Is It Cheaper To Build Out Or Up On A Barndominium?

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Barndominiums have recently become popular in the residential market. These homes are built by combining the rustic charm and framework of barns combined with modern constructions. But what is the cheapest way to build on a barndominium – out or up?

Building out is cheaper since you are essentially adding to an existing structure. However, building up can also be cost-effective if starting from scratch. An experienced contractor can help you understand the biggest expenses in both options, from concrete to siding.

In this comprehensive guide, I will explore other topics related to barndominiums, including factors that affect price, benefits of building one, and how to save on cost. So if you’re considering a barndominium for your next home, read on to learn everything you need to know!

How Do You Decide if Building Out or Up Is the Right Option for You?

Building from scratch is expensive, even if you’re building a barndominium, so you’ll want to maximize space without blowing your budget. So how do you decide if building out or up is the right option for you? Here are a few factors to consider:

Size of the Property

Building out may be better if you have a large lot since it will give you more square footage to work with. Most barndominiums are designed to be spacious, with large open interiors anyway, so you can lean into the popular convention there.

On the other hand, building up may be the way to go if your lot is smaller since it will help you maximize your space. You can even add a second story to your barndominium, which is perfect if you want to include an in-law suite or other living space.

Local Zoning Regulations and Permits

Before you start construction on your barndominium, you must ensure you comply with all zoning regulations and have the proper building permits.

Barndominiums fall under the same category as traditional homes in most spaces, so the permits are similar. Still, it’s essential to check with your local zoning office to see if there are any specific regulations you need to follow.

You will be charged by sq. footage or estimated project value and need to submit the architectural plans for approval. Building out may be easier to get approved since you are essentially just adding on to an existing structure.

However, if you are planning on making significant changes to the property, such as adding a second story, you may need to go through the permitting process for a new construction project.

Construction Costs

Construction costs can quickly add up, depending on the size and scope of your project. You can expect to pay anything between $20-$136 per square foot based on how luxurious and high-end your construction will be.

Building up typically costs more since you must factor in the foundation and framing costs. However, you can save on costs if you reuse some of the existing foundations. Building out may also require more site work, such as grading and utilities, which can add to the overall expense.

Amenities You Want To Include

When deciding if you should build out or up, it’s important to consider the amenities you want to include in your barndominium. If you’re planning on adding luxurious features, such as a gourmet kitchen or spa-like bathroom, building out may be the better option, so you have more space to work with.

On the other hand, building up may give you the desired results if you’re looking for a more cozy and intimate feel. You can also take advantage of the views from a second-story barndominium and include a wraparound porch or balcony.

To give you a better idea of the costs of building a barndominium, I’ve detailed how much it costs to build a 40×60 barndo in a separate guide.

The Cost Difference Between Building Out and Up

Now that you’ve considered the factors that go into deciding if you should build out or up, you may wonder about the cost difference between the two options.

The overall cost will vary depending on the size, location, and amenities you include, but you can expect to spend anywhere from 10-30% more by building up.

Unlike building out, which can be done relatively cheaply, building up will require a significant investment. The cost of the foundation and framing alone can start at $58,000, and the price for a complete barndominium can easily exceed $150,000.

Building up requires technical expertise and a large budget, but the results can be stunning. A two-story barndominium offers plenty of space for a family or guests, and the views from the second story are simply breathtaking.

Building out may be the more cost-effective option if you’re on a tight budget. You can add to an existing structure, such as a garage or workshop, and still have plenty of space for all the amenities you want. Additionally, the permitting process is typically easier for building out projects.

Pros and Cons of Building Out or Up on a Barndominium

The affordability, simplicity, and beauty of barndominiums have made them a popular choice for many property owners. But before you start construction on your dream home, you need to compare the pros and cons of building out or up.

Building Out Pros

  • Easier permit process: Building out is often seen as an addition to an existing structure, so the permitting process is typically simpler than it is for new construction projects. This reduces the risk of delays and unexpected costs, saving you time and money.
  • Cheaper: Generally, it costs less to build out than it does to build up. This is because you’re not starting from scratch, so you don’t need to pour a foundation or frame a second story. Building out is the way to go if you’re on a budget.
  • More open space: A larger living space, especially if you plan on adding amenities like a gourmet kitchen or spa-like bathroom. The flexibility of building out allows you to tailor the design to your specific needs.

Building Out Cons

  • May require more site work: If you’re starting with a raw piece of land, you may need to do more site work to prepare it for construction. This includes clearing the land, grading, and utilities. This can add to the overall cost of the project.
  • Not as energy efficient: A single-story home is less energy efficient than a two-story one. This is because heat rises, so a second-story barndominium will retain heat better than a single-story home. This can be a significant factor to consider if you live in a climate with extreme temperatures.

Building Up Pros

  • Takes advantage of views: A second-story barndominium offers stunning views that you simply can’t get with a single-story home. The expansive windows and wraparound porch give you a front-row seat to nature’s beauty. This is a major selling point if you plan on selling the property in the future.
  • More functional: In addition to living space, a second-story barndominium can also be used for storage, an office, or a guest suite. This added space can make all the difference if you have a growing family or frequently entertain guests.

Building Up Cons

  • More expensive: Due to the added cost of the foundation and framing, building up is significantly more expensive than building out. It also requires more technical expertise, so you may need to hire a contractor. This adds to the overall cost of the project.
  • More time-consuming: Building up takes longer than building out, so you need to be prepared for a longer construction process. This can be a major inconvenience if you’re eager to move into your new home.
  • Permits can be difficult to obtain: Depending on your location, it can be challenging to obtain the permits needed to build a second story. You must provide detailed plans to the building department, which may not approve your request. This can add delays and unexpected costs to the project.

Final Thoughts

Building out or up on a barndominium is a huge decision you must make before starting construction. Both options have pros and cons, so weighing your needs and preferences is vital before deciding.

Building out is the way to go if you’re on a budget, want to move in quickly, or need more space. But building up is the better option if you desire breathtaking views, want more function from your home, or plan on selling in the future. Partner with an experienced contractor to help you navigate the building process and make your barndominium dreams a reality.