When building a house from scratch is not an option, metal building homes can be your choice. These prefab homes are more cost-effective, and they come in various sizes and types.
Even if you are not a builder, you may be able to build a small metal cabin yourself, as long as you have construction skills. You can have a house, barn, or other space types in a breeze.
However, metal home is not as easy as it sounds.
There are various things you need to know before actually building one, such as the pros and cons, affordability, insurance, zoning permit, resistance against elements, and much more.
Don’t let your wish for practicality and efficient cost make you suffer in the future!
Here are things you need to know about building a metal home (or similar stuff).
A. Pros and Cons of Metal Building Homes
All types of buildings have their own pros and cons. Make sure you know what to expect from metal homes before ordering one!
1. Pros of Metal Building Homes
- Durable and strong
Metal is definitely a tough material compared to wood, for example. Metal stands not only against rain and strong wind, but also more unique elements such as sandstorm, tornado, and acid rain.
Metal home is easy to split into spaces for several purposes. If you plan to combine an office with the residential building, for example, dividing the area is relatively easy.
Also, if you periodically remodel your house, a metal house is easier to work on, because the structure load leans to external walls.
Fire hazard is one of the top risk factors that can increase your insurance cost. On the contrary, metal is non-combustible, meaning that its risk to catch fire is smaller, and metal home is a great way to reduce insurance cost.
- Easy to maintain
Metal home is relatively low-maintenance compared to other types of building. If you plan a future investment by saving on maintenance cost, this is a great option.
2. Cons of Metal Building Homes
- Difficult approval process
If you live in the US, you will probably find it hard to obtain approval from Homeowner Association or other institutions, because of the unique nature of the building.
Other areas or countries may also have their own rules that are more difficult than if you buy/build a regular house.
- Extra spending
Since metal homes are prefabricated, your exterior will look like metal sheets. If you do not like such exterior, you need additional spending to remodel it.
- Difficult to expand
Sometimes, homeowners want to add the square footage of their houses. It is a difficult thing to do if you have a prefab metal home.
- Hard to design based on local conditions
Often, the choice of a house depends on local conditions, such as weather, climate, and terrain. A prefab metal home is not precisely adaptable, so you must consider all aspects in the local area before buying one.
While there are several cons related to metal homes, they are not the same for each person. Make sure you list all the pros and cons based on your own condition before deciding to buy a metal home!
B. Short and Long-Term Affordability of Metal Building Homes
Property, such as a house or office building, is a form of long-term investment. As long as you have it, you need to consider the affordability, both for short and long terms.
Thankfully, the metal building is a good investment in property, especially if you have no money to build from scratch.
Here are two kinds of affordability benefits you can get from metal home:
1. Short-term money saving
When you decide to buy a prefab metal building, you immediately save more money than if you buy a traditional home (or build one from scratch).
If you have the skill to build the house, or can use help from nonprofessionals to help (such as family members), you even save more money for the contractor.
Finally, when you buy more materials to construct and equip the house, you can further save money, because of the building’s more economical price.
2. Long-term money saving
The metal building is easier to maintain because the elements are not as complicated as traditional houses. Regular houses demand you to maintain roofs, gutters, paint, tiles, floor, foundations, and much more.
Prefab metal building does not have too many elements, and it comes with warranties along with the insurance.
Before making a purchase, remember to adjust your needs and budgets to these affordability aspects. Also, make sure you deal with all the permits and licenses before ordering the house to avoid future legal troubles that can cost a lot.
C. How Much Does a Metal Building Home Cost?
While prefab metal homes could be cheaper than the regular houses, many aspects can affect your spending.
License, land development, foundation, tools, materials to finish your home are among the main things that you must pay.
The numbers add up if you prefer bigger houses.
Here are some general calculations for metal homes, to roughly count how much you will spend:
Basic metal home style, complete with roof, frames, and siding are between USD15 and USD30 per square foot. However, style, size, and material grade may affect the price.
Standard prices for 40 x 60 square ft. building can range between US$5,000 and US$30,000.
Basic slab foundation for a metal home can cost between US$10,000 and US$25,000. Again, size and style can affect the numbers.
Basement and raised foundation mean another US$10,000-15,000. The larger the house, the higher the cost for additional features like these.
Delivery cost for prefab metal home is usually around 8 percent of the total price of the house. For example, if your entire house costs around US$30,000 (excluding materials that you add on your own), expect to pay the delivery cost as much as US$2,400.
If you have no access to city sewer system, you may need to install your own sewer system. Depending on your need and general cost, you may have to spend between US$6,000 and US$12,000.
You need to research price lists for materials such as electric and plumbing systems, paint, and cabinetry before calculating the entire amount.
