What Is an RV Barndominium?

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An RV driving on the way to their RV Barndominium

If you are a big fan of RVing, chances are you hate putting your rig in storage at the end of a camping season, as it signifies the closure of vacation time. But the popularity of RV barndominiums makes it possible for you to park your RV almost in your living room. It reminds you to enjoy its freedoms more frequently. This shelter does double duty, providing a stylish home while protecting your RV from the elements. It’s also saving you storage fees along the way.

Never heard of a barndominium? Well, let’s see what all of the hoopla is about.

What Is an RV Barndominium?

As its name signifies, a barndominium is half barn, half condominium. It’s the name given to a structure built to house an RV while providing a living space inside. Many RV barndominiums are barn-to-home renovations, but more new structures are being built as new dwellings from the ground up.

Newly designed RV barndominiums can be extremely appealing, looking like farmhouse barns with all of the accouterments of a high-end residence. And yet they usually cost much less than building a home because of their quick construction times and straightforward designs.

Because they are large buildings, the most economical materials for building them are aluminum and steel. This makes them more resistant to pests and rodents that can become problems for wooden structures. But the construction style makes them more of a challenge for interior design elements, as they may appear like a really large shed.

For a more formal-looking RV barndominium, some owners choose to spend more building a structure from wood or a combination of wood and steel. The exterior appearance is enhanced with residential architectural items, giving the building a more homey feel.

What Is the History of the Barndominium? 

The term “barndominium” was coined in the 1980s by a Texas real estate agent, Karl Nilsen, who was planning an equestrian subdivision. That way, homeowners could live closer to their horses. These homes had horse stalls on the first floor and a family living area on the second floor.

Long before Nilsen’s declaration, the barndominium concept began when motel owners discovered they could save on construction costs by combining several rooms into one structure. It was 1930, and architects were already thinking about sustainable design with these new barndominiums. By 1958, Arizona had many residents seeking to create a living or working space in the same structure. So, they passed the Arizona Barndominium Act. That allowed residents to build large barns for multiple uses, with some caveats.

For many years RV owners have stored their rigs in large barns when they’re not using them. This eventually morphed into using the barn as a living space. And now buildings specifically designed to house an RV and offer an indoor residence have become big business. This is especially in rural areas where land is more plentiful and local zoning restrictions are not a hindrance.

This trend is much like housing subdivisions scattered around a landing strip. Many homes there house airplanes and personal jets.

What Are the Benefits of a Barndominium?  

Construction costs for barndominiums are usually much less than they would be with the separate construction of a barn and a house. Some of the cost is saved by materials used, like steel and aluminum over wood. It also takes less time to construct an RV barndominium, because the exterior shell goes up first. This means there is much more room for fluid interior architectural design. Space management can be changed and reconfigured easily.

You save labor costs because it takes less time to put up a barndominium, and the owner will also save on maintenance costs and insurance premiums. 

Keep in Mind: If you’re getting an RV, you’ll need to get insurance. But How Much Is RV Insurance? Let’s find out!

What Are the Downsides of a Barndominium? 

One of the more difficult hurdles to overcome if you decide to build a barndominium is getting a conventional mortgage. Many banks and financing companies unfamiliar with the structures don’t loan money for their construction. So you may need to pay cash or find creative funding along the way. Some owners even do their own construction piece by piece as they can afford it.

The other thing to consider when building an RV barndominium is how difficult it might be to resell. You may not think you’ll reside in the structure for many years. Finding someone else who wants to buy a barndominium might be challenging. You’ll have to search the right markets, like RV owners, to sell it to.

How Long Will a Barndominium Last? 

Because most barndominiums consist of metal and steel, their lifespans are usually between 100 and 150 years if well maintained. Residents don’t have to worry about wood rot or even termites. Moisture or heat is not a problem either, as metal walls and a roof can shed water and withstand heat without drying up or changing shape.

If a barndominium is wood, you should treat it regularly to withstand the elements with consistent waterproofing and maintenance. Many of these structures will last 50 years before needing major replacements, but they have many more concerns than those found with a steel barn, including termite and pest control.

View of an RV Barndominium
Source: Barndominium Design Services

Do Barndominiums Hold Their Value?

Depending upon the upkeep and maintenance, you should have no problem holding and even increasing the value of your structure. Common sense design, construction quality, and your property’s location are all factors in the evaluation.

Are Barndominiums Safe in Storms?

In many instances, an RV barndominium is safer than a residential home. Because so many of them consist of steel and aluminum, they can withstand winds up to 150 mph. They’re great protection from lightning strikes and severe weather. They’ll also stand up to harsh rainstorms and are less likely to have water damage than a sticks-and-bricks home. 

Keep in Mind: Is it safe for you to be driving your RV when it’s foggy outside? If you’re going to drive in Fog You Should Always Do This!

Should You Live In an RV Barndominium?

If you aren’t a full-time RVer, an RV barndominium is a terrific option that will allow you to have your cake and eat it, too. You will have your RV close by and can use it as often as you’d like while still having a comfortable home while not on the road. You can also have a built-in guest ‘cottage’ for visitors. You’ll also have a shelter that protects your rig and provides a place to work during any season. An RV barndominium can be a great asset for RV living, both in the rig and out!

Could you live in a barndominium?

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