Shop House: A Comprehensive Guide to Building Your Dream Home in Canada

shop house

Are you looking to build your dream home in Canada? Perhaps you’ve heard of Shop Houses, another popular term for barndominium homes in Canada. The post-frame construction trend taking the country by storm. These buildings feature a steel frame with cladding, creating a sturdy structure with a wide-open interior that you can customize to your heart’s content.

But what exactly is a Shop House (you may know it by the term shouse), and why are so many people choosing this option for their dream home? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take a closer look at the Shop House trend and walk you through the steps of building your own. From location and design to interior features and energy efficiency, we’ll cover everything you need to know to make your dream home a reality.

What is a Shop House?

shopdominium homeAt its most basic level, a Shop House is a type of post-frame building. These buildings are made by setting columns in the ground and attaching them to roof trusses to create a sturdy structure. The columns are spaced apart, which creates a wide-open functional interior that you can customize to your liking.

Shop Houses are popular in Canada for several reasons. One major advantage of Shop Houses is their design flexibility. With a wide-open interior, you have the freedom to create a living space that perfectly suits your needs and preferences. And because the structure is made of steel and other durable materials, your Shop House will be able to withstand high winds and other severe weather conditions.

But perhaps the biggest selling point of Barndominiums or Shop Houses is their energy efficiency. These buildings are designed to be well-insulated and tightly sealed, which means they require less energy to heat and cool. This can save you a significant amount of money on your energy bills over time.

Step 1: Choose a Location and Design

When it comes to building a Shop House, the first step is to choose a location and a design that works for you. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Considerations for Location

  • Proximity to Amenities: Do you want to be close to schools, shopping, and other amenities? Consider the location carefully to ensure you can get what you need easily.
  • Rural vs. Urban: Do you want to live in a rural area or a more urban one? Your lifestyle preferences will play a crucial role in determining your choice.
  • Zoning and Building Codes: Check with your local municipality’s building codes and regulations to make sure you can legally build a Shop House on your desired property.

Designing Your Shop House

barndominium plans designOnce you’ve chosen your location, it’s time to think about the design of your modern home. Here are some things to consider:

  • Floor Plan: How many bedrooms do you need? How much living space? What kind of storage do you require? Are you in need of a garage for your cars? Be sure to select a floor plan that accommodates your desired square footage to meet your specific needs.
  • The Number of Stories: Do you want a one-story or two-story home?
  • Special Features: Do you want a riding arena, workshop, or storage space for vehicles? Incorporate these features into your design.
  • Custom Design: Work with a designer to create a Shop House that matches your vision.

Step 2: Preparing the Site

Once you’ve chosen your location and design, it’s time to prepare the site for construction. Here’s what you need to do:

Preparing the Ground

  • Clear the Site: Remove any debris, trees, or rocks from the area where your Shop House will be located.
  • Level the Ground: Make sure the ground is level to prepare for the concrete slab.

Pouring the Concrete Slab

  • barndominium foundationHire a Professional: Pouring a concrete slab is a job for professionals. It’s important to select a reliable and trustworthy contractor to carry out the construction work.
  • Level and Thickness: Make sure the slab is level and the thickness is appropriate for the size of your Shop House.

Step 3: Construction

With the site prepared, it’s time to start building your Shop House. Here’s what you need to know:

Building the Structural Components

  • Post-frame Buildings: This method uses columns set in the ground to support the roof and walls of your Shop House.
  • Materials: Columns can be made of wood, steel, or concrete. Select the building material that is most suitable for your requirements and fits within your budget.
  • Spacing: Columns are spaced apart to create the wide-open interior that is a hallmark of Shop Houses.
  • Install Roof Trusses and Purlins: These components create the roof structure of your Shop House.

Installing Doors and Exterior Walls

  • Choose Your Exterior Cladding: Wood, steel, and vinyl are popular options. Select the cladding material that aligns with your preferred aesthetic style.
  • Install Doors and Windows: Follow the floor plan to install doors and windows where needed.

