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Why People Choose Metal Buildings For Their Home?

Metal buildings have long been the preferable method of construction for industrial, commercial and institutional uses. Today, however, more and more people are choosing to utilize a metal building system as their residential space too. In this article, I will cover some of the reasons why a metal building system makes a superior residential building option to traditional wood-framed construction.

Let’s first address three different methods of residential steel construction. The first type of construction method involves the framing of the residential structure out of steel studs. This method of construction looks similar to traditional wood-framed construction except the builder is using engineered steel studs instead of wood. The second type of metal residential construction involves the use of structural “I” beams. Homes framed with “I” beams are usually architecturally designed and based on a more modern style of architecture. The third type of metal home uses a metal building system as the super structure of the house. The metal building system forms the shell of the house while the interior is finished much like a traditional wood-framed house. The exterior walls of the metal building shell may be metal panels, brick, stone, glass, or etc. This article focuses solely on the use of metal building systems in residential construction.

Now let’s review a few of the advantages of using a metal building system for a residential structure:

Engineered Structure
Metal building systems are engineered systems. That means the building structure is designed by an engineer to meet a specific live load, dead load, wind load, collateral load, snow load, seismic forces, etc. The columns, rafters, purlins, girts, panels, windbracing, bolts and fasteners are all designed to work together to resist the anticipated design loads.

A traditional wood-framed home, on the other hand, is not built based on engineered drawings. In fact, an engineer is seldom ever involved with the structural design of a wood-framed home. Traditional residential construction involves on-site fabrication and assembly. Framers perform their work based on their experience and by referencing elevation drawings and floorplans. The structural integrity of any one particular wood-framed house is largely dependent on the framer’s level of craftsmanship.

Efficiency of Combined Use
Have you heard the term “barndominium?” People are using the term to describe the dual use of a metal building system as both a residence and shop, barn or recreation space. The advantage of this type of construction is that the residential and utility spaces share the same roof and walls which reduces overall construction costs.

Speed of Construction
A metal building system is engineered, detailed and fabricated at the metal building manufacturer’s plant. The finished product is shipped to the job site and bolted together. The on-site assembly of the metal building system is usually accomplished much faster than the on-site construction of a wood-framed home. The advantage the metal building provides the builder is that he is working “in the dry” sooner and is therefore able to reduce construction time.
No Load Bearing Walls
For widths that are typically associated with residential structures, a metal building system does not require interior support columns. That means that none of the interior walls of the residence are load bearing. No load bearing walls means that the home builder can easily make last minute changes to the location of interior walls since they do not impact the structural integrity of the shell building. For the same reason, future remodeling is no problem. Walls can be moved or totally eliminated without concern for the structural integrity of the metal building. Another advantage of the absence of load bearing walls is that open spaces within the residence can be much larger with a metal building than can be achieved with traditional wood construction.

Fewer Trades Mean Few Problems
The structural framing, roof and walls of a metal building system are installed by a single subcontractor. In contrast, a wood-framed home with brick exterior will require at least a framing subcontractor, roofing subcontractor, and masonry subcontractor. Three subcontractors is three times the potential for scheduling conflicts.

Bolted Connections versus Nailed Connections

The structural connections of a metal building system are accomplished using high-strength bolts. The structural connections in the typical wood-framed home are made with nails. Nails are not nearly as strong as bolts in resisting uplift force which is the primary cause of catastrophic failure in building structures.

Staying Warm in the Winter . . .
There are more options for insulating a metal building shell than a wood-framed structure. The depth of the typical metal building column used in a residential structure is probably 8-inches. Most of this 8-inch cavity can be filled with batt insulation. Compare that to the potential insulation cavity of a wood framed structure with 2x4s that are only 3-5/8” thick. Another insulating option for the metal building is to use spray-in foam insulation in the roof and walls. Extremely high R-values can be obtained by filling the 8-inch girt and purlin cavities with spray-in foam insulation. Also, by insulating the roof (instead of the ceiling as is typically done in residential construction) the attic area becomes a semi-controlled space.

. . . and Cool in the Summer
If you live in the southern United States, you probably spend more money to keep your house cool than to heat it. A metal roof provides a big advantage over traditional asphalt shingles. Most of the heat in a building structure is caused by the sun’s radiation. Solar reflectivity is the ability of a material to reflect solar radiation from its surface back into the atmosphere. Light colored metal panels have excellent solar reflectivity capabilities which can save energy costs by preventing some solar radiation from ever entering the house.

Material Durability
Steel is a more weather and pest resistant material than wood.  Water will cause wood to rot which leads to structural damage in a wood-framed house. The steel in a metal building will not rot and structural components are coated with a primer to prevent rust. A galvanized finish is an excellent option to maximize the longevity of the structural components of a metal building.

Termite Resistance
Structural damage caused by termite infestation is a perpetual concern with wood construction. Termite damage is not typically discovered until there is already a need for substantial repair. The annual cost of preventing termite damage is eliminated with a metal building.

Green Construction Material
A metal building home is the ideal structure for the environmentalist. Thereason is that the majority of the steel in a metal building system is recycled steel. No other construction material can boast as high a content of recycled material than steel.

With reasons like these, it’s not hard to see why so many people are turning to metal building systems for their next house, weekend get away or hunting lodge. If you would like to learn more about how a metal building system might work for your next residence, call us at 903-561-3000 today.

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