Barndominium vs. Modular Home: What’s the Best Choice? - Barndominium Homes (2024)

Barndominium vs. Modular Home: What’s the Best Choice? - Barndominium Homes (1)

Modular homes and barndominiums are affordable choices for anyone who wants to build a new home. Depending on the features that you choose, building a modular home or a barndominium could cost half the price of a standard home.

So, should you build a barndominium or a modular home?

The answer depends on your preferences. Where you want to live, your budget, timeframe, and other details can help you choose between a modular home and a barndominium.

What Is a Modular Home?

Barndominium vs. Modular Home: What’s the Best Choice? - Barndominium Homes (2)

Modular homes are built in factories and delivered to building sites, instead of building the home from the ground up at the site. About 80% to 90% of the home is completed in the factory and is transported in multiple parts.

The parts are set on a foundation and assembled. The finished home resembles a standard house. The exterior often has aluminum or vinyl siding while the interior comes fully finished with bathrooms and a kitchen.

What Is a Barndominium?

Barndominiums are typically metal buildings. The original concept came from a real estate developer who converted old barns. Modern “barndos” are built from scratch as low-cost dwellings.

The basic design resembles a large warehouse. The home is built with a metal frame, along with metal siding and roofing. However, the design of siding, trim, and windows help make the barndominium look more like a regular home.

The interior includes traditional living spaces, including bedrooms, bathrooms, and a kitchen. Many barndominiums take advantage of the large metal frame by adding open-concept floor plans. An open-concept floor plan includes fewer walls separating the rooms. You can stand in the kitchen and see into the living room or dining area. Floor plans are available for sale online, or you can create your own with the help of barndominium design software.

Barndominium vs. Modular Home: What’s the Best Choice? - Barndominium Homes (3)

Advantages of Building a Modular Home

Modular homes are cost-effective compared to building a traditional home but may cost a little more than building a barndominium. The benefits of buying a factory-built home include:

  • Build your home faster
  • Build your home in cities and suburbs
  • Adding a second floor is easier

Modular homes do not take long to build. Each manufacturer has a limited set of designs, allowing them to easily produce new parts. The average time to fabricate a modular home is three to four months. However, some manufacturers may have parts already completed.

If parts are available for your new home, constructing a modular home may only take a few weeks. The longest timeframe is about four months. Barndominiums typically take six months to complete. However, some barndominium construction projects require up to nine months to complete.

While zoning requirements vary, you can build modular homes in more areas. Most cities and suburbs count modular homes as standard residential properties.

Modular homes are available in a variety of designs, including two-story homes. Barndominiums are built with large frames that may reach more than two floors tall. However, adding a second floor requires extra work, such as adding columns. Instead of adding a full second floor, barndominiums may include a mezzanine or loft.

Barndominium vs. Modular Home: What’s the Best Choice? - Barndominium Homes (4)

Advantages of Building a Barndominium

Barndominiums provide many advantages that you cannot get with modular homes, including:

  • Protection against severe weather
  • Do-it-yourself (DIY) building kits
  • Less risk of manufacturing defects
  • Possible increase in the value of your property
  • Greater range of customization options

Barndominiums are more durable and provide more protection against severe weather. As they are built with metal frames, barndominiums can withstand strong wind. You can also build part of the barndominium yourself with a DIY kit, which is not an option with modular homes. Check out these barndominium kits under 50k and barndominium kits under 100k to make building your barndominium even easier.

Modular homes are built in factories. Mass-produced modular homes are occasionally rushed, increasing the risk of manufacturing defects. Modular homes may also lose value over time. Barndominiums are more likely to retain or gain value, as with a traditional home.

One of the best reasons to choose a barndominium vs modular home is customization. You can choose from endless design options or even hire an architect. Modular homes offer a limited selection of premade floor plans.

Barndominium vs Modular Home: Which One Costs More?

