Ok this may sound crazy or may not.
First of all, I live in a rural area. There are no covenants or
restrictions on what I can do with my home, land, etc.
I've know for quite some time that most commercial offices are
basically rooms built inside a metal building. For instance at a body
shop, you would have the work shop and office under the same roof, but
the office was just a room built inside the building. So on to my
Can you take that style of building, you know, the kind with large
metal trusses and insulated walls like most shops, and build many rooms
inside essentially making it a home?
I know the building itself is relativley inexpensive, and I can rent a
man lift and put up the frame myself with a little help (helped
assemble one). Would windows and doors be a problem? would the overal
cost be to high? Any builing code problems? Financing problems. The
list goes on and on.
I know that the outside does not have to be tin, we can used lots of
different materials, but tin is not out of the question. There are
several reasons I ask this:
Aren't most commerical buildings considered to be stronger?
Is there a cost advantage?
Is is possible to have access and crawlspace to pipes and such
considering the floor plan is layed out to that adavantage.
once again....on and on and on and on....
I am not that worried about the looks. It would go in the middle of 15
wooded acres. The curb is gone so curb appeal is not as much of an
issue. I just want a strong, well built house, that doesn't cost so
much to build or maintain. Wishful thinking? Anything is welcome,
except rudeness. Thanks!!
The answer is yes, no, definitely and maybe.
It really depends on the rules where you are. For me to tell you anything
but what is in force and effect in YOUR location is wasting both our time.
The property owner next to me at my summer cabin put up a 20x40 metal
building. He did it himself and with brother-in-law labor. No permits. No
nothing. Electrical and everything. But, out in the woods, those kind of
things fly where they might not in a subdivision.
So, check it out where you are at. Keep a low profile if you do it, and
while you do it. Don't tell everyone. Ask around without being specific,
as it may benefit you to get permits and permission first for such things as
reselling the property, and nosy zoning compliance officers.
NOW ............. remember this, and I didn't tell you to do it, and will
deny any knowledge if this does come up in the future ...................
What so many people do is build the shell. Buy a permit for a storage
building or garage or crafts room, or some lame inconspicuous place to
doodle around. Once it passes final, put up the walls, and all the things
you want the way you want it. Beforehand, though, stub out the electrical
(even if you have to put a plug on there) and say, "That's where my potter's
kiln will eventually go." Or stub out a drain for a "mop sink". Who's to
say that after they leave you rig up a sink or a shower or whatever. It's
done all the time.
As long as the county gets their vig (%) ($), they are happy, and will
probably never bother you again unless you draw the attention by doing
serious business out of there, getting the neighbors upset, or making shine
or meth in it.
A friend and I have thought much about it, but never did. You won't have
any weather delays after the shell is up. Few prying eyes to tell you,
"that ain't how you do it" With a larger shell then your house, a garage is
already there. Plus storage of....A house starts at $60 a sq. ft. and go up
real fast. A steel building is $10 to 15 a sq. ft. slab included. Plus
what you wish to add. Here in Tx, radiant heat is a real killer in the
summer, with a second skin and air flow around your house, much of the heat
in stopped. And you can work at your leisure, (maybe not a good thing), and
still live under the roof of the shell. Tools and materials are not subject
I've built large aircraft hangars and its quite common to add office space
inside one. I've even seen a complete home built inside a metal building in
a recent magazine, Fine Homebuilding or Remodeling (one or the other)
It must be properly insulated. I can't stress that enough. Moisture WILL
form on the inside of the metal walls if they are not insulated and vented
properly. This is not a big problem for a shop/storage/hangar environment
but not to good for a home.
Windows and doors are not a problem. The must be installed with the proper
flashing and sealants. (Sikaflex will be your friend - don't cheap out on
Metal building move more that wood/masonry buildings do. Plan for it.
Add extra chases for plumbing and electrical conduits.
I would check out this site http://www.metalbuildingcomparison.com .
They have a lot of informative stuff on metal buildings that helped me
out. They pretty much stick to the basics on metal buildings, or all
you need to know when shopping for a basic metal warehouse, commercial
building, metal barn... you name it - the basic types of metal
I have build a miracle steel building as a workshop and after doing so have
started the plans to build one as a home. If you go to their website
http://www.miracletruss.com/resident.html they actually have a section on
residential. These people were a delight to deal with and could answer all
my questions. With their wood on metal construction you can do anything for
an exterior treatment that you would to in a traditional wood frame home.
building myself. I'm actually thinking of
just using their truss's and metal roofing. For the walls and such, I'd use
dimension lumber to build the walls, window openings,
etc.... I intend to call them next week but thought I'd ask if you went
with a full package or a partial package as I'm considering?
I'm looking at probably 24x32 or so and would be erecting the thing myself
so not sure if I can handle those trusses or would have to
hire a crane.
When I called the manufacturer, they gave me a price for a "basic" package
that included a couple of doors and windows. He then said to look on the
price sheet if I wanted to vary from there. He also said that if I wanted
to just buy components, such as just the trusses or just the wall sheeting
that they do that all the time.
