Updated: Dec 24, 2020
Sometimes, Google doesn’t have all the answers
Like most people starting this process, we relied heavily on Google. In the search for our builder, google let us down. We tried things like "custom home builders near me", "general contractors", or "barndominium builder", but we got just about nowhere. We called every reputable company we could find, and none of them were interested in our project.
After two weeks of reaching out to established builders, I was frustrated and completely discouraged, each call played out the same. "you want what?... why...well that’s a commercial building, not a house. No, you’re goanna want...blah blah blah" every person we called tried to tell us what we wanted, and totally ignored what we were asking for. Most were condescending and some downright confrontational. They spoke to us as if we were asking them to build a ball pit in our living room complete with a slide in lieu of stairs.
Ultimately, we gave up on the mainstream builders.
Come to find out, our state isn’t big on barndo’s
We moved to North Carolina from Central Texas, where barndo's are commonplace, so it was shocking when we realized that no one was building them here. I figured there had to be someone that didn't mind hearing me out on our dream or looking at my handwritten plans, so after the 2nd week of calling and being treated like I didn't have a clue what I was doing, I moved on planning the build myself. For us that meant making our own floorplans, researching the prices of steel buildings, finding our visual inspiration, and convincing someone to help me make it happen.
If you plan it, they will come
Moving on without a builder nailed down was exactly the right move for us. By the time I knew what I wanted, down to the roof pitch and type of building, we were in contact with a structural engineering firm. Our contact at the firm was supposed to help with the framing, electrical, and plumbing plans. They told me about a contractor they knew from a commercial job who might curious about our build. He shot me the contractor’s email and encouraged me to reach out. Turns out we were a perfect fit. Our contractor is new to running his own business, though he’s been working in the industry for more than 20 years (he's in his early 30’s so we were impressed with is experience).
The meet and greet
We met for the first time at our property, about two weeks after we bought it. At that point nothing had been cleared, the corners were barely marked, and you definitely couldn't walk it. We brought copies of all our plans, the site map (where the well, septic, and house will be placed), our site survey, and plenty of pictures from Pinterest. Although we could tell this would be new territory for him, he said something that encouraged us to move push on. “I think this would be a really interesting project to work out. I’ve built beach houses all over the island, but this would be a great challenge.” Those words were so relieving. We weren’t all in on him at that point, but E. and I had finally found someone willing to work with us on what we wanted, not what sounded the most simple or typical.