Posted by: TerraSaver | March 11, 2016


CARL RED BARN-300x225As mentioned in previous posts regarding barns being a common first addition to vacant land, a common question is the cost.  A barn may allow you to actually use the property and get to know the land before committing to a residence on the property.  Many purchasers of land want to keep the construction of a barn at a minimum expense level. The first step is being clear what the barn will be used for and the approximate size.  There are substantial differences in costs and permit requirements between a barn built as a residence and a barn built as an agricultural structure with interim and ‘down the line’ uses taken into account.

Is there an existing barn to be renovated or repaired, or will this be new construction?  Is there an existing access and/or utilities to the barn site or does a new path need to be graded and surfaced?  What permits will be required?

Major questions regarding the barn itself include whether it is the intention to put a ‘studio’ unit/office in the barn and whether that will be a second story addition or on the ground floor?; will there be a restroom for owner/agricultural employees?; will a septic system be installed as part of the restroom installation?; what type of equipment, livestock or supplies will need to be accommodated?

In working with a barn contractor, they can provide plans for various layouts to accommodate your answers to the questions above.  At that point there will be options in terms of ‘barn kits’ which the contractor installs or whether the barn will be ‘stick built’ on site.  The contractor will also get specific as regards utilities, exterior and interior ‘finishes’. While kits may seem to be a far less expensive option, much of the work – for example foundation and utilities will have the same costs whether the barn is a kit or whether it is built completely on-site.  Frequently kit considerations rest on the style or quality of the materials being the preference of the owner.

Exterior: Will there be a perimeter concrete foundation or a poured slab foundation? Do you want a metal roof or shingles?  Will you have the contractor paint the barn?  Interior: How finished do you want the interior of the barn portion?  For the office/studio – will you have it dry walled, paneled or just framed with you doing the finish work?  Will there be livestock stalls – for horses for example?

Answers to these questions allow the contractor to determine a general plan and rough cost per square foot.  Using a price of $50.00 per square foot for a 2,000 sf barn unfinished and unpainted could be an approximate starting point.

If you would like links to contractors who specialize in barns in Sonoma County, please e-mail us at






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