The Complete Guide to Metal Building Homes - Updated

The Complete Guide to Metal Building Homes

If you have found your way here then your interest in metal building homes is more than casual. In this guide, we will walk you through the steps that will lead you to the door of a finished metal building home: Purchasing the right property, deciding on a design, site prep, financing, home delivery, construction, finishing the exterior and interior, costs and the need for help.

These types of prefab homes are incredibly affordable and simple to erect. After reading this guide you should be able to establish if a steel home is the right choice for you. 

Follow us to begin your journey toward the purchase and construction of a steel home on your property, and make it distinctly, yours.


Choosing a Metal Building Home

The first task of all is to decide on what style of metal building home you desire. Generally speaking, there are two distinct types of metal building homes style to choose from; a straight-wall option or an arched building design (known as a Quonset hut). Both have different features and benefits as well as unique looks. Below is a simple description of each, along with links to more detailed information. 

Choosing a metal building home

Metal building homes come in several styles, sizes and possible layout designs. So unless you have already decided on your home, you have some decisions to make. 

Styles of Metal Building Homes

Metal building homes typically come in two basic designs, straight-wall, and Quonset (arched). The variations of these designs, once built by homeowners, are as varied as their locations and their owners. These two style choices offer many options when designing a metal home. Both styles bolt together and are securely attached to a foundation that is constructed on your property.

Straight-Walled Street Homes: The straight walls and gable styled roof of this design offers a more conventional appearance than a Quonset home. With the addition of porches, a garage, and windows, your home will look much like the stick-built rancher down the road. This style of building has a framing element and a sheeting element (which is placed on top of the erected frame). This type of building is usually available in a greater number of colours than a Quonset hut and is generally the easier option when wishing to match any existing buildings.

quonset hut homes

Quonset Hut Homes: The most affordable and quickest way to construct a steel house, Quonset huts are renowned for their simplicity. They are delivered in two-foot sections that easily bolt together and can be effortlessly added to, for expansion. This feature adds the benefit of building a small home now and enlarging it as your needs require. Quonset home kits can be given an art-deco appearance with the placement of windows, paint schemes, porches and your imagination. Quonset homes have clear-span interiors that offer a number of options when finishing the interior, and second floors are possible with larger models, or for smaller homes, when set on a basement foundation. The Quonset hut is known for being virtually indestructible. So, if you live in a location with extreme weather conditions, then this could be the preferred choice of building for you. Either way, your chosen building should be manufactured to meet your unique snow, wind and seismic loading requirements.

straight walled steel homes


Metal building homes can be as small as 200 square feet or as large as your budget and vision will carry you. Cabins as small as 180 to 500 square feet and yet are large enough to house one or two people, are perfect for a small get-a-way. Metal building homes from 1,000 to 5,000 square feet are large enough for a family, and can easily be constructed as multi-family homes giving you an additional use for a larger steel home. The clear span design of metal building homes offers expansive open floor plans that can be easily customised to suit your needs, your desires and your budget.

A set of plans

Depending on how extensive your build, whether you need financing, and as a guide for yourself and any builders you hire, a set of plans can help keep things on track. Plans are required to note the size of the foundation you will need to build; they show the location of sewer drain lines, electrical and plumbing schematics and denote the size of rooms. Detailed plans show where walls, windows and doors are to be placed during construction. For the handy do it yourself, much of this work can be done off the cuff, especially for smaller metal building homes.

Legal Considerations

It goes without saying that whilst this is an exciting time, there are some matters to take care of that don't fall under the 'excitement' bracket. This, however, does not mean they are not important and should certainly not be put to the bottom of the pile of jobs that need taking care of. Get right on top of these legal considerations and get them out of the way, so that you can concentrate on the exciting parts again.

metal building homes legal considerations

Metal building homes are not allowed on all properties. If you already own property and know that a metal frame home can be built there then you are a step ahead. If you are looking for property on which to build be sure that local codes allow metal buildings homes. Be diligent and seek knowledgeable advice when purchasing property on which to erect steel building homes.

