Due to the increasing costs of buying a home, many people are looking for affordable alternative options for housing. Some people have built tiny houses, older homes are often renovated because they can be purchased for much less money than a new home, and some homeowners have ordered and built kit homes. A popular style for renovations or kit homes is the barn house.

Barn Renovations

Many large barns still exist around the country with some of them being well over 150 years old. However, instead of housing animals, many people who are looking for housing alternatives have turned them into beautiful homes.

The reason some people like the idea of converting a barn into a house vary, but most people are attracted to life in a rural area, and they like the idea of converting a rustic barn into a livable house. The success of a barn conversion often rests on the barn type.

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Types of Barns

Several styles of barns can be converted into homes, but the style of a barn is different than the type. The types of barns include:

  • ​Pole Barns
  • ​Post and Beam Barns
  • ​Modular Barns
  • ​Steel Buildings

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Post and beam barns are usually the preferable type of barn for converting due to their large open spaces and high ceilings. The beams are an attractive feature, which is usually left exposed in most barn conversion designs.

If salvageable, the original beams will be used in the home, but if they have been savaged by termites or dry rot, then they will be replaced with new ones. Another feature these barns have that most homeowners want is a foundation.

Post and beam barns are framed structures built on foundations like houses. In some cases, there may be basements or cellars beneath them, but many of them are built on concrete slabs. If the foundations are in good shape, then it may not need to be replaced during a conversion.

Pole Barns

On the other hand, pole barns were made as temporary structures and were placed on the ground, not foundations. While they can be solidly built, because they are not set on a foundation but rely on posts set in concrete, they may not be considered a permanent structure by some lenders.

The worry is the posts that hold the weight of the walls and roof will eventually rot and cause expensive structural damage. Due to the additional weight necessary to convert the barn into a home, you may not be able to get a permit to convert a pole barn into a residence as the old structures were not made to hold it.

​Modular Barns

Some modular or prefab barns can be converted into homes because they are sturdy structures. However, when you start getting into prefab barns or homes, then you may not want to look for an older building. Instead, several companies sell home kits designed like barns.

​Affordability of Conversions

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If you’re considering a barn conversion as an affordability alternative to a traditionally built house, it is possible to save some money if you carefully inspect the properties that you’re considering. However, a bad purchase can easily become a money pit.

Due to the popularity of barn conversions, savvy owners and realtors often charge a premium price, especially if the property has some historical value. Then, hiring an architect to help design the update, hiring a contractor to do the work and the materials, you could easily spend as much for the conversion as a newly built home.

​DIY Home Kits

Another alternative to having a new house built is buying a house kit. There are dozens of kits from which to choose, so you can pick the size and style of house that you want. When it is delivered, you can assemble it per the instructions.

There are two basic types of kits with the most common being the traditional kits in which all the materials to build the structure are delivered, and you assemble it. However, you can also purchase what is called a flat pack home, which is a prefabricated house.

​Image Source: www.dwell.com

Traditional home kits only include the materials to build the shell of the structure, they usually do not include:

  • ​Flooring
  • ​Plumbing supplies
  • ​Electrical supplies
  • ​Cabinets
  • ​Appliances
  • ​Drywall

​Some kits offer a variety of windows and doors for the houses for an additional charge.

Although they are made to build the house yourself, you could hire a contractor to do it for you. However, along with all the interior needs, you would also have labor costs to consider.

​Building a Home Kit

​Image Source: ​www.metal-building-homes.com

​Before ordering a house kit, you will need a place to put it. As long as it meets zoning ordinances and building codes, you should be able to construct a kit home in any state if you buy a plot of land. The cost of the land will depend on where it is located, how much land there is, and its view.

You can choose from several design styles if you decide to buy a kit home. In fact, there are several companies that offer house kits in a variety of barn styles. They are available in traditional designs like gambrel, gable, monitor, and bank barn styles. Some kits are also available for pole barn homes.

​Pole Barn Kits

Due to their construction method, a pole barn was usually less expensive than other types of barns, and they could be put together quickly. The same holds true for pole barn kit homes as their construction is more simplistic, and they have metal walls supported by poles driven into the ground.

A Modern pole barn house is engineered to withstand the weight of the roof, walls and the necessary interior additions that would be required to have a livable home. Since home kits only come with the materials for a basic structure, it is up to you to design and construct the interior.

Although the walls are metal, based on the appearance from the outside, the house would look like any other home in the area. Most people wouldn’t be able to tell it was built from a kit. Pole barn houses are available in several designs from manufacturers who specialize in building barn style kits.

​Flat Pack Homes

A flat pack home is a new concept to the American market, but they have been sold for several years in places like Australia. They are a type of prefabricated or modular home that is built in a factory and shipped to the home site in flat panel boxes. Approximately 90% of a flat pack house is built in the factory.

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The homes come in a variety of styles, from tiny houses to designs based on mansions. These kits are also made for the homeowner to assemble as all the pieces necessary to build them are shipped in the containers. Some smaller structures can be put together in less than a day.

Some flat pack homes include some of the interior necessities like cabinets, counters, and fixtures. These kits cost about 25% of traditional homes, so they are not necessarily a more affordable housing alternative.

As with a traditional home kit, you also need to consider where it will be built, the size, and the cost of the land and foundation. Since they are available in several designs, you should be able to find a flat pack home with a barn design.

​Costs of Kit Homes

​​There are several things to consider if you’re thinking about purchasing a house kit. While there are some affordable options that cost less than $40 per square foot, high-end custom kits could cost as much like a traditional home by the time the land is bought, the foundation is laid, and the interior is finished.

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Of course, if you’re buying farmland or mountainside property, the cost of construction may be worth it to you. The construction time will be far less than traditional construction as well. A kit or flat pack home can be assembled in a manner of days, but it could take months for a traditionally constructed house to be ready.

If the cost of a barn conversion isn’t in your budget or if you cannot find an older barn in an area where you want to live, then a kit home may be a good alternative for you and your family. As long as you can get a permit to build one on the land that you own, and it meets zoning ordinances and building codes, you should be able to build one in any state.

Some home kit manufacturers offer several styles of barn houses, including pole barn designs. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, you can save on construction costs by putting a kit together with the help of your friends or family. With a smaller kit, it can be assembled in just a few days.

If a barn house is your dream home, you should be able to find a design that you like and that fits your housing budget.

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