How to Turn a Barn into a Home…Fixer Upper

This episode of Fixer Upper is called “One of a kind fixer-upper gets a modern makeover” but we’ll call it “How to Turn a Barn into a Home”.  And not surprisingly, that’s exactly what they do!

For this rural renovation, Chip and Joanna have a budget of $359k to help a couple realize their dream of owning a open country home with several acres of land.

The Barndominum

They take them to an almost bare piece of land first although there is a barn/garage/apartment combo on the property. This will take a lot of imagination as they’re imagining the main living area to go upstairs! At a $180k, it seems like a reasonable purchase but it’s all about the land.

House 2 is an old farmhouse from the 80s so it has zero character and it’s built on a slab. Again, you need lots of visions here although the land is beautiful and for 12 acres for $99k, it might make sense.  They have enough money in the budget to just build another house!

House 3 is down a beautiful drive and sits in a beautiful stand of trees and that alone is makes it an attractive purchase.  It takes decades to develop a piece of land like this and at $159k, we’d pick this one! With $200k to spend on renovations, they can get a lot of work done even though the home seems to be in reasonable shape.

Let the Fun Begin…

Surprisingly, they choose the barn conversion!  Joanna is excited about this one and it isn’t everyday you get to witness a barn conversion!

Demo day leaves them with nothing but a shell!  Chip pulls the outside stairs down with his truck but that isn’t a good idea unless you do a little nail cutting first!  If the stairs are installed properly, yanking them down with a truck or tractor can pull half the building down!  Don’t think it’s as easy as it looks!

Starting Fresh…

All the mechanicals and finishes are going to be new so it eliminates many of the potential surprises.  We just hope the foundation is in good shape and up to code.  Chip always does a good job on his homes but being in a rural setting, we wonder what kind of inspection and permit requirements there are.  Always build to code whether you’re required to or not!

The process of turning a barn into a home is a daunting task!  Many barns aren’t built to any particular standard and the older they are, the more randomly they’re constructed.  We were lucky enough to find more details on the process at the website linked below…

How to Turn a Barn into a Home

Work progresses quickly and there isn’t much in the way drama on this build because it’s basically new from the ground up.  As usual, we like that they went with paint grade cabinets and we expected Joanna to insert a little ship lap here.

Building Metal Handrails

But we also like the metal handrails.  Metal handrails are a bit out of the norm for residential work but IF you can find the right contractor, it can go be an easy process.  Metal is more difficult to work with than wood but much like wood, if you make a mistake, you simply cut it out and start over.  Just know that welding is an art form and it isn’t easy to make it look good.  Yes, they sell welders at Lowe’s and yes you could build handrails with it but it isn’t as easy as you think. 

An ugly weld…

Ugly weld

A beautiful weld…

A beautiful weld


One thing to worry about is the order in which you weld all nultiple pieces of metal together.  If you start at one end and work you’re way to the other, the chances are good that the entire assembly will twist from all the heat being applied to it.  You have to spread the welding operations and therefore the heat, out evenly across the stricture to keep it straight.  Also, “laying down” nice welds takes a lot of practice and the chances that you will “lay down” welds that don’t need to be ground down and finished is remote at best.  And then there’s the hazards of using a grinder…

The Lego Wall

We also like the “Lego” wall and can honestly say we’ve never seen that before. Finally, suspending the desk top in the stair alcove off cable and turn buckles is a great idea. The cables will hold plenty of weight but I’d be worried that the desk might bounce when you use it.

The home is absolutely beautiful but is putting the kitchen up-stairs a good idea? While they are able to capitalize on the views of the property, lugging groceries up a flight of stairs gets old quick!

Visit Our Blogs! to learn more about all things home decor, maintenance or renovation! We’re glad you’re here!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Share This