When you’re looking at building a barndominium, you’ll have to choose between a pole barn and steel frame construction.

If you’re like me, you thought they were the same thing. But it turns out that the two are quite different.

So this post will cover the difference between the two as well as go over the pros and cons of each option.

What is a pole barn?

Pole barns are so called because they are supported by large wooden poles that are buried deep in the ground.

Constructing a building this way is often less expensive because you don’t have to build a foundation. It also allows the building to be put up wherever it’s needed without a lot of grading or site prep.

Traditionally, pole barns are constructed to house animals so speed and simplicity of construction are most valuable. However, this type of building can also be made into a barndominium.

Pole barns are supported by poles buried in the ground. Note that there is no foundation poured for this barn.

Pros & cons of pole barn barndominiums

ProsCons
InexpensivePotential fire hazard may increase insurance
Easy to installPoles may shift in soil
Flexible site prepSusceptible to rot & termites

What is a steel building?

Steel buildings are simply structures built from steel framing and bolted into a concrete foundation.

The metal construction is not only very sturdy but also extremely hardy and long-lasting. Building this way does require some site preparation and a foundation, but you will have very little ongoing maintenance.

Metal buildings have traditionally been used to build storage buildings, garages, and workshops. But it’s becoming more common to convert metal buildings into primary residences.

Metal buildings are supported by a steel structure bolted to a concrete foundation.

Pros and cons of steel barndominiums

ProsCons
Inexpensive compared to stick buildMay be more expensive than pole barn
Quick to buildRequires concrete foundation
Long lastingPotential for rust
Low maintenance
Fire, rot, & pest resistant

Pole barn vs steel: Which is best?

Despite their differences, pole barns and steel buildings both have characteristics that make them great for barndominium builds.

Ultimately, you’ll have to look at both options with your construction company and choose the best method for your location and floor plan.

In some cases, wood may be more expensive than steel or vice versa. You may even decide that a hybrid build is right for you.

The best decision is one that fits your ideal, budget, and location.

Which did you choose?

Share your experience in the comments!