Last updated on October 7th, 2023
How to Build a DIY Barndominium
Now that tiny homes, RV life, and all forms of alternative housing options are all the rage, there’s never been a better time to hop on the barndominium bandwagon. Barn homes are an incredible way to live off the land, connect with nature, and try something new.
If you’re ready to take on the project, keep reading for the inside scoop on all things DIY barndominium building. Barn Again: Restored and New Barns for the 21st Century
Planning for Building a DIY Barndominium
Before you race over to Home Depot for supplies or start pouring a foundation, it’s important to have barndominium plans in place. You can’t dive into the project without knowing how much it’ll cost, what you’ll need, and how to facilitate the build correctly.
That’s why barndominium blueprints and floor plans are so important. Sketching a barn home layout or finding one online or from a builder is the key to crafting your dream home.
Having barndominium house plans also means you’ll know exact room sizes, layouts, and placements instead of just winging it during the build.
It’s also essential to plan out your budget and understand the cost to build a barndominium. While they’re popular for being a cheaper alternative to traditional homes, any building project is going to cost you.
While it varies depending on what state you’re building in, most homeowners pay around $100,000-150,000 in total. Be sure to identify how much your family is comfortable setting aside for this project.
If you’re willing to expand the budget, several amenities can be added to the home. On the other hand, there are tons of tips and tricks for cutting barndo costs. Luckily, a DIY barndominium is one of them.
Another aspect of building your own barn house is following local building codes and guidelines. You may be wondering, “can you build a barndominium in California?”, or what cities in your area are off limits. The Homebuilding & Renovating Book of Barn Conversions: Complete Fully Illustrated Stories of 35 Inspirational Projects.
Since there are no distinct cities or states that have banned barndominiums, the best way to determine if your barndo is good-to-go is by looking to your city for permission. They may need to inspect the land or go through blueprints and adjust to make sure your barndo is safe and approved.
The last thing you should do before going into full Bob the Builder mode is making a schedule for completion. Barndos are great because they usually take less time to build than traditional homes. How to Build your Barndominium: The Ultimate Guide to Building your Dream Barn-Style House.
However, without a plan, it’s easy to drag the project on, push things off, and delay its completion; especially when you’re DIYing it.
Set a realistic timeline so you can stay on track and enjoy the barndominium life as soon as possible!
Finding DIY Barndominium Kits
Now that you’ve got your blueprint sketched, budget established, and timeline in check, it’s time to find some barndominium building kits. For the typical DIY’er, barndo kits can help make building your own barn home much easier.
There are a variety of kits with different designs, stages of construction, and supplies needed to build.
Full kits will provide essential everything you need for your home. Since there are so many, it’s typically easy to find one that matches your ideal floor plan.
If it’s your first time building a home, barndo kits are foolproof. They make everything from ordering the right materials to making cuts, a simple process. Yes, quality DIY barndominium kits may be a bit expensive, but think of how much you’ll save on labor costs.
Or trips to the hardware store because you accidentally got the wrong screw, again. The best way to find a great barn home kit is by browsing online and heading to local hardware stores.
Building a Barndominium, Step-by-Step
As lifesaving as your barndo kit will be, it can’t provide a building tutorial or some helping hands along the way. If you’re new to building, or even if you’re not, barndos are unique and can be tricky to get the hand of crafting. Luckily, this list will narrow down the process so you can assemble with ease!
Step 1: Barndominium Foundation
Every great home starts with a solid foundation, figuratively and quite literally. Barndominiums can be secured to the ground in several ways, but posts and slabs are most common. Those using posts will secure them to the ground with concrete and dig holes using a post hole digger to create depth. Measure the appropriate depth by referring to your region’s frost line.
Then, place cardboard forms into the pole, so the posts can be concreted into them. While this method creates a strong foundation, it’s best for open floor plans only.
Builders using steel will have better luck creating a long-lasting and sturdy foundation. Monolithic concrete slabs are common if the ground is very flat. In this scenario, the perimeter of your foundation will bear most of the total weight.
So, this area, known as the footing, can be up to three times thicker than the rest of the pad.
