Monitor barns have been around for more than a century. In the 1920s, they were especially popular in New England. Perhaps the most famous example of the barn style is the West Monitor located in Richman, VT. Today, monitor barns are still a popular choice for farms and even homes because of their affordability and clever design.
If you’re looking for a barn home with more of a traditional home look, the monitor barn is a great option.
What is a Monitor Barn?
Monitor barns are sometimes called RCA barns, or raised center aisle barns. Just as the name suggests, the center of the barn has a raised section that has a higher roofline than a conventional gable-style barn.
One great advantage of a monitor barn is that the higher center area of the structure allows for more natural light and allows for better ventilation. Air is drawn up into the center area from open doors and windows on each side of the barn. Windows at the top center dissipate the heat while allowing in bacteria-killing sunlight and fresh air.
That extra vertical space can also be used as a loft area or even transformed into living quarters. In addition, the lower, outer areas of the barn are ideal for horse stalls or livestock.
Of course, these are the traditional uses for monitor barns. However, today, this barn-style is used for a variety of purposes, including as homes.
The Benefits of Monitor Barn Houses
Monitor barns offer many advantages, including:
#1- Better Ventilation
Compared to other barn styles, the monitor barn offers better ventilation. That’s because the upper loft area allows heat to dissipate, and the windows in the raised center aisle allow more fresh air to circulate through.
#2 – More Natural Light
Along with better ventilation, monitor barns allow more natural light to flow through thanks to the raised center aisle. Operable clerestory windows also help with airflow, allowing naturally warm or cool air inside.
#3 – More Vertical Space for Living or Work
The raised center aisle design allows the living quarters to be placed above the barn area. Some monitor barns are designed to have the entire center aisle (top and bottom floor) serve as living quarters.
Even with just a loft apartment, the tall center aisle allows for more space to live and work.
Monitor Barn Plans
Several companies offer modular or prefabricated monitor barn plans and kits. One great advantage of modular structures is that they’re manufactured in a controlled environment, so weather is never an issue. Kits also make construction even easier because they come with everything needed to complete the frame or shell of the structure.
Some of the most reputable companies offering monitor barn plans and kits include:
DC Structures has been in business for nearly two decades and is now one of the fastest-growing design and construction firms in the country. The company is headquartered in Portland, Oregon, which gives them easy access to premium quality lumber for their structures.
The company offers a wide range of floor plans, including monitor barns with living quarters.
One unique project from DC Structures is a monitor barn in Burlington, NC. The company designed this custom barn home to have upstairs and downstairs living areas in the center aisle. In addition, special windows were placed in the kitchen that allow the homeowners to see their horses without leaving their home.
In addition to custom monitor barn homes, DC Structures also offers kits.
The kits from DC Structures come with everything you need to assemble the frame of your monitor barn. Kits include:
Personalized design plans
Master materials list that’s location-specific
Trim and fascia
Tablet that’s pre-loaded with your project management site
360-degree camera for VR walkthroughs
Building support from the DC Structures building team
Their kits do not include general contracting services or installation. You will be responsible for all of the site work and finding a general contractor.
Horizon Structures was founded in 2001 and started out with simple, pre-built sheds and barns. Since then, the family-owned and operated company has grown to include modular barns, including monitor barns.
Horizon’s facility is 65,000 square feet, and they employ nearly 20 Amish carpenters. Offering a high level of craftsmanship, Horizon is a full-service company that walks customers through every step of the process of building their new barn.
The monitor barns from Horizon Structures offer the following features:
Steel reinforced corners with tow hooks
4-foot oak kickboard
A Quaker-style roof
2×8 tongue-and-groove paneling made of pine
Sliding aisle doors at both ends of the barn
Their monitor barns can also include a loft, which can be full, 3/4 or 1/2.
Barn Pros offers a wide range of monitor barn floor plans that can be customized to your needs. In addition, the company has a variety of upgrades and options that allow you to make the barn truly your own.
Exterior options include:
Gable end treatments
Siding, including Douglas Fir, Cedar or rustic barn lumber
Interior options include:
Some of the company’s most popular monitor barn floor plans include:
The Teton has a 7/12 pitch roof that’s ideal for clerestory windows, allowing more light and ventilation into the space. The barn features:
12’ open breezeway
Door and window package
With this floor plan, you can choose from five sizes: 24 ft, 36 ft, 48 ft, 60 ft and 72 ft. Square footage ranges from 1,152 square feet to 3,360 square feet, with the largest size option (including the loft).
The Sierra Monitor barn has a traditional monitor barn look with a lower roof pitch that’s commonly seen in southern states. This model has a 21’ ridge height from grade to peak. Other features include:
12’ open breezeway
5/12 roof pitch
With this floor plan, you have five sizes to choose from: 24 ft, 36 ft, 48 ft, 60 ft and 72 ft. Square footage ranges from 864 square feet to 2,592 square feet.
The Clydesdale is the largest monitor barn offered by Barn Pros. Featuring a 35’ roofline, this barn has a number of unique standard features, like two gable dormers, a silo tower and an attached shed roof. This model also comes with a full loft as part of the standard package.
This barn features:
14’ open breezeway
Door and window package
The Clydesdale has just four sizes to choose from: 28 ft, 42 ft, 56 ft and 70 ft. Square footage ranges from 2,352 square feet to 5,880 square feet (including the loft).
With this floor plan, you can upgrade the loft or add the following exterior additions:
Dormers (left and right side)
Secondary shed roof (open, partial, enclosed)
Shed roof options (open, partial, enclosed)
Pricing for the Clydesdale starts at around $119,000.
The Caretaker has a wide breezeway, a 9/12 roof pitch, a tall sidewall and higher loft area. This allows the barn to offer more spacious living quarters. In addition, the floor plan features a stunning cedar deck off the master bedroom as well as clerestory windows to allow more light and ventilation into the space.
The apartment in this monitor barn was made with modern residential comforts in mind.
Other features include:
16’ wide breezeway
9/12 roof pitch
The Caretaker has two sizes: 36 ft and 48 ft. Square footage ranges from 2,016 square feet to 2,688 square feet. The apartment sizes range from 16’ x 36’ to 16’ x 48.’
Pricing for this monitor barn starts at around $131,000.
Monitor barns are not only beautifully designed, but also offer many advantages, including better ventilation and more natural light.
The companies above have some excellent options for monitor barn floor plans and kits.