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Barndominium vs. Shouse: What’s the Difference?

March 25th, 2024 | 12 min. read

Nettie Grubb

Nettie Grubb

Nettie joined the FBi Marketing team in 2022 as the Marketing Content Creator. Nettie grew up just outside of Des Moines, IA. In 2016, she received her BS in Agriculture Communications from Iowa State University. Upon graduation, she has worked in agriculture sales and marketing. She moved to Indiana in 2020. Outside of work, Nettie enjoys quilting, crocheting, crafting, canning, gardening, fishing, and hunting. She is married and enjoys spending time with her husband and dog.

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Metal buildings for homes are no longer just a popular trend in rural areas. Whether you call them a barndominium, shouse, or pole barn home, there are a few key differences in their technical names.

In this blog, we will define each type of pole barn home and explain the cost to build, how various building materials can affect the price, and how your barndominium floor plan can affect the overall construction cost.

 

Pole Barn Home Guide, FBi Buildings

What is a Barndominium?

Arrowhead Pass_Web_800x500_9The name barndominium comes from barn and condominium. These structures are often large and rectangular, similar to an ag building. They usually incorporate a more high-end aesthetic and can have a two-story floor plan. The frame of a barndominium is made with either steel beams or wooden columns and trusses.

Both barndominiums and shouses offer low-maintenance metal siding and roofs. Wooden framed barndominiums are more commonly found in the midwest, whereas steel framed barns are more popular in southern states in America.

 

What is a Shouse?

DonBrock_Suburban_2When your husband wants a shop to do woodworking and work on vehicles, and you want a house all under the same roof, you get a shouse. Compared to a barndominium that retains a rectangular shape and the same height for the entire building, a shouse has a taller height for the shop portion and a shorter height for the house.

 

What are the Benefits of a Barndominium?

  • Quicker Construction
  • Open Floor Plan
  • High Ceilings
  • Design Flexibility
  • Durability
  • Low Maintenance
  • Energy Efficient

 

What are the Disadvantages of a Barndominium? 

Which Is Cheaper: A Barndominium or a Shouse?

The average cost per square foot for a finished home is $150 - $250+ (shell-only costs are usually 60% to 80% less). The following factors will determine if your post-frame construction home is leaning toward the low/high side of the cost spectrum:

  • Total square feet (how big will your project be with living space and garage?)
  • Exterior and interior features (what finishes will you use for your building?)
  • Current nature of the commodities market (what is the current state of material prices?)

Here are five projects we have built that contain various features and sizes. The price listed is how much you would pay for the size and features as of March 2024. Click the project number to learn more about what FBi’s portion included. 

Please note that prices are subject to change and do NOT include site prep, flooring, HVAC, electrical, plumbing, and other interior finishes.

Type

Project

Size

FBi Portion

Shouse

20-0825-00

60' x 64' x 16' shop + 60' x 32' x 8'

$185,463

Barndominium

128163 

60' x 104' x 16' 6" 

$194,920

Barndominium

125889

60' x 96' x 16' 

$230,728

Shouse With Basketball Court 

127475

64' x 64' x 16' shop + 48' x 44' x 12'

$305,870

Pole Barn Home With Garage 

20-0250-00

32' x 66' x 8’

$114,855

As you can see, sometimes the shell of a barndominium is more expensive than a shouse, and other times it is less. Below, we outline the costs of a two-story project.

 

2-Story

Generally, a 2-story barndominium will cost less per sqft of floor area. For example, a 2-story may cost 50% more per sqft of building footprint, but once you factor in that, you are getting double the usable floor area; it's 25% less per sqft of floor area. 

Also, expensive second-floor deck systems with large spans will greatly diminish these savings. Including plenty of interior support walls to reduce the spans of the deck system will help keep costs down.

 

This Two-Story Barndominium only has a 32' x 60' living space of 60' x 104' x 16' 6". However, it accommodated two bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, a living room, a kitchen, and laundry on the main floor, as well as an office, loft area, and storage upstairs. 

The remainder of the barn is a three-car garage, a shop with a lift, and RV storage. This customer maximized living space by doing a 2-story and reduced project cost by having the RV storage area non-insulated, similar to a cold storage barn.

 

Roof Design

Complex roof systems will increase the cost of barndominiums. A basic rectangular gable roof system is the most cost-effective design for a barndominium or shouse.

Another benefit of connecting your home and shop instead of separating the buildings is that the permits and taxes are for one structure. 

In addition, the shorter the building, the less it costs, especially when interior finishes must be considered. 

Brock Shouse has a 60' x 64' x 16' shop area connected to a 60' x 32' x 8' living area. This customer was able to save by reducing the height of the living area. The house has a big kitchen, living room, dining area, primary suite, laundry, guest room, and bathroom.

 

Floor Plan

Since a shouse incorporates more shop than a house, the price may be lower since you won’t have as many interior finishes. While a barndominium can maximize living space, the cost per square foot of living space is significantly higher than cold storage.

Your shop can get more expensive depending on:

Design Your Pole Barn_FBi Buildings

Finishes

On the exterior of your post-frame home, you may consider adding finishes to make your barn look more like a home and less like…a barn. That can include:

And for the inside, you may be asking how to finish the interior of your residential pole barn.

This is where the price can vary the most. Here, you must factor in flooring, walls, and extra finishes.

 

Who Builds Barndominiums?   

Each pole barn builder differs, so understand how to compare builders. The quality of the material and craftsmanship matter! 

Some builders, like FBi Buildings, offer custom-designed floor plans. The sales team will walk you through the home construction process, during which you will be assigned a dedicated project manager and construction crew to build your metal structure.

You’re building a home to live in, not just store equipment in, so be sure you can build with confidence!

Suburban Brochure by FBi Buildings

You may also consider a DIY barndominium kit to save money on labor while using quality materials.

 

Will You Build a Barndominium or Shouse?

In summary, while both barndominiums and shouses have a similar rustic aesthetic, the main difference lies in their primary purpose. Barndominiums are primarily residential homes with a barn-like exterior, while shouses are versatile buildings that combine living space with a workshop or storage area. Ultimately, choosing a barndominium or a shouse will depend on your specific needs and preferences.

Ready to take the next step in the building process? Please call us at (800) 552-2981 or reach us online to determine your pole barn estimate. Do you need to know if your idea is worth pursuing? You can request a rough ballpark quote without 100% committing to a post-frame project. 

Pole Barn Quote_FBi Buildings


Have more questions about pole barn trusses not covered in this article? Please contact FBi Buildings at 1.800.552.2981 or click here to email us. If you are ready to get a price, click here to request a quote and a member of our sales team will call you.