What materials are commonly used in the construction of a barn home?

Jeremy Bonin, principal architect, Davis Frame Company and Classic Barn Homes: In a barn-style home the materials and finishes may be selected as with any other type of home, timber framed or not, it truly is flexible and may reflect directly the home owner’s aesthetic preferences. However, in most cases, exterior finish materials may reflect the more historic barns: vertical sidings such as board and batten, or narrow clapboard may be used in conjunction with clean and simple trim details.

Roman Chacinski, technical advisor, Normerica Building Systems: We like to use white pine for the timber frame structural elements of our homes. White pine is a beautiful, even-grained wood with good resistance to checking. It’s also easily machined and probably the most widely used timber frame material. We sometimes use Douglas fir when the customer requests a different look.

Greg Boiles, Bensonwood: While more expensive than new timbers, using reclaimed timbers is ecologically sound and is a responsible natural resource management practice which is at the heart of Bensonwood’s corporate philosophy. Also, the beauty, character, and color of reclaimed timbers are virtually unattainable with freshly sawn timber. We can utilize most any species that is suitable for structural purposes. However, we often use Douglas fir because it combines beauty and structural strength comparable to many favorite hardwoods without the shrinkage and weight issues.

How long does it take to build a barn home?

Rod Viens, business development director, Yankee Barn Homes: The average barn home is typically assembled onsite in 12-17 days. The post-and-beam frame arrives to the site precut, notched, and stained. We build the wall panels for the structure at our factory. These wall panels are complete with blue board on the interior, plywood sheathing on the exterior, insulated, and windows all installed at our factory. After the frame is assembled, the crew attaches the wall panels. Our roof panels are built at the factory as well, with the finished ceiling applied along with insulation and exterior sheathing.

What are some of your most popular barn home styles?

Jeremy Bonin: Popular plans resemble some of the most traditional New England architectural types, such as the simple gable or gambrel barn, saltbox homes, capes, and colonials. These traditional types are very clean and classic in their design and form.
Rod Viens: We are getting lots of request for bungalow, shingle style, Georgian, and Jacobean style homes. Our most popular floor plans tend to be variations of our two show homes; customers adjust the size of the rooms and the size of the structure.

What are some unique ideas that have been implemented?

Jeremy Bonin: One client took his efficiently designed saltbox and installed radiant floor heat, a geothermal heat pump, a soapstone masonry heater, and photovoltaic solar panels. Energy efficiency and environmental stewardship were very important to him. Another home involved designing the kitchen around a brick pizza oven.

Rod Viens: We’ve have added silos and octagon towers to our structures at customer requests. Recently, we emulated an old barn that a customer saw near their property in upstate New York. One of the great advantages of building a post-and-beam barn home is that there aren’t many design limitations.

What types of building costs would owners be looking at?

Jeremy Bonin: From the standpoint of a timber-framed home, a barn-style timber frame home costs less money in most cases because of the simplified design of the home and the timber frame itself. The costs per square foot prices are also dependent on two other factors: location and the level of finishes for the project. Granite countertops, masonry fireplaces, or large areas of quarried or ceramic tiles may increase the cost per square foot dramatically. We see finished square foot costs range from $200 to $250 dollars per square foot on average.

Rod Viens: Typically a finished Yankee Barn Homes will cost between $180-$250 per square foot, depending on the interior finish choices of the customer and region of the country they are building in.

The main story regarding barn homes ran in the Winter 2008 issue of Custom Wood Homes, including two popular floor plan options for barn homes. Buy it here.