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How Much Does It Cost to Build a Barn?

Last Updated on February 14, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Constructing a new barn can be an exciting yet daunting project for any farm owner or rural property holder. With the wide variety of barn types and designs available, determining an accurate budget for your barn building project is key.

In this article, we’ll examine the factors that influence cost when building a barn, provide average pricing for different barn styles, and share tips for keeping your barn construction costs under control.

Building a barn from the ground up represents a major investment, but also yields invaluable benefits. Barns provide necessary shelter and storage space for livestock, equipment, and feed.

For equestrian facilities or farms, the barn may be the central hub of daily operations. Even on residential rural properties, barns add functionality and create an appealing aesthetic. Given the importance of a barn, planning a new construction budget deserves ample research and consideration.

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Barn?

Many types of barns exist, each with their own distinct purpose and average cost range. The main styles include:

Pole Barn: The most affordable barn option. Pole barns have exposed poles or framing on the interior and metal sheeting for walls/roof. A basic pole barn costs $15-$45 per square foot on average.

Traditional Barn: Classic red barns with wood siding, gambrel roofs, and often a hayloft. More customized design with a higher price tag, averaging $40-$60 per square foot.

Livestock Barn: Designed to house farm animals like cows, sheep, and goats. Mainly an open structure with stalls/pens. Usually less finished, costing $20-$40 per square foot.

Horse Barn: Features double-height interior, box stalls, tack room. Higher-end equestrian barns can cost $60-$100 per square foot or more.

According to FBIBuildings.com, a standard 40 x 60 pole building shell can cost anywhere from $35 to $50 per square foot (for the building shell only). The design costs for a pole barn rely heavily on the type of structure and other design considerations. Additional costs such as site prep, permitting, and finishing should also be taken into account.

WaltersBuildings.com says that the cost to build a pole barn can range from $40,000 to $85,000, depending on the size and features of the project. The price may vary during the year as steel and lumber prices fluctuate. The company emphasizes the value it offers through its manufacturing capabilities and substantial buying power.

HomeGuide.com notes that the cost to build a pole barn can range from $15,000 to $55,000 on average, with most landowners spending about $10 to $30 per square foot. The total cost includes factors such as site preparation, materials or kit shell, construction labor, and finishing costs.

Keep in mind that per-square-foot pricing provides only a rough estimate and can vary based on exact specifications. But it illustrates how design choices and functionality influence the bottom line.

Factors Affecting Barn Construction Costs

Many elements impact the total budget for building a barn. Consider these major factors as you plan:

Size: The overall square footage directly drives material and labor costs. Pole barn houses under 1,000 square feet can cost $15,000-$25,000 while larger traditional barns often exceed $100,000.

Materials: Wood or metal? Custom finishes or basic siding? Materials account for 50% or more of the total cost.

Design: Simple or complex? The more customized the design, the more you’ll pay.

Location: Prices range based on geographical region and rural vs urban location.

Labor: Hiring contractors is quicker but pricier vs doing it yourself. Expect to pay $50-$100 per hour for professional construction crews.

Material Costs for Barn Construction

Materials represent the largest portion of your barn building budget. Here’s an overview of typical material costs:

  • Wood: Often seen on traditional barns. Rough-sawn pine is budget-friendly at $2-$4 per square foot while oak or cedar cost $9+ per square foot.
  • Steel: Used for prefab metal barn kits. Galvanized steel sheeting runs $4-$8 per square foot. Avoid rust-prone ungalvanized steel.
  • Roofing: Metal is durable and economical. 26-29 gauge steel roofing costs $3-$6 per square foot installed. Higher grades are more hail/corrosion resistant.
  • Siding: Options like corrugated metal ($2-$3 per square foot), wood boards ($5-$9 per square foot), or vinyl ($7-$9 per square foot) determine aesthetic and cost.

Labor Costs and Professional Fees

Unless you’re tackling a DIY barn kit, labor represents a major construction expense.

