Author Topic: Converting a prefab steel structure into a permanent residence???  (Read 14070 times)

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Offline ToddSInGA

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I ran across a supplier of prefab and custom steel buildings and was wondering if anyone on here has converted one of these into a permanent residence? The cost seems very low and fits right in here with the DIY spirit! One site showed a cabin that was made from a garage conversion and that looks interesting, and would be great especially in fire prone areas like a forest. I've also seen site that deal with shipping containers being recycled into permanent homes and this idea seems to be catching on, though mostly in Europe.

Of course, I like the all wood cabin ideas that have been presented here, but this is another take on things.

Any advice?

Offline rwanders

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Re: Converting a prefab steel structure into a permanent residence???
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2008, 05:54:27 PM »
Never done it but, it could certainly be done and may be an effective way to reach that longed-for "dried in stage" a little quicker.
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Offline MountainDon

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Re: Converting a prefab steel structure into a permanent residence???
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2008, 06:52:35 PM »
We entertained thoughts of using a prefab shed/storage building as the basis for a cabin. There were several reasons we decided against it. In our case one of them was the difficulty in transporting the kit into the mountains; that's not always going to be a factor. Another was the work that would have to be done to get enough insulation in the walls or floor would require more work than doing a self built stick framed structure.

As for shipping containers, for me, they require too much work to be habitable. Plus by the time it's insulated they are kind of narrow... we wanted more open space inside. OMMV. They do make good storage units and motorcycle / ATV garages.

Just my thoughts.
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn’t mean it is good design.

If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time and money to fix it?

Offline bayview

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Re: Converting a prefab steel structure into a permanent residence???
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2008, 11:18:59 AM »

   Our neighbor had built a 30X70 metal building, with no center supports on a concrete slab. . . He uses about 1/3 for an apartment and the other for shop.

   He insulated the entire building with long encapsulated batts.

   Then, basically built the apartment inside the metal building.  He used 2"X6" material for an elevated floor and ceiling.  Then 2"X4" for the walls.  The walls are 8" thick with the metal and wood.  (8" of insulation in the walls)

   Plumbing is run in the elevated floor.

   Finshed with sheetrock.

   He has lived there full time for the last 1 1/2 years.  Seems to work for him. 

    . . . said the focus was safety, not filling town coffers with permit money . . .

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Converting a prefab steel structure into a permanent residence???
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2008, 09:40:56 PM »
No reason you couldn't -- 2" UL vinyl insulation sandwiched between the sheets and purlins/girts could help with insulating and preventing rain inside.  Likely more would be necessary between the interior walls.

There may be code considerations if you are affected by them.
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Offline ToddSInGA

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Re: Converting a prefab steel structure into a permanent residence???
« Reply #5 on: December 24, 2008, 03:06:41 PM »
This site has a number of photos showing thier arched metal structures that have been converted into residences, some of which are just what I've been looking for!

http://www.steelmasterusa.com/

These structures have been used my the military as barracks ( if you ever see an episode of Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. that's what every building on base seems to be!) so there must be some advantages here. With no worries about interior load bearing wall I'd be free to create the open floorplan I'm after, and with enough height a loft is an option as well. With any house, careful planning would be a must. Insulation and following local code WILL be big issues here as mentioned earlier, as well as AC and heating.

I really do love the cabin floorplans on this site, but this is a way to think outside the box while implementing some of the design ideas presented here.

Offline rwanders

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Re: Converting a prefab steel structure into a permanent residence???
« Reply #6 on: December 24, 2008, 05:21:25 PM »
The old military versions were known as Quonset Huts---when I first moved to Alaska in 1967, many of these were still in use as both homes and even some commercial buildings---one of the best restaurants of that era, The Garden of Eating, in Anchorage was actually 2 or 3 connected surplus quonset huts. There are still a few in use that date from the 1940's here. They were heavy gauge galvanized steel and virtually indestructible. 
Rwanders lived in Southcentral Alaska since 1967
Now lives in St Augustine, Florida

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Converting a prefab steel structure into a permanent residence???
« Reply #7 on: December 24, 2008, 05:32:51 PM »
I worked with Sunway Homes from Chihuahua, Mx. in the mid 90's trying to get a dealership set up here in the US.  I attended the Government Sponsored Awards Ceremony at Chapultepec Castle with Mario and Louis in Mexico City.  The picture shown was taken by me.

http://www.sunwayhomes.info/PremAcero.html

http://www.sunwayhomes.info/indexEnglish.htm

They had a very advanced design but it was too much trouble for me to get a dealership going.
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Re: Converting a prefab steel structure into a permanent residence???
« Reply #8 on: December 24, 2008, 06:05:11 PM »
I don't have any idea how things work in Clarke county, but I think a lot of your ideas would be tough to get through the building departments in Hall and especially Gwinett counties. Those two counties also have quite a lot of subdivision, municipal and other "entanglements".   Further north and east things are a little more relaxed.  d*

Offline ToddSInGA

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Re: Converting a prefab steel structure into a permanent residence???
« Reply #9 on: December 25, 2008, 12:42:07 AM »
I work in Gwinnett county, close to the Hall County border so ideally I'd like to stay relatively close to that area. If I could find a place near I-85 or I-985 I would be willing to commute a longer distance, and I drive a fuel efficient car although the days of $4 a gallon gas could come back anytime.

Another concept I'm looking at is traditional steel framed structures like the ones listed on this site:

http://www.freedomsteelhomes.com/

They have a A-frame model that with some modifications would be perfect for me, plus there are traditional styles that probably would work in just about any neighborhood

One reason I'm big on steel construction is I've been through a house fire, three direct hit hurricanes, and lived in a area that was hit by a tornado...the result on traditional stick buildings is not pretty!  I'd also like something with a modern open floorplan and haven't found that in any house on the market that was even close to my affordability range. Too many McMansions around here!!!

I'd also like to take the GREEN approach, especially since many of the EMC's in my area allow selling back excess solar produced electricity and some even give rebates on the installation of solar setups. Under the right circumstances this could be an additional source of income and as a sole provider every bit can help.

Offline Okie_Bob

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Re: Converting a prefab steel structure into a permanent residence???
« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2009, 04:21:02 AM »
I built a garage on a slab, conventionally framed it and used factory built wooden trusses. Then I put on a metal roof and used Hardiboard siding. Then installed two garage doors and framed in one end and built an apartment with bath and kitchen to live in while we built the house. Not sure this is what you had in mind but, one use of metal for roof and no reason you couldn't use metal purlins and skin the entire outside.
Okie Bob