The sticker shock that comes from shopping for a new or custom home from a traditional builder leads many people to think outside of the box for more unique construction methods. When you start shopping around and notice how much square footage you can get for a low price with prefabricated metal buildings, it’s tempting to buy an enclosed steel structure and call it a home. However, turning metal buildings into safe and comfortable housing takes a little more work and therefore comes with a slightly higher price than just the cost of the structure. It’s easy enough to do with a little planning and the help of the right professionals.
Start with Custom Metal Buildings
Don’t just pick your metal carports based on price alone and hope they’ll work well as housing. Go with custom floor plans rather than stock and prefabricated metal buildings so you have more control over the finished building. While these types of metal buildings end up costing more than the standardized and pre-fab designs, you’ll need the control over the floor plan to create a structure that is easy to efficiently heat, clean, and section into rooms.
Mix and Match Multiple Wings
If you decide you’d rather use prefabricated metal buildings to save time and money, you’ll need to do a little more design work to create the home of your dreams. Fitting together multiple pre-fab units is a great way to get a ranch-style home without a lot of extra customization. Designing your custom metal building home around wings or branches also creates privacy by allowing you to locate the bedrooms farther away from noisy dens or living rooms. However, you may need to adjust your heating system to compensate for the rooms located at the very end of each wing.
Insulate Well from the Beginning
Proper insulation is essential for all metal buildings used regularly, so it’s doubly important when the structure will be occupied daily. Metal panel is a very tough and weather resistant building material, but it’s also highly conductive. This means that heat tends to travel out of your home in the winter and travel inward from the hot exterior in the summer. Insulation is the main way to block that heat transfer so you can stay comfortable all year round.
Insulating your metal buildings also controls condensation. When you add bathrooms, a kitchen, and dozens of other sources of humidity to a tightly enclosed metal structure, you’re going to end up with moisture beading on the walls due to temperature differences. Insulation and internal finishing materials prevent this accumulation by keeping warm and humid air away from cold surfaces. You’ll still need as much ventilation as possible, including properly vented bathroom and range hood fans, to remove humid air before it gets a chance to circulate through the home.
Choose Optional Safety Features
Anyone who dreams of living in metal buildings rather than just using them to store vehicles or lawn equipment needs to invest in any optional safety features available for their area. It’s one thing to watch a metal carport get damaged in a storm when you’re safe inside your home next to it, but when the metal structure is your home, it needs to withstand anything your state throws at it. Some of the many optional safety features recommended for residential metal buildings include:
- Reinforced anchor points to connect the metal building to your foundation for better wind resistance
- Screw pilings inserted into the ground before the foundation is poured for maximum lift and tip resistance
- Stronger trusses and specific truss designs to help the structure better withstand falling tree limbs and heavy snow loads.
Create a Loft Space
Since it’s possible to build clear span buildings up to 60 feet in width with no internal supports or load-bearing walls, you start with a blank canvas when designing the interior wall layouts of metal buildings. Adding a few freestanding internal pillars can help you create a partial or full loft space without having to add weight to the framing of the roof or walls. Your options for full second and third stories in metal buildings are very limited, so freestanding lofts are generally the most affordable and flexible way to take advantage of a high ceiling height in your preferred metal buildings.
Metal buildings can make great homes, but they require a professional’s help when designing certain features. For example, an electrician may need to add additional ground wires to the electrical design of your home based on the size and layout of the steel building. Even if you handle some of interior finishing yourself, make sure you’re meeting all local building and zoning codes by having your worked inspected and approved before occupying your new home.