Homeowners are hopping on the 'barndominium' trend

Posted at 12:53 PM, Apr 20, 2022

PECULIAR, Mo. — At Worldwide Steel Buildings, steel structure kits are put together and shipped out from coast to coast. Jeff Snell is the CEO who bought the company in 2016.

"We produce around 30 to 3,500 of steel a day," Snell said. "Since 2016, our business has grown 300%, and over half of our sales are now barndominiums."

According to Barndominium Life, an online resource that teaches people about building barndominiums, the popularity of this style of home can be attributed to Chip and Joanna Gaines who coined the word on their show "Fixer Upper."

"It's not just the cookie-cutter home that you'd put in a subdivision," Snell said. "I mean, it's a lifestyle choice to be out in the country and live in a barndominium."

Snell says barndos are a favorite among people with outdoor lifestyles.

"We see people finish off, you know, a third of their building and then have the remaining of the building for all their toys, boats, RV, four-wheelers, golf carts," Snell said.

With vaulted ceilings and an open concept, Snell says the inside of a barndo is a blank canvas.

Morgan Roepke and her husband are building a barndominium near Springfield, Missouri.

"It is a 2,800-square-foot home with an 800-square foot garage," Roepke said. "We started building in August and we hope to finish in the next month or so."

Roepke says she and her husband were attracted to the open concept and rural aesthetic of a barndominium.

"We want to have our friends and family over," Roepke said. "We want to do cookouts and we want to do bonfires and we want to have parties here."

She says they really value time with family.

"My mom and dad's house will be right there where you see the construction happening," Roepke said.

Roepke says she has spent years researching barndominiums to become a self-contractor. She also remodeled their last house. But she wants people to know anyone can build a barndo if they have the knowledge and motivation. That's why she now offers a course to other people who want to be a DIY homebuilder.

"I do think that because it made it easier for us to self-contract, that made us a lot of money," Roepke said. "If we had gone the traditional route and been forced to use a general contractor, then it would have been far more expensive. Probably 30 percent more expensive."

Some barndominiums are all wood, others all steel, and Roepke's is a hybrid between the two. Snell says demand for these types of homes is growing, and he thinks that demand will continue.

"We see our customers, you know, younger couples first starting out for their starter homes, using steel buildings for homes," Snell said. "But we see a lot of retirement couples, too. You know, they want to retire to the country on ten or 15 acres."

Roepke says she, her husband and four kids are super happy with how their barndominium has turned out. She even let her little girls paint their own rooms.

"This is our house," Roepke said. "Like we built this house so hands-on. And it is us."