Sunday, May 3, 2009

What would you get if a metal barn and a condo had a baby?

And now that I have your attention (Jeff - this one's for you):

Anyone who's been within two feet of me over the past few weeks sadly knows the answer to this question, without ever having wanted the answer. Sorry. But back to the question, what would you get? Why - a BARNDOMINIUM, of course! I cannot take credit for the name, although I would desperately like to.

Shall I back up? Please refer to every third post (or, don't, actually) and you will notice an emerging pattern that involves my goal of moving to the land. I'm quite the go-getter when it comes to achieving goals, which means that when I have a personal mission, I feel it justifies neglecting every other aspect of my life to focus only on the goal. Impressive - right?

My point is this: I've been researching the crap out of building, preparing land for building, temporary/moveable housing, financing for temporary housing, financing for permanent housing, and making any of these options attractive to Jeremy. For example, I read an obscure article recently about people who convert old grain bins (picture a large cylindrical metal contraption) into temporary housing - so I immediately got onto Craigslist and typed "grain bin." No luck.

In my search I've realized two things: 1) building ain't cheap and 2) we truly don't want anything fancy. In sharing my views with a builder friend, he casually suggested that I consider a "barndominium," and began to tick of the reasons for their ever-growing popularity (incredibly energy efficient, lower building costs, virtually indestructible, flexibility with floorplan design, low insurance because of durability). Of course, he had me at the word "barndominium," but I let him continue to try and sell me on it anyway.

These are pretty cool suckers if you can get over having a metal exterior, because the exterior is the only thing that makes them untraditional. Essentially, they are structures built with a steel frame, opposed to traditionally built, wooden-framed homes (wood=not cheap). The steel frame means that all load bearing walls are the four external walls, thus allowing for a wiiiide open interior that provides limitless options in terms of floor plans. You design the floor plan and order an exterior metal building to fit your plan so that it has holes for the windows and doors. Once the building arrives, a contractor puts it all together and builds your interior with a traditional stick frame. The metal exterior and steel frame create a fire and termite resistant building that provides lots of space to add extra insulation between the outside and the stick framed walls inside (energy efficiency=green! We are all about the green). Ultimately they cost, literally, a fraction of a traditionally built home and come with all of these benefits. WHAT IS NOT TO LOVE? Why don't we all live in metal houses (don't answer that)??

These derive from the idea of having a metal barn with a little apartment or living space upstairs due to the obvious importance of living within three feet of your pigs and horses. I'm guessing that someone like ourselves did the math one day and realized that, by deleting the farm animals and expanding the apartment, they could have a pretty cool home on a budget. And the barndominium was born.

Of course now, I am noticing metal buildings everywhere! The tire store, the Jiffy Lube, and just about every other warehouse along the road is made of metal (I'm really not selling this idea, am I?). What I've realized is that, by squinting a little and conjuring up some creativity, I can visualize the NTB store with floor to ceiling windows, wraparound porches and a nice big fireplace. Just as I saw past the bathtubs and taxicab littering the land, I can see past an old metal building.

Jeremy and I have done a lot of squinting and visualizing lately, and so far the results have exceeded our expectations. So when people criticize this new idea of going for a non-traditional building plan, we just shrug. Tradition shmradition - it's overrated.

1 comment:

Jon said...

This sounds like an awesome idea, but I'm guessing you should go ahead and budget for the 50 gallons of Febreeze you'll need for the little "apartment above the pigs" ;-)