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Came across a cheap steel structure - any ideas on ways to make it more livable/green  RSS feed

 
Scott Rawz
Posts: 4
Location: Northern Arizona
forest garden hugelkultur trees
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Hi,

So I came across a very cheap prefabricated steel garage for sale that I am looking at using on a property I am developing in Northern Arizona.  Originally, I was opposed to using a steel building because of concerns about airflow, condensation, insulation, and embedded energy.  But because of some of the regulations about livable structure requirements, price, and my current living situation - it became an attractive opportunity for me to get the steel structure to have a place to stage resources in while I build a cob/strawbale house hybrid.  I am thinking about living in this 24c25x13 ft steel garage (shaped like a half-pipe with one end plugged) while I get all of the legal and permitting done for building my house.  I was thinking of plugging the open end with a strawbale wall and plastering over it to allow some privacy, protection from elements, and some airflow.  Any other ideas to improve living conditions for this steel garage without resorting to even more industrial solutions?  Anyone have good/bad experiences with steel buildings?  Here is a picture of a similar building for reference




I will not have the garage door or wall , just a big semicircular hole.


Thanks for the help!
A24-13-Custom.jpg
[Thumbnail for A24-13-Custom.jpg]
steel structure
 
Jim Fry
Posts: 90
Location: Stone Garden Farm Richfield Twp., Ohio
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Here's what I've done, or counseled others to do, ... Get an inexpensive RV and park it in the building. Get a porta john, cut the bottom out and put it in the building over a dug hole. Put in a wood stove, basket ball hoop, exercise equip., whatever. Get some barrels to catch water from roof. Stack firewood in building. Then you've got a place that is snow free, where you can do "outdoor" games/exercise, take showers, do your business. You can heat the space to 40 or 50* with woodstove thereby creating a warm envelope around RV so you don't have to run RV heater as much to stay warm at night. You've got everything inside out of the weather. Then build your house at your leisure. And when done, you still have an "unmolested" barn ready to go for animals and parking equipment or storing hay. ---If you need to "plug up" anywhere on the building, use mulch hay (hay no longer desirable for animal feed, ..it's cheaper). Cover the outside, exposed side of hay with plastic so it doesn't mold or rot the strings. When done using hay, it becomes good mulch in gardens. Don't plaster hay, it' not needed and it just makes it harder to use later. The used RV becomes home for people visiting you in the future.
 
Dale Hodgins
garden master
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I like that, and have seen a similar thing done.

Here's an even cheaper way. Get the biggest RV tent that can be bought at Costco or wherever. Put the RV inside. Don't make any attempt to heat or cool it. If sealed up reasonably well, it will stay warmer than the surrounding air, in the dead of winter. More importantly, it will bear the brunt of wind, rain and snow.

The RV is now out of the elements, so a layer of insulation can be laid directly on the roof. Used fiberglass batts or foam, held in place with only a tarp, will do a lot to make an RV more efficient.

Be sure to vent cooking gas and even the bathroom fan, to beyond the envelope of the Costco tent.

Sell the tent when you are done with it.
 
tony uljee
Posts: 21
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I have a shed just as you describe , quonset type or nissan hut sometimes called , do close the ends off with a steel tube frame work and sheet over them --but put a big door at each end ---drive the RV in and out --- , mine is a very basic 2 piece angle iron section   rafter   bolted  together at the top   ,these are connected to each other   ,with 4x3 battens and  then corrugated sheet iron s are  tek screwed on , with out the ends  on , it moves like a big jelly in the wind. If the budget can stretch to it put down a smoothish concrete floor  so very handy to work off and draw on when you are laying out other building structures   , besides being off the mud for living on top of it , keeps the water from coming up out the ground . Mines now used to store timber and peat if  laid /strewn over the floor   ,the doors open and a bit of wind through this dries wet fuel and laundry line strung from one side to the other keeps her happy. But they do draw a lot of condensation on the inside so keep vented , to gain extra height i built a concrete block wall about 4 1/2 feet high and bolted down onto this.
 
Anne Miller
pollinator
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Location: USDA Zone 8a
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We have built three similar steel building.  The companies usually offer them as "carports".  We have them built out of the strong steel gauge that they offer and have them tied down.

Our 1st one was the carport style and we enclosed the sides ourselves.  We built a chicken house inside it.

The other two we had them enclose the sides like the picture but with a roll up garage style entrance.  No windows or doors.