Barndominium vs. Modular Home: What’s the Best Choice? - Barndominium Homes (5)
Barndominium vs. Modular Home: What’s the Best Choice? - Barndominium Homes (6)

Modular homes and barndominiums typically cost less than building a standard stick frame house. Traditional homes cost $150 to $200 per square foot. Modular homes cost $50 to $100 per square foot. Barndominiums cost $30 to $125 per square foot.

The cost to build any home depends on the size, location, and extra features. A barebones modular home may cost close to $50 per square foot. Adding the best quality windows, doors, and fixtures could bring the cost closer to $100 per square foot.

The base materials cost about $10 to $15 per square foot. The interior finishes may add another $40 to $100. If you hire a contractor and pay for the best of everything, you may pay a little more compared to a high-end modular home. However, the typical barndominium is likely to cost a little less.

Building a barndominium also provides the chance to handle some or all the construction yourself. You can buy DIY barndominium kits that include everything needed for the rough framing and foundation. Completing some or all the work yourself brings down the cost even more.

Other crucial things to consider when building a barndominium include financing and insurance.

Conclusion: Barndominium vs Modular Home

Barndominiums and modular homes provide unique advantages for home builders. Either option allows you to save money compared to building a traditional home. Yet, barndominiums are typically the most affordable type of new home construction.

The main advantage of a modular home is the convenience of buying a factory-built house. You can order a modular home and have it shipped and assembled in just a few weeks. You can also build modular homes in more areas, including most cities and many suburbs.

Barndominiums include a longer list of benefits. Compared to a modular home, a barndominium is often more durable. You gain more protection against severe weather, leaks, and the need for household repairs.

Barndominiums also provide greater customization and design options. You can build a large barndominium with an open floor plan and 14-foot vaulted ceilings. A portion of the barndominium can also be used for storage or work.

In the end, a modular home is a good option for those who need to live in a city or a suburb. If you do not mind living in a rural area, a barndominium is likely to provide more comfort for many decades.

Barndominium vs. Modular Home: What’s the Best Choice? - Barndominium Homes (7)
Barndominium vs. Modular Home: What’s the Best Choice? - Barndominium Homes (2024)


Barndominium vs. Modular Home: What’s the Best Choice? - Barndominium Homes? ›

Which Is Better: Modular Home or Barndominium? The answer often lies in the price and functionality. Barndos can be built from scratch, from an existing structure, and even from a kit. Modular homes, also known as prefabricated or pre-fabs, are constructed almost entirely off-site.

What is better a barndominium or a modular home? ›

Barndominium vs modular home: the verdict

However, in general, if you're seeking a spacious home with vaulted ceilings, open-plan living areas, lots of customization options, and the ability to combine work and living spaces under one roof, then a barndominium is probably the best option for you.

What are the negatives of barndominiums? ›

If you're considering building or buying a barndominium, consider this list of downsides before you sign your name on a dotted line:
  • Location Limitations. ...
  • Financing. ...
  • Corrosion. ...
  • Noise. ...
  • UV Exposure. ...
  • Wiring Challenges. ...
  • Reselling.
Oct 19, 2022

What I wish I knew before building a barndominium? ›

Here are the most important things to know about building a barndominium.
  • Obtain a permit for your project. Photo by Bridger Steel, Inc. ...
  • Test the paint. Photo by Justin Doyle Homes. ...
  • Prepare for surprise costs. ...
  • Plan for electrical work. ...
  • Choose your windows and doors wisely. ...
  • Add insulation—it's important.
Mar 14, 2022

What is the most cost effective barndominium? ›

Generally the most cost-effective barndominium size falls between 1,500-2,500 square feet. The Average size Barndominium in the US falls around 2500sqft as well. Most of the Barndominium Floor Plans and steel Barndominium shell Kits that you will find online will Start out around 2000sqft and go up from there.

Are modular homes worth the investment? ›

Is a modular home a good investment? A modular home can be a good investment. They often offer energy efficiency which is a selling point. However, a modular home's value will be dependent on the housing market in your area, just as it would be with any other kind of home.