There are stores that specialize in cheap building materials, but if you want to turn the metal home into investment, start with high-quality materials.
Depending on where you live, you can also fund your home building with loans. There are various loan companies that offer service for owner-builder.
D. Insurance for Metal Building Home
Generally, metal homes can be lighter in warranties and protection compared to traditional houses. Since metal is a noncombustible material, it has lower risk hazard, which means it is more favorable in the eyes of insurance companies.
Metal buildings can also withstand heavy elements and even disasters such as hurricane, tornado, and sandstorm.
If you buy a metal home from a trusted manufacturer, your house will earn “approval stamp” from the specially appointed engineer.
It means that all aspects of your home have been inspected, which reduce further risk of hazards. An official quality proof from the manufacturer will help you securing lower rate for insurance.
Metal homes also have long-term warranties. Typically, a prefab metal home in the US gets around 20-year warranties for the roof, 40 years for paint, and 50 years for the primary structural system.
This is something that you will not always get from regular house building, especially if you have low real-estate and insurance budgets.
To make sure that your house is well-covered, discuss with several insurance companies about their willingness to protect your metal home.
It will be better if you can find an exclusive insurance company that offers a package for prefab metal homes.
E. How to Build a Metal Building Home
Once you are done with permits and licenses, and already have your prefab home delivered, it is time to build. Here is what you need to know about metal home constructions.
1. Preparing Site for Metal Home
Metal home is easier to build because it does not leave too many unused or wasted materials. However, the first step is the same with making traditional house: clearing the area until you get the level surface for the construction.
Depending on the land condition, you may need to conduct grading process.
Grading means creating slope around the planned house site so that water will flow to the correct directions. This process prevents water stagnation around the property, which can be breeding ground for insects.
If you plan to have a basement, improper grading can cause a leak in the room. Your property can also be weakened by moisture without grading.
You must also consider the type of foundation under your metal home. There are several common types used for metal building: slab, raised, raised concrete filing, and basement.
A slab is the cheapest, but raised type or basement will add to your property investment value. Plus, raised type or vault helps you reaching home system easier.
You must think about the essential factors of having a house. Water and electricity must be on your mind before working on a site for a metal house.
If you do not have a connection to the nearest water and power lines, you must provide your own link and water source (drilling well), which will increase the cost.
Finally, you must also plan the plumbing lines and system, even before the metal home kits arrive. Consider where the plumbing lines will be in the house, and how you will run washing machine, bathtub, shower, sink, and closet.
2. Metal Building Home Kits and Equipment
When ordering a metal home kit, the package will arrive in parts, such as rigid frames, rafter beams, end-wall columns, tapered columns, end-wall rafters, eave strut, girt, and much more.
Even if you do not know anything about metal home construction (and trusting it to professionals), it does not hurt to know about the basics.
Here are things you must know about assembling metal building home kits:
- Proper equipment and tool
Prepare cordless drill, wrenches with different sizes, level, ladders, large screwdriver, and spud wrench. For more substantial equipment, you may need to prepare scissor lift for the heavy lifting. If you have extra budget, you can make forklift or pallet jack.
- Frame connecting method
Metal home frames are assembled using bolts. The same method is also used when connecting the house to its foundation. Accurate measurement is essential to make sure that the structure fits its foundation well.
- Roof assembly
Standard method to attach roof panels on top of metal home is using stainless steel fastener, self-tapping, and sealing with neoprene washers. You can easily remodel and readjust whenever you need some changes in the house.
- Exterior finishing
Assembling the metal panels is done just after the frames are assembled and attached firmly. You can keep the metal exterior as it is, but many people choose to paint it.
If you want more “normal” look for comfort, you can finish it with bricks or other common house materials. This is usually done when building a metal home for private residence or holiday place.
- Doors and windows installation
Metal home kits usually do not come with windows and doors, and you need to provide them yourself. However, this also means that you can get creative with them.
You are free to choose short, small, or large doors and windows. Just make sure that they give your home proper light and air circulation.
Floor plan for the metal building is flexible, mainly if your construction does not use anchored beams to support the entire structure.
To create spaces inside the house, you need to think about partition walls. You can use bricks, stone, plywood, wood planks, or any other standard materials for the partitions.
- Heating and cooling system
A metal building can get hot or cold easily, especially if you live in an area with extreme climate. You need to install heating and cooling system.
They can be combined as a central system, or separated. Make sure to calculate the budget even before you order the metal home kits.
Once you prepare all the necessary aspects and build the house with correct methods, your metal home will stand strong in no time.
F. Metal Building Home Floor Plans
Floor plans help you deciding the space divisions in the house. Since metal home comes in a predetermined size, you need to adjust your floor plan with it.
