When most people think about buying a home or building their own, their thoughts turn automatically to traditional wood-frame structures. But stick-built homes are not the only option out there. In today’s world, more and more people are looking for greener alternatives.
If you are in search of a more eco-friendly construction style for your next home, you may want to consider a metal dwelling. In this article, I’ll explain why metal homes are a greener alternative to wood-frame homes, and I will introduce you to some additional benefits as well.
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The Environmental Benefits Of Residential Metal Homes
Environmental Benefit #1: Steel Supports More Insulation
Technically, steel is not by itself more energy-efficient than wood. Actually, it is less so, because it is a better conductor. This means that it can transfer the summer heat indoors with ease, or the winter cold.
So what is the upshot? It is that steel is strong.
Due to its strength, it can support thicker insulation. Properly insulated, a steel building may actually do a better job keeping the heat or cold at bay throughout the year. That means that you may not need to run your air conditioner or heater as much.
Another thing you can do to enhance energy efficiency in a hot location is to install what is known as a “cool roof” on your metal building. This type of roof is white, which means that it reflects light and heat. Just as white clothing keeps you cooler than black clothing, a white “cool roof” helps to keep your home from overheating.
While you are at it, consider installing solar panels on your roof. Because a steel structure is so sturdy, you do not need to worry that the weight of the panels will exert excess strain on the house. With solar power for your home, you can reduce your even eliminate your electrical costs. You may even be able to live off the grid if you so desire.
Environmental Benefit #2: Steel is Recyclable
Wood is to some degree a sustainable resource because it is renewable. New trees can be planted, and new wood can be created. But that is a process that takes time, and we tend to clear forests faster than we grow new ones.
If a wood building is damaged or destroyed, that wood is often no longer viable for future projects. It must simply be disposed of. Steel, on the other hand, stands up to harsh weather and doesn’t have the problem of mold and rot. A steel building can potentially last much longer than a wood one, and if for whatever reason it does get damaged, the steel can be almost 100% recycled for other projects.
Environmental Benefit #3: Prefab Metal Produces Less Waste
Another eco-friendly feature of metal building homes involves the way that they are built. They are often prefabricated off-site, and then delivered and assembled on-site. Stick-built homes, on the other hand, are assembled completely on-site.
Why is this significant?
Because builders of wooden homes often err on the side of “too much” when they haul materials to a site. The leftover materials quite frequently are not transported to other project sites afterwards; they are simply thrown away. With prefab or modular metal construction, this sort of waste is minimized or prevented altogether.
Environmental Benefit #4: Steel Stands the Test of Time
This is something that I already touched upon, but it bears emphasizing. Steel is an incredibly durable material. It is strong and sturdy, and is not prone to warping, chipping or cracking.
Wood, by contrast, is quite soft and pliable. It soaks up moisture and forms rot. Rot by itself compromises structural integrity, but all that moisture also is conducive to the formation of mold. Once mold takes root in a home, it can be very hard to stop its spread as well as the additional decomposition which accompanies it.
Mold is not the only organism which can eat away at wood. Rodents and insects also can quite literally devour a wooden structure. Entire buildings sometimes need to be demolished because of the damage caused by pests. These pests obviously do not eat metals.
All of this means that a metal building will probably stand and remain in good condition for far longer than a corresponding wood building. Metal structures, therefore, do not need to be repaired or replaced at the same rate. They consume fewer natural resources over long periods of time.
We live in a world where many things are quite literally designed to fail, a policy known as “built-in obsolesce.” Manufacturers go out of their way to force consumers to spend more money. They chew through resources creating products that ultimately end up in landfills.
For the most part, there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight for this issue. It’s a major social and environmental ill, but a lot of products are just getting lower and lower in quality.
One of the very best things you can do for the environment is to stop purchasing items with a planned expiration date whenever possible, and you can make a big impact by doing that with your home.
By opting for a metal building instead of a wood one, you are doing your part to keep waste out of landfills. You are getting more long-term value for your money. You also are buying or building something which may have value for future generations.
Steel Construction vs. Stick-Built Construction
Now that we have talked about some of the key environmental benefits of metal buildings, let’s look at some other aspects of steel versus stick-built construction.
Stick-built homes are reasonably safe when they are constructed well. But they do have some obvious weaknesses. Wood can be susceptible to storm damage. If a tree falls on a wood structure, it can easily smash through a roof or a wall. Flood damage may lead to rot which compromises a building’s walls or even its foundation. Fire can destroy an entire dwelling.
