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Building a Barndominium in North Carolina: Builders, Costs, Locations, And More

Building prices in North Carolina have absolutely skyrocketed in the last year. Between a pandemic, inflation, and a volatile real estate market, prices have increased by over 20 percent year over year causing builders’ and homeowners’ jaws alike to drop. 

Image Source: dcbuilding.com

This has left many aspiring homeowners to wonder if building in NC is even possible or wise, and the short answer is: absolutely! By building a barndominium in North Carolina you can find creative ways to both be wise in your investment and have everything you’ve dreamed of in a home. A solid, quality barn home large enough for your family – with your favorite finishes and amenities – can not only prove to be a perfect place to settle for years to come but also a worthy real estate investment. Let’s take a look at the ways a house barn could make all your dreams come true.

What is a Barndominium?

The shabby-chic trend has been coming in hot for many years now. From farmhouse sinks to shiplap interiors, folks all over the world have incorporated barn-like aspects into every kind of interior and exterior design. A barndominium takes this concept and applies it to an entire structure: the main concept is to take the exterior of a barn and turn it into a house. 

This encompasses all the exterior durability of a barn (think metal roof, slab foundation, hardie siding, and large overhangs) with the comfort of a custom-built interior, meaning less money spent on the outside and more for the fixtures, finishes, and amenities you really want and will increase the resale value of your home.

Advantages of Having a Barndominium in North Carolina

Of course before considering an off-kilter option it’s natural to want to explore the advantages, because while the most popular way to build a home is to go down the traditional stick-built route with a local builder, a barndo has advantages North Carolinians won’t want to ignore. 

Reliable 

It’s not uncommon to find barns still standing over a century after they’re built, and barn houses utilize many of the same features that create the reliability of a barn. The simple, fuss-free style of construction and primarily metal exterior enable easy repairs and long lasting durability. For example, in the event of fire the steel structure of a barndo is going to undergo less damage than a stick-framed home made primarily of wood.

And when it comes to maintenance, consider a home with stained cedar siding or intricate embellishments on the exterior and how much more difficult these finishes make repairs, and think about how much more maintenance is required to keep them functional. In contrast, a barndo’s reliable finishes and construction require minimal maintenance and have more affordable repairs.

Climate compatibility

One of the best parts about North Carolina barndos is that they are uniquely suited to the local climate. With mild temperatures and minimal exposure to extreme weather or acts of god, barndominiums are likely to last a very long time with a high level of energy efficiency. Especially if you build in the piedmont where neither cold weather nor ocean air are concerns, a barndo can be ideal.

Adaptable

Barn homes can be adapted to a number of climate conditions. While they aren’t great for extremely cold weather or areas often hit by hurricanes, it’s fortunate that most of North Carolina rarely faces those conditions and instead struggles with things like humidity and summer pests. 

These can all be mitigated with waterproofing and pest control, easily applicable to any barndominium. While there are areas of NC that aren’t ideal for a barndo (which we will discuss later), most of the landscape is ideal.

Image Source: dcbuilding.com

Another adaptability factor for barndos is that they can suit multiple purposes. You can add a large, separate shop onto the property if you have a traditional home, but with a barndo you can incorporate heavy work-spaces into the actual floor plan since the nature of a barndominium is compatible with large garages and shops.

Pricing advantage 

While all the other advantages are important in the equation, the biggest advantage of a barndominium in North Carolina is the cost structure. Since the average cost of a basic home per square foot (with all over carpet, prefabricated cabinets, basic trim, and vinyl siding) has risen to over 200 dollars, the lower cost structure of a barndominium (180 to 190 dollars per square foot) allows homeowners to install higher-grade fixtures and more, better amenities for the same price as a low-end traditional home.

Faster Build Time

Most traditionally built homes require between six and twelve months to construct from breaking ground to the final walk-through. This includes grading, laying the foundation, framing, electrical, HVAC, plumbing, and finishing. Barndominiums, on the other hand, require only a matter of weeks (up to three months) to construct. 

Since a majority of metal barn houses are prefabricated and site-assembled, building the actual home only requires assembly by a contractor. The rest (cabinetry, flooring, fixtures, etc.) takes just a few weeks before the home is move-in ready.

Where to Build in North Carolina?

If upon reading the advantages of a barn house in North Carolina you’ve decided it might be a good fit for you, don’t forget to consider location. As they always say about real estate, it’s all about “location, location, location”! When hunting for property, it’s important to think about some specific factors. 

Resale

First of all, make sure the plot of land is favorable for the style of build. It might not be the best idea to construct a barn home in a historic downtown surrounded by Edwardian homes. Resale will be entirely too difficult and your neighbors will absolutely hate you. In a rural area, however, a barn shop home fits the landscape seamlessly and is more than appropriate.

Zoning

Beyond making sure the style of your metal home structure is suitable for your surroundings, make sure your barndo is zoned properly. Because many people choose this style of home for its versatility of function you want to know that the purposes you intend are allowed in the area you build. If you plan to do business in your barndo, ensure the zoning is appropriate.

Lay of the Land

One quirk of barndominiums is that they typically require a slab foundation. While this is the most durable type of foundation, so it’s a good thing to have, a slab foundation can only be placed on flat land. So you’ll need to make sure whichever plot you choose lays flat in enough space for your metal barn house.