Here are several samples of floor plans based on typical metal home sizes:
1. 40′ x 60′ (about 230 square meters)
This is the most popular metal home size. It is cheap and practical, perfect for a single residential building or small home office.
This size can fit two or three bedrooms, one bathroom, one kitchen, one dining room, one living room, and small office. If you combine the kitchen with dining room, you get extra space, such as for laundry room.
2. 55′ x 71′ (about 363 square meters)
This floor plan is perfect for a five-bedroom house. You can have one master bedroom suite, plus four other smaller bedrooms with two shared bathrooms (master suite get its own bathroom).
Or, you can reduce the bedrooms and have spacious living space with large kitchen, dining room, living room, and extra multipurpose rooms.
3. 80′ x 60′ (about 474 square meters)
This home size is not only spacious, but perfect to create a two-story house. You can have an open-style living area, or create several suite bedrooms.
There are also ample spaces for kitchen, dining room, living room, bathrooms, laundry room, and office.
Different metal home manufacturers may offer other specific sizes. You can search the one that perfectly matches your needs. Consult with a professional contractor if you are not sure about the best size for your unique floor plan.
G. Metal Building Homes Insulation
Insulation is essential to keep the indoor temperature ideal, and save energy. However, in the case of metal building home, insulation also works as protection against the worst effects of natural elements.
US government regulates several types of insulation you can install in a metal home.
Here are your options:
1. Batt and blanket
This is the cheapest option, perfect for small house or cabin that does not have complicated specs. The insulation works for floor, walls, and ceiling.
Batt consists of mineral fiber, polycarbonate or fiberglass panels, while the blanket is made of similar material, but more flexible and can be rolled, folded, or cut.
2. Right board insulation
This insulation system is similar to the “blanket” part in batt and blanket. The material is flexible, easy to roll and cut, and made of fiberglass, polyurethane, or polystyrene.
Right board insulation is commonly used on a flat floor, and you can cut it based on the necessary measurements.
3. Loose-fill insulation
This insulation method is used to fill gaps or cavities that cannot be covered with regular insulation method. You apply it by blowing particles, such as loose fiber or pellets, into small holes.
Loose-fill is a bit more expensive because you need specialized equipment to blow the particles.
4. Spray foam
Spray foam is the best option if your house has modified or irregular design. You spray polymer liquid to fill the gaps or cavities in the building.
The liquid will harden, expand, and entirely cover the gaps with airtight quality. Spray foam method is versatile and can be used on walls, ceiling, and floor.
Compared to a regular wooden house, metal home usually has deeper stud depth, which means extra space for insulation. If you have a large home, combine several insulation methods to cover the entire building.
With the right padding, you can feel more comfortable in your metal home, regardless of weather and climate.
H. Metal Building Home Builders
Assembling the house is not difficult if you understand construction skill, although you may need helpers to finish the job. You must prepare by taking notes of your metal home’s weight and lengths, even before the kit arrives.
The experienced builder may finish the job well with just a few helpers, but it is better to contact a professional contractor to build the home.
Companies that sell metal home kits usually have professional builders, and the professional ones even have their own contractors.
If you are unsure about all aspects of construction, it is better to use their services. Builders and contractors that work with your metal home manufacturer have known about the specs, which make the project runs more smoothly.
If possible, you should consider hiring metal home builders that are run locally. This means the owners and crew know well about conditions of the surrounding areas, such as the terrain, soil type, typical weather, and access to water, electricity, and gas.
Here are some popular metal home builders in US :
- General Steel Buildings
- Morton Buildings
- Mueller Buildings
- Butler Buildings
- Kodiak Steel Homes
- Lester Buildings
- Wick Buildings
I. Metal Building Home Designs
There are various designs you can choose when shopping for metal home kits. Here are some of the most popular ones.
1. Quonset hut
Quonset hut is a metal home design that looks like arch or semi-circle, without any interior beams. This model is self-support, and famous for being able to withstand extreme elements, such as storm or tornado.
This design was first recognized in Rhode Island, and it is still favored for its sturdiness and low price.
This model comes in two types: one is with straight walls but a semi-circular roof, and the other is an actual semi-circular building.
The construction is relatively easy, but installing doors and insulation features is often expensive and challenging. The curved shape of the structure usually requires customized windows and doors.
2. Straight wall
Straight wall model is famous for commercial buildings, such as office, warehouse, and store.
While the wall consists of simple straight panels, the roof may have various shapes, such as gable (curved), column-and-beam, single slope, straight column, and lean-to-style.
A straight wall is also easy to install, and you do not need to find customized windows and doors. Insulation process is even easier than if you have a semi-circular building shape.
