It’s more common that you might think! High-net-worth individuals have long sought spacious hideaways in the countryside. Rather than going for red-brick estates or whitewashed ranch houses, however, more and more wealthy homeowners have been spending their summers and long weekends in barns. Not dirty, smelly, hay-filled barns, of course: spacious, historic, modern, converted barns.
The Luxury Converted Barn Phenomenon
For wealthy individuals seeking primary or secondary residences with plenty of character and space, converted barns can provide a perfect solution. Here are some of the main selling points for converted barns:
- History – For centuries before they became mansions, these barns were used on working American farms and ranches.
- Space – Because barns are meant to fit as much hay or as many horses as possible, they are spacious and perfect for open floor plans.
- Uniqueness – Not many people can say they live in a converted Dutch barn from the 1800s.
- Character – The planks of wood have been worn by weather and use over decades, so your home feels authentic and broken-in from the beginning.
- Exposed beams – Sigh. Who doesn’t love exposed beams?
- Luxury – Life in a converted barn is a far cry from “roughing it.” These barns may be rustic on the outside, but they are modern, bright, clean, and airy on the inside. Ladders, lofts, lap pools. The possibilities are endless.
- Eco-friendly – By moving into a salvaged and restored barn, homeowners are using recycled wood and saving trees. Salvaged wood floors and doors are also growing in popularity.
How It’s Done
Restoring and renovating a barn is a process that varies widely in expense and complexity. Some buyers will purchase a barn on a large swath of land and do a top-to-bottom renovation. Increasingly, however, people are buying their ideal piece of property and then purchasing a disassembled historic barn separately, to be delivered to their land. While some people find and buy the barns themselves, there are a growing number of businesses that buy the country’s most beautiful barns and allow customers to pick their favorite from a large catalog.
One such specialty company is Heritage Restorations, based in Waco, Texas, which manages every aspect of the transformation from horse barn to one-of-a-kind country estate. Their restoration projects can cost anywhere from $200,000 to $5 million depending on the size of the barn and the scale of the renovation. In an article for the Wall Street Journal, Heritage Restorations founder Kevin Durkin noted that his business has steadily increased over the last 15 years—even during the housing crash. "People looking for a barn home, they're not looking to save money,” the founder said. “It's character. You're living in a piece of history." (Feast your eyes on the Heritage Restorations showroom.)
A Haven for Peace & Quiet
On the one hand, a converted barn makes for a truly unique and peaceful retreat, whether its standing in a vast green field or nestled in the mountains. On the other hand, luxury converted barns aren't for everyone. They are usually found in remote areas or on large plots of land, which means plenty of peace and solitude, but also a property that might be more difficult to access. Because of the unique layout of most barns, converted homes often require unconventional floor plans and room arrangements. Their high ceilings and enormous volume can make these barns costly to heat and cool, too. However, for the very successful homebuyer who is looking for something apart from the ordinary, the converted barn may have terrific appeal.