These metal home kits are easier to build and less expensive than traditional construction techniques. They quickly expand your usable space and can be adapted to a variety of applications. They keep your valuables secure and give you an area where you can work out of the elements. They also resist wear and require virtually no maintenance.

Metal building homes are perfect for cabins and small weekend getaways. Be careful though, before building because building on land in rural areas, may be subject to the same building restrictions of a built-up area. Again, check the local building regulations, do things right and you will have a comfortable spot to get away to for the weekend, or forever. Steel building homes can be built on a slab, block foundation, or basement so terrain of the property does not matter when building metal building homes except where site prep and cost is concerned.

Metal Building Homes Cost

It is important throughout the project to keep on top of the finances. Not only to ensure you stay within your budget but also so you can calculate the value of your investment once it is finished. It is easy to get behind with the accounts when you are so busy with the build, but stay on top of numbers to ensure it is as much a financial success as it is a physical success.

metal building homes cost

There are many variables in the cost of building a home and many metal building homes prices vary. The initial purchase of these prefab homes is just the beginning of what you must spend on your investment in a steel home. Add in the cost of site development, a solid foundation, and materials needed to finish your home, inside and out, and you are talking about a tidy sum. Remember though that metal building homes cost is relative and if managed properly will be an investment for the future.

Prefab homes in straight-wall design

When you deduct personal sweat equity, however, you can have a finished steel house that has instant equity upon its completion if, you are careful with your money, as you build. The average cost of steel frame homes, for the frame, roof, and siding varies, depending on the style and size of metal house you purchase.

Prefab homes in straight-wall design with internal layout

Some costs are easy to calculate, such as an average size, slab foundation. A raised foundation can add additional costs to the amount and a cellar/basement can increase that costs further because it will require more material and excavation of your house site.

The cost of your metal building home will be determined by the size of the home you choose so you will know exactly how much you will spend on that part of your project. The price that you pay of interior and exterior finish materials can be highly variable.

If you get your materials from a local discount supplier, you can save thousands of pounds. If, however, you go for, top-of-the-line materials and pay for contractors to install walls, cabinetry, plumbing fixtures, and electrical systems, you can plan to double the cost of your home.

Funding Your Metal Home 

Building your own metal home is definitely an excellent financial decision. However, you still need to make sure that the numbers add up. Spend some time going through the math to be sure you can afford to see the build through. The last thing you want is that you tapped the wrong button on the calculator and your project ran out of cash before it was finished. Be sure to know how much you need at the start and if you need to borrow any of it to make your build a reality.

metal home funding

Building a metal home, whilst extremely cost effective, still requires money. Although it is certainly a fantastic investment. There are various methods of funding it whether that be out of your own pocket or through financing options.

Financing a steel building home

steel building home quonset house

Building a home on your own property can be financed and will require a construction loan, unless you already own property, then you are ready to proceed. Unlike a conventional mortgage, a construction loan is a short-term loan and pays out in increments of the amount borrowed, as work on the project progresses. With a sizable deposit and land where a steel home can be constructed, the entire project can be converted to a long-term mortgage, if you need one, once your home is completed.

There are two main forms of loan for owner-builders. The first is a standard construction loan. This is likely a good option if it involves not having to put a large deposit down. This is especially true if you already have an existing home and consequently have not got a large amount of disposable cash for a deposit. Naturally you can continue to reside in your current house whilst your project is underway and will have more cash when you sell the current property.

A negative consequence is that you will have the legal costs and associated fees on this loan and then on a permanent mortgage once the building is complete (assuming you need one of course).

The second type of loan is effectively a hybrid, in that it includes an initial construction loan which automatically converts to a permanent loan once construction is complete. An obvious positive effect of this is only have the cost of closings and related fees for one property.  Within the construction of the property, interest payments are only paid on the amount that remains on the loan. Once the construction is complete, it becomes a typical loan just like one that would be enjoyed on any other house.

