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A Guide to Building a Barndominium in Arizona

Barndominium and other alternative housing concepts are becoming more popular these days. Apart from being affordable construction-wise, it also provides unique concepts in terms of style and design. In fact, many folks from different states like Arizona are opting as their residential space.

That being said, are you planning to build a barndominium in Arizona but do not know where and how to start?

If yes, then you are on the right page.

This guide to building a barndo in Arizona covers everything you need to know about the whole process, from the estimated cost to local financing firms that can help you build your dream home. 

What Is a Barndominium?

A low-cost alternative to conventional housing, a barndominium is a modern housing concept inspired by a barndo and a condominium. It features both traits of the said structures, which includes high vaulted ceilings and metal walls and roofing. However, rather than hardwood or concrete, it is mainly built using steel and metal. 

The structure is built differently from a conventional house as well. In fact, a product called ‘prefabricated barndo kits’—which I will discuss in the later sections—are available in the market. It is a much more convenient way of building a barndo, unlike when you have to start from scratch.

A barndo is an open-concept living space design-wise too. It is also versatile and can be used as a residential space, a workspace, a commercial space, or even a hybrid of three. Hence, in essence, its flexibility is perfect for Arizona’s dry climate, given that owners can customize it to fit the area’s weather.

Moreover, it comes in a variety of styles too. There’s a single-story, a two-story, and even a larger than the average three-story house. You can also build a wide range of barndo designs, from simple cabins to high-end cottages. And in terms of its features, the structure typically has columns, a gabled roof, sliding doors, a high vaulted ceiling, energy-efficient windows, and a wooden staircase.

Is It a Better Alternative?

Barndominium is indeed money-saving and unique in terms of design. But that does not mean it is a “better” alternative than conventional housing concepts, specifically in Arizona’s dry climate.

That being said, to help you assess whether the structure is a good fit in Arizona’s weather and in general, below are some of the structure’s benefits.

  • Low-cost in general. One of the most sought reasons why folks opt to build a barndo these days is because it is way cheaper compared to when you build a traditional house. Essentially, barndos are cheap in terms of construction. The structure, for instance, uses materials like metal and steel that are low-cost. Not like conventional housings that typically uses wood and concrete; and both are expensive. 
  • You could save up money from labor too if you are a seasoned DIY enthusiast who knows his way around carpentry and masonry. Barndos require a short period only too to assemble, which reduces your labor fee in return.

    It helps you save money in the long run as well thanks to it being low maintenance. No need to repaint it or stain it on a regular basis, unlike wood. 
  • Convenient and quick to build. Barndos are easier to build too, compared to when you build a house from scratch. It is particularly true if you will opt for ‘prefabricated barrndominium kits’ over building from scratch.

    When it comes to the construction time, on the other hand, the usual period time takes about no longer than two months, depending on the size and design of the structure. In fact, you can assemble one in just a few weeks only. 
  • Open-concept structure. Barndominiums are also very customizable thanks to them being an open-concept living space. In essence, the structure’s design is versatile enough to allow owners how they want to use the space. You can turn it into both your home and office space. You can easily makeshift another type of room too since barndos are essentially built with high ceilings. 
  • Energy-efficient. For Arizona’s always hot and dry weather, building a barndo is not only a low-cost option but is also energy-efficient. It is because its main materials, which are metal and steel, provide natural weatherization. In return, these help to reduce a household’s energy consumption.

    But aside from that, barndo contractors typically recommend energy-saving HVAC. They install an exceptional insulation system too that is fit to the area’s usual weather. 
  • Durable. Last but not the least benefit of a bardominiums is its sturdiness. Although it is mainly built using steel and metal, the structure is as durable as conventional housings. It can withstand natural phenomena like earthquakes, hurricanes, and storms. Steel is fire-resistant as well, unlike hardwood which is typically used in traditional barns and houses.

Building a Barndo in Arizona

Estimated Cost

Depending on several aspects, the amount of money one will spend on building a barndominium in Arizona varies from person to person. Factors such as the type of structure, the style and design, the land price, the labor, and other housing miscellaneous things like local permits and zoning, should be considered. 

That being said, if you want to get a close-to-accurate barndominium construction cost, contractors recommend calculating it by the square foot. 

