Is It Cheaper To Build a 1 or 2 Story Barndominium? (2024)

Is It Cheaper to Build a Single-Story Barndominium or a Two-Story?

When it comes to constructing a barndominium, potential homeowners are often faced with the decision of whether to build a single-story or a two-story structure. Obviously, a single Story home is Going to Cost Less to build, it has a smaller overall footprint and uses fewer materials. This choice significantly impacts the overall design, functionality, and, most crucially, the cost of the project. While both options have their advantages, understanding the cost implications of each can help in making an informed decision. Additionally, the rising popularity of steel frame barndominium kits over traditional stick framing introduces another layer of consideration in the construction process.

Single-Story Barndominium

Single-story barndominiums are generally perceived as less expensive due to several factors:

– **Foundation Costs**: The foundation of a single-story barndominium typically costs less than that of a two-story structure since it bears less weight. This can lead to savings in both materials and labor.
– **Roofing Costs**: A single-story barndominium usually has a simpler roofing structure compared to a two-story building. The complexity and additional materials required for roofing a two-story construction can increase the costs significantly.
– **Accessibility and Safety**: Single-story homes do not require staircases, which can be costly to construct, especially if you’re opting for custom designs. Furthermore, the absence of a second floor eliminates the need for additional safety features, potentially reducing overall construction expenses.

However, it’s important to note that single-story barndominiums often have a larger footprint, which can increase the costs associated with the foundation and roofing materials per square foot of living space. Additionally, the land preparation and excavation costs might be higher due to the larger area covered.

Two-Story Barndominium

Two-story barndominiums, on the other hand, offer a more compact footprint, which can lead to certain cost-saving advantages:

– **Land and Foundation Savings**: By building upwards, the foundation and land preparation costs can be reduced since the building covers a smaller area. This can be particularly beneficial on smaller or more challenging plots where maximizing usable space is crucial.
– **Efficiency in Plumbing and HVAC**: With a smaller footprint, the distance between plumbing and HVAC systems is reduced. This can lower the cost of materials and installation for these systems, as they need to cover a shorter distance between floors.
– **Potential for Lower Roofing Costs**: Despite potentially higher complexity, the overall roof area of a two-story barndominium may be smaller than that of a single-story structure with the same square footage, possibly leading to savings in roofing materials.

However, two-story constructions come with their own set of increased costs, including the need for staircases, enhanced structural support to bear the weight of the upper floor, and potentially more complex roofing designs. Additionally, second-story windows and possibly more elaborate exterior finishes can add to the expense.

The Role of Steel Frame Barndominium Kits

Steel frame barndominium kits have become increasingly popular, offering advantages in terms of cost, durability, and construction speed over traditional stick framing. Steel’s strength allows for greater design flexibility, including the ability to easily accommodate open floor plans and large, unobstructed spaces without the need for load-bearing walls. This can be particularly appealing for single-story designs where expansive living areas are desired.

For two-story barndominiums, steel framing provides the necessary structural support with less material than wood framing, potentially reducing the cost and complexity of constructing a multi-level building. The prefabricated nature of steel frame kits also simplifies the construction process, leading to faster build times and reduced labor costs for both single and two-story constructions.


Deciding between a single-story and a two-story barndominium involves a complex interplay of factors, including cost, land use, and personal preferences. While single-story barndominiums may initially seem less expensive due to simpler design elements, the larger footprint can offset these savings. Two-story barndominiums, with their compact footprint and efficient use of vertical space, can offer cost savings in the foundation, land preparation, and systems installation, but may incur higher costs in structural support and complexity.

The advent of steel frame barndominium kits adds an appealing dimension to this decision-making process. With their cost-effectiveness, durability, and flexibility, steel frames are a compelling choice for both single and two-story constructions, potentially offering the best of both worlds in terms of affordability and design possibilities. Ultimately, the choice will depend on individual needs, budget considerations, and the specific advantages each option presents in the context of the planned barndominium project.

Is It Cheaper To Build a 1 or 2 Story Barndominium? (2024)


Is It Cheaper To Build a 1 or 2 Story Barndominium? ›

Two-story barndominiums, with their compact footprint and efficient use of vertical space, can offer cost savings in the foundation, land preparation, and systems installation, but may incur higher costs in structural support and complexity.

How much more does it cost to build 1 story vs 2 story? ›

Our customers often ask us this question, so we decided to do an quick analysis on floor plan cost to build based on the number of floors. We analyzed our library of one-story and two-story plans to compare costs and found that two story plans are 14% more affordable to build per square foot on average).

