Can You Build a Barndominium in New Hampshire?

You can, yes.

The process is slightly more complex than buying a pre-used or new home from a realtor, though.

Building from scratch requires either the purchase of the land on which you build your barndominium, or permission and an ongoing arrangement with the landowner to build the structure.

It requires understanding the zoning laws, getting any permits you need, and often – especially in New Hampshire – creating a structure that fits with the local aesthetic.

So, what do you need to know if you’re building a barndominium in New Hampshire?

  1. You probably need to get your head around the New Hampshire State Building Codes.
  2. It’s also worth getting a handle on the Historic Buildings Code Compliance – especially if you intend to transform an existing barn into a new barndominium.

If you’re going to build your barndominium yourself, you have a fair amount of reading to do and compliance to ensure. The correct and up-to-date building codes to which you’ll need to adhere are probably held at local, state, and federal levels. The State Building Codes linked here are…just the beginning.

They’re also made up of lots of codes working together (RSA 155-A, amended by Bcr 300, etc). The New Hampshire fire code, too, is a case of adopting a bunch of other codes (RSA 153), and then amending them as necessary for the needs of New Hampshire by the likes of administrative rule (Saf-C 6000).

It’s very likely that local government will have its own additions to the State Building Codes, and you’ll need to contact your local government offices to find out what standards apply in your area.

There are other codes, too – commercial building codes, historic structure codes, cultural resources codes, fuel gas codes, and so on – all of which may be different from one county to another. You’re going to need to talk to the code enforcement department.

All of this explains why barndominium builders exist as a whole entity, rather than a series of contractors. If you’re unfamiliar with the area and its codes and standards on either newbuild barndominiums or barndominium conversions, it might be worth sitting down with one such barndominium builder, even if you’re going to go ahead and build your own.

Pay them for an hour of their time, maybe, and get the relevant codes you need to follow written down. They may even be able to give you a handy contact at the code enforcement.

So, yes, you can build a barndominium in New Hampshire. The journey from wanting to build one to starting to build one though can be complicated, and you’ll benefit from the advice of a professional, whether you go on to use them to build your home or not.

How much does it cost to build a Barndominium in New Hampshire?

There are catches when trying to answer this question with any precision. The cost will alter depending on the size and square footage of the barndominium you intend to build. It will alter depending on whether you intend to build it yourself, get a professional to help apply the finishes, or get a professional to take the whole job on, with you merely as client and advisor where necessary.

More to the point, it will be different according to land, labor, and kit costs in the area, to zoning laws and building regulations from county to county, and it will be different according to the type of zone you’re in – commercial, rural, residential, etc.

Then it will be different too based on your own aesthetic choices – do you want a wooden barndominium or a steel one? Where are you buying your fixtures and fittings from - a commercial store or a builder’s merchants?

And so on, and so on.

The cost of building a barndominium anywhere is a giant equation with so many elements it depends entirely on a case-by-case basis what the costs will eventually turn out to be.

What seems to be universally true though is that if you build your own barndominium, it works out cheaper than buying a house with an equivalent floorplan.

While the true costs are complex, there’s a way to simplify things down. Perversely, that way…is algebra.

Wait, come back! It really does help to make things simple.

Let’s say this:

  • a = Land costs
  • b = Bureaucracy costs (compliance with regulations, etc)
  • c = Kit price of the barndominium of your choice
  • d = Material price of the facings – drywall, paint, etc
  • e = Labor costs for the crews needed to erect the barndominium
  • f = Living costs – electricity, water, sewage connection, insulation, heating, AC, internet, etc
  • g = Interior and appliance costs

Then by a simple process of adding a+b+c+d+e+f+g, you get the final cost of building your barndominium.

This is all very well, but how can you use this algebra to plan your costs in advance?

Very simply – algebra is not the boss of you.

While you can add in the actual figures you pay as you go along, and so build a realistic picture, there’s nothing to stop you from adding reasonable maximum figures to the numbers in advance, to give yourself at least a ballpark figure for what you are prepared to pay for each element and create a rough working budget.

Say, for instance, on c, the barndominium kit of your choice, it is available as a plain kit for $20 per square foot. Easy – multiply $20 by the number of square feet of your blueprint, job done. Except maybe it’s available finished by contractors at $40 per square foot. Choose which number you’re multiplying by your number of square feet, and use that figure instead of c.

Similarly, a visit to your local government code enforcement office should allow you to substitute b with an actual cost to be paid – and so on. Build up your equation of cost, substituting the letters with hard figures as you go. Put an arbitrary cap on, for instance, the cost of the interior, and then that much – and no more – can be factored in.

Make your caps reasonable for the area, so you stand a chance of sticking to them.

While there may be no precise answer for how much a barndominium, using local information, plugged into your equation of cost, will get you a pretty close approximation of what it will cost from start to finish.