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Brinda GoswamiVerified Expert in Interior Design

As a founder of iii studio, Brinda has designed and executed over 100+ projects with a special focus on luxurious residential designing. She is the owner & principal designer at iii studio, Hyderabad.

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Home » Architecture Concepts » How to Design Barndominium Plans and Build Your Dream Country Home?

If you’ve always pictured yourself living in the serene countryside in a vast landscape, with an open, inviting backyard, a big beautiful house with massive windows that look over the expanse of greenery surrounding the house, and have saved up to make that dream come true, you’re in the right place. 

We have the perfect type of home that lets you enjoy the simple pleasures of the countryside, such as being in a barn, working in a wood workshop, having animal sheds, and rearing them as you and your partner spend memorable years living as one with nature, all while retaining the plush comforts of a condominium. That’s what is called a barndominium. A barndominium is a type of home that combines the best features of a barn and the living space and luxuries of a condominium. This type of building looks pole barn-like and has exposed beams, metal roofs, and industrial-style finishes. It has a massive open-concept floor plan for living and also incorporates workspaces like sheds, stables, and workrooms. Barndominiums cost on average $50-$150 per sq ft and are likely to soar if you bring in extravagant items of house design and decor. 

Let’s get knee-deep in the concept of barndominium homes, explore if this is a viable option for you, and figure out important considerations when designing your favorite barn house plans.

Common features of barndominiums

  • Barndominiums have houses on the top and a stable underneath them, to get the best of both worlds. 
  • It’s quite large, has high ceilings, an exposed structure, and large openings fully covered by glass. 
  • One of the best aspects of barndominiums is that they save a lot of cost on building different structures that may be required for these large properties.

Barndominium house designImage credits: AI-generated image

What should you know before designing a barndominium house?

Check your local planning regulations and zoning

Whether you’re building that captivating barndominium from scratch or remodeling a traditional home into one, you will need to check for overlays in the property that might impact the size, footprint, height, etc. You must also pay heed to fire and flooding protection, as the countryside is prone to unexpected forest fires and bushfires. Check if the property you’re eyeing has received clearances from all authorities.

Read also – Top 15 Latest Interior Design Trends in 2024

Assess how you divide the space between work and living spaces

Some designers split the barn, or shed vertically, with a residential living space at one end and a working barn space at the other. For example, you can have a barn on the first floor and a living area on the second floor. You have a ton of open space to toy with. Why not make your dreams come true, and establish kennels for your paw friends, dig up a fire pit, or set up an outdoor kitchen to entertain your guests? Don’t want a full-blown barn? Build an RV garage, a super spacious home office, or a green space to grow your own home garden. The point is, that you have ample opportunity to divide the space however you want. The best part? Unlike conventional homes, you can still make significant changes to the layout even after you start designing.

Brian Maggard, in their book How to Design a barndominium, says, “You can move walls, adjust room sizes and make interior changes during the construction phase, contrary to standard homes.

How do you want your home ambiance to be?

Many barndominiums are built for aesthetic reasons, for the sheer love of the barn. Tucked away in the countryside, with a heartwarming view of the golden sun setting in your yard, barndominiums make for the ultimate family home where you can create fond memories with your family in a scenic setting. However, given the industrial style of materials used in the barndominium design, it will give off sleek and contemporary vibes with a rustic charm. It’s up to you to determine if you want a classy, stylish vibe that attracts guests and sparks conversations, or an endearing, neutral, and calming place for your family to unwind. Remember, barndominiums are half condominiums and they’re utterly comfortable.

Think about the barriers and thresholds you want to set

When was the last time you were in a tall building with super high ceilings, and you couldn’t handle the level of heat and noise coming from that room? That’s how a huge barndominium with improper insulation will feel like. Since it’s an all-metal exterior, you will need to double down on noise and temperature regulation right at the start of the design process, so you leave nothing to chance. Also, most barndominiums have huge windows for you to connect with nature. In that case, you will need to figure out physical barriers that give you a sense of privacy as well.

Read also – How to Create the Best Architect Portfolio in 2024

What layout works best for you?

