Building a Barndominium in Michigan

A barndominium can be a good choice for a Michigander because of the steel structure. Unlike traditional wood homes, a steel structure is less likely to shift and can weather the changing seasons much better over time.

Written By: Larry Haggerty

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If you’re considering buying or building a barndominium in Michigan then you’ve come to the right place.

A barndominium can be a good choice for a Michigander because of the steel structure. Unlike traditional wood homes, a steel structure is less likely to shift and can weather the changing seasons much better over time.

The steel structure can also handle larger snow loads and improve thermal conductivity which means it will capture more heat from the sun in winter and can help lower energy costs.

If you’re just starting your journey or looking for reassurance in your decision, keep reading below and learn everything you can about building or owning a barndominium in Michigan.

Can You Build a Barndominium in Michigan?

You can build a barndominium in Michigan but you will want to make sure you’re taking the time to plan accordingly.

Before you purchase land or decide to build your dream barndominium you should:

  • Plan the best location to build a barndominium.
  • Check with the local city and county for what their requirements are to build a barndominium.
  • Talk with the city planner or building inspector for your local area to ensure you have the proper zoning permits before construction begins.
  • Find a qualified contractor in your area that has experience in building barndominiums.
  • Find a homeowner’s insurance provider for your barndominium.

Pros & Cons of Building in Michigan

Michigan is one of the cheapest states in the United States to build a home, especially a barndominium. You want your home to last as long as possible and a barndominium can be a great decision for the heavy snow in Michigan winters.

Advantages to Building a Barndominium in Michigan

The following are the best reasons to build a barndo in Michigan:

  • A barndominium can take much less time to build than a traditional home, especially in winter months. A barndo can come prefabricated in a kit saving a ton of time in the building process and can be ready in as little as 3-4 months.
  • A barndominium is often cheaper than a traditional home due to using metal over wood for framing.
  • These types of houses tend to be more durable and can weather the Michigan winters very well if built properly. The all-steel construction makes them very resistant to moisture, snow and even ice.
  • If built properly, you should have much less maintenance over time compared to a traditional home built with wood. The wood in a traditional home is more susceptible to rot and decay with all the moisture Michigan sees throughout the year causing you to have to make repairs over time.

Disadvantages to Building a Barndominium in Michigan

Even though there are many advantages to building a barndo, you will want to consider some of the drawbacks before jumping in. It’s important to note that a lot of these disadvantages come with choosing a reputable barndominium contractor.

The following are reasons you may want to reconsider building a barndominium in Michigan:

  • They can be prone to rusting through oxidation due to them being made of steel. Michigan is home to hundreds of lakes and streams and tends to have very high humidity throughout the entire year. This doesn’t factor in the snowy winters that often leave snow resting on your steel structure.
  • You may need to get a special building permit as not all counties in Michigan consider a barndominium a residence.
  • Due to the many water based features Michigan has, many areas are considered a flood zone and you need to be careful you’re not building your barndo in one, especially if you want to add a basement.

Regulations to Building a Barndominium

To build a barndominium in Michigan you must adhere to the regulations the government sets and your contractor should help you understand them.

You will want to talk to the county and city building inspectors to ensure you can build your dream house in that area. These inspectors will also give you any and all information you need to make sure you don’t face a fine.

Reminder: Your builder should be stepping you through all of this information and should be able to provide it to you if you’re unsure.

Taxes & Insurance for Michigan Barndominiums

Just like a traditional home, you’ll be required to have homeowner’s insurance and pay property taxes.

Your taxes will be based on a few factors but mostly it comes down to where you build and what you build. The average property tax a homeowner will pay across Michigan is about 5% of their home’s value per year.

For example, if your barndominium cost $500,000 to build then you’d be paying around $20-25k per year in property taxes.

A homeowner’s insurance policy for a barndominium may differ from a traditional house. Many traditional insurance providers will have a separate plan for barndos and because of the custom nature of the build. Your homeowner’s insurance will likely be around 0.5-1% of your house value per year.

For example, if your barndominium value is at $500,000 then you’ll likely be paying around $2-2.5k per year in homeowner’s insurance.

How Much is it to Build a Barndominium in Michigan?

