An Architect’s Guide to Drawing Your Own Barndominium Plans

An Architect’s Guide to Drawing Your Own Barndominium Plans

Architect David Ludwig (www.LudwigDesign.com) has over 50 years of construction and design experience. A frequent contributor to assisting those interested in barndominiums, but without knowledge to create their own plans, David has offered his sage advice:

1. Draw to scale. Use 1/4” graph paper. Make each square equal to 6”
2. Use double lines for walls. Make them 5” thick
3. Furnish your plans. Measure and draw all furniture on a separate sheet. Cut out the little drawings. Move them around to find the best layout.
4. Consider flow, outlook (window locations) interior views, sound through walls, privacy, focal points, cross-space and adjacent space connections (visual and walking), etc.
5. Show door swings and window locations.
6. In your mind, go and “sit” in every seat. Look around. Adjust what you see.
7. Two-story interior spaces. Consider limiting your upper floor to create a two-story space for your great room/dining/kitchen. Consider a balcony at the upper level. Consider making the stair a “feature” part of the large space.
8. Stair design. Avoid circular stairs or landings with windows. Difficult to meet code requirements. Consider a “folded” two-flight stair with a landing half way up. Consider enlarging the landing as an actual “between space” or overlook (library, crafts).
9. Common omitted items: pet areas, pantry, digital charging, trash and recycling, sports and hobby equipment, musical instruments, utility room (for furnace/AC, water heater, well equipment), cleaning closet (for vacuum, brooms, cleaning supplies)
10. TV and digital media. Think about the role TV plays in your life. It is central and everywhere? Is this what you want? Is this good for your kids? Consider sequestering all screens to a “media room” for limiting access and freeing other spaces as “screen-free”.
11. Look at building code for clearance requirements at plumbing fixtures and wood stoves.
12. Draw “exterior elevations” of the whole house. In a large-volume building like a barn, consider using 8’ headers for windows and doors. For tall walls, consider adding transom windows above.
13. Organizing openings and changes of materials. Line things up. Slight misalignment is visual clutter. Create changes of materials and colors that “tell a story” or frame or align with openings.
14. Daylight, windows, emergency escape and ventilation. Follow and exceed code requirements for minimum openings. Consider adding a “cupola” or system of skylights at the ridge to bring light/air into the center of your main spaces.
15. Solar. Consider roof slope (min 4/12) and orientation (south or southwest) for optimal solar orientation.
16. Shade. Consider overhangs and covered porches to shade your windows. Sun entering through windows can heat/cool at the right times of year. Remember, summer sun is almost vertical and can easily be shaded. Winter sun is low angle and can slip under a shade to add warmth.
17. Interior elevations. Draw separate for each room with cabinets and special finishes (kitchens, bathrooms, pantries). Look at what you want to store and where.
18. Outdoor rooms. Consider creating an outdoor kitchen/BBQ area. Covered/sun? Looking at? Think of the space around your barn as containing “outdoor rooms” with activities and furnishings. Outdoor spaces have a larger “scale” than indoor. Consider seasonal changes.
This should get you started.
Good luck!
David Ludwig, Architect

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