Barndominium plans are mostly open-concept, where two or more spaces are merged to make one large space. Open-concept living rooms and kitchens with kitchen islands, living rooms, and working areas, or dining rooms are some examples you can choose from. Not only does the space look bigger, but it also helps you socialize with your family, keep an eye on kids and the elderly, entertain your guests while cooking, and share important moments with your kin.

Siteworks and soil considerations

Even the slightest slope in a land may need a lot of excavation and filling when you’re trying to build a massive structure like a barndominium. Test the soil in your land, and assess it for water-retaining capabilities. If your soil holds too much water, you need to rethink your waste management and systems for rainwater to trickle down.

Brian Maggard, in their book How to Design a barndominium, says, “If water resources are close by, consider flood history and runoff of the place, so you can plan elevations accordingly. “

Climate of the region

Are you comfortable living in the rural landscape? Would you be willing to live far away from the comforts you’ve experienced living in the city? 

Do you have a builder who specializes in building metal structures?

Finding one can take time, but it’s worth it. Metal buildings with exposure to changing temperatures need to be constructed with a lot of precision, and forethought and executed perfectly, leaving no room for cracks, gaps, or spaces. Lines for utilities like electricity, water, and gas need to be clearly defined way ahead and made provisions accurately. If there’s any oversight, it can make your living situation a hassle.

Read also – Foyr Neo vs. HomeStyler: Choosing the Right Interior Design Software

Do you want to consider building with metal construction kits?

Made of wood and metals, these kits come in custom prices depending on the square foot, materials, features you need, the barn style you desire, and finishes you expect. They consume less time to build and less money to invest. 

Michelle Nelson, host of the Build Your Home Yourself University podcast says,” You might save almost 50% of your barndominium building cost if you decide to build it with kits.”

Barndominiums design and decor ideas

It can be difficult to design a cozy environment in a place or setup that was originally meant to store machinery, animals, or wooden projects. But, as with all good home designs, you can adapt your design to suit the openness of barndominiums while making it your warm cocoon. 

Roofs

Barndominium’s uniqueness is its metal-clad exterior. However, if you don’t want to go all metal, opt for timber in the roof, with a steel port structure. Avoid die-formed ridge panels. Choose a closed ridge gap that covers metal panels on your roof. It seals against leaks and ensures the roof remains watertight. Black roofs can come in handy for maintaining energy efficiency.

Foundation

Ensure a strong foundation with steel, as it enables open barndominium floor plans by reducing the need for load-bearing walls. You can also choose monolithic concrete slabs alternatively. A concrete slab foundation can make way for radiant floor heating, which is much more efficient than any other form of floor heating.

Shane, founder of Shane Kitchen of Prints, says you need to choose foundations depending on the frost lines of the area you want your barndominium in. Foundation code states all foundations of living areas of exterior walls should have continuous foundations – basement, backfilled foundation, post frame, and monolithic.

Framing

Exterior framing can’t do without steel beams or girders. Take on interior framing using wood lumber, you’ll thank us later. This one simple element comes in handy when you install other interior components. 

Floor and house plans

Barns are naturally open and airy spaces, and so open floor plans work incredibly well in barndominiums. They help you connect visually and conversationally. You make a great room (combining the kitchen with the dining room and living room) and host elaborate dinners, intimate gatherings, and conversations with your entire family. The biggest flex of barndominiums is that it’s a lot more flexible when compared to traditional houses. You can hyper-customize any space you want, including the home plan. Maintain a minimum hallway width of 36 inches. If you’re tight on space, have at least 3.5 feet of space for the hallway.

Read also How to Draw a Floor Plan & Top Mistakes to Avoid

Walls, ceiling beams, and tresses

Now this is a house that rewards letting your creativity run wild. Bring in structurally strong and decorative ceilings with heightened architectural beauty. You can choose strained, or distressed tresses or beams for casual rustic or Mediterranean homes. Sleek, painted, sanded beams are excellent for contemporary and transitional homes.

Add life to the walls with fancy wallpaper, texture walls, and patterns. Play around with depth and texture in the walls to add warmth to an otherwise cold and industrial space. 

