Shouse vs Barndominium: Which Is Better Between 2 Metal Buildings?

Shouses and barndominiums are two unique types of homes that are becoming increasingly popular. Both options are typically metal homes with tall ceilings. However, they also have a few notable differences.

If you are trying to decide between a shouse vs barndominium, take a moment to compare the main features, advantages, and disadvantages of each choice.

What Is a Barndominium?


The word “barndominium” is a combination of “barn” and “condominium.” The original barndominiums were made from existing pole barns. Modern barndominiums are built from the ground up to be a residence but still use pole-framing.

The frame is typically made with steel, which offers superior strength compared to a wood frame. Using pole-frame (post-frame) construction also maximizes the interior space, giving you more room to design the floorplan for your living area.

What Is a Shouse?

The word “shouse” is a combination of “shop” and “house.” Shophouses have existed for hundreds of years in Europe and Asia. In fact, you still find shophouses in heavily populated areas of Southeast China. Shophouses often include a shop entrance at ground level with a living area in the back or on an upper floor.

Modern shouses are closer to barndominiums, as they often include metal frames that are erected using post-frame construction. The shop portion of the home may still face the street, but the home also typically includes a separate entrance for the living area.

Shouse vs Barndominium: Similarities

Shouses and barndominiums include several similar features, which is why some people use the two terms interchangeably. Whether you decide to build a shouse vs barndominium, your new home will likely include the following features:

  • Post-frame construction
  • Metal framing
  • Metal siding and roofing
  • Slab foundation
  • Tall roof pitch
Shouse vs Barndominium Similarities

Shouses and barndominiums are often built using a type of construction called post-framing or pole-framing. Post-frame construction involves the installation of large posts that provide a clear span for the roof trusses, as you would see in the typical barn.

The frame eliminates the need for interior support. Standard homes are built with stud-framing, which involves the use of narrow wood frames with studs spaced up to two feet apart. A wood stud frame typically needs interior support for the upper floors or roof, which is why most homes have load-bearing walls.

Most shouses and barndominiums are built with metal frames instead of wood frames. Using metal increases the durability and stability of the frame. It is less likely to warp or settle compared to a wood frame.

Barndominiums and shouses are also similar due to the siding and roofing. Both types of homes often include metal siding and roofing. Aluminum siding is a common choice for the exterior while corrugated metal sheets or metal tiles are frequently used for the roofs. You can also choose from other materials, including stone or brick facades to increase the curb appeal of the exterior of the property.

Barndominiums and shouses are often built on top of slab foundations. A slab foundation costs less and takes less time to dry. You can start construction sooner and save money. Flooding, leaks, and pests are also less of a threat to slab foundations compared to basement foundations. However, you can still use a basement foundation for a barndominium or a shouse.

Another common feature is a tall roof. The post-frame construction used to build barndominiums and shouses include a clear span design that maximizes the available space inside the frame. You do not need to add interior support for the roof, which gives you more flexibility to choose a floor plan that suits your needs.

Shouse vs Barndominium: Differences

The main difference between a modern shouse vs barndominium is the workshop. Shouses are built with a space that could be used for commercial purposes or a hobby. A portion of the home typically includes a workshop area. The living area may be separate from the shop or include an open design that blends the two spaces. The workshop may be a small area or a large area, depending on how much space you need.

Barndominiums are built using similar features but without a dedicated workshop. The inside of the property typically resembles a standard home. The interior is framed to create bedrooms, bathrooms, and other living areas. Drywall is hung and the walls are painted.

Shouses also have living areas that resemble the inside of a traditional home. However, you gain extra space that can be used for hobbies, work, or storage.

Why Choose a Shouse?

A shouse is best suited for those who need a workshop or large garage. For example, if you are a furniture maker, mechanic, or builder who runs your own business, you may find that a shouse is a convenient option.

You can set up shop in one area of the shouse and live on the other side. Instead of commuting to work, you can simply walk from one end of your home to the other. You may also choose to build a large garage instead of a workshop, providing space for vehicles of all sizes.

Why Choose a Barndominium?

Barndominiums are great for those who want a sprawling living space with tall ceilings and more natural light. Unlike shouses, barndominiums do not typically include a workspace.

The original barndominiums were homes that were converted from pole barns. The home features pole-frame construction but does not necessarily include a pole barn. Yet, you can still build a barndominium with extra space for storage, work, or hobbies.

Why Choose a Standard Home?

Instead of building a shouse or a barndominium, you may decide to go with a regular home. You may find it easier to obtain financing for a standard home compared to a metal home.

Lenders may consider the construction of a metal home to be a riskier project compared to building a standard house. Regular homes are bought and sold every day while metal homes are still a bit of a rarity in the real estate market.

Building a standard house may also give you more options when choosing a place to build your new home. Metal homes are not allowed in certain areas, including most cities and urban areas. You may need to focus on rural locations, which may not be a problem for everyone.

Choosing a standard house may also allow you to avoid construction completely. Depending on where you live, you may have a wide selection of existing homes to choose from instead of building one from scratch.

Conclusion: Building a Shouse vs Barndominium?

Barndominiums and shouses offer many of the same advantages and disadvantages. Both options provide enhanced durability and protection against severe weather compared to a standard home built with a wood frame. You are also likely to save money building a shouse or barndominium instead of building a regular home.

The bottom line is that “shouse” and “barndominium” are fancy terms for styles of metal homes. You gain many of the same advantages with either type of home. However, shouses typically include a workshop.

If you want space for your hobbies or carrying out a trade, you may prefer the convenience of building a shouse. If you simply want a large, durable metal home with affordable construction, a barndominium may be a better choice.

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