06 May All About Barndominiums
Recently, Jimmy Stewart of CMW General Contractors was interviewed for an article in the San Antonio Express News. The article below comes to us courtesy of that publication, and was published by Lisa Harrison Rivas on May 3, 2020. The original article can be found here.
When is a barn not a barn? The answer is when it’s a barndominium. Fans of HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” will remember the episode in Season 3 when Chip and Joanna Gaines transformed a horse barn into a modern living space furnished with their signature décor — and of course, shiplap. “Barndos,” as these structures are sometimes called, have gained in popularity in recent years, especially in Texas. But you don’t have to go to Waco to find one, contractor Jimmy Stewart, the founder of CMW General Contractors in Spring Branch, builds barndominiums in the Hill Country. Stewart, who lives in Spring Branch with his wife, Ginny, has spent more than two decades building and remodeling custom homes. He and his crew have built “barndos” in Spring Branch, Blanco and Junction. They are currently working on one in Blanco, and they’ll soon be heading to San Antonio to construct barndominium No. 5.
Q: What exactly is a barndominium?
A: A steel structure, a metal building that has a dual purpose of living and workshop. A steel shell and then basically you finish the inside with wood. One thing that we’ve found is each one is totally different than the one before. There’s not a typical barndominium. They’re open concept homes that are really flexible.
Q: Have you worked with old, existing barns?
A: Yes, we call those conversions. We did one in Spring Branch. What we did was convert the entire area into a living space, with the most functional modern kitchen and put in another bathroom and all the finishes that you would want. It was metal, that wasn’t a wood barn.
Q: Explain the basic building process, what is the first thing you do?
A: First thing is to meet with the clients, and then meet with a drafter and come up with the actual blueprint that’s needed. Then we start the process with an engineered concrete slab. It can be pier and beam, but slab is preferred.
Q: Does this process differ from having a custom home built?
A: Not really, it’s the same steps in the process as far as what you want to see in a home. You’re just using different material.
Q: How much do they cost? What’s the average price per square foot?
A: We start at about $134 per square foot. It depends on the design of the building and the finish out.
Q: Tell me about the one you are working on now.
A: It’s in Blanco, it’s almost 5,000 square feet. It’s 1,957 square feet of living space, about 700-feet of workspace. And then it’s got 2,500 square feet of porch. It overlooks beautiful Hill Country.
Q: Why do you think they’ve become popular?
Q: How long on average does it take to build one?
A: We’re averaging about four to six months.
Q: How big is the largest one you’ve built?
A: The largest one we’ve built, as far as living space, is right around 4,500 square feet. That’s in Spring Branch, it has an elevator, music studio, three baths, two bedrooms, game room, living room, storage. The smallest one we did is in Junction and it’s a weekend retreat. It was 1,122 square feet. It has cathedral ceilings and a fireplace. It’s a one bedroom and it has one and half baths.
Q: What types of amenities can people add?
A: We can go green, modern, traditional and obviously incorporate all of those. We try to make sure that all the appliances and windows have Energy Star ratings. We love putting metal and glass rolling doors in. This client in San Antonio has talked about doing a floating staircase.
Q: Will banks finance barndominiums?
A: Yes, there’s not an issue at all.
Q: Has COVID-19 impacted your construction projects?
A: One of the biggest things that has happened is that materials that we’re ordering have been back ordered or are much slower in getting here because their considered nonessential. It’s been a change obviously, but where we left off, we’re going to jump right back in.