Pole Barn vs. Barndominium: What’s the Difference?

Both pole barns and Barndominiums have grown in popularity in Western Kentucky due to their flexible design, low cost, and durability. While pole barns and barndominiums are similar in concept, they differ in a variety of ways. Pole barn vs. barndonimium:  which is right for you? Knowing the difference can help you decide which one is best for your property.


Choosing between a barndominium and a pole barn for your next home can be an exhausting and stressful process. Read on to find out the difference between each one and how to make your choice. If you have further questions, feel free to contact Keystone Construction. We are your leading post-frame construction company in Western Kentucky.

Back to the Basics

There are some fundamental elements differentiating pole barns vs. barndoliniums.

What is a Pole Barn?

A pole barn, or pole building, is the traditional name for a large agricultural structure with no basement, a high ceiling, and wide-open spaces. Laminated wooden posts are used in the frame, and today builders prefer the term post-frame building.

You can use a pole barn as an agricultural building, from fully enclosed buildings to run-in shelters to pavilion-style buildings. Also, equipment storage buildings, with extra-wide sliding doors to hold large farm equipment like combine harvesters, hay storage buildings, greenhouses, and multi-use structures.

What is a Barndominium?

A barndominium is a multi-purpose metal or wood building that contains living quarters. A lot of them are built using the basic shell of a pole barn (Post Frame). It is an affordable, energy-efficient, and low-maintenance solution for residential living. A barndominium combines a living area, usually an extension of a larger open space used as a barn, a workshop, a shed, or some other hobby requiring extra square footage.


Today’s barndominiums may be new builds or existing barns that have been retrofitted to make them habitable. This type of building is typically built on an existing property or multi-acre homesite. The structure often acts as a dual-purpose living and shop or work and storage area large enough for things as large as boats and recreational vehicles.

Pros and Cons of Barndominiums


  • Don’t use trusses, so you get more usable space. You have more space to build a loft or an upper level and spread out more.
  • Rust-free and are leak-proof due to the seamless construction
  • Rigid frames that hold their shape for many years. A steel-framed barndominium should stay standing throughout harsh weather conditions.
  • More design options with more than one level due to the all-steel construction’s strength
  • Lower insurance rates because of the low risk of fire or other damage


  • Expensive to build
  • May require a professional contractor to build your home due to the complex design and local/state building codes.
  • Requires a concrete foundation which can add to the building expense
  • Steel buildings are at risk of rusting.

Pros and Cons of a Pole Barn


  • Takes less time and fewer resources to construct, depending on how many details you include.
  • Less expensive to build than a barndominium
  • Easier site preparation, especially if you do not need a foundation


  • Shifts more often as the poles move with the ground during each season
  • Requires more maintenance, especially if it is constructed with wood rather than steel.
  • Wood may rot and is vulnerable to termites.
  • Higher insurance rate due to fire risk

Which Should You Choose: A Pole Barn House or a Barndominium?

What criteria should you use to determine which type of structure to build?


First, consider your purpose. If you plan on building a house, or a workshop with a living space, then a barndominium might work for you. On the other hand, if your purpose includes a workshop space and a place for animals, a pole barn might be more practical.


Second, consider your budget. Since barndominiums are more expensive to build than a pole barn, think about building a pole barn if your budget doesn’t quite cover a barndominium. While pole barns are normally used for farm animals, you could create a second story to build your home.


While money is a resource, that’s not going to serve you when maintaining your structure. When you build a pole barn, it requires more maintenance to keep it in good condition. A barndominium requires much less maintenance, so if you don’t have decent “fix-it” skills, that might be a better choice for you.

Contact Keystone Construction to Get a Quote

Are you ready to move forward with your pole barn project? We are your premier pole barn builders in Western Kentucky. Call (270) 633-2676 today or request a quote online.


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