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Metal Building Homes vs. Barndominiums

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Both metal building homes and barndominiums incorporate metal in their construction, they differ in terms of their origin, purpose, design, and regulatory considerations. Metal building homes are designed as residential structures from the beginning, while barndominiums are converted from existing agricultural or commercial buildings, often retaining some of their original characteristics.

But they have some distinct differences:

Differences between Metal Building Homes and Barndominiums

Construction Style

Metal Building Homes: These are traditional homes built with metal framing, often using steel or metal studs for the structural elements. The exterior can be finished with various materials, including metal siding, brick, stone, or even wood, to achieve a more traditional residential appearance.

Barndominium: A barndominium is a unique blend of a barn and a condominium. It typically starts with the structural frame of a barn or agricultural building and is then converted into a residential space. The result is a rustic and often open-concept living area with the appearance of a barn.


Metal Building Homes: These are primarily designed as residential structures from the outset, so they are typically more similar to conventional houses in terms of layout, design, and functionality.

Barndominium: Originally built as barns or agricultural buildings, barndominiums are repurposed to serve as homes. They often retain some of the rustic charm and features of a barn, such as large open spaces, high ceilings, and exposed beams.

Aesthetic and Design:

Metal Building Homes: These homes can have a wide range of designs and aesthetics, depending on the homeowner’s preferences. They can resemble traditional houses both inside and out.

Barndominium: Barndominiums typically have a more unique and rustic appearance due to their barn-like structural origins. However, they can still be customized to some extent to suit the homeowner’s style.


Metal Building Homes: The cost of metal building homes can vary widely depending on factors like size, design, location, and the quality of materials used. They are generally considered to be cost-effective compared to traditional wood-framed homes.

Barndominium: Barndominiums are often seen as a cost-effective housing option because they start with an existing metal building frame. However, the cost can still vary based on the level of customization and the finishes applied.

Zoning and Regulations:

Metal Building Homes: These are typically subject to the same zoning and building codes as traditional homes, making it easier to obtain permits and approvals in residential areas.

Barndominium: The conversion of agricultural or commercial buildings into residential properties can sometimes be subject to more stringent regulations and zoning requirements, depending on the location and local ordinances.

Advantages of Metal Building Homes and Barndominiums in Common

While metal building homes and barndominiums have their own unique advantages, there are some common benefits that both types of structures share:

Durability: Both metal building homes and barndominiums are constructed using metal materials, which are highly durable and resistant to many common issues such as rot, pests, and fire. This durability can lead to a longer lifespan for the structure.

Energy Efficiency: With proper insulation and design considerations, both metal building homes and barndominiums can be made energy-efficient. Metal roofs can reflect sunlight, reducing cooling costs in hot climates, and tight construction can minimize heat loss in colder regions.

Low Maintenance: Metal exteriors require minimal maintenance compared to traditional wood siding. Both types of structures benefit from the low-maintenance characteristics of metal materials, reducing the need for frequent repairs and upkeep.

Customization: Whether you’re building a metal building home or a barndominium, you have a high degree of flexibility when it comes to customizing the design, layout, and interior finishes. This allows homeowners to create spaces that suit their specific needs and preferences.

Quick Construction: Metal construction is known for its efficiency and speed. Both metal building homes and barndominiums can be erected relatively quickly compared to traditional wood-framed homes, which can result in shorter construction times and potential cost savings.

Cost-Effective: In general, both metal building homes and barndominiums are often considered cost-effective options. Metal materials can be more budget-friendly than some alternatives, and the construction process can be streamlined for cost savings.

Versatility: Both types of structures can be designed to serve multiple purposes. They can include living spaces, workshops, storage areas, or even commercial spaces, making them versatile and adaptable to various needs.

Environmental Considerations: Some metal materials used in these structures can be recyclable, and both metal building homes and barndominiums can be designed to be more environmentally friendly, reducing their carbon footprint.

It’s important to keep in mind that the specific advantages and performance of metal building homes and barndominiums can vary based on factors like design, construction quality, insulation, and location. Therefore, it’s crucial for homeowners to work closely with experienced professionals to ensure their chosen structure meets their specific requirements and goals.

How to Choose Between Metal Building Homes and Barndominiums

Choosing between a metal building home and a barndominium depends on your preferences, needs, budget, and the specific advantages each type of structure offers. Here are steps to help you make an informed decision:

Identify Your Needs and Goals:

Consider your lifestyle and priorities. Are you looking for a traditional home with a more conventional appearance (metal building home), or do you prefer a unique, rustic, and open-concept living space (barndominium)?

Determine the size and layout you need, as well as any specific features or spaces (e.g., workshops, storage) that are essential for your lifestyle.

Set Your Budget:

Establish a clear budget for your project. Compare the cost estimates for both metal building homes and barndominiums, including construction, materials, customization, and any potential renovation or conversion costs if starting with an existing structure.

Location and Zoning:

Research local zoning regulations, building codes, and permits in your area. Some regions may have specific requirements or restrictions that affect your choice.

Aesthetic Preferences:

Consider your personal style and the aesthetics you desire for your home. If you prefer a more traditional or contemporary appearance, a metal building home might be a better fit. If you appreciate the rustic charm of a converted barn, a barndominium may be more appealing.

Energy Efficiency and Climate:

Evaluate your local climate and energy needs. Both types of structures can be made energy-efficient with proper insulation, but you may need to make design and material choices that suit your climate.

Customization Options:

Think about how much customization you want. Both metal building homes and barndominiums can be customized, but the level of customization may vary. Determine which structure allows you to achieve your desired interior layout and design.

Construction Timeline:

Consider your timeline for moving into your new home. Metal construction, in general, can be faster than traditional wood framing, but the actual timeline can vary based on factors like complexity and customization.

Consult with Professionals:

Engage with architects, contractors, or builders who have experience with both types of structures. They can provide valuable insights, and cost estimates, and help you understand the feasibility of your project.

Visit Existing Examples:

If possible, visit metal building homes and barndominiums in your area to get a firsthand feel for the living spaces, layouts, and aesthetics.

Balance Your Priorities:

Weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each option against your priorities. Consider which factors are most important to you and your family’s lifestyle.

Future Plans:

Think about your long-term plans. Are you building a forever home, or is this a temporary residence? Your future needs and resale value should be taken into account.

Financial Considerations:

Explore financing options and compare the costs of financing for each type of structure. Determine which one aligns better with your financial situation.

Ultimately, the decision between a metal building home and a barndominium is a highly personal one. It’s important to carefully evaluate your needs, preferences, and circumstances, and to work closely with professionals who can help you navigate the construction process to create the home that best suits your vision and requirements.

When considering a metal building home or a barndominium, it’s essential to work with a reputable builder who understands the local building codes and can ensure that the structure meets all safety and regulatory requirements. Additionally, proper insulation is crucial for maintaining comfortable indoor temperatures, as metal structures can be prone to temperature extremes without it.