Must-Know Info Before You Buy Steel House Plans

Steel framing is a wise alternative to wood framing. Steel house plans can be designed like any wood-framed house.

Advantages of Steel Framing

Using steel instead of wood in steel home plans provides the following advantages:

  • Strength: Steel-framed houses have withstood hurricanes and earthquakes. Steel's qualities allow it to meet the strictest wind and seismic standards in the building codes.
  • Fire resistance: Steel is not combustible, so it will not feed a fire.
  • Resistant to water and insect damage: Most structural damage is due to water rotting the wood frame components of the house; whereas water does not rot steel. And insects aren't interested in steel!
  • Steel is "true": Unlike lumber, which is often warped, steel is always straight. Even if the lumber from the lumber yard arrives straight, it can warp in a matter of days due to exposure to the weather. Steel framing eliminates any bows in the walls, or twisted or warped studs. Sheetrocking is much easier when walls are absolutely straight.
  • Environmentally friendly: About 50 trees are needed to build the average house! Considering this, large tracts of land are cut down each year to provide lumber for traditional wood-framed homes. This destroys habitat for many species of animals. When you choose to build a steel-framed house, you aren't contributing to this loss of habitat.
  • Lower insurance premiums: Due to steel's fire, insect, wind, and earthquake resistance, homeowner's insurance premiums will be much lower.
  • Disadvantages of Steel Framing

    One potential disadvantage of steel framing is its cost. Steel prices have risen greatly recently. However, during periods where lumber prices rise significantly, steel becomes a cost-effective alternative. This happened after 1993, when lumber prices more than doubled. Since then, the number of steel-framed houses increased dramatically, from roughly 15,000 homes in 1997 to roughly 35,000 homes in 1999 (Source: Steel Framing Alliance).

    The additional cost can easily be offset with lower insurance premiums and lower (or no) insect treatments. In fact, a new program called "STEEL Advantage" can help reduce premiums 25 to 75%. This program was designed by Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., an insurance service in Itasca, Ill. They have been successful in negotiating specialized insurance products when steel framing is used in a construction project. You can learn more at www.ajg.com.

    Steel framing can be ordered pre-framed...that is, all of the window and door openings can be constructed at a factory and be delivered ready to erect. This can be a significant labor savings over traditional wood framing.

    So costs for steel framing may not end up being any higher than for wood framing...it may even cost less. Considering all its advantages, you should definitely consider steel house plans versus traditional wood framing.

    Another disadvantage is that steel conducts heat about 300 times faster than wood. The steel studs, and even the fasteners can create a heat loss issue. According to the Department of Energy, screws attached to steel studs can reduce the insulating value of the foam sheathing by 39%. This makes proper insulation of utmost importance if you choose the steel framing method. That is why we recommend that anyone desiring steel interior framing use it in conjunction with ICF walls. Read on for more information.

    Our Recommendation for Steel House Plans

    The best steel house plans combine the strength and energy efficiency of insulating concrete forms (ICF) for the exterior walls, with steel-framed interior walls. This is an ideal combination of strength and energy efficiency.

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