What is the most expensive part of building a barndominium? ›

The biggest cost of building a barndominium comes from purchasing and building the metal shell, including the roof, doors, and windows. Other major exterior features that can affect the building cost include: Metal siding.

How tall does a barndominium need to be for 2 stories? ›

In order to maintain eight foot finished ceiling heights, two stories requires a 21 foot eave and single story 10 foot. Engineered plans and delivery were included.

What do I wish I knew before building a barndominium? ›

Here are the most important things to know about building a barndominium.
  • Obtain a permit for your project. Photo by Bridger Steel, Inc. ...
  • Test the paint. Photo by Justin Doyle Homes. ...
  • Prepare for surprise costs. ...
  • Plan for electrical work. ...
  • Choose your windows and doors wisely. ...
  • Add insulation—it's important.
Mar 14, 2022

Is it cheaper to build a second story or build out? ›

Is it cheaper to add a second story or build out? Second stories typically cost less than building out, but this depends on the scope of the design. However, you may still have to fortify your foundation when building a second story, so be sure to speak with a structural engineer before clarifying your budget.

Is it cheaper to build a double story? ›

Double-story homes are generally more expensive to build, but they maximize space and can provide better views and increased resale value. Ultimately, the best choice will depend on your specific needs and budget. It's important to consider all the factors and make an informed decision that works best for you.

Is it cheaper to build a 1 or 2 story barndominium? ›

Obviously, a single Story home is Going to Cost Less to build, it has a smaller overall footprint and uses fewer materials. This choice significantly impacts the overall design, functionality, and, most crucially, the cost of the project.

What is the downside to a barndominium? ›

Pros of barndominiums include a cheaper cost, fully customizable space, and lower maintenance. They're also highly durable with lots of extra room and are a more eco-friendly housing option. Meanwhile, cons include higher upfront costs, difficulties finding financing, and not all cities allow them.

Are barndominiums safe in a tornado? ›

Constructed with metal, a barndo offers superior protection from severe weather. The steel structure of a steel barndominium has a higher wind resistance than a conventional wood frame home. While the metal integrity of your home can endure a tornado, the windows and doors may not.

How long does it take to build a two story barndominium? ›

Most barndominiums take approximately 3-6 months to construct. However, just like with a conventional home, a barndominium's construction time depends on various factors including the level of customization.

What is a good size barndominium? ›

Sweet Spot – Plan for 1,200 – 2,500 feet blending unused volume with practical livability covering one story. This easily accommodates 2-3 bedrooms including a master suite with spa bath, great room gathering areas, kitchen, dining room, office, utility room and ample storage.

How thick does slab need to be for barndominium? ›

For barndominiums up to 1,500 sq. ft., most recommendations fall between a 4” and 6″ thick slab. This accommodates moderate traffic and furnishings adequately without excessive concrete use. The steel perimeter beams of barndominium kits require less internal slab support than wood framing.

Are barndominiums hard to insure? ›

Insurance can be complicated for barndominium homes. According to, not all insurers cover barndos, especially if they're mixed-use instead of residential only, and those that do might have barndo-specific policies.

Why not build a barndominium? ›

Noise and Privacy Concerns: The open, industrial design of barndominiums may not provide the same level of privacy as traditional homes. Sound can travel easily within the space, making it less suitable for individuals seeking a quiet and private living environment.

How to build a barndominium on a budget? ›

5 Ways to Save Money on Your Barndominium Build.
  1. Be strategic about where you put your framed openings: ...
  2. Use concrete floors. ...
  3. DIY finish work (Stairs, Barn Doors, Light Fixture Installation) ...
  4. Ask for “builder grade”/“build program” or scour the remnant yard for countertops.

Is it cheaper to build a single or double storey? ›

A single-story home is more cost-effective to design, but it will cost more to build than a two-story home. To make things more complicated, they'll likely cost less to heat and cool over the years.

What cost more single-story extension or double storey? ›

As a general rule adding a second-storey on top of the ground-floor extension costs an extra 50% of the single storey extension. So, depending upon your requirements, it may be more cost effective to opt for a two-storey extension. Not only cost but many other factors need to be considered.

Is it cheaper to build a 1.5 story house? ›

Is it Cheaper to Build a 1 1/2 Story House? Surprisingly, a 1.5-story home can cost more than either a one- or two-story house. Just like a one-story home, a 1.5 story house needs a generously sized foundation. Although the first floor is large, the second floor isn't quite as spacious.

Are single-story homes more valuable? ›

Though dependent on the submarket, a single-story home sells at an average premium of around 10% relative to a two-story counterpart. To quantify this figure, we assessed recent resale transactions in a variety of submarkets throughout the Sacramento, East Bay, and Central Valley regions.

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