  • Contractors: Expect to pay $50-$100 per hour for qualified crews, based on project size and location.
  • Architects/Engineers: For custom barn plans, fees range from $2,000-$6,000+.
  • Project Management: Consider 10% or more of total budget for oversight from planning through completion.

Choosing qualified professionals upfront prevents costly mistakes down the road. Don’t cut corners on labor.

You might also like our articles about the cost of steel buildings, pole barns, and garages.

Additional Costs to Consider

Beyond the core structure itself, finishing details and special features add to your total:

  • Concrete Foundation: Essential for structural integrity. Cost per linear foot ranges from $20-$40+.
  • Framing/Walls: Framing timber or dimensional lumber runs $3-$7 per square foot in materials.
  • Doors/Windows: Plan $1,000-$4,000 per large barn door. Smaller doors or windows cost $300-$1,000 each.
  • Plumbing: Expect at least $3,000-$5,000 for basic water/waste hookups.
  • Electric: Lighting, outlets, ventilation fans will likely cost $8-$12 per square foot.
  • Insulation: For weatherproofing and temperature control. Figure $1-$2 per square foot for fiberglass or spray foam.

Ways to Reduce Barn Building Costs

Pole Barn TypesWith careful planning, you can build your dream barn and avoid breaking the bank. Consider these budget-saving tips:

  • Choose economical pole barn design over pricier traditional barns
  • Opt for metal roofing and siding over wood materials
  • Buy a prefab barn kit to reduce labor costs
  • Take on DIY construction for basic pole barns
  • Scale down unnecessary size and customization
  • Research contractor rates to find affordable crews
  • Apply for agricultural building tax exemptions
  • Get multiple bids from suppliers and contractors

With good planning, it’s possible to construct a basic pole barn for as little as $25,000. But remember to account for all factors during budgeting. Doing your homework will help control costs and get your barn project off on the right foot!

Final Words

Building a new barn is a big investment, with costs ranging widely based on the type and size of structure. Key factors affecting your total budget include design, materials, labor, and any customization.

While pricier traditional barns can exceed $100,000, basic pole barns often come in under $50,000. Careful planning and cost-saving measures like choosing economical materials and prefab kits can help you create affordable, functional storage and shelter suited to your rural property needs.

With the right preparation and budgeting, you can build the ideal barn within your financial means.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cheapest type of barn to build?

The most affordable option for barn construction is a basic pole barn. Pole barns have exposed interior framing with metal roof and side sheeting. This simple design minimizes material costs.

Pole barns can often be constructed for $15-$45 per square foot, making them the most budget-friendly barn style. A basic pole barn for equipment and livestock storage can be built for as little as $25,000 for a 30×40-foot structure.

With smart planning, pole barns offer farmers, ranchers, and rural homeowners an inexpensive barn solution.

Is it hard to build your own barn?

Constructing your own barn is feasible, but requires solid DIY skills and a willingness to take on a major project. Simple pole barns with prefab metal kits are the easiest for owner-builders.

Barn construction entails foundation work, framing, roofing, siding, doors, windows, electrical, and more. While DIY barn building takes significant effort, it can greatly reduce labor costs versus hiring contractors.

To succeed, barn builders should study building techniques, acquire necessary tools, create detailed plans, pull permits, and don’t take shortcuts. For advanced DIYers with carpentry skills and time, self-building a basic pole barn is very doable. But traditional barns with wood framing are better left to professionals.

How fast can you build a barn?

The speed of barn construction depends on factors like size, complexity of design, weather, crew size, and more. In ideal conditions with an experienced crew, a simple 30×40 pole barn could potentially be built in 2-3 weeks.

More complex traditional barns with wood framing often take 2-3 months from start to finish. Building your own barn alone typically extends the timeline even further.

It’s important not to rush the process and allow adequate time for strong foundation work, proper framing, electrical and plumbing, curing of concrete, inspections, and finishing details.

While eager to start using your new barn, patience during the building phase pays off with a structurally sound, durable final product that will serve your property for decades to come.

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