Region

The last consideration when it comes to location and land is to think about what region you live in. The best place in North Carolina to build a metal shop house or barn house is the piedmont thanks to its mild winters and the rarity of natural disasters.

Image Source: dcbuilding.com

The mountains of NC are also compatible with barndos, though extra insulation measures should be taken, and coastal regions should be avoided as they require specific structural accommodations since hurricanes do hit North Carolina’s coast from time to time.

Building a Barndominium in North Carolina

The building process itself is one to approach with care, but in the end it can be fully rewarding. It’s important to understand local building codes, which builders can be trusted with this new concept, what plan would best suit you and your property, and whether a kit or custom build is best for your situation.

Building Regulations In North Carolina

Barndominiums are regulated by the same standards as other on-site construction and are regulated at both a state and local level, so it’s best to consult your builder on the specifics before settling on a metal barn home. Regulations will vary from region to region depending on local ordinances, common acts of god, and zoning. You can review state level guidelines, but your county and/or municipality will have additional restrictions.

North Carolina Barndominium Builders

A barndominium is a specialty structure, so you’ll need to track down a builder capable of performing to your unique standard as many home builders have a set selection of floor-plans to choose from. The best idea is to find a fully custom home builder locally who is familiar with your local code and ordinances and has the experience and capability to perform unique tasks. If you need help finding a builder, NCHBA is a great reference and jumping-off point as the North Carolina Home Builders Association has vetted and verified all the builders listed on their website.

Barndo Kit Providers in NC

Barndos can be constructed from scratch by a contractor, but to save some money and time consider purchasing a barndominium kit in North Carolina which a contractor can erect and finish. These come with everything to construct the home and typically leave out things like cabinetry, fixtures, and appliances so you can choose those yourself and have them installed to your liking.

Spending less on the structure itself frees up more room in the budget for special finishings and special design touches. Some of the leading barndominium kit providers in North Carolina are Worldwide Steel Buildings and Rhino Building.

Barndominium Financing in North Carolina

Financing a barndominium is a great option. It allows you to consider a new construction if you otherwise wouldn’t have the cash to do so. Several factors work together to determine your barndo financing eligibility:

  1. Appraisal: Unless you have a lot of cash to put toward the home, you’ll depend heavily on an appraisal. Appraisers use recent sell data in your radius to determine how much they’ll value your barndominium, and thus how much can be borrowed for your construction as lenders will not loan more than the value. Building in a rural area is beneficial because a barndominium will likely be comparable to other homes which assists in an accurate appraisal.
  2. Your plans: An appraiser doesn’t just look at the number of square feet in your home and then compare it to homes in the area of the same size. They look at each feature of the proposed home and award value based on amenities in the floorplan, so make sure your plan solidly outlines all you plan to do with the home, even if you’re purchasing a kit from a barndo kit provider and adding the finishes with your contractor. Get the plan together and finalized as part of your lending process. 
  3. Loan options: When building a barndominium your loan options are the same as about any other construction loan. Your local bank will probably have great interest rates for a traditional loan with 10% to 20% down payment, but an FHA, VA, or USDA construction loan will give you more wiggle room with a zero to low down payment. Consult your local lender to find out what your eligibility is and whether you can use equity on your property to help with the down payment.
  4. Your builder: This is the most important part of the barndominium financing equation, because a good contractor will be responsible to ensure your plans are solid, surprise costs are at a bare minimum, and the building process won’t extend past the time allotted by the bank. Building with a contractor is a months to year long relationship, and you’ll be living in his or her product. So don’t take your selection lightly.

    Here are some questions to ask your barndo builder to make sure you make the best choice in contractor:
  • Ask for references. You want the contractor’s past clients to be excited to share their positive experiences. Make sure they mention things like integrity, trustworthiness, good communication, and meeting deadlines, which are all qualities that will keep your project on time and on budget.
  • Ask to see past homes they’ve built. A good contractor has at least a handful of satisfied past clients who don’t mind showing their home to potential new clients. Look for signs of solid construction that stands the test of time.
  • Experience is essential, especially with a unique structure like a barndominium. Your builder will run across challenges no matter what kind of home you build, but a competent contractor will be able to handle unique circumstances relating to a barndominium easily.

The Cost of Building a Barndominium in NC

The last thing, but certainly not least, to consider if you’re interested in building a barndominium is the cost. Whether you’re financing or have the cash yourself, this is of paramount importance and it’s the factor that ties everything else together. A home is probably the biggest purchase you’ll ever make, so ensure you’ve done your due diligence to have thought of everything.

If your builder comes highly recommended and is trusted by past clients, you’re in pretty good shape to experience minimal financial surprises. A local builder will know exactly what building code requires, if there are any special requirements for your area (like extra earthquake precautions in the building process if you live in an earthquake prone area or additional structural components for tornado prone regions) that could increase the price. Failed inspections that don’t meet guidelines and safety protocol won’t be an issue that adds thousands of dollars to the final barndominium cost if your builder is already aware of what’s required.

The good news is that most of North Carolina has straight-forward, common sense building code.. Every municipality or county might have its own code, but most of North Carolina doesn’t require any expensive extra components that increase the price per square foot. The average barndominium will run about 180-190 square feet, $20 below the average stick-built home with the same amenities.

This cost structure allows homeowners to increase the number of upgrades without going over budget while still achieving a beautiful, well constructed home that will last for years to come. 

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