additionally, the surge in popularity of television shows and social media showcasing barndominiums has likely contributed to increased interest in this housing trend.

Barnominium in the Future

The increasing desire for affordable, customizable living spaces has fueled the barndominium trend, with more people considering such alternatives as housing prices continue to rise.

For those interested in building their own barndominium, the process starts with planning and selecting the right materials and contractors.

Barndominiums stand as a unique blend of tradition and innovation, providing a versatile, affordable, and stylish alternative to conventional housing, with a trend that looks set to continue growing. 

Related Barnominium Articles

  1. Are barndominiums a good investment?

  2. Barnominium 3D Rendering

  3. Barnominium Construction Checklist

  4. Farmhouse Barndominium Interior Living Room Ideas

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