Are modular homes as good as stick built? ›

“People assume that because it shows up in pieces, the quality is less than” a site-built home, Braun says, “and that's actually completely the opposite. “Most of my colleagues would agree that modular homes are actually a superior product because you're getting an engineered house,” Braun adds.

Are barndominiums hard to insure? ›

Insurance can be complicated for barndominium homes. According to, not all insurers cover barndos, especially if they're mixed-use instead of residential only, and those that do might have barndo-specific policies.

What is the life expectancy of a barndominium? ›

The average lifespan of a barndominium is between 50 and 150 years. The lifespan difference is based on what it's made of, how well it's maintained, and extreme weather. Wood barns tend to last longer; however, they can also be more susceptible to damage from natural disasters, dampness, insect damage, or rot.

How many years do barndominiums last? ›

When you find the right builder, use the right materials in construction, and keep up with the maintenance barndominiums can last more than 50 years, sometimes even up to 100 years, if appropriately managed. It will also depend on the location and climate.

Are barndominiums bad investments? ›

If you are purely looking for a quick resale investment, a Barndominium may not be your best option. But, if you are hoping to build a long-term home for yourself or to invest by renting out your Barndominium, a Barndominium could be an excellent choice and long-term investment.

How long does it take to build a 3000 sq ft barndominium? ›

Building Timeline Overview

For a DIY-inclined owner with sufficient time and adequate skillset, constructing a basic 3000 sq ft barndominium yourself using pre-fabricated steel building components could conceivably only require around 5 months from breaking ground to securing an occupancy permit.

How long does it take to build a barndominium from scratch? ›

Most barndominiums take approximately 3-6 months to construct. However, just like with a conventional home, a barndominium's construction time depends on various factors including the level of customization.

How big of a barndominium can I build for 200k? ›

On the high end, barndominiums have an average cost of $150 per square foot. At that price, you can estimate a building of around 1,333 square feet for $200,000. That is the cost of doing it yourself.

How big is a 40x60 barndominium? ›

Our 40×60 barndominium steel buildings provide 2,400 square feet of interior space that can be customized to your specifications. Plus, our steel frame 40*60 barndominium kits are also available in a variety of customization options to ensure that your building meets your specific needs.

Are barndominiums safe in a tornado? ›

Constructed with metal, a barndo offers superior protection from severe weather. The steel structure of a steel barndominium has a higher wind resistance than a conventional wood frame home. While the metal integrity of your home can endure a tornado, the windows and doors may not.

Is it cheaper to build a barndominium or a house? ›

The most common estimate asserts that a new barndominium with basic amenities will cost about $30 to $40 per square foot to build, compared to the cost of building a traditional home is around $100 to $200 per square foot.

What is the difference between a barndominium and a manufactured home? ›

Barndos allow for more space if you have a larger family, or you could use the space for your favorite activities. They also have more flexible design options than typical manufactured homes. Their shape, size, and square footage can all range from very small to expansive.

Do barndominiums last longer than houses? ›

Barndominiums have the strength and durability that comes with being made from metal, making them just as safe or even more secure than a traditional home. The structural integrity of a barndominium also makes them last longer with less maintenance.

Do barndominiums hold their value? ›

Barndominiums normally retain their resale value and may even increase in value gradually, although more slowly than a standard home. However, these homes are still rare in some parts of the country, and it may be challenging to get an accurate appraisal in an area where there are few.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Neely Ledner

Last Updated:

Views: 5848

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (62 voted)

Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Neely Ledner

Birthday: 1998-06-09

Address: 443 Barrows Terrace, New Jodyberg, CO 57462-5329

Phone: +2433516856029

Job: Central Legal Facilitator

Hobby: Backpacking, Jogging, Magic, Driving, Macrame, Embroidery, Foraging

Introduction: My name is Neely Ledner, I am a bright, determined, beautiful, adventurous, adventurous, spotless, calm person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.