Step 4: Interior Design and Features

Now that the structure of your Shop House is complete, it’s time to shift your focus to the interior. Take into account the following factors:

insulating steel homeInsulation and Energy Efficiency

  • Energy-efficient Insulation: Use insulation that will help regulate the temperature of your Shop House and reduce your energy bills.
  • Radiant Floor Heating: Consider installing a radiant floor heating system to keep your home warm and cozy.

Vaulted and High Ceilings

  • Vaulted Ceilings: These ceilings create a feeling of spaciousness and can make your Shop House feel even larger.
  • High Ceilings: Like vaulted ceilings, high ceilings can create an open and airy atmosphere.

Customizing Your Living Space

  • Personal Style: Design your interior space to match your ideal house plans, personal style, and taste.
  • Custom Features: Consider adding custom features like a fireplace or built-in shelving to make your Shop House truly your own.

The Building Process: Tips for a Successful Shop House Construction Project

canadian metal houseConstructing a Shop House can be both a fulfilling and demanding process. To guarantee a successful construction project, it’s essential to approach the process with meticulous planning and attention to detail. Here are some recommendations for a prosperous Shop House construction project:

  1. Choose the Right Contractor: The first step in any successful construction project is choosing the right contractor. When searching for a contractor to build your Shop House, it’s important to seek out an experienced professional who can furnish references from contented customers. It’s recommended to obtain multiple bids and compare the costs and services offered by various contractors prior to selecting the best option for your project.
  2. Manage the Construction Process: After selecting a contractor, it’s crucial to remain engaged in the construction process. This entails frequent visits to the construction site, asking pertinent questions, and addressing any issues that surface. It’s important to maintain clear communication with your contractor and any subcontractors to ensure that everyone is working towards the same goal.
  3. Stay on Budget: Building a Shop House can be an expensive endeavour, so it’s important to stay on budget throughout the construction process. Collaborate with your contractor to establish a comprehensive budget and strive to adhere to it as closely as possible. If unexpected expenses arise, be sure to address them promptly and work with your contractor to find cost-effective solutions.
  4. Choose the Right Materials: The materials you choose for your Shop House can have a significant impact on its durability, energy efficiency, and overall aesthetic appeal. Work with your contractor to choose high-quality materials that are well-suited for the Canadian climate and will help you achieve your desired design aesthetic.
  5. Consider Energy Efficiency: Shop Houses are known for their energy efficiency, but achieving maximum efficiency requires careful planning and attention to detail. Consider features like high-quality insulation, energy-efficient windows and doors, and radiant floor heating to help reduce your energy bills and make your Shop House more comfortable year-round.
  6. Customize Your Living Space: The interior of your Shop House should be customized to your personal style and needs. Consider features like built-in shelving, a fireplace, or a custom kitchen to make your Shop House truly your own.

By following these tips and working closely with your contractor throughout the construction process, you can ensure a successful Shop House construction project that results in a beautiful, energy-efficient, and functional home that meets your needs and exceeds your expectations.


How much does it cost to build a Shop House?

The cost associated with building a Shop House can vary considerably based on several factors, including the size, location, and design. Typically, the cost may range anywhere from several hundred thousand dollars to over a million dollars.

However, Shop Houses can be a cost-effective option to save, in the long run, thanks to their energy efficiency and durability.

Can Shop Houses be used for other purposes besides homes?

Yes! Shop Houses are versatile buildings that can be used for a variety of purposes, including as garages, workshops, or storage spaces.

How long does it take to build a Shop House?

The timeline for building a Shop House can vary depending on factors such as the size of the home and the complexity of the design. In general, the process can take several months to a year or more.


barn with living quartersConstructing a Barndominium Shop House can be a gratifying and fulfilling experience. With their wide-open spaces, energy efficiency, and customizable features, Shop Houses are an excellent option for anyone looking to build their dream home in Canada. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you’ll be well on your way to creating a home that is truly your own.