Metal buildings are far safer. For one thing, a steel structure will not be consumed in a blaze. Obviously, with its high conductivity, you would not want to be inside during a fire, but such a structure is at least more likely to survive. A steel building also will hold up much better to high winds, precipitation, or flooding.
Winner: Metal Buildings
Does it cost more to build a metal home than it does to construct a wood frame home?
In terms of materials, generally, the answer is “yes.” But in terms of labor, metal construction actually tends to be more cost-effective.
You also need to think about the long-term costs of maintaining your home. A wood-frame building requires a lot of ongoing maintenance. You need to make repairs anytime the wood is damaged, and you may need to pay an exterminator to remove pests.
A metal building, on the other hand, requires little in the way of maintenance.
So even if you do end up spending more money on the initial materials outlay, over the lifetime of the building, you will probably save a great deal more.
So before you build a new home, you should ask yourself how long you plan to stay in it. If you think that you may only use it for a few years, wood frame construction may save you some money—though not necessarily. If you think that you will be in the home for decades, you will almost certainly save in the long run if you choose metal.
Winner: Metal Buildings
You may be thinking, “A metal building certainly sounds great from a practical standpoint, but I do not necessarily want to live in a building with a cold, industrial appearance.”
You will be happy to know that you do not have to. You can finish a metal structure with pretty much any siding that you can imagine. Some of your options include brick, stone, stucco or wood. Often times, it is not even possible for onlookers to recognize the difference between a metal and traditional wood frame building. Whatever look you have in mind, you can make it a reality with a steel frame.
Nor should you necessarily discount the idea of allowing a metal building to actually look like one. Industrial vibes are very popular right now in architecture and interior design. A metal structure may actually be quite trendy by modern standards.
Overall, when you consider all of these categories as well as the environmental issues discussed above, it is clear that metal building homes are superior to their wood frame counterparts.
What Is It Like Living in a Metal Building?
As you can see, there are a lot of reasons to opt for residential metal building homes rather than traditional wood-frame homes. But will you enjoy living in a metal home?
Overall, you probably will not notice a lot of differences between living in a traditional home and living in a home built of metal. But here are a few things to note:
- How hard or easy it is to heat or cool your house will entirely depend on the quality of your insulation. If you try to take shortcuts, you will pay for it later, both in terms of hassles and bills. If you do a great job on insulating, however, you should have relatively affordable heating and cooling bills.
- You will spend a lot less time and money maintaining your house, and more time simply enjoying it. Living in a metal building helps to eliminate stress and complications.
- When it rains, it can be quite loud on a metal roof. Some people find this incredibly annoying, while others report that it is pleasant and soothing. You will need to take a guess as to which camp you will likely fall into.
Do not be surprised if your house becomes the envy of the neighborhood once everybody finds out how little you have to do to keep it up.
How Can You Build Your Own Metal Building House?
If you are interested in taking the next steps toward building a metal home, you may be surprised by just how easy and affordable it is to get started. There are a number of brands offering metal home floor plans and prefab steel home kits for sale. Some of these include General Steel, Morton Buildings and Blu Homes.
On these companies’ websites, you can shop for existing floor plans and view examples of finished homes. You can also look at current real estate listings for residential metal barndominiums or get a quote for a custom build online at MetalBuildingHomes.org. Many of these plans can be personalized with a range of features to fit your needs. You can also commission a metal home building company to come up with a custom floor plan for you from scratch.
Companies like these will not only sell you metal building home plans but can also construct your house for you. If you prefer, you can simply purchase the plans and handle the construction of your home on your own.
Remember to check the building codes in your area to make sure that metal houses are allowed in your zone. If there is a covenant governing your neighborhood, take a look at that as well before you dive into your project.
Conclusion: Metal Homes are the Green Homes of Tomorrow, So Build Yours Today
Not too long ago, many people were completely unaware that metal construction was an option for home design. Today, however, more and more consumers shopping for houses or planning construction are looking for a green alternative.
Metal buildings reduce waste during construction, are energy efficient when sufficiently insulated, and are extremely economical to maintain. Ultimately, they save a great deal of money and time for their occupants and feasibly could stay in great condition for generations to come.
So what are you waiting for?
Start planning your eco-friendly metal home today. Click on any of the links below to visit our recommended metal house builders and designers in your area. Enjoy your green home of the future!