Include a bonus room

Have a bonus room that’s undefined for any particular purpose and that can be multipurpose into a nursery, study room, guest room, or home office. You can borrow space from the workshop/barn, or create a small room in the living area depending on its tentative uses. This one’s always a winner and comes in handy as you grow as a family. 

Acoustics

Any building with high volume and space can be difficult to manage in terms of temperature and acoustics. Especially for a barndominium that has a lot of industrial materials to work with, which can create a lot of hard surfaces. Even with air conditioning, temperature difference, and heat-trapping can become troublesome if not handled proactively. Having wood-fire stoves can be a good hack, but the heat will dissipate quickly, given the massive space you’re living in. In this case, insulation is the best way to go. Manage acoustics like a pro with soft furnishings, floor materials, ceiling panels, acoustic elements suspended around ceilings, and theatre curtains to divide the space and control sound movement. 

Insulation

Your barndominum’s metal cladding on the outside is notorious for forming condensation and experiencing temperature differences inside and outside of itself. You’ll need to figure out where you will add wall cavities, and identify the type of insulation you will install. For upper floors, 2×4 studs are used to insulate, whereas for the lower studs, 2×6 studs are used for additional strength and durability. When you’re insulating, don’t stop with spray foam insulation, insulation and airtight seals are essential.

Consider closed-cell insulation against metal surfaces to add structural rigidity to your barndominium’s interiors. For exteriors, you need open-cell insulation to fill the space well. Attic air deflectors prevent insulation from being blown out into the cavity where we insulate the ceiling. While you’re at it, don’t forget ceiling insulation as well. 

Read also – How to Remove Popcorn Ceilings in 7 Easy Steps

Bath considerations

Choosing a powder bath, instead of a full bath can be detrimental to your barndo’s functionality and potential resale value. Plumbing leaks in kitchens and bathrooms are common. Humidity is also an issue, which is why adding a dehumidifier is important. 

Window treatment

In the beautiful countryside, cool breeze and scenic views are no surprises. Watch how the breeze flows, and optimize views accordingly. You can have huge windows (floor to ceiling) that make you feel like you’re outdoors and indoors at the same time. Since windows interact with the interior and exterior, go for vinyl windows, or vinyl-clad wooden windows for extra life and strength to brave changing seasons. Overhangs are a great idea to protect windows, front porch or wraparound porches and barn doors from weather-related damages, leaks, and rain.

Energy efficiency

Materials like fiberglass batting, expanding spray foam, house wrap, and thermal tape minimize thermal transfer, it prevents heat from seeping in through cracks and cavities and making its way into the house. You may need to go for a heat pump or furnace to manage heat and cold. In humid regions, you need special considerations to ensure energy efficiency. Use proper HVAC to preserve energy while avoiding overheating inside.

In warmer areas where you need cooling, the exterior vapor barrier is a good choice, as it prevents warm, moist air from passing through the insulation and attaching to the cold metal surface on a chilly day. 

Bedrooms

Master bedrooms, unlike large traditional homes, need not be multi-functional. So, limited space to place essentials would do. Even for a luxurious farmhouse-style master suite with a mini walk-in closet in a barndominium, a 10×12-foot room is enough.

Alan Loosier, of Ellis County Reprographics Inc., recommends having bedrooms no smaller than 10×10, to accommodate decent bedroom furniture and fixtures comfortably. 

Wellness features

You can make deep connections with nature with floor-to-ceiling windows, and high ceilings that give you height and openness to let yourself get one with the wide world. You can make room for plenty of natural light with large windows. You can bring in plants and enliven your barndominium. The best part is, depending on what wellness features you exactly want, you can completely customize your barndominium plan design without breaking the bank. 

Landscaping and outdoor elements

Since the barndo will be built on a vast open space, you can build elaborate outdoor elements, like amazing patios, outdoor fireplaces, fire pits, outdoor kitchen to cook dinner with your family on the weekends. You not only create a place to entertain, but you also extend your living space.

