The third season of the Fixer Upper program, where they built a barndominium, increased the popularity of these spacious abodes. Since then, hundreds, if not thousands, of people have turned to transforming barns into barndominium or building one from scratch. But is owning or living in a barndominium worth the hype?
The most important reason not to build a barndominium is its low resale value. There are also issues of lender reluctance, the need for permits, building and foundation limitations, and climate restrictions. Finally, the external aesthetics of this construction style may not suit everyone’s taste.
Barndos are quick to build and offer a spacious and affordable alternative to traditional bricks and mortar homes. However, this trendy style of construction is not for everyone! I will share 6 reasons not to build a barndominium, regardless of how much people love to focus on the advantages.
Building your barndominium is usually a great idea because you do so to your taste. But if you have any reason to resell the barndominium, you may have difficulty selling it.
Steel does well to hold its value consistently, but you will have limitations in the number of buyers, which will most likely force you to reduce your price.
For instance, if you want to sell a house for $250,000, you will have hundreds of people trying to buy the house if it is what they want. However, if you put a barndominium up for the same price, people will show interest, but it will be less than fifty.
Amongst the reduced potential buyers, they can’t have the exact needs as you, leading them to make adjustments. In turn, they may use this as a negotiation strategy.
Here are some of the reasons for the low resale potential of a barndominium:
- Buyer intent. You may build a barndominium to reside in, while I want one for a factory and office. That will require me to do a lot of refurbishing, which will cost extra money. Hence, I would rather wait until I find a barndo similar to my needs.
- Location. Most barndominiums are not around major cities, which can be a major turnoff for any potential buyer.
- Aesthetics. It’s okay to build your barndo to your taste. However, your preference may not attract a potential buyer, and considering the cost of changing the aesthetics, they may lose interest.
If you’re interested in learning more about why barndominiums have low resale value, check out my complete guide on the topic. I’ll also share a few tips to keep in mind before you list your barndo for sale.
Most homeowners in the United States utilize loans and mortgages to build their homes. While this is the norm in the United States, not many lending companies will release the money to make a barndo.
Generally, many still consider barndominiums as farmhouses, so it is a challenge to get a loan to build a barndo. Luckily, the barndominium has a lower building cost than the traditional homes so you can afford it. If you have between $30,000 and $95,000, you will be able to construct your barndominium.
Another reason for the reluctance to release loans amongst lending companies is the availability of home appraisers. A home appraisal is a document designed by a professional appraiser describing the value of a property. It is a vital document in lending and services.
Whoever wants to lend you money to buy or build a barndominium wants to be sure if the money you request is equivalent to the value of the barndo. Therefore, the appraiser will prepare a document based on the following factors:
- Your barndo design. The more complex a barndo design, the higher its cost. In turn, this will affect the appraisal.
- Location of the barndo. Location is an essential factor in determining the value of a home. The appraiser will prepare the appraisal based on the sales of similar houses in that area.
- Mortgage type. The rules of different mortgages differ based on regulations and requirements. The appraiser will have to play to those rules.
Appraising a barndominium is usually a challenge because it is a different type of building from traditional brick-and-mortar homes.
It may be hard to get a barndominium loan, but it is not impossible—you only need the correct information. Farm Credit lenders understand the uses of the barndominium and will happily give you a loan. Luckily, they usually have specific appraisers to make the process less challenging.
The only problem with these loan types is there may be limitations to the amount they can deliver. These limitations may force you into building a barndominium with a simple design, unlike what you desire.
Metal, the central structural member of a barndo, is a natural heat conductor, which is why it can be cold when you feel it. The nature of metal puts it at risk of condensation.
Condensation describes a situation when water vapor converts to a liquid state.
The hot air tends to carry a lot of water vapor in it, and when this air comes in contact with the metal of your barndo, it will condense.
Water vapor condensing on the metal structures of your barndominium will take it back to its liquid form. Water has oxygen in it, so water on metal means oxygen on the metal.
The mixture of oxygen on that metal leads to corrosion, weakening the barndo structure. Therefore, a barndominium in a humid region is never a great idea.
Typically, the foundation choice for a building should depend on the soil type and structure. You want to ensure that your building stands firmly on the ground and can carry the load of the building. Therefore, you do a soil test and other checks to determine the best foundation option.
You may face limitations with foundations when building a barndominium. Most barndominiums have a regular concrete slab foundation, with their poles rising from the slab.
The concrete slabs offer stability to carry a barndo, but they come with limitations. Some of the disadvantages of this foundation include;
- It is better in warm climates. In an environment where the floor can freeze, these slabs may crack.
- It does not stop pests as effectively as bricks and mortar.
- You have to insulate the duct work to maintain a consistent temperature.
- You will need to have a robust heating system.
These limitations accompany most barndominiums because of their foundation type.
Pier and beam foundation is another foundation type that can work with a barndominium. The piers of this foundation can act as the slab where the columns will arise.
One advantage that this foundation gives is its dynamic nature. Depending on the soil type and other site conditions, there are different ways to model the pier foundations, giving you flexibility.
The only downside of the pier and beam foundation is that it requires unique expertise since it is not typical for barndominiums and will increase the cost of building the barndominium.
Barndos also limit you with the building style. A barndominium has only columns at a specific distance and a roof above each of the columns. This construction means you will not have the option of adding more floors to your building at a later stage.
Barndominiums, like metal buildings, usually require permits before you can build. Often, you will not find a barndo in a location close to the city. A building permit is a way of ensuring that your building follows the building codes.
In the United States, there are three standard building codes:
- The national building code
- The standard building code
- The uniform building code
All three codes are similar, with only slight differences between them. To be uniform, the government created the International Building Code. This code is the base requirement to build any structure, with states allowed to make changes where necessary.
Applying for a building permit requires specific steps, but before that, it is usually better to check for zoning restrictions.
The zoning authorities of your chosen location you intend to build are responsible for determining the zonal restrictions or ordinances. These restrictions ensure that your building in a specific area conforms to the uniform appearance and feel of the site.
Most residential localities do not have buildings that look like the barndominium structure, so the zonal ordinance will most likely go against the construction.
A big reason not to build the barndo is the aesthetics! You have liberty inside your barndo to make it look how you want, and boy—you have lots of space for that. You can get creative with the interior of your barndo.
However, when it comes to the outer parts of a barndo, it is hard to make it look like anything but a barn. It is hard to refurbish a metal pole and turn it into something beautiful, so it will still look like a barn, even when you spend thousands of dollars.
I know there are no limitations to what you can do with engineering and architectural design. But transforming a barndominium into a beautiful home on the exterior will almost mean extra costs.