Tag Archives: stick frame construction costs

Barndominium Costs Part II

Continuing my discussion of Barndominium costs from yesterday’s blog…
For sake of discussion, we will use 2400 sft (40×60) of finished living space (includes any bonus rooms) plus 1600 sft of garage/shop. To have a GC (General Contractor) turn-key this for you expect an average of:

2400 X $165.67 = $397,608
1600 X $83.50 = $133,600
$397,608 + $133,600 = $531,208

This is having your barndominium built (turn key), not for owner-builders.
If your barndominium will be very simple, rectangle, standard sizes, with little to no upgrades on finish materials (counter tops, flooring, cabinets, showers, lighting, trim, etc) then your costs could be less per sft.


On spectrum’s other end would be for very intricate, high end, everything upgraded barndominiums. Including things like custom cabinets, real hardwood flooring, high end appliances, custom fireplace, built in entertainment options, oversized windows and doors, vaulted ceilings throughout, steep roof, extra bathrooms/kitchens, etc.

But what you really want to know is what it will cost for you to build it, right?
We will assume you are willing to do some legwork, so if you don’t do any physical work yourself and just act as general contractor (making phone calls, hiring people, ordering materials, dealing with problems, etc) you can build this average barndominium for roughly $186,000 less than it would cost to hire a general contractor.

I can make a LOT of phone calls for this. In fact, I could easily take well over a year off work and still come out ahead!

Beyond making phone calls, hiring people, ordering materials, and dealing with problems, you can lower your price by doing some work yourself.
It’s all about what YOU are willing to do as an owner-builder.

Our prices above are for “stick frame” construction. By using post frame construction with embedded columns, rather than pouring a footing and foundation, a savings of $11,400 (2011 numbers) can be found: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/10/buildings-why-not-stick-frame-construction/.
This reduces your $531,208 investment by about 3% to $515,271
NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) allocated percentages in their Construction Cost Breakdown. These included:

Site work 7.4% (of this 1.2% was for architecture and engineering)
Foundations 11% (this includes excavation and backfill)
Framing 20.5%
Exterior Finishes 11.8% (siding, roofing, windows, doors)
Plumbing, Electrical, HVAC rough ins 17.9%
Interior Finishes 24% (insulation, drywall, interior trims and doors, painting, lighting, cabinets, counter tops, appliances, flooring, plumbing fixtures, fireplaces)
Final Steps 5.9% (Landscaping, decks, driveways, clean up)

Of framing and exterior finishes (roughly 1/3rd of costs), if you invest in an engineered post frame building kit package and do your own labor (labor being roughly 1/2 of this portion), save around $83,000 from what you would pay a General Contractor (I can take a lot of time off work for this).

Hansen Pole Buildings GuesthouseAnd my engineered post frame building kit package includes engineering, saving $6,400.
Obviously even more savings can be achieved for those capable of doing electrical and plumbing, however assuming nothing other than what has been listed, your $531,208 barndominium has been built and is ready to move in for roughly $256,000!! This resulted in over a 51% savings and kept over $275,000 in YOUR pocket!!

Of course your investment and savings could be more or less depending upon your tastes and location, however this should give you a feel for where you will be headed. It would be prudent to budget another 1% for every month you delay your start, as well.

Buildings: Why Not Stick Frame Construction?

When my younger (and only) brother was earning his first university degree (in Planning), he had to do a thesis. Mark’s topic was comparing the materials costs of a stick built (stud wall) Habitat for Humanity home, versus the same building as a post frame (or pole) building. The results were a savings in the building shell, above grade, of nearly $1000. This amounted to about a 3% savings on the entire cost of the project!

Why? Stick frame construction is designed for ease of construction, not practicality of materials usage. Many members are merely redundant. Ever notice the huge piles of wasted materials around a house under construction? It is not unusual to allow for a 10% overage in materials, in stick framing, just to cover waste and errors!

Notice I mentioned, “above grade”? Let’s take a look at what happens below grade in an average building, of say 40’ x 60’ with a frost line of 24”.

In stick frame construction a trench must be excavated in order to place footing forms. Depending upon digging conditions, allow $400 to $2000 plus the cost to move the equipment in. To construct the footing forms, figure two men can average about seven lineal feet per hour, so 57 man hours to set and pour. Add the cost of form material, stakes, 400’ of rebar and ties, plus 5 or so yards of premix. Before we even get as far as the foundation walls, it is easy to envision having spent four to five thousand dollars.

Concrete forms can be rented – plan on about $1 per square foot of form, plus delivery, pickup and the ties. Easily $1000. All these forms have to be placed, with rebar, and labor isn’t cheap. Plan on another couple thousand dollars. Eight more yards of premix. When it is all cured, labor to strip off and clean all of the forms, and then backfill.

In this example – if the footings and foundation can be done for $12,000, it was a bargain.

OK, I want you to just think about all those costs for a moment, or actually…. overnight.  Come back tomorrow I will compare this stick building, to what the same building would cost using pole building construction.  You may be surprised, so…stay tuned!