Step 2: Framing a DIY Barndominium
After the concrete has been poured and the foundation is settled, the barndo framing process can begin. Once the posts are set, the rest of the skeleton gets erected. This step is a bit tricky because the steel beams (girders) in this process are extremely heavy, usually requiring cranes to be lifted.
However, after these beams come together, the roof, walls, and foundation will all be combined into one happy home.
You will likely form the barndominium interior with wood lumber since it makes the installation of other components, like drywall and insulation, easier. Metal studs and tracks are alternative options, but they require specialized knowledge and materials (not very DIY friendly).
Lumber is readily available and easy to work with once you’ve got the hang of it.
Usually, the framework will reduce or eliminate the possibility of bearing walls, as well. This feature allows for more flexibility with the home’s interior design.
The final part of the framing process is typically barndominium roof installation. Setting them up while framing helps to keep the interior relatively dry while the rest of the construction is still being finished.
This step would also be the ideal time to install any weather shielding features, such as gutters and fascia caps. Although this process is hard, you can breathe a sigh of relief, because it’s already time to head inside.
Step 3: Wiring, Plumbing, and HVAC for Barndominiums
Once the outside is essentially finished, it’s time to make your home livable. You’ve got to have light, water, and the ability to flush your toilet! The process of assembling wiring, plumbing, and HVAC will essentially be the same as in a traditional home.
If building the outside was a breeze, but figuring out the plumbing isn’t really your jam, this would be the time to call out some contractors for side jobs.
By installing the plumbing at this stage, plenty of room will be available for the pipes’ required bends and angles. Currently, PEX, a plastic tubing designed to withstand extreme cold, is most common. You can also purchase PEX in long spools, reducing the number of joints required.
Reducing the number of joints and flexibility of tubing often means water can flow from the water heater to a fixture in a single section, eliminating potential leaks. It’s also smart to install nail guards anywhere a nail or screw would be long enough to penetrate wires and pipes.
Next up is electrical systems. They typically fall next on the roster of building tasks because although wiring also follows a set of rules like plumbing, the routing is typically more flexible. For example, it’s a lot easier to route a wire around a pipe than it is to route a pipe around a wire.
Just remember to plan out the location of any features that may need a dedicated circuit, such as a jetted tub for that master bath. But, what’s a nice warm bath without a cozy home to relax in after?
Step 4: Insulation for Barndominiums
Insulation is one of the most important aspects of building a barndominium, since it keeps us toasty during the teeth-chattering months, and chills us out when outside gets steamy. While some barndos in the southern US aren’t required to have insulation, it’s essential for those of us living in colder climates.
Most professionals recommend using the International Residential Code for reference.
The type of insulation you’re able to add will depend on the barndominium wall thickness. For example, most walls are 4.5 inches thick, meaning they’re built with two by four-inch studs. This wall thickness allows R-13 fiberglass batting or spray foam insulation.
Thicker walls, like those with 6.5-inch thickness, will typically need R-19 insulation. There’s no need to worry about being harmful to the environment with insulation because barndos provide an eco-friendly solution to staying warm inside.
Step 5: Barndominium Drywall, Paint, and Flooring
Now that you’ve got all the boring stuff out of the way, it’s time to make this place your own! Once all of the basic systems have been tested and passed inspection, wall covering is usually next. This is often drywall, to cater to barndominium homes’ country feel.
However, it’s not uncommon for builders to add modern and personal touches with groove paneling, stonework, or even rough sawn logs into the barn home design.
Next, watch your barndo come to life as the walls get covered in paint. Last, but certainly not least, flooring is installed, followed by trim. And just like that, you have a beautiful barn home!
Step 6: Furnish Barndominium and Move In
Be sure to mind the cost of furnishing this new home when planning out the budget. That way, you can trade in your shabby old couch for a nice new one to match your fresh home’s vibe.
With that being said, there’s nothing wrong with combining the old and the new: save cash on furniture and slowly trade in some new pieces over time. Your barndominium will be amazing either way!
Hopefully, the process of building a DIY barndominium doesn’t seem so daunting now. Knowing each step of the process should make things a bit quicker, easier, and more fun! Before you go, check out Crow Survival’s articles for more content on outdoor living. You’re guaranteed to have the best barn home in no time.