Are metal building homes going by the wayside?
Metal building barndominium homes have been popular for the past decade primarily because metal buildings offer a lot of versatility and can be erected faster than conventional homes. In recent years metal buildings have also been very cost effective and have attracted the attention of barndominium homebuyers, but that may be changing. Conventional wood prices are dropping in price at an alarming pace. At the peak of the pandemic a sheet of 7/16″ OSB plywood at Menards Lumber was selling for a whopping $56.00 in my area but in states like New York I heard they were selling as high as $70.00. That’s absolutely ridiculous and in my opinion it was price gouging. When I built my own home pre-pandemic I paid $8.50 a sheet. Now let’s compare that to today’s pricing at $13.10. It’s still high compared to what I paid but nowhere near the $56.00 price it was.
Metal building homes have not adjusted their prices compared to wood. Since wood went out of sight it just makes since as interest rate rise and homebuilding slows down a bit then wood prices are going to fall, and they have. Conventional lumber has fallen so much that it has once again become the preferred method of homebuilding. So let’s talk about the difference in steel verses wood. Steel framed homes have any advantages and a few disadvantages.
- Strength. Steel is stronger than wood and if you use galvanized metal buildings they can be lighter than wood.
- Fireproof. Metal framed homes just don’t burn so if you are in a fire prone area this may be a great choice.
- Termite proof. I think this is self explanatory.
- Erosion proof. Steel buildings last a lifetime.
- Faster erecting times. Steel buildings can be erected in a few weeks.
- 25% higher cost than wood. At the time of this article it cheaper to build with wood.
- Production times. Red iron steel can take 16-24 weeks to arrive on the jobsite.
- Erectors. It can be difficult to find erectors who are skilled in erecting metal buildings.
- Building departments. Some building departments may give you difficulties getting permits for a metal building.
- HOA issues. Some homeowner associations may not approve a metal building in your neighborhood.
Conventional wood Pros
- Price. In most cases wood framing with metal siding and metal roofing is less expensive than steel framing. Some homebuyers are saving $40-$50K using wood frames instead of steel.
- Builders approve. It’s much easier to find builders willing to build your barndominium using a conventional building method.
- Barndominium kit. Dry-in packages can offer a quick way to get all the materials you need on one or two trucks delivered right to your jobsite.
- Building inspectors. Most building departments will approve wood frame over steel frame since they understand wood products.
- Bankers. Many banks and appraisers will have some difficulties with steel buildings. They sometimes don’t know how to financing them or appraise them. Comps may be an issue.
Conventional wood Cons
- Not fireproof. Wood framing has been the preferred building method for over 100 years but it’s not fireproof like steel but 95% of all homeowners are just fine with this fact.
- Not termite proof. Ok so termites like wood, true so if that worries you then schedule a monthly termite treatment from a local professional to ease your mind.
- Build time. It may take a little longer to build a wood framed home but not always. I recently witnessed an Amish framing crew build a 2,000 square foot home in as little as 2 weeks.
Who buys metal building barndominiums and why?
I think their is a lot of misconception about metal buildings and barndominiums on the Internet. There are a lot of articles claiming you can build a metal building barndominium for as low as $75.00 a square foot and that’s just not true. That may have been true 10 years ago but not today. The typical cost for a metal building shell package is $24-$34 per square foot and that only gets you the shell, no slab, no labor. Most people who are building metal buildings as a home are not much worried about the price, they are building the home for other reasons like hurricane and tornado protection or longevity. Steel is a beautiful thing and if you can afford to pay the price it may be the best solution for you. These days people are looking for the most economical building method and if that’s the main driving force behind building a barndominium then steel might not be the best choice.
We talk with thousands of people a month that are looking to build a barndominium and most of them tell us they are looking for the best price and best method and that just might be conventional wood frame with metal siding and metal roofing. I realize this may be a counter cultural article and for some people this may bust their bubble but the facts are the facts. Are metal building homes going away? I don’t think so but what I do believe is this. Most barndominiums that will be built in the next 10 years will be built using wood frames, not steel frames and primarily that will be due to price and availability of supplies.