There are many considerations you might want to make before deciding whether to build a steel home over a regular wood or brick and mortar home. Also you may decide to go for just a steel frame home, or you could take it further and build a steel building home and cover the exterior walls and roof with steel sheets. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages.
You may have heard that steel is from a ecologically point of view a better choice, but why is that so when we all know that wood is a renewable resource and steel is not? Fact is that the demand for wood is still too high to be filled with trees planted for the purpose of using its wood. Because of the high demand more trees are cut than there are trees replanted. Also although the trees planted are usually a fast growing species, it takes about 20 years for it to grow to a usable size. This results in a impoverishment of the flora and a pressure on the old growth.
Steel however, despite being a nonrenewable resource is 100% recyclable and is actually more efficiently recycled than produced from iron ore. Also the quality of the recycled steel is as high as the steel recycled. It also do not need to be treated with chemicals that may be threatening to your health.
If you want to go with a really low foot print home, you may want to read our article about tiny houses.
Strength, resilience and low maintenance
Steel is strong, durable and lightweight. It does not warp, twist or shrink. This translates into a very strong frame that has resisted hurricanes, earthquakes and the likes. You do not have to worry about termites, bores or mold and it will resist most fires.
Steel home construction speed
A steel frame is usually faster to erect and as they come pre-cut and pre-punched holes for joining. However it is important that if you do not buy a DIY kit with very clear instructions, you hire builders that are experienced in setting up a steel frame, as it is quite different from erecting a wood frame.
The climate where you are building is always important when you choose your type of construction as there is no method that suits every climate. When it comes to steel constructions it is important to keep in mind that steel is very conductive of heat, so thermal breaks is important and so is insulation. These things will have a big impact on your bill for heating and cooling. Another important thing to keep in mind is that steel does not store heat, so even if it is hot when the sun is shining, it will loose the heat fast when the sun goes down. If the exterior walls and or roof are covered with steel sheets, you could lower the heat absorption from the sun painting it with light colors that will reflect the sun, nevertheless a reflective foil as a barrier in the roof and walls will be important to effectively heat or cool your home. A high quality reflective foil can reflect as much as up to 97% of the radiant heat.
Steel home aesthetics
The aesthetics of steel homes does not need to be any different than any other traditionally built home, unless you want it too.
It also have the advantage that you do not need to have any load-bearing interior wall, leaving you more room for creativity and allowing for big open spaces if you want to.
Steel home price
As prices on both wood and steel fluctuate it is difficult to say that this or that is the most expensive investment. That said it may be easier to find skilled wood builder crews than steel builder crews, and this is something that may have an influence on the end price. As we mentioned earlier the building techniques are different so a crew that is used to build with wood may make expensive mistakes on a steel building, so we would urge you to find a skilled steel building crew. You may also find that there are big price differences from the steel house suppliers, so you should definitely shop around.
Steel home kits
You may actually find pretty affordable DIY steel home kits, with very detailed instructions for putting up your home yourself. You can get kits like this down to around 40,000$.
You would of course have to add the land, the slab, the insulation and reflective foil (insulating wrap) and the interior (kitchen cabinets, bathroom utilities etc) to this cost and if you need a crew to put it up for you you would have to add that to the price too.
Read more about the advantages of steel homes at kodiak.