Jan 22, 2016 by

There was a time when American single family homes weren’t so absurdly large. In 1950, the average household had 3.83 people and the average new single family home was 983 sq ft, making for a pretty reasonable 291 sq ft per person. Compare that to 2014, when the average household had 2.54 people and the average new single family home was 2,690 sq ft, or 1059 sq ft per person. That’s a 360% increase in per capita housing size. Yikes! What’s worse is this continual embiggening of the American home has dwindled the options of modestly sized homes for those who want them. We frequently get notes from people who want to downsize, but say they are forced into homes larger than they want because there’s virtually nothing available in their area. A real estate startup out of San Antonio, TX called Rising Barn is trying to remedy this lack of options, offering prefabricated, stylish, affordable and reasonably sized single family homes.


Rising Barn offers five “kits” with two categories of structures: cabins and domos. The cabins come in two sizes, large and medium. The large is a two bedroom unit with 720 sq ft of usable square feet (above), and the medium is a studio with half the area of the large; unlike the large, it doesn’t have a full bath or kitchen, so it’s designed for “work/live” use. The three domos are multipurpose rooms ranging from 80-160 sq ft and can be used in conjunction with cabins or as additions to existing homes.


Rising Barn wants to make the whole process simple and affordable. Here’s an explanation of the ordering process from their site:

Once you do [select a kit], our barn kits will be delivered to your land in 2-6 weeks. If you prefer to hire a crew, we are happy to assist you in choosing the right one in your area. If you reside in Texas, you can contract a Rising Barn team leader or use our turn key service. You can build it with a few friends within in a week, work alongside Rising Barn team leaders, use our turnkey service, or we can help you find a local crew to assist.

According to the San Antonio Business Journal, unit pricing ranges from $120-200, which includes material and labor. If you go the DIY route, that cost drops to $90 to $105 per square foot. So a 720 sq ft cabin built by contractors would run, on the top end, $144K; even factoring in land costs, permitting and other sundry expenses, this seems like pretty competitive pricing.

Sure, there are cheaper prefab options, but I doubt they look half as nice as Rising Barn’s or are made half as well. And the ones that do look and are built this nice typically run in the multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars just for the structure. If you must live in a single family home, Rising Barn looks like a solid option.

1 Comment

  1. When we bought our home in 2003 it was one of those 1950s prefab houses — with wood walls on a cement slab, 2 bedrooms and a walk-in closet (just joking, it was actually a third bedroom) with a total of 864 square feet, but it was perfect for 2 adults and 4 mini schnauzers. We loved it right up to the day the furnace tech burned it down, but now we have our 864 foot dream house on the same slab that the first one stood on. There are times that I miss the old house b/c I could hammer a nail in the wall and it would stay there (unlike the drywall we have now). We still have the 4 schnauzers but now we’ve added an Olde English Sheepdog to our brood and even with the 85 pound behemoth there is still enough room for all of us. The best part is that in less than 10 years we will own it outright — THAT alone is the BEST reason NOT to get sucked into one of those mcmansions!

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