Peek Inside a Terra Ceia 'Barndominium'
"Barndominiums" have been done before, but not in Terra Ceia.
It is what it sounds like: a barn converted into a home. And since one was featured on Chip and Joanna Gaines' show Fixer Upper, their popularity has grown.
But Jamie Zeigler, 46, didn’t start with an existing barn. She designed one from the ground up—and acted as architect, general contractor (she doesn't have a license, but she hired the subs) and project manager on her three-bedroom, two-bathroom "barndo" perched on five lush acres.
She says barndominiums are all the rage in Texas and Georgia, and people will spend millions on them—especially since steel has doubled in price since the pandemic. Now that hers is on the market, we'll see if that holds true for our region, too.
The barndominium is a unique look for historic Terra Ceia. Located just north of Palmetto and just south of the Sunshine Skyway bridge in Manatee County, the island is roughly three miles long and one mile wide, connected to the mainland by three short bridges. Newcomers seeking acreage and nature tend to buy or build large Key West-style houses, three stories high, with wraparound porches occasionally dressed up with Victorian embellishments.
Terra Ceia's immediate heritage is agricultural, but what makes it different from the farmland east of the interstate is that it’s surrounded by water, protected from development as part of an aquatic preserve that spans more than two-thirds of the island. It brims with boating, fishing and water activities and views.
Zeigler first purchased the land in 2020 for $230,900. The lot was previously a tree farm and the place looked like a jungle. She spent roughly $20,00 to clear enough space to build the 2,674-square-foot home, and the remaining acreage still houses at least 20 types of palms, cypress trees, oaks, maples, ash trees, flowering orange trees and Chinese lantern trees that bloom in bright yellow. “That’s what I loved about it,” she says.
She also liked the prospect of owning livestock and living off the land, but settled instead on chickens and an 8,500-gallon koi pond with 23 of the mottled “cow fish,” as a little boy called them when his family attended a recent open house.
Zeigler has built 27 barndominiums thus far, and this is one of four in Florida. The others are in her native Colorado, plus Texas and Tennessee. A realtor with Preferred Shore Real Estate, Zeigler has created eight barndo designs and is working on two more.
When she lived in Colorado with her then-husband, a builder and a contractor, he built an off-grid, straw-bale solar mountain home, almost like an adobe. Like a barndominium, it was a rural address with a luxury finish.
“When I left him, I learned to fix and flip homes," Zeigler says. "I learned to pour concrete countertops. I learned to tile, too. It’s opened up a business for me, which is great."
Initially built as her forever home, the Terra Ceia barndominium "has a 40-year warranty on the exterior, and the roof will last 50-100 years," Zeigler says. "It doesn't mildew or mold, and each footer goes more than 4 feet into the ground." The ceiling is fire resistant, and before building, she raised the land to 9.75 feet. "It’s a luxury steel and glass home. If a termite gets in here, it'll need a dentist,” she adds.
Now an empty nester, she wants to downsize.
“I care for it all by myself. It’s good soul food. It takes me three-and-a-half hours to mow the grass, and I get to see spoonbills, rabbits, hawks and coyotes. Then I’m inside around marble countertops,” she says.
Like everything in Terra Ceia, the home is close to the water, and the next owner can join an optional HOA and access nearby boat ramps.
Inside, there are sweeping views from every room, but a window strategically placed right by the oversized bathtub is a favorite front-row seat to the area’s wildlife. The five acres mean privacy is a given.
But that acreage can also generate income. The five-acre lot can be subdivided and sold—there’s room for three other single-family homes.
Just three other homes are for sale on the island, and they range in price from $549,500 for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom home to $2.18 million for a four-bedroom, four-bathroom home. Rural Old Florida is getting harder and harder to find, but there’s still a slice of it here.
Interested? Contact Jamie Zeigler of Preferred Shore Real Estate at (863) 969-9145.