What Are Prefabricated Steel Frame Homes?
Prefab homes are great starter options for someone with land who wants a home but isn’t committed to full-scale construction. These are options that allow you to get all the parts you need to build and spend the time and labor your own way to construct a viable, safe and steady house wherever you want.
Steel frames are exactly as they sound. These are prefab homes made primarily from steel, using steel as a basis and frame to hold up the rest of the units like exterior walls, interior walls, windows and doors to separate distinct rooms. These are popular options for builders who want long lasting security and efficiency when they start on their first, or start up their next, new home.
Prefab homes aren’t always sold as whole houses. Steel frame ones, especially, come as kits to be unloaded and built up in an established spot due to how heavy the steel is. Picking up a whole entire house is pretty hard already. When it’s made of steel, very few machines can pull it off. So it’s up to the owner, the buyer, the contractor or the builder to read through the plans, follow the instructions and assemble the home, panel by panel, interlocked with the frames of steel.
The Pros and Cons of Prefab Steel Frames
Steel frame homes come grounded with their own built-in electrical panels inside the walls, so you don’t have to worry about getting struck by lightning in a metal home. They’re also resistant to all the common ailments of a house, such as mold and pests. They may come in pieces, but once properly assembled they can withstand earthquakes and hurricane winds without buckling or shifting at all. They’re resistant to water and the frames and panel are fireproof. It doesn’t warp or expand like wood or crack like concrete. Steel is the king of building materials.
But it’s also weak to heating. You’ll need top tier insulation to combat the all-metal workings and keep things cool. Steel frames are better at absorbing heat than they are at keeping out cold, so you’ll want to find a way to either insulate it completely or work some air conditioning into the core design.
Prefabricated Steel Frame Home Designs
Working with metal is tough and dangerous. Steel frames are heavy. It’s best for an amateur builder to employ the expertise of more seasoned engineers who are used to using the unique tools that the job calls for. Especially bigger sized projects. Building a single room starter house or adding an attachment is tough but fair work for a single worker. Careful steps must be taken to ensure the utmost safety of the workers around metal parts and especially around the glass.
Steel Frame Kits
Steel frame kits can come with a lot of customization options. Now that 3D printing is a thing in the field of construction, customers looking for a steel frame home kit can request additions and special features that can be added into the construction such as unique window placements and component framing.
Steel Frame Prefab Materials
Steel frames are accommodating to pre-existing materials used in other prefab home kits, so you can transition from one modular home setup to a new one as long as the dimensions of your steel frame match the dimensions of your old, already used walls. And steel is sturdy enough to stand on its with minimal reinforcement, so you can just forget a few walls to have an open and airy living space, or you can layer it with concrete for a super-industrial and super-resilient exterior match up. Or go with wood, because while it is higher maintenance than simple steel, it’s still fashionable and good looking as paneling. Steel frames allow for any combination of construction materials on, in and around them.
Steel Frame Prefab Building Process
Building up a kit is fairly simple. Much of the hard work is usually done with the steel frames in place and walls assembled. All that’s left is to slot things together and fill them in. Steel frame prefabs can arrive nearly 95% complete, but that still leaves a week or two of work to finish the job, alone or otherwise. The upside is there’s no material waste and no labor waste. Just get the foundation laid out, the construction permits in place and set a schedule for regular on-site work and watch the creation take shape from up close or a distance. It’s all in the instructions. If you can follow a recipe, with the right tools and enough time, you can build a house.
Steel frames open up many doors for customization with different materials, and even additional constructions like outdoor patios or garages. These can be added on over time, custom ordered and shipped with the same assembly instructions as the base house. Steel frames allow add-ons to be easy to integrate and expand.
The prefab process takes the longest. This is when you are left waiting for the materials to be assembled and initially constructed in a factory or warehouse. It’s where they shape the steel and components into the proper angles and placements to turn into the frames and supports of a house. Once the parts are put together, it’s shipped out from a central location and offloaded at the construction site where the home will rest. This can take upwards of 4 months, and then an additional 2 to 8 weeks depending on the size and experience of the building crew you have on hand.
The important factor is, even combined, it takes much less time than building from scratch. You can complete the foundation, utilities and permits in the meantime so all that’s left to do is the building itself.
Steel frame prefabs end up costing between $30 and $60 per square foot, which is still on the cheaper side of home construction when all is said and done. The finishing costs and labor can cost $25 to $50 per square foot on top of that, so take the listed price and double it. Odds are, even under that consideration, it will still be much cheaper than the equivalent sized house on the market.