Pay as you go

If you already have land and know that you can erect a metal building home, then you may be able to afford to pay as you go and have your home paid for when you move in. Much of the construction of metal building homes can be done by those skilled in the use of small tools, who have no fear of ladders.

The framework bolts together, is lightweight and a motivated team can assemble a small home, in a weekend. Finishing it to make it a home, requires a little more time and if you are doing it yourself, could require months, unless you are skilled and have help because it takes more than the frame and exterior of metal frame buildings, to make them into homes.

Get The Help You Need

It is OK to admit that you cannot do absolutely everything yourself. We all have strengths and weaknesses, so if there is a specific matter that you are not comfortable dealing with, be sure to get some external expert support. It might cost you money now, but the chances are that it will be a good investment in the long run.

get the steel building homes help

Whether you choose to do most of the work yourself, or hire contractors, you will certainly need some help when building your metal home. Unless you are building a tiny, 15 x 15 cabin, but even then, another pair of hands can be helpful. You and a couple of friends can assemble the frame of small to moderate size steel home frames in a couple of days. Larger metal building homes may require equipment to deal with higher walls and roofs, a skilled labour, to get the job done. Many people who build their own homes do much of the work themselves and only contract out, the jobs that are beyond their abilities.

metal home help

Building a metal building home may also require legal and financial assistance, as well as help from contractors who are qualified to install electrical, plumbing, and other systems. A few of you may have the skills, and knowledge to develop the property and erect a metal building home. If you have the necessary skills, you can save tens of thousands of pounds by building your own home on your own land. 


Site Preparation 

This is where the fun starts. Your project is already moving forward and now it is time to make sure the building site is prepped and ready for your beautiful new metal building that will sit on top of it. Some of the items to take care of include making sure the land is suitable for the building to be built on top of and utilities are adequately connected.

metal building site preparation

Before you can have your metal building home delivered, the land on which it will be placed needs to be prepared. 


If you have purchased property that is wooded, a place for your home will need to be cleared before further work can proceed. Even on cleared lots, the land may require grading* before foundation work can begin.


Metal building homes can be placed on a slab foundation, a raised foundation, a basement, or on raised concrete pilings. A slab foundation is the least expensive of these option but homes with raised foundations or basements offer easier access for your home systems and may be worth the added cost to your home.


If your property already has power then your cost will be running it to the home when you are ready for that step. If power is not on the property, it will need to be run from the nearest pole. For long runs, this can be expensive so be sure to consider this cost when seeking land, and when building a budget.


Like power, the land you purchase may have water that is readily available, or not. You will need to estimate the cost of connecting to the mains water.


As with the other utilities needed for metal building homes, connection to the local sewer system is a cost to consider. The cost is based on the distance of your home to where the line connects to the sewer system. Most areas can give you an estimate of this cost. If a mains system is not readily available, you may be required to install a septic system. The installation of such a system can cost several thousands of pounds. 

*What is Grading?

Grading, directly in relation to a steel house, is essentially the slope (being the grade) that is required around the foundation of the house. The purpose of this deliberate grading is to ensure that water is directed in the correct direction, mainly meaning not flowing towards the property. If this is not undertaken properly, it can result in unhealthily stagnating pools of water which can result in damp or wet cellars/basements. It can even result in severe damage to the overall structure of the building, in the most extreme case making it no longer safe to be lived in. When undertaking grading you must consider the environmental impact. You have a requirement to plan the work so that the loss of land erosion and topsoil is minimised. The process typically involves using equipment to remove dirt from a higher area and use it to fill in a lower area.

