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Thread: New Shop, Metal or Wood Construction?

  1. #1
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    New Shop, Metal or Wood Construction?

    Living in sunny SoCal we get to build structures, to code, that wouldn't last through one Nebraska winter. My planning so far has been for a typical wood stud structure (like a Tuff Shed) in the three-car-garage size. My wanderings led me to metal buildings which seem to offer a good value. My lack of experience makes me favor the familiar wooden build but, this is just habit.

    Can those of you who have experience with wooden and metal buildings for shops comment? I trying to compare costs/difficulty of insulating, running power and plumbing. workability as a wood shop and so forth. I just have visions of a metal box in our 105 degree summers as being unpleasant. 105 degrees in a wooden structure is unpleasant as well but, I grew up here and it is normal-hot to me, a not hella-hot ;-)

    P.s. This will be built by others whether pre-fab or site built. My skills lie elsewhere.
    Last edited by glenn bradley; 10-29-2019 at 3:46 PM.
    “Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it,”
    -Jonathan Swift

  2. #2
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    Glenn - haven't built a metal structure but am in the process of building a wooden one (framed, sheathed, roofed, and mostly sided). I considered a metal building but because we wanted to match the existing house (built in 1910) we went with conventional stick framed. I know you can get a steel skeleton up much cheaper and quicker than a wooden one. At that point it probably has more to do with what you think you need/want on the inside.

    Are you going to frame a structure within the skeleton? Can you live with hanging insulation, and surface mounted plumbing and electrical? If you don't have frost issues and don't need to cover everything I would think the metal building would be quite a bit cheaper.

    Maybe you can visit some shops around your area built from steel and get some insight.
    Regards,

    Kris

  3. #3
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    Every method has benefits and challenges...metal (and pole) buildings can go up remarkably fast and the start to finish for the shell can be really fast. I wouldn't hesitate to consider them as an option with the bottom line being cost since you still need to put up some form of interior "exterior facing" wall structure to support things like insulation, electrical, plumbing and support for "stuff". Cost is geographically influences a whole bunch, so you're going to have to do your homework relative to that. A metal building is often a "kit" (even when professionally installed) so there is economy of scale in producing it which can then make the cost very attractive...lower labor to erect the structure included. You'll also want to factor in if you are going to do the interior work or contract that out since your comfort with how the shell is made relative to the work needing to be done is also an important consideration.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  4. #4
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    A metal building can still burn with all the stuff inside but flying embers should not be a huge problem. talk to your fire insurance company about rates for wood vs metal. All the venting on any type of structure needs to meet codes for ember resistance. I think there is a LA code that is commonly mentioned on the box.
    Bill D.

  5. #5
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    I used to go, years ago, to wood turners club meetings held in a steel shop in Norco. It was miserable hot in the summer, and cold in the winter. Noisy too. I heard he later installed spray in insulation, which helped somewhat.

    A few years later, I built my shop using sticks and stucco, to match the house. I have heat and air in it, but don't use either much, in our climate.

    I also built a garage using Louisiana Pacific 4X8 panel siding. Lots cheaper than stucco. Quicker and easier too. I also helped my dad build a shop 40 years ago this way, and it still looks good. My new garage is an extension of his old shop, and I did not need to replace any siding on the old part.
    Rick Potter

    DIY journeyman,
    FWW wannabe.
    AKA Village Idiot.

  6. #6
    You can get a pre made building kit from Heritage steel in Little Rock AR for much cheaper than building it out of wood. A 60’ x 40’ is about $13,000 with everything you will need all holes pre drilled and taped with no cutting or drilling required. All you need is the pad. They even include all beams, roof metal, walls metal, garage door, everything.

  7. #7
    I have built both ways, prefer to work with wood, but a metal building is low maintenance, and you can fasten wood to the frame so you can frame out the interior and insulate it, or you can use the wide rolls of insulation under the metal. The insulation under the roof is particularly important, as metal roofs sweat in most parts of the country without the insulation. Personally, I would insulate with a reasonable layer, then frame out the walls and insulate again, then use a suspended ceiling and put some insulation on top of it. Be sure to buy a building with a good wind rating.

  8. #8
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    My shop is stick built.

    The horse barn is 40 x 60 metal building.

    The metal building is durable but hot in the summer and cold in the winter. For my wife’s tack room in the barn, I ended up having to stick build a room with in the barn to insulate and create a thermal break between the metal building and the tack room so we could condition it without it costing us a fortune.

  9. #9
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    Thanks everyone.
    “Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it,”
    -Jonathan Swift

  10. #10
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    Glenn you might have a consideration that most of us don't have -- fire resistance. I'd think metal would win there. Maybe talk to an insurance person if you haven't already?

  11. #11
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    Glenn, it's a bit off topic but fire seems to be a big deal where you are. I read that the Reagan library was nearly destroyed by fire recently and they attributed it's salvation in part to goats keeping the brush down. you might see about keeping a couple of goats on the property.

    That said, my vote would be whatever you are comfortable expanding. We all know that whatever you build won't be big enough.

  12. #12
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    Just build it as maintenance free as possible. You want to work in it, and not work on it.
    Army Veteran 1968 - 1970
    NRA Lifetime Member
    I Support the Second Amendment of the US Constitution

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Feeley View Post
    I read that the Reagan library was nearly destroyed by fire recently and they attributed it's salvation in part to goats keeping the brush down. you might see about keeping a couple of goats on the property..
    Former SMC Member/Moderator Mark Singer (RIP) had an annual visit from a flock of goats to clear the steep slopes below his beautiful home up above Laguna Beach for exactly this reason.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  14. #14
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    I just took over the lease on a metal shop building. I am now adding stick framed walls to the outer walls so I have something g to hang things on and also to make it harder to break in by pulling off a metal panel. Go with stick framed. It allows you to insulate, hang stuff easily, and is less noisy.

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