In Arizona, for example, the average price per square foot starts at $114. And that is already cheap compared to when you build a traditional house which may cost around $150 and more. 

But do take note that the said price is applicable for the basic, and non-customized structure only. So, if you prefer a fully-customized barndo, prepare to spend at least $150 per square foot. That includes kitchen cabinets, countertop, and other furnishings already.

Land Price

Another factor you should look after when building a barndominium in Arizona is the land price. But the good thing is that lands in the said are quite cheap. In fact, it is among the top ten cheapest lands per acre in the entire country. An acre, for example, starts at $4, 300 and more.

That’s cheap if compared to states like New York and Washington.

Prefabricated Barndo Kits

While building a structure from scratch offers the flexibility owners need to freely style and design their spaces, a kit made specifically for those who prefer a simple and basic barndo also exists.

Known as a ‘prefabricated barndo kit,’ it is a package containing all the materials one needs to build or assemble a barndominium. In essence, it makes the process much more convenient and faster as all materials included in the kit are all premade and predrilled already. In fact, a simple and standard structure will take a few weeks only to assemble. 

But apart from that, it is slightly cheaper too, compared to when you build from scratch. 

Having said that, below are some of the basic stuff included in the package.

  • Roofing materials
  • Barndo’s outer shell
  • First and secondary framing
  • Flashing
  • Wall sheeting
  • Sealants
  • Fastener

Furthermore, prefabricated kits come in one but a wide variety of styles and designs. You can choose from a simple cabin-like structure to high-end looking cottages—whichever your preferences.

Zoning and Permits

Another crucial factor in building a barndo in Arizona is the gathering of local permits and checking the property’s zoning status. These documents are required as part of the legal process of building any type of structure—be it for residential or commercial purposes—which includes the barndo.

That said, here are three simple steps to guide you on how to properly obtain permits and zoning. 

Step 1: Check the Zoning.

Zoning is a land regulation imposed by the local government. Such law mandates how a property should be used and is often determined through its positive contribution to the community. For instance, if the land is zoned for residential purposes only, then no contractor, individual, or corporation can use it for commercial use. 

It is why it is important to check your desired property’s zonings status first before you start planning. You can do it by either asking your local government in Arizona or searching it using the GIS.

Step 2: Gather all the permits needed

After checking the zoning status, you can now start gathering all the permits the state of Arizona requires you to obtain to start the construction. And some of these permits are building permits, electrical and wiring permits, plumbing, septic, and mechanical permits. 

You can get these documents from your local government. Or, if you are a busy person, you can hire someone to do the job instead, as there are professionals who can and offer such service.

Step 3: Hire a building company

Lastly, if you think you are too busy to get all these things done, then it is best to hire a building company. This type of service will make the process a lot easier and faster as they already know the ins and outs of how to get permits and zoning.

 Should You DIY?

Barndominiums, as mentioned, are much more convenient to build compared to traditional houses. It is particularly true with the existence of prefabricated barndo kits, which you can assemble within a few weeks only. So, to answer whether you should DIY or not will depend on you, your knowledge, and most importantly your skills. 

If, say, you are an experienced DIY enthusiast, yet you do not know the workings of building houses, it is best to hire a contractor instead. However, if you are an experienced DIY enthusiast and you are confident with your skills and knowledge, then it is up to you to do it. 

Having said that, below are two building companies local to Washington that can help you.

Barndominium Builders in Arizona

  • Desperado Steel. As its name suggests, Desperado is an Arizona-based steel company that produces custom metals, be it for commercial or residential purposes. A good option if you want a credible and trusted barndo builder that can provide quality and durable structure.
  • Steel Building Systems. Steel Building Systems is another local steel building that has been operating for more than 25 years already. They build all types of steel, including those that are used for residential structures such as barndominiums.

Do Banks Finance Bandos?

Homeownership is indeed a financially overwhelming endeavour. As such, to help those people build their dream house, several financing firms across the country are offering monetary aid. In Arizona, for example, Farm Plus Financial and Western Banks are where local folks often apply for house loans.

Farm Plus Financial and Western Banks are financing firms launched specifically to help people in the farming industry and other agricultural businesses. Both provide monetary help to those who plan to dip their toes in the said industry, and that includes building a barndominium. They have been operating in Arizona for years already and have a great reputation among locals in terms of loan agreements. 

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