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The Barndominium Dilemma: Is It Better To Build One From Scratch or Refurbish a Barn?

Barndominium From Scratch or Refurbish a Barn?

Photo by BuildMax via Houzz

So you’re intrigued by barndominiums and are thinking about giving it a go. We don’t blame you!

These popular and surprisingly affordable structures are typically found in rural areas (Peace! Quiet! Wide-open spaces!) and give homeowners the satisfaction of living in a rustic-style residence that’s full of modern conveniences.

But when it comes to barndominium raising, which method is best for you? Is it cheaper to refurbish a pre-existing barn or build a new structure from the ground up?

When choosing a construction plan for your barndominium, homeowners have to consider things like cost, design, permitting, and more. Let’s take a closer look at these details.

How much does it cost to refurbish a barn into a barndominium?

Refurbishing an existing barn into a barndominium could be an affordable option, but it all depends on the state of the structure you start off with.

Since most barns are not constructed to stay warm and well-lit, installing insulation and an electrical system are common renovation costs to consider.

The exact price of your project depends on the size of your barn and the scope of work, but turning your barn into a barndominium will probably require the following upgrades (including labor):

  • Insulation ($1,100 to $2,400)
  • Foundation ($4,000 to $12,500)
  • Plumbing ($400 to $1,900)
  • Sewer and septic system ($2,000 to $9,500)
  • Electrical ($1,500 to $10,000)
  • HVAC ($2,600 to $13,500)
  • Roofing ($5,400 to $10,700)
  • Flooring ($7,000 to $28,500)
  • Drywall and interior ($5,000 to $30,000)
  • Floor plan ($1,500 to $4,500)
  • Permits ($425 to $2,300)

How much does it cost to build a barndominium?

If you decide to build a barndominium from scratch, the first thing you need is land.

Obviously, the cost of land varies depending on where you live and the size of the lot you choose to buy. But according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Land Values 2021 Summary, an acre of farmland costs $3,380 on average.

And if you need to clear the land of trees, stumps, and other vegetation, you should budget about $1,500 to $5,000, according to Bailey Carson, home care expert at Angi.

You will also need to obtain building permits, which can range from $425 to $2,300 depending on where you live.

Most barns are built on dirt, so you’ll need to hire a contractor to pour a solid foundation for your barndominium to sit on. That will cost anywhere from $4 to $8 per square foot.

Many people who decide to build their structure from scratch opt to buy a barndominium kit, which includes exterior walls, the roof, framed openings for windows and doors, siding, steel columns, and hardware like bolts and screws. These kits typically cost $20,000 to $90,000.

You can put the kit together yourself or hire a contractor to oversee the build. If you hire a contractor, you’re looking at $25,000 to $50,000 in labor.

Then, you’ll need to plan for what goes inside your barndominium to make it a comfortable, habitable dwelling. This will include the following:

  • Electrical wiring ($1,500 to $10,000)
  • Insulation ($1,100 to $2,400)
  • Plumbing ($400 to $1,900)
  • HVAC ($2,600 to $13,500)
  • Drywall and interior ($5,000 to $30,000)

Pros and cons of refurbishing a barn

In most situations, refurbishing an existing barn will be faster and less expensive than constructing a bardominium from scratch.

“It also allows you to repurpose an existing barn if you happen to have one that is going to waste,” says Carson.

But there is a downside.

“Homeowners who are refurbishing a barndo can save money and time but will sacrifice customization,” Carson says.

Plus, the condition of the barn you want to refurbish can affect how complex the project will be. If the barn is in shambles, refurbishing it can end up costing a lot.

“Sometimes it can actually be more difficult and more expensive to repair certain home details than to start from scratch,” says Carson.

Experts recommend bringing in an experienced contractor during the walk-through to draw up an initial scope of work for refurbishing an existing barn.

Pros and cons of building a barndominium from scratch

The most attractive part about building a barndominium from scratch is the customization factor: You can tailor your structure to look exactly the way you want.

“Starting from scratch allows you to customize every inch of the barndo and put your spin on each detail,” says Alex Capozzolo, co-founder of Brotherly Love Real Estate.

However, starting with a blank canvas is often the more expensive barndominium building option.

Carson says it can be tricky to find a lender to help you finance barndominium construction and recommends making sure you have the necessary funds before getting started.

“Building a barndominium with a DIY kit can be a great, more affordable option, especially if you are well-equipped to take on the project yourself,” says Carson.

But if you’re a construction novice, this might not be a project you want to do alone. Even if you’re using a DIY kit, experts recommend hiring a contractor.

The post The Barndominium Dilemma: Is It Better To Build One From Scratch or Refurbish a Barn? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

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