Your New Home Has Arrived

This is where the fun part starts. Your building has arrived and it is time to get the tools out (unless you are lucky enough to have a contractor do all the work). Metal building homes are generally known for the ease and speed with which they can be erected. So get to work and before you know it, you'll have a beautiful house right before your very eyes. 

new metal home has arrived

Your metal building home will come to you in parts and it is up to you and a few helpers to assemble it atop its foundation. You and a helper may be able to unload a small home by hand but larger metal building homes may require the aid of a pallet jack or forklift. Make a note of the weight and lengths of your home's frame, roof and siding so that you are prepared when it is delivered.

Tools: A few tools will be necessary to build the frame of your home. Wrenches for tightening bolts, a cordless drill, a ladder or two, a level to keep it all square, and a spud wrench or large screwdriver for aligning holes.

Equipment you ‘might’ need: You may need a pallet jack or forklift to unload the parts for your home when they arrive. If you can afford the cost, a scissor lift makes a great work platform when erecting larger homes.

metal building frame

Building the Frame: The frame bolts together and is bolted to the foundation.

Raising the Roof: Roof panels are attached with self-tapping, stainless steel roof fasteners and neoprene washers for a watertight seal. Arch type homes are put together in two-foot sections and are attached in the same manner. This type of construction makes it easy to add on to your home if you want to expand it later.

Exterior: Metal building homes can be sided with metal, left natural or painted, and most steel home kits include siding. However, the outside can be finished with brick, stone, or another durable exterior siding to give your home a look that is more conventional.

Windows & Doors: Windows and doors are not included with many metal building homes. This is another expense for your budget. The availability of tall walls in metal homes gives you the option of windows that span full wall heights, which will allow natural light into your home. 

Insulation: Most metal building homes have deeper stud depth than wooden 2x4’s allowing you to add more insulation. Panel insulation, bat insulation or spray insulation can be added to your home to make it more energy efficient, in any climate.

Roof areas can be insulated with panels or if you put in a drop ceiling you can put fibreglass bats or blown in insulation in the area above to keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. In larger metal building homes, you may need to use a combination of insulation methods to make your home super-efficient.

Interior: If you have purchased a home with a kit or custom home with a predetermined floor plan then you will have the interior wall studs that you need. If, however, you are freestyling, you will have choices on how to layout the interior of your home. Interior walls can be finished with drywall, wood panels, wood planks, stone, brick or any other material of your choosing. The only obstacle you will have is the location of pre-determined sewer drain lines.

The interiors of arched metal building homes can be a little more challenging. The upper curve of the walls make building walls harder but adding a loft above a lower room can fix this issue and give you a room below, where full height windows can be placed for light and a view. Quonset style homes can take higher wind and snow loads than other home styles and should be considered if you live in an area where high winds or heavy snowfalls are prevalent.

Plumbing: Your home will need to be plumbed with pipes for hot and cold water and for sewer drain lines. The decision on the placement of bathrooms, sinks, and washing machine drains will need to be determined before your foundation is laid, because their location will need to be fixed so that any pre-work can be done.

Electrical: Your home will need a fuse board, to which all wiring leads, and the home will need to be wired. Those handy with tools can save money by doing much of the plumbing and electrical work themselves. If not, you can hire contractors to finish each phase of finishing your home. You will need to connect to the grid, however, there is always solar as a viable alternative.

Other Systems: Your home will need a few other systems before it is completed. A heating system will need to be installed. You have options and can choose what best suits you but the cost should be included in your budget.

Learn From Those With Experience

You are not alone! Many people before you have built their own homes and it is highly likely that every single one of them had moments of doubt, wondering if they had it in them to make it a success. Remember, work to your strengths, don't put too much pressure on yourself and where you really believe it is beyond your skill set, get experts in. Most of all, enjoy it!

Learn from experience metal building homes

It seems like a very fitting piece to finish off this metal building homes guide with the story of an owner-builder who has been through the process. This is not only the story of their build but it also includes plenty of helpful advice. Hopefully, after reading, it will have given you the encouragement, confidence and motivation to make your metal building home a reality.

So, there you have it! We hope you have found this metal building homes guide helpful and it has inspired you to make your metal home a reality. Now it is your turn...


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