Is a Steel Building the Right Choice for Your Durable Tiny Home?

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Tiny Houses for Sale or Build Your Own?

Tiny houses for saleAre you looking at tiny houses for sale or considering building your own? There’s benefits to taking either avenue to tiny home ownership, so we’re here to help you thoroughly evaluate both options.

As many tiny house owners will tell you, regardless of whether you end up finding the perfect tiny home for sale or building one, reviewing tiny house floor plans and doing your research now will pay off in a big way down the road. Before we dive into why you may want to build one over buying one, lets explore what exactly is a tiny house, and what is the tiny house movement?

Tiny homes for saleThe Tiny House Movement

A tiny house is a shelter, sometimes built on wheels, typically between 100 and 400 square feet, but some can be as large as 1,200 square feet. The tiny homes are customized and encourage a simpler lifestyle and more efficient energy consumption. These alternative houses are at the center of a social and cultural movement known simply as the tiny house movement.

Many people are joining the movement in an effort to reduce adverse effects on the environment, live a more fulfilling lifestyle, or most often, to save money. The movement has garnered national attention and only seems to be getting more popular.

In order to decide whether you should buy a tiny house for sale or build one, we need to answer the following questions:

1. Does it cost more to build or buy my tiny house?

With some basic tiny house research you can find per square foot cost estimates to build a new tiny house versus buying one you find for sale.

Tiny Homes for SaleBuild a New Tiny HomeAverage Metal Building Cost
$195 – $250 per square foot$200 – $400 per square foot$8 – $12 per square foot

You can’t believe your eyes right? The average metal building costs around 2% of what it costs to build or buy a tiny house made of wood. There is a catch, the price per square foot cost on the steel building doesn’t include construction or interior finish out, but here’s what you can expect to completely finish a metal building as a home.

Material CostConstruction CostInterior Finish Cost
$8 – $12 per square foot for materials delivered$12 – $14 per square foot*$40 – $120 per square foot depending on taste

As you can see, even when we add in all the costs to build a tiny house in a steel building, you can still save between 65%-70% by choosing steel.

2. Where do I plan to live in my tiny house?

How you answer this question can drastically change an outlying cost to tiny home ownership. If you chose to purchase an existing tiny house, you will either end up paying for the land it is built on or you will likely have to pay to lease land in a tiny home community if you buy one on wheels. Same goes for the metal building option, you will either need to lease or purchase land to build it on, but that isn’t the most important factor in terms of location. Prefab metal buildings are engineered for the snow loads, wind loads and seismic activity in the location it will be built. Increasing any of these atmospheric inputs will raise the cost of your steel building, but not enough to offset the original savings we discussed above.

Planning Your Project

Determining what size building you need in order to accommodate the rooms you want is one of the most important steps in designing your new tiny home. While you’re dreaming up the perfect house, you must consider the size of the lot you plan to build on and what the setbacks are for the site.

You can find out what the setbacks are by visiting your local building department and start deciding what size building fits on your property by using our one of a kind map tool below. Simply type in your address, click zoom and then place your building after entering the size.


3. What size tiny house will work for me?

The answer to this question will depend on whether you intend to live in a mobile tiny house or a more permanent home, but regardless a steel building offers everything a traditional tiny house can offer and more!

Example Tiny House Floor Plans

Here is an example floor plan designed for a steel building that would work for a tiny home. To design your own, simply use some string to outline the size you think you will need and the rooms inside the space.

Tiny House Floor Plans

Expert Insight: Steel buildings offer a more versatile tiny house. If you end up going with a traditional tiny home, it is much tougher to expand if you want to in the future. On the other hand, the end walls of metal buildings can be easily expanded in the future to accommodate a growing family or new hobbies.

Tiny Homes is a Changing Industry

When it comes to building a tiny house, most traditional tiny houses were built using wood. But like many industries, tiny house enthusiasts are beginning to understand the benefits of using steel as its primary building material. Not to mention, if you dig deep enough into the research, you’ll find that unlike the structure itself, the benefits of steel prefab metal buildings far outweigh the wood option. Here are a couple more factors to consider about the advantages of metal building homes:


Many tiny home owners were inspired to build their tiny homes because they wanted to reduce waste and keep their negative impact on the environment to a minimum. Using steel for the construction of your tiny home fits perfectly within those motivations. Steel is the world’s most recycled material with more than 80 million tons of steel recycled annually. The steel industry is also widely recognized for its innovation and commitment to eco-friendly initiatives. The beauty of steel is that it can be recycled for any number of uses without ever sacrificing its integrity, which means it’s sustainable and reliable.

Consistent Construction

If you take a look at tiny homes for sale, you’ll see these aren’t your standard trailers or recreational tree houses. They are fully functioning homes with owner-specific amenities using modern construction methods. That’s where steel homes offer a greater sense of security than wood homes. Tiny houses built of steel are screwed and bolted together: screws and bolts that will remain in place throughout your time in the home. A wood home is at the mercy of shifting and loosening nails, especially if you’re taking your home on the road, where high-speed bumps, potholes and debris can have a serious effect on the structure of your home.


It’s undeniable that steel holds a significant advantage over wood in terms of strength. That’s why steel has been a primary building material for commercial and residential properties for more than 150 years. Tensile strength is a measurement of the force required to pull a structural beam until it breaks. Steel has a tensile strength of 700 and higher, while wood registers at just 40. That means steel is 17.5x as strong as wood while being 30% lighter in weight. If you’re planning on moving your tiny home, a steel option will be easier to maneuver.


Perhaps the greatest advantage of using steel for your tiny house is the durability steel offers. Because tiny house floor plans aren’t expansive by design, your shelter has to be able to withstand all of the elements, including extreme weather conditions, mold, pest damage and fire. Steel is able to stand up to all of these issues, providing you and your family the security and healthy living conditions you will need in your small space.

Expert Insight: If you chose to build your tiny house with General Steel, you would receive a 50 year structural warranty, 40 year paint warranty and 20 year roof warranty at no additional cost.

We encourage you to do as much research as possible, whether you’re looking at tiny houses for sale or building your own. We’re also confident that steel is the modern choice for this modern movement, where quality of life is only enhanced by efficiency. If you have any more questions, or you would like to get started, we’d love to help! Contact General Steel at 1-800-745-2685, or talk to a representative at

*The per square foot costs of construction are only intended for educational purposes. General Steel is not responsible for the accuracy of the construction costs in your particular locale, you must attain your own bids for construction costs to determine actual pricing.