Can You Build a Barndominium in Virginia?

As the property market becomes harder for first-time buyers to infiltrate, alternative housing is becoming more and more popular.

Due to their lower cost and easier construction, a barndominium is a great option for people wanting to build their homes.

In this article, I’ll cover some key information on whether you can build a barndominium in Virginia, so you can make an informed decision about whether it’s a viable option for you.

So, let’s get started.

There’s no denying that it can be difficult to navigate the housing market when you’re a first-time buyer. However, if you’re dreaming of building your own home in Virginia, a barndominium could be the perfect option for you.

A barndominium, also known as a ‘barndo’, refers to a non-traditional structure with a steel frame and sheet metal siding that builds a modern home. The name itself comes from the words ‘barn’ and ‘condominium’ together. These structures can be pre-existing or built from scratch by a barndominium builder and are absolutely a viable option in Virginia.

So, what are some of the advantages of building a barndominium?

  • Quick & convenient to construct over traditional home builds - If time isn’t on your side and you’re on a tight schedule, a barndominium’s main structure can usually be built in a matter of weeks. That being said, then, barndominiums are much easier to build and finish in a shorter period of time and are an excellent alternative to building traditional homes, which can take several months or years to finish.
  • Cost-effective in comparison to traditional home builds - Your lifelong dream of building your own home could be closer to reality than you might think if you decide to opt for a barndominium. Not only will you be able to save time and money, but you will also be able to add more features and spend more on the interior of your custom home. 
  • Adaptive design - As barndominiums can be designed to be a work as well as a living space, they are an excellent option for people who want or need to work from home. Their open interiors also make renovations and customizations easy, allowing homeowners to create their ideal home for a lifetime.
  • Energy-efficient - Barndominiums are also fairly energy efficient by keeping the heat in. The steel framing and sheet metal siding make it relatively easy to completely seal the building envelope, one of the most critical features of energy-efficient homes.
  • Durable - Barndominiums are built from steel framing and metal siding that will generally last a lifetime and are designed to better withstand the elements, including severe storms. In some cases, it is also worth mentioning that the increased durability of a barndominium may result in lower insurance costs, too.

What is the cost of building a barndominium in Virginia?

The cost of building a barndominium is dependent on a few factors. The main factors include the size of the property you intend to build, the plot of land that you purchase, the material you plan to use (with metal often being cheaper than a wooden barndominium), and the number of interior customizations you want to finish your home.

The cost of building a traditional home in Virginia is around $125 per square foot. On the other hand, the cost of building a barndominium in Virginia is less money. Generally speaking, the majority of builders will charge around $100 to $120 per square foot for a barndominium build. While this might not seem like a large difference initially, the cost adds up when you’re talking about several thousands of square feet.

However, you will also need to apply for a permit before you commence construction. Usually, any project that involves building a new structure, altering an existing structure, or demolishing a structure will require a permit in Virginia. This includes small structures such as decking and sheds as well as any interior remodeling you intend to do to your house.

Building permit prices range from $400 to $2,000 for barndominiums, and are dependent on where you live and the project, so you will need to research before going ahead with your project and factor this into your budget.

How you’re going to finance the building of your barndominium is arguably the most important factor to bear in mind. It is important for you to know that barndominiums don’t tend to qualify for conventional mortgages or first-time homebuyer programs as they are technically perceived as multi-purpose structures.

If you’re going to finance the build of your barndominium, you’ll need to visit your bank to see if you are eligible for a standard or personal loan to cover the cost of your new home.

Finance Options for a Barndominium 

  • Sell your existing home - When looking at options to finance your barndominium, you could explore selling your existing home to cover the cost of construction. Although you will likely have to move into a cheaper place for the duration of the build, a lot of people choose this option. That being said, only consider this as an option if there are no existing mortgages or financial hindrances attached to your existing home.
  • A construction loan - Another option to take is to get a construction loan. A construction loan is a short-term loan that has a higher interest rate than a traditional loan but will cover the cost of the build. That being said, they require a higher down payment than a traditional loan as they tend to be higher risk.
  • Personal loan - If you’re building your barndominium on a piece of land that you already own, you could be eligible for a personal loan to cover the cost of the build yourself.

Although these are some options that you can take, only you and your bank will know your personal situation regarding finance, so it is important to talk to them about what is realistic before going ahead with any major construction projects to ensure that you can afford what you are signing up for.