In order to get a true cost to build your dream barndominium, you’ll want to speak with a contractor and get quoted. We would suggest you speak with at least 3 or 4 contractors before accepting a quote to make sure you get competitive prices.

The cost of construction will have a variety of factors and will be priced fairly similar to if you were going to have a traditional home built. It will come down to materials, building requirements (ex: floor plan) and labor. It will also include things like the cost of building permits, architectural designs and other miscellaneous items needed to build.

As a rough estimate, it will cost you anywhere from $50 to $150 per square foot in Michigan to build a barndominium. A traditional house usually ranges between $75 to $200 per square foot depending on the area, number of floors, difficulty in construction and the materials you use.

Financing a Barndominium Build

Building a house, barndo or traditional, is a major investment and one that brings fear and excitement in everyone. If you’re not paying cash or building as you can afford then you’ll likely need to secure financing from a bank.

Choosing the right financing partner for your build can either make your life extremely easy or cause you many headaches. The loan you’ll want to apply for is a construction loan and it requires working through several steps.

The goal for any bank or lender is to reduce as much risk as possible. They want to make sure you can pay back your loan.

Before you apply for financing you should:

  • Have detailed construction plans that outline every aspect of the build. Many financiers will call this a “blue book”. Your blue book must include key information such as timeline, floor plans, measurements, insulation, materials used and more.
  • Have a qualified builder or contractor picked out. The selected contractor must be reputable and licensed. It’s not uncommon for lenders to request past, or present, projects from your contractor to vet them.
  • Be ready to place a sizable down payment of at least 25%. Before the bank will decide to lend they will have all of your documentation appraised by an appraiser and they will assign an expected value for your home. This down payment helps reduce the risk for the bank and makes lending to you much easier.
  • Have a credit rating above 700 to make the application process easier. The higher your credit score the more likely a bank will lend to you and lend to you with favorable interest rates.
  • Make sure you can actually repay the loan. Building a home can come with a lot of unintentional costs that add up and many homeowners don’t really understand the true cost of building a home. You’ll want to make sure you can repay the loan and you have the finances to support it.

You have a few options to find a lender to help finance your barndominium build. You can either find someone online or go through a local bank or credit union.

A few examples of lenders in Michigan who finance construction loans:

Barndominium Builders & Kit Providers

Finding the right builder is just as important as finding the right financing partner to build your new home. You should focus on finding a very reputable and trustworthy builder that has several references and projects they can share with you.

Before you reach out to builders you should look at their online presence, past projects, reviews and even verify they are a legitimate business. You should stay away from builders who don’t have examples of past barndominiums or metal structures.

Michigan Barndominium Builders

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Michigan Barndominium Kit Providers

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Things to Consider Before Building

Before you take the leap to build your home you should consider the following factors to help you decide.

  • Location – You need to make sure the area you’re trying to build your barndominium in is suitable for construction and long-term living. Typically when you build your house it’s going to be your house, and location, for life.
  • Builder – You should choose the best builder you can as it can be the difference between a successful build and your house falling down.
  • Cost – Every builder will quote you a different price and it can have a very wide range. You will want to figure out what you’re comfortable paying over 15 or 30 years as it may change your plans.
  • Design – A barndominium typically has very open spaces with high ceilings and most don’t have basements or multiple floors. You’ll want to take time to review pictures of other barndos, design inspirations and more before you take the leap.
  • Weather – Michigan has one of the wettest climates in the USA. This can cause rusting and other maintenance items that you will have to protect your home against over time.
  • Energy Efficiency – The best way to leverage a new build is figuring out how you can make your home more energy efficient. Michigan is great for geothermal energy and solar energy. You should consider installing these to help reduce the high utility costs in Michigan.


Michigan has a ton of natural beauty and a barndominium fits right into the outdoorsy lifestyle many Michiganders have. This is a great state to live in with all of the scenic areas, landmarks and events happening across the state.

By building your barndominium here it can be a cost effective way to own a home compared to building or buying a traditional home. By reading the guide above you should have all the information you need to start making decisions on how to build your dream house.

Keep in mind you will want to spend extra time researching builders and financing options before taking the leap. The more time you spend planning and researching the less headaches you’ll have later on.

Feel free to reach out to the team if you have any further questions – we are happy to help!

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