Photos by Gina Turner
Life took an interesting turn for Colorado residents Matt and Dawn Madsen five years ago. Dawn, who works in the oil and gas industry, received an eyebrow-raising job offer in Texas, and the couple decided to move. “She got one of those jobs you just don’t say no to,” Matt says. “It was a great career opportunity for her, so we just came on down.”
At the time, Matt owned and operated his own business, which utilized his broad experience in the construction industry, as well as his mechanical engineering degree from Colorado School of Mines. His company, Madsen Services, performed a variety of construction jobs, from retaining walls to paver patios. When Dawn accepted her job offer, Matt decided to bring his company and experience to Texas, and he soon introduced Madsen Services to Montgomery County residents.
Over time, the company has matured, specializing in projects based on the needs of local clients. Madsen Services can help with a variety of jobs, including excavation work for plumbing and electrical work. However, one of the company’s most often-requested services is the construction of metal buildings, which can be used as horse barns, pump houses, shops, warehouses, barndominiums and even churches.
Matt is quick to point out the many advantages of steel construction. “First and foremost, they hold up better than a wood frame building, especially if it’s exposed to the elements. Steel is inherently stronger. Wood construction doesn’t last as long as a concrete slab and metal building,” he says, noting that steel buildings are engineered to withstand wind of up to 100 miles per hour. Furthermore, with steel construction, there is no need to worry about rotting wood or termites.
Steel construction, as compared to wood construction, also allows for a greater distance between walls. “You can clear a span of 150 feet or more if you want it. You can’t do that with wood. You can’t get boards that are long enough or strong enough,” Matt says. “Wood trusses aren’t as strong as metal rafters.”
Even as a hobbyist, Matt likes to build things, so he enjoys constructing metal buildings. He also finds it rewarding to witness his clients’ enthusiasm when their steel buildings are complete. Madsen Services offers a unique advantage to its clientele by constructing buildings from start to finish. When a construction job is complete, it’s ready for people to move in their classic cars, horses, or workshop tools. “They are always excited,” Matt says. “They say, ‘I can’t wait for my horses to come in, or to put my cars in here.’”
Matt was recently pleased to be able to construct a church building for a local congregation, HopeWell Community Church. Members were enthusiastic about having a new building, Matt says, and many came by to watch during various phases of the project, especially on the day the steeple went up. “They were just so excited with this building,” Matt says.
Although Matt finds satisfaction from constructing metal buildings for his clients, he is most proud of the building he built on his own property.
Matt’s and Dawn’s Barndominium
City life never appealed to Matt and Dawn, so shortly after they relocated to Texas, they purchased rural acreage in north Montgomery County. “My wife and I decided we needed a place to run the business and a place to live in that same spot, and basically the best way to do that was to build a barndominium,” Matt says. “We wanted acreage, a place away from the hustle and bustle, and we wanted to do it ourselves. The fastest way to move into a new place was to build my barndominium and finish it as we went.” Dawn designed the floor plan, but Matt reserved the right to make a special request: a mudroom. “I come home pretty dirty most days, and everything goes straight to the washroom,” he says.
While Dawn was in charge of the structure’s interior, Matt handled the construction. “By building a barndominium, I have been able to build my house pretty much by myself, with the exception of a few trades,” he says. Dawn was willing to live in the barndominium during the construction process, and Matt is not shy about praising her fortitude. “We poured a slab and built a single bathroom and a single bedroom, and we moved in. Dawn is a saint. You can’t do that with any woman. She has to be pretty special.” Over the next months, Matt built out the rest of the interior. During the summer, he and Dawn grilled outdoors a lot. He admits washing dishes was a challenge, so putting in a kitchen was a priority.
Matt believes some prospective clients might find it economically appealing to build barndominiums so they can do some of the interior work themselves. In about a month, Madsen Services can complete an outer building, making it easy to complete the inside of the building without worries about the weather. “They have a closed-in structure,” he says. “They can work on the rest of it as time and money permits.” He noted that either traditional or foam insulation can be used to make barndominiums energy efficient.
While most barndominiums contain living areas as well as workshops, barns, or other utilitarian spaces, Matt and Dawn chose to build a separate shop to maintain some separation between home and business. “Our barndominium is the exception, not the rule,” he says. Its entire 40 feet by 60 feet contains living space. Matt calls his home a barndominium because of the steel construction and barn-like appearance.
Barndominiums have a long history. For centuries, people have combined their workspaces with their living quarters. Here in Texas, many farmers and ranchers found it was practical and affordable for them to house livestock on the first floors of their barns, and house their families—hopefully with more civilized interiors—on the second floors. Barndominiums of all kinds are now trending in Texas; in fact, a barndominium was featured on HGTV’s Fixer Upper a few years ago. Proponents of barndominiums cite many advantages, including strong construction, affordability, quick construction time, energy efficiency, and practicality.
For more information, email Matt Madsen at [email protected]