We are very happy with ours.
 
Jd Stratton
Posts: 21
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Dale Hodgins wrote:I like that, and have seen a similar thing done.



Sell the tent when you are done with it.


A year after putting that thing up in AZ, there will not be anything left to sell but a frame.
The sun KILLS those out West. They get brittle and tear in the wind.

The steel tube will last permanently.

The condensation should not be an issue in most of AZ.
 
Thomas Welch
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Maybe a special coating would help = R-30 Paint with 100 year life span - if you are interested in insulating structure quickly and efficiently - this applied at 10 mm - like a good spray coat - ck with tom
 
Krofter Young
Posts: 29
Location: Baja Arizona
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It's pretty hard to "improve" on a metal covering.  Instead of going through the corporate controlled building permit/code departments - who will do everything they can to drive up the cost of any project you pursue - Id just use this building as your home.  Line the inside with straw bales and plaster them with an earthen plaster - no need to plaster the outside.  You can do all of this under the guise of installing a simple two car prefab garage.  Keep it small and simple - kiss.
 
Thomas Welch
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I have built with straw bale 3 houses - wonderful material - but time and labor intensive - in one day you can insulate in and out with coat of special paint - r30 in and r30 out when combined becomes r70 plus - extraordinary material - thermal unsulated basalt epoxy paint = BOOM done in one day
 
Charles Robinson
Posts: 11
Location: Missoula, Montana
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This is pretty cool new building material I had not heard of.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llsQL2bPWqY&feature=youtu.be
 
Scott Rawz
Posts: 4
Location: Northern Arizona
forest garden hugelkultur trees
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Thanks for all of the tips!

Since I already have the steel structure coming in, I think that I will not be doing the RV suggestions.  It will be interesting to see how close I come to the RV price though; all in so far for my 24x25 structure will be about $8k including plumbing and materials for rocket mass heater.

I like the idea about using the high R value paint - I am a little worried about the chemicals though.  I will probably end up at least painting the outside and maybe adding some external insulation in the form of a felt liner covered with pond liner covered with some type of living roof.  Im going to have to look at the loading capacity though.

I think that I will have enough room to do some strawbale on the inside (at least for half of the structure. with some natural plaster.  Hopefully this will improve the R value while keeping some of the chemicals out.

Thanks again everyone for the advice!

-Scott
 
bruce Fine
Posts: 30
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me and my honey lived in a 16
' tall steel building for about 3 years total, some of the best times in my life. it had a concrete floor, i t was 22 feet wide, used recycled 2x4s and plywood and built a  10' wide room across the inside back end of shed, insulated with bats of fiberglass stuff and used recycled 4x8' panels of some 1/4" materal on all the walls ands ceiling to hold in the insulation, it gets cold in new england, built a bathroom on one end elevating toilet and waiste pipe with 2x8n0r 2x10's buiried a water line on outside and knocked a hole through floor for fostproof hydrant and used a prefab fiberglass shower stall.  used regular 4" waste pipe and dug hole with backhoe used a 55 gal plastic drum with pipes with hole drilled in them for makeshift septic tank.,used a propane water heater and heated the place with ventless propane heater, cooked on a coleman stove in the metal shed.  never would have met any urban codes but everthing worked well and was much more comfortable than any camper or tent in both winter or summer
 
Deb Stephens
Posts: 395
Location: SW Missouri, Zone 7a
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Wow, I am glad I came across this post. I was actually trying to find the forum (if one exists) that is the proper place to sell something like this. If any of you are interested in doing what Scott has in mind, I have just the building for you!

We already have a house that we built from scratch with pretty much everything recycled -- including windows and doors -- but we have decided to turn it into a barn/shop/greenhouse now and build a smaller structure to live in. We thought a metal quonset hut (actually the S-model, which looks like a giant bread loaf) would be the perfect thing. So ... we ordered one and had it delivered in March. Then, as luck would have it, several things changed in our plans, and we decided to do a small strawbale home instead. So ... we have a beautiful, well-made and very strong building for sale for less than you would pay for a cheapie used car. It's 25' wide x 20' deep and 16' high and we're asking only $3800. (Way less than we paid and it has everything you need to put it up -- including hardware and engineered blueprints.) If anyone is interested I can give you more details and pictures than you probably want or need. Just pm me or ask here ... makes no difference.

IF this is not a good place for this, could someone point me to the correct forum? Thanks!
 
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