Now, that was the guy that I called. Might be different where you live. I
think they just want to sell stuff, and they don't care how you mix it up as
long as your check or VISA card flies.
That's pretty much what I figured. I figure I'll get a price for the
truss's and roof and then compare that to conventional stick/joist
construction. I'd love to do a true timber frame but just don't think I
have the time, or the design skills.
A friend and fellow furniture maker near me did what you asked . . . he
built a steel building that housed both his shop and his home. In our
county we have what I consider to be stringent building codes. The
significant concession that my buddy had to do in order to satisfy the
code people is to put the portion of the structure which was his house
on a footing rather than a slab on grade. The building he built used
wood posts, wood trusses, steel skin. I also built a new shop last year
on my rural property. It's not my home, but I don't see why it couldn't
have made a nice home with adequate design and construction considerations.
The finance question is important. My friend did not need a get a
mortgage so it was not an issue for him, but I strongly suspect that if
you need financing, it will be tough to appraise well for the loan.
Banks don't like the unconventional.
Are you _absolutely_ sure? Some areas have county-wide zoning
ordinances or city jurisdictional zoning may extend several (as in like
3-4) miles outside city limits (I don't know how they do that, but it's
the way it is here--fortunately, we're 1/2-mile the other side of the
line.) Also, there may be state statutes regarding some things that
are health related, such as sewage. So, you need to do quite a bit of
checking to be sure you've covered all the bases. That said, there are
still places that don't have any of the above, but they're getting
fewer and farther between...
Of course, you can do anything inside you choose, but as others have
said, you'll have a whole lot more success if you select an outfit that
does this routinely rather than trying to make all the modifcations on
Yes, it can. The first one seems to negate the first statement of the
post. If you are outside of any jurisdiction you can choose to blow
off any code(s) you choose. Of course, there are reasons for the code
provisions (other than the cynical view that they support the standards
people and inspectors) so it makes sense to follow at least the bare
minimums. So, there's the rub--how do you know if you're trying to
serve as your own contractor of all the trades if you don't know the
code? 'Tis a conundrum...
If you need conventional financing, yes, you may (probably?) will run
into some problems if you're too far out of the mainstream. The key
here is the lending institution is going to insist that the structure
be something adequate that they have good likelihood of recouping their
investment should you default. They're not going to be satisfied w/ a
lick and a promise if you go in and ask for a construction
loan--they're going to want to see what it is you're planning on
building and they'll most likely ask who is the contractor. At that
point, you've probably run out of much chance for conventional
financing of anything other than the bare structure at best.
And, of course, unless you are able to be absolutely certain that
you're going to be there forever, you need to consider what the
likelihood of being able to at least get enough out of the property and
building that you don't take a terrible beating when you need to sell
it. A dwelling _too_ far from conventional and _too_ much like a metal
barn isn't likely to be able to be moved very quickly and folks will
have a similar problem as described above in arranging financing if
they require conventional financing.
Your choice, but if you choose a foundation and crawl space instead of
slab floor costs are going to go way up real quick. That's one of the
reasons the cost is low. At that point, unless you're competent to do
so yourself, you're going to need some help in designing the foundation
and flooring joist system, etc., etc. And, of course, if you go w/ the
slab, then there's the pita to deal with when eventually, something
under the slab breaks. If I were ever to build a slab house or
building w/ plumbing, I would at the minimum run service trenches for
access to plumbing, drain lines, underfloor wiring, etc.
Well, the looks thing I addressed earlier. Sure, it's possible, but as
noted, look into those firms who actually look at residential
construction--it will undoubtedly look like more up front, but you'll
undoubtedly save by the time you're done. You might also consider
modular home construction as an alternative. The latter would
eliminate virtually all the financial issues w/ lenders while the
former could at least give you a chance whereas going in w/ the "plain
building and finishing it yourself" approach is almost certain to get
you nowhere w/ any lending institution.
I can see some potential problems taking a commercial/industrial design and
converting it to a home. .
Traditional banks like to finance traditional homes.
Fire codes (if you are concerned) differ for commercial versus residential
homes. There may be issues with the methods of partitioning rooms, wiring,
plumbing. Most buildings that you speak of are set up for exposed surface
wiring and plumbing.
OTOH, some are designed from the beginning to be a home and should be more
"friendly" to the lenders and inspectors. They are probably more expensive
than you idea of a basic metal building.
If I was building a house today, I'd use foam and concrete.
www.polysteel.com or www.standardicf.com
Given your location, no reason on earth why you can't, as long as you're
An acquaintance did just that here, within the city limits of Houston. He's
a bachelor, builds banjo's for a living, and his shop and house are all
under the same commercial building roof on the same slab.
I also know many "weekend ranchers" who build the barn/shop first, outfit it
with a couple of rooms, and live there until they get around to building a
house ... some never do.
That's exactly why I'm wondering. An gentleman around the area built a
building for his cars (a whole other story) and in one corner, he built
an apartment. I know this from his son, but the old guy is kind of
reclusive and eccentric, you know the type, so I've not been able to
check it out.
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