Read also – How Interior Designers Create a 3D Home Exterior

Pros and cons of building and living in barndominiums

Pros

Cons
Cheaper to build than traditional houses

It’s a niche market, so getting banks to finance them might be a challenge

Safe from fires – metal + steel structures are fireproof

Difficult to achieve aesthetics on home exterior
Have barns, shops, and big spaces for homes in large pockets of land and still save money

May not have great resale value if completely customized

Lower utility bills because of insulation Some areas may have restrictions or lack understanding of barndominiums, complicating the building process.
Quicker construction Metal structures can be noisy during rain or hail and may feel less cozy than traditional homes.
Save money on exterior layers The structure may limit certain architectural designs or renovations.
Remains strong and durable If not properly insulated, metal structures can develop condensation issues, leading to mold or mildew.

How can you decide if barndominiums are right for you? Short answer: by visualizing yourself living in it

As a soon-to-be homeowner flipping through options to build a home, you don’t want to splurge on professional design services until you hone in on everything you want. But, to make that final decision, you will need to know which options work for you. If you want to know which barndominiums are suitable for you, you will need to put your ideas together and visualize yourself living in them. This is possible, for free, with Foyr Neo.

Let’s go step-by-step and decide if barndominiums are right for you.

Step 1 – Gather all pictures you like of barndominiums

Go on Pinterest, and Instagram and scout for pictures of barndominiums. See if you can get rough dimensions and rough house plans of the houses. If you find pictures of the front of the barndominiums the better because then you can decide if it is gable with exposed beams or a shared roof along the front. 

Step 2 – Upload all pictures on the Neo mood board

Get all the images on the Neo mood board, find the common theme in them, mix and match, try out different combinations of elements you need, and arrive at the right theme and layout for your barndominium.

Step 3 – Draw the main floor plan

Walls and framing are absolutely important. Decide exterior walls with insulation, ducting, and plumbing in mind. Maintain a 12-inch buffer around your barndominium house plan. For example, for a 40×20 barn, design 38×18 to accommodate all necessities. Make room for mechanical considerations like AC, furnace, and heaters. For a two story barn, eave height and pitch are important. Place I-beams every 20 feet, considering whether the eave height starts above or below the Z purlins. Neo helps you visualize elevations and every inch of your space in graphic detail so you don’t miss anything.

Read also – 20 Best Ways To Create an Open Floor Plan

Step 4 – Start with the walls and patio

Keep the decor simple. Go into our design library and find 10,000+ preset templates including barndominiums, and find ones that are replete with precise markings and drawings for electrical, plumbing work, and elevations for the home. 

Step 5 – Incorporating all other elements in the barndominium

Once you furnish the provisions for utilities, hop on to our vast material library and access 50,000+ options of every element you want in your barn home. No settling for mundane items. We get your custom 3D elements made and include them in your barndominium design. 

Step 6 – Take a 3D render and a complete walkthrough

You can resize walls, copy-paste textures, zoom in and on seamlessly without breaking a sweat or a pixel, switch between 2D and 3D, and see your future waiting for you on the screen. Take a render in under a minute, and see yourself living in the dream barndominium you designed with your own hands. Wanna take it up a notch? Get a 4K walkthrough video and get a complete view of how the modern farmhouse lifestyle works for you, and decide if you want to go for it.

Wrapping Up

Wanna try out this heartwarming exercise of designing your barndominium? Sign up for Foyr Neo, the ultimate interior design software. Take the first step towards transforming your space. Start your 14-day free trial today!

FAQs

A barndominium is a hybrid structure combining elements of a barn and a condominium, often featuring spacious, open living areas.

The ideal size of a barndominium varies, but most range from 1,500 to 2,500 square feet, balancing space and cost-effectiveness.

Certainly! You can craft your own barndominium using cutting-edge interior design software such as Foyr Neo. Experience a high degree of personalization and enjoy best-in-class 3D rendering capabilities for your unique vision.

People prefer barndominiums for their affordability, spacious design, versatility, and lower maintenance needs.

Building a barndominium typically costs between $90 and $125 per square foot, generally less than traditional homes.

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