Did building a home “pole barn style” save us any money? Well, let’s find out with this cost breakdown of materials and labor.
When I first shared that we were building a Pole Barn Home, I explained that the idea was to save on both time and money – among other things. Well, accounting day has come so let’s chat money! As awkward as that truly is, my hope is that it will help you determine if this is a process that would work for you. To be honest, I would have loved a resource like this when we started! Whether you have in mind to build a pole barn home, shop, studio, or otherwise – I hope this helps!
Let’s first compare pole barn construction with traditional home construction.
POLE BARN CONSTRUCTION
In a nutshell, pole barns are built using poles embedded with concrete in the ground on which the whole structure of the home rests. Pole barns rely on the wood posts to provide the strength of the structure and the rest of the framed walls are mostly just filler to attach the siding and drywall to.
This is compared to traditional construction that uses concrete strip footings around the perimeter of the house and under any weight bearing wall. The amount of concrete needed is much more expensive than wood posts and takes much longer to prep and cure. Traditional construction relies on the outside and weight bearing walls to provide strength for the entire structure. This requires more lumber along the outside walls and more labor to ensure the walls are built to code.
To learn more about our floor plan and the reason we decided to build this way, please visit my post all about Why we are Building a Pole Barn Home.
CURRENT STATE OF COST BREAKDOWN
I need you to keep in mind that our home is very much unfinished at this point and we did 90% of the labor ourselves. But because I have had many inquires about the cost and benefits of building this way, I thought I would breakdown our cost so far so others can determine if this is a method of construction they would also like to explore.
Please see our “Move in Tour” to see the state of our home at the time of this cost breakdown. The benefits of sharing our cost now that the main structure is built, is that you can budget and determine your own unique costs for finishing and furnishing a home, where ours might be vastly different as we finish each space based on our choices, our business and the economy in which we live. The point in sharing this, is it should give you a pretty good starting point to go off of.
WHAT I AM NOT INCLUDING IN THIS COST BREAKDOWN
I am not including our costs for hooking up utilities and prepping the land. We built in the country on undeveloped land, and truth be told, all these costs ended up being exponentially higher than we had planned on due to many challenging factors.
This is all part of the reason we are living in an unfinished home and opting to finish it slowly as time and resources come available, rather than increasing our mortgage to uncomfortable levels. However, we do find a great deal of joy in this journey and would rather take our time and make this home uniquely ours, then spit out mass production decisions we would want to change anyway. To be clear, here are the items we are NOT including in this cost breakdown:
- Labor for anything but drywall, electrical and HVAC (because we did it ourselves)
- Septic system
- Water hookup
- Propane tanks
- Finish hardware and light fixtures
- Water filtration system for our high iron content well water
OUR POLE BARN HOME SPECS
When planning our home, we decided to fully embrace this “pole barn home” concept and opted for a very open concept floor plan with features like:
- 2400 square feet
- 1040 square feet detached garage with wood shop and utility room
- 12 foot ceilings
- single level living
- 4 bedrooms
- 2 full baths
- office space
- large walk in pantry
- wrap around porch
- 5 foot hallway and tall doorways
- joint living and kitchen area
- tin siding and roofing
- and more
We sketched up our own plan and had it professionally engineered. Truth be told, there are a few things we wished we had done differently, but we knew that would be the case where this is the very first home we have built. Live and learn.
Some major costs we are still planning for are concrete driveway, retaining wall and other landscaping needs, and finishing/furnishing each space.
In an effort to share the most accurate numbers based on our experience, I hope it can help you decide if a pole barn home is something that will work for you. It is no doubt they are growing in popularity, but is it something we are glad we did? In truth, we never regret an opportunity to learn and try something new and different – whether or not it yielded the results we expected. The total was more than we expected, but most people say that about building a home – pole barn or not.
We have separated out the main costs for the house and the detached garage, for your convenience in evaluating. Though some items, like engineered plans, would likely be the same whether you did or didn’t have a detached garage included.
Feel free to take these numbers and estimate traditional home building costs in your area and make your own educated decisions for what else you might need and the potential cost.
- House plans and Engineering: $ 2520
- Concrete sidewalk/porch, pad and footings for posts: $ 16,000
- Framing material $ 24,800
- Front and side door $7000
- exterior specialty tin siding and tin roofing: $ 24,000
- Windows: $ 3700
- Rough plumbing and radiant floor heating: $ 11,700
- Electrical with labor: $ 16,000
- HVAC with labor: $ 8500
- Insulation with labor: $10,400
- Drywall with labor: $10,800
- Ceiling paint and wall primer: $ 1200
- Cabinets for Laundry and Kitchen: $ 10,600
- Tile for bathroom: $ 1200
- Bathroom fixtures: $ 2400
- Hardwood flooring: $14,800
- Interior doors + trim: $ 3000
- Appliances: $ 10,760
- TOTAL: $ 179,380
- PRICE PER SQUARE FOOT: $74.74
- Concrete Pad and pole footings: $ 4700
- Framing material: $ 12,600
- Specialty Tin Roofing and Tin Siding: $ 9000
- Windows: $ 1230
- Electrical with labor: $ 4700
- Insulation with labor: $ 3500
- Drywall with labor: $ 2000
- Garage Doors: $ 3800
- 2 Exterior doors: $ 650
- TOTAL: $ 42,180
- PRICE PER SQUARE FOOT: $ 40.56
GRAND TOTAL WITH HOUSE AND DETACHED GARAGE: $221,560
GRAND TOTAL PER SQUARE FOOT: $64.40
DID WE SAVE MONEY?
With the average cost of building a traditional home in our area estimating to be around $127-$150 per square foot, (with a builder/contractor) it is obvious we saved money on our home. Most of that due to self contracting and doing most of the labor ourselves. Another factor was the cost savings in material for concrete and lumber due to the pole barn construction method. Custom homes have the potential to be even more than that, so in consideration that we could make changes and customize as we desired and still come out less per square foot than traditional building, we do feel it was worth it for us. We skimped on some purchases and splurged on others, and did the best we could with what we had.
Let me know if this is a post you found helpful, or interesting (at the very least). Was it more or less than you expected? Would you like me to continue to breakdown cost as we finish each room? What other questions do you have? I’d love to hear!
*Quick disclaimer: Building this home by ourselves proved to be the hardest year we can ever remember together. I wish not to sugar coat reality. This was incredibly hard work, and I watched my husband work himself into the ground and I was a single working mother from sun up to sun down. Our discouragement levels were very high at times. We had our treasured sabbath days to be together and that was about it. We encountered problem after problem, not to mention our 6 months in the RV and bouncing from my moms house, to airbnb to airbnb. I share not for sympathy, but to help you understand the DIY life comes at a cost. Dreams come at a cost. We may have saved money, but our time and energy were completely spent. We are proud of our work, love our home (construction chaos and all) and are looking forward, knowing the hardest part is behind us. Just wanted to share that for your consideration!!
I might add, folks often tell us building a home can test a marriage to the max. Sure, we had our moments, but to say we survived building and living in an RV and came out loving each other more intensely than ever before is something I am very proud of and grateful for. The sacrifices have brought us closer together and helped us realize how much we treasure our time together and need each other. I owe the strength and love we found to our wonderful God above.
Thanks for reading and following along!!