Straight wall model is also easy to expand, which makes it perfect for developing business.
Pole barn metal home is very straightforward. It consists of wall, roof, and anchored beams to support the roof. It also has a spacious interior, and the beams are often made of metal instead of wood (unlike in traditional barn home).
Pole barn metal home is perfect for livestock or agricultural storage.
Pole barn home is easy to build, and you don’t need to find customized windows and doors. However, this model is not too strong against extreme wind.
You must also consider the fact that strong animals, such as horses or bulls, often kick, hit, or bite parts of the structure.
Shipping container home has gained much popularity in the past several years, due to the rising trend of “minimalistic house.” Instead of elaborate design, this metal home just consists of a giant metal box with windows, doors, and stairs.
This is a great home if you love minimalist design and lifestyle.
The simplicity of shipping container home makes it easy to remodel. You can install a wooden floor, various lighting fixtures, and much more to create a dream home. However, expansion is difficult, especially if you plan to start a family.
J. Most Popular Types of Metal Building Home
You probably think that metal home is not versatile. Perhaps you imagine a wooden, square building that is hard to modify. The truth is: metal home is one of the most versatile structures.
You can use it for a lot of things, and it is more durable than traditional buildings. Here are some of the most popular types of metal building home people have used.
There is no question about building a strong, durable space for your vehicle. A metal garage is a great investment to protect your precious cars.
Owner of the classic, sports, or luxurious vehicles often builds metal garage to preserve their collections. The metal garage is also great to keep your Harley Davidson bikes.
The metal building is even stronger against rats, elements, mold, and fire.
If you have special collections like vintage cars, you usually need to pay extra for special insurance. Having durable and secure storage such as metal garage will help you save some money on insurance.
Workshop jobs are complicated, sophisticated, and require secure workspace to ensure the best result. The metal building is famous for the workshop because it is durable, sturdy, and more protective than brick or wooden home.
Since workshop usually stores a lot of essential tools, a metal building will provide better protection against the pest, water, wind, and fire.
3. Commercial/ Industrial metal buildings
The metal building is ideal for business owners, especially if you have small to mid-range business and plan to expand it. Metal storage is easy to construct and has a spacious interior, so it is ideal for a lot of businesses.
You can easily create an ideal floor plan, such as for office, bathroom, storage space, file room, and much more. The lack of internal frames or beams means you can efficiently use all the space.
If you want to expand your business, you only need to order expandable metal home kits. You can also order and construct another one, and the design will not look too different.
4. Barns and agricultural buildings
The metal building is ideal for agricultural buildings because there is enough space to store livestock, tractor, harvester, and other large objects.
A Strong metal building is also great to prevent damages from large animals, such as horses, cows, or bulls. The metal building also helps your livestock to be safe from harsh elements.
One downside of a metal building is the temperature. During cold weather, you need to install a heating system, especially if you live in an area with freezing winter. Luckily, fixing insulation system in a metal building is not too difficult.
5. Residential metal buildings
With the rising price of houses, more people now move to a metal home for living. Metal buildings are cost-efficient, strong, and easy to modify.
While some may think that metal home does not look like a traditional house, others love it due to the minimalist look. Metal buildings can also be expanded easily, which is perfect if you plan to grow a family.
6. Aviation metal buildings
US Department of Defense requires all aviation buildings to be made of metal. Therefore, ordering metal home kits for a hangar is a must.
Metal building has ample space without intruding columns or beams, ideal for storing a plane. It is also strong and can protect the aircraft, along with other equipment, from harsh elements.
7. Recreational and public facilities
The metal building is often an option to open recreational and public buildings. Strong, durable, and spacious metal constructions are ideal for gym, supermarket, indoor swimming pool, and recreational center.
The building is spacious and allowing the owners to create the ideal floor plan. There is a lot of space to place racks, gym machines, tables and chairs, commercial kitchens, benches and courts, and much more.
Spacious interior also gives the owners more flexibility in managing and expanding a business. When the owner needs to move the building somewhere else, the process is easier than if the structure is made of brick-and-mortar.
Metal building homes have many advantages: they are cheap, easy to construct, versatile, and durable. Metal home kits come prefabricated, and they can be constructed easily following the instructions.
These homes have various models, and you can use various finish, from bricks to wooden panels.
When building a metal home, you need to consider extra expenses for windows, doors, insulation, plumbing system, licenses, and insurance.
You can use a professional contractor and builder services to construct the metal home kit. Metal buildings have been used for various purposes, such as residential and recreational buildings, hangar, workshop, storage space, barn, and much more.
If you look for the spacious, versatile, and durable building, but still with affordable cost, metal building homes can be your option.