Benefits of Residential Metal Buildings with Living Quarters

Published February 15, 2017 by Whirlwind Team

metal building with living quarters

Up until recently, it was not uncommon for a business owner to live above, next to, or in the shop. Many retailers early in the 20th century and for years before lived above the store or workshop where they sold their goods. It made for a very short commute.

That idea is coming back for many who prefer to own their business. If they bought a building or had one constructed for the business, it can make sense to add living space to a structure you already own instead of owning and maintaining a second piece of property and another structure.


Metal buildings with living quarters

You may have heard the term “barndominium"; a metal structure resembling a barn (and may, in fact, be a barn) but that includes living areas. Of course, steel buildings can be designed to look like anything, including the house next door or a warehouse. It’s your choice.

The point about metal buildings is that they can be both residences and residences if that is what works for you.

When you design your structure, decide what portion of the building will be the living areas and have it designed to residential specifications. Depending on the use of the rest of the structure, you need to determine how much soundproofing to add, design the HVAC system for residential use, and take anything else into consideration that can impact your quality of life when it is combined with your barn, business, warehouse, or other structure.

The rest of the building should be designed for its intended use, including specialized ventilation, lighting, insulation, and other requirements. Just make sure the entire facility is compliant with local building codes. Before shopping around for a builder, you may want to do some research to make sure what you want to do is permissible at your location.

Advantages of steel residential buildings and homes


Steel is extremely durable:

  • It can withstand wind speeds up to 150 mph without damage to the exterior or foundation. That is enough to stand up to an F2 tornado or Category 4 hurricane.
  • It is seismically stable, up to zone 4, which is the highest classification of seismic activity.
  • Metal buildings and components require very little maintenance to last for decades
  • Steel is flame retardant, and rodents find it impossible to chew through.
Quick build time

A pre-engineered or pre-fabricated steel building is not created until the plans have been finalized. Once it is fabricated, it can be put together at the manufacturer for quality assurance purposes, disassembled, and quickly reassembled on your lot.

Quicker erection means lower labor costs, even with the special skills required for constructing a metal building.


Steel is made of iron and carbon with smaller amounts of other components mixed in according to the rigidity required of the steel. There are no hazardous chemicals.

Steel is 100% recyclable; most steel available today is made up of over 85% recycled material. When it comes time to reuse it, steel needs no additional processing. Steel can be used over and over endlessly with no loss of strength.

Flexible and expandable

A steel building can be designed in almost any shape and, if needed, are easily expanded with additional framework and panels. If your business expands, you can create a larger space. If it changes, you can repurpose the space. Steel is durable but easy to change.

Energy efficient

Metal frames readily accommodate insulation. This is plenty of room between the frame members and the panels. Also, insulation is available that fits well within the frame member. Insulation keeps the building at a comfortable temperature with less need for heating and cooling.

With white or light-colored roof panels, sunlight can be reflected away from the building in summer, making it less costly to cool. If your living area is the second story, it will certainly make it more comfortable. You can also choose reflective coatings to enhance the cooling effect.


You may have heard that metal buildings cannot be customized. There is nothing further from the truth. However you want your building to look, it can be fabricated that way. With the addition of the right accessories and ornaments, you can have a shop/home that looks like anything from a large shed to an ornate French Colonial.

Designing and constructing a metal building

Metal buildings with living quarters are not difficult to design and build. Commercial, residential, and industrial construction all benefit from using steel for the frame, walls, and roof.

If your desire is to live where you work or to carve out living space within an already existing metal building, you can do so with a little work. Soundproof the walls, ceiling, or floor if needed and you can provide a nice room or suite of rooms with all the amenities of a residence and the convenience of no commute. You don’t even have to go out in the weather.

You can easily create a single structure to accommodate living areas for you and your family as well as a workshop, retail store, warehouse, or other non-residential space. Work with a reputable design firm that can help you sort through the different requirements for each area of your building. Make sure there are no codes that prevent you from living in a combination metal building and residence. Enjoy the cost savings of an energy efficient metal building and maintaining a single location.

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