Can You Really DIY A Pole Barn Or Should You Call In The Pros?

A pole barn can be an excellent addition to your yard. These structures range in size and create a place for you to manage various outdoor hobbies, from gardening to woodworking. But are they really that easy to install, or is it a better idea to turn to a professional who can construct one for you in no time?

Pole barns, by design, are easy to build. They don't typically require interior stud-framed walls, which cuts down on the steps required for construction. Instead, posts are driven into the ground to create strong frame. Since many pole barns are open-concept, they take far less time to build than a typical structure with more walls. What's more, they often sit on a concrete base and don't have complex footings.

All of these factors make it seem as though a DIY pole barn is an accessible — even beneficial — choice. Even so, this process has limitations, especially if you don't have (or don't want to rent) the necessary equipment. Also worth noting is that, while there are ways to turn this into a residential structure, converting a barn into a home can be pricy, even if it's not of the pole variety, and the journey likely won't be easy.

Benefits of constructing your own pole barn

A DIY pole barn definitely has its benefits. Chief among them is that you can build it at your own pace to meet your own expectations. For many folks, though, the real benefit is the lowered cost.

This cost depends on your structure's design, size, and location and includes the price of buying or renting the necessary equipment. In general, though, you can expect the average pole barn to cost anywhere from $3,800 for a smaller, simpler model to as much as $200,000 for a much more complex, near-residential structure. Keep in mind, however, that the cost savings of a DIY pole barn come directly from your free labor. Contract work will range significantly in price, but you'll probably end up paying around $10 per square foot, depending on your location. This means that if you build a 1,200-square-foot pole barn (about the size of an eight-horse-stall structure), you can expect to save about $12,000 if you do it yourself. A barn of that size would usually cost between $14,000 and $48,000 to build, so you'd be saving a nice chunk of change.

We're just talking about basic structures, though. If you're adding plumbing, heating and cooling, or elaborate layouts, expect to pay more. Still, since a general contractor could charge $50 to $150 per hour for the project, a DIY pole barn may be a good investment.

Why you may want to let a professional install your pole barn

You might already be prepared to purchase a pole barn kit and get to work, but don't overlook this project's complexity — or why leaving it to the pros is often the right move. First, you'll have to obtain the necessary permits, then you'll need to level the land to create a safe site for the concrete foundation. Depending on your area, site-clearing can be difficult and will likely require heavy machinery. You'll also have to understand the type of soil in and around your area and create a reliable, waterproof foundation.

Next, layout and design — including entrance and exit points — must meet your expected use. If you want to add features like plumbing and electrical, you'll have to work with a licensed contractor to ensure you meet building codes specific to your area. While pole barn kits are out there and make the building process simpler, any additional features will need professional installation anyway. As you can probably guess, poorly built barns are dangerous.

The ultimate question is, what will you use your barn for? While you may wish to build a barndominium (a barn that you live in) to keep up with current trends, creating an actual residential space requires far more planning, design, and skilled trades to create a safe, stable living environment. If you're really committed to the barn aesthetic, try incorporating barn doors into your modern home.