What is a Barndominium?
It’s a type of residential structure that design-wise, combines the features of a barn and condominium. Here’s what you need to know.
Hello! This is Episode 275, and in it, I’m going to be talking about Barndominiums.
This is a type of building that’s been around for a while, and is more popular as a name in the US than other locations.
However lately, it’s been cropping up on my radar a lot more frequently, and in Australia too, so I thought I’d spend a little bit of time on the podcast sharing more about them, and what to be aware of.
What is a Barndominium?
A barndominium is a type of residential structure that design-wise, combines the features of a barn and a condominium. Hence the contraction of the word “barndominium”!
What it looks like is generally an open plan building with residential spaces in it, and also incorporating work spaces such as sheds, workrooms and the like.
The aesthetic style will be barn-like in appearance, and have features such as exposed beams, metal roofs, and industrial-style finishes that are typically found in a barn.
There’s more to this though, which I’ll discuss in this podcast.
So, let’s learn a bit more about Barndominiums, and what to be aware of when considering this approach for your project, whether renovating an existing barn or shed, or building a new home in this style.
When was the term ‘Barndominium’ first used?
Whilst some claim this is a fairly recent term, other resources cite an article from the New York Times, showing it was first used in 1989, by developer Karl Nilsen, who coined it to market a particular type of home that enabled horse-lovers to create one building instead of two: a “Barndominium” with stables on the lower floor and living areas on the upper level. [buildwithrise.com]
Of course, liveable barns are not a recent concept. There are loads of examples of buildings that are barn and living quarters all under one roof, including the Low German House which dates as far back to the mid 1200’s. It was also called an “All-in-One” house.
Now, as with any term, ‘barndominium’ has come to mean a range of things, not just what developer Karl Nilsen originally intended for it.
It has come to refer more generally to any type of building, usually metal, that has the aesthetic of a well designed, larger farm or barn shed, and is designed and built to work both as a residential dwelling and a workspace.
As a barn or shed, it is often large in size, with high ceilings, exposed structure, and large openings that aren’t always all fully glazed. And it can often be made from a metal frame with metal cladding, however there are other examples using other readily available and hard wearing materials often used for barns and sheds, such as timber.
These types of buildings are more commonly being built in rural and regional areas, where larger structures are generally easier to accommodate on larger blocks of land, and people are looking for an affordable way to create a home for themselves, as well as storage and workspace for the things associated with a rural property.
A Barndominium can save on building several different kinds of buildings and all the infrastructure required, and combines it all into one. Some homeowners will also do this as an interim step to enable them to live on the property, with the view to later build their own home, and then have the residential part of the barndominium for guests or to rent out.
In Australia, I’ve heard a liveable shed, or a shed that has a residential dwelling within it, be referred to as a shouse – which of course, is a contraction of the words ‘Shed’ and ‘House’, of course.
I think there’s a bit of a difference between the US term “Barndominium” and the Aussie term “Shouse” in aesthetics, and in size though, as there’s a difference in what we associate with the terms “Barn” and “Shed”.
Designing a Barndominium …
The designs of Barndominiums can be these lovely, super simple and elegant forms.
The best versions I see have an architectural approach, where detailing and design choices are elegant. The materials are of an industrial or rural nature, but the detailing and how they’re put together is refined and well thought out. And the layout of spaces have a simplicity and elegance to it as well.
Why choose to build a Barndominium?
Many choose this type of design and project because they feel it’ll be more affordable than building a conventional house. And it definitely can be for a range of reasons:
- The building form is usually a much simpler, singular form than a traditional house. In many instances, it’s a rectangular shape, with a simple gable roof, and four walls, with no stepping in and out at all.
- And due to this, the structure can often be much simpler, more efficient, have more repetition, and be more affordable as a result
- The amount of glazing is usually less than a traditional home due to this simplified form, and reduction in external wall area and articulation
- There can be less internal walls as well, with more open plan spaces and less division between different functions and spaces
- The actual residential footprint can be smaller than most traditional homes, even when it’s included in a larger shed or barn building overall.
- Those building these homes for themselves have very different expectations of the finished result to a traditional home, and accept and even embrace aesthetics which can be rougher in nature, more exposed, more industrial, more agricultural, not as highly finished as a traditional home.
All of this can reduce the build cost considerably. And even just taking some of the concepts of this type of building type into consideration with your home overall can be worthwhile.
Barn-style houses, which are different to Barndominiums, are also a lovely style to explore. Simple forms, efficient structure, reduced glazing, less rooms and more industrial materials and products can help with building costs overall.
Want to learn more about Barndominiums?
LISTEN TO THE EPISODE NOW.
What Style is My House? | Why naming your style can be dangerous for your project. Season 9, Episode 04 >>> https://undercoverarchitect.com/podcast-what-style-is-my-house/
Details of Karl Nilsen’s development and the story in the New York Times. Build with Rise >>> https://www.buildwithrise.com/stories/barndominiums#:~:text=The%20term%20%22barndominium%2C%22%20however,%22theme%22%20of%20raising%20horses.
Choosing Metal Cladding. Read the blog >>> https://undercoverarchitect.com/choosing-durable-and-long-lasting-cladding-for-your-roof-and-walls-colorbond-steel/
Instagram video about condensation on the underside of roofs. Using my place as an example >>> https://www.instagram.com/p/CZxeyu9hcYJ/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
Season 1 of the podcast. Index to Season 1, “The most important thing when designing your home” >>> https://undercoverarchitect.com/podcast/season-1
Season 2 of the podcast. Index to Season 2 “How to Design a Home” >>> https://undercoverarchitect.com/podcast/season-2
Access the support and guidance you need to be confident and empowered when renovating and building your family home inside my flagship online program, HOME METHOD >>> https://undercoverarchitect.com/courses/the-home-method/
Learn more about how to get started with your home design with the Happy Home Design mini-course >>> https://undercoverarchitect.com/courses/happy-home-design
Access my free online workshop “Your Project Plan” >>> https://undercoverarchitect.com/projectplan