Tiny House of Steel

Quonset style steel tiny house on wheels
Quonset style steel tiny house on wheels

“When I first saw a SteelMaster building I was in love. Why? They’re steel, pre-fabricated, highly engineered and just look so friggin cool! The arches are self-supporting so no need for your typical framing – ROOF + WALLS = 1. No plywood, no OSB, no Tyvek, no siding. INTERIOR + EXTERIOR = 1.

So, when I started looking at ideas for tiny home designs, the choice was obvious. Obvious to me, anyway, as I haven’t found a tiny house design like this yet. The trailer is a 8 x 16 foot, 3-1/2 ton dual-axle deck over galvanized trailer.

SO…What exactly is this tiny house of steel (T-House O’Steel!) thing…?
– T-House O’Steel! is: The specific result of precarious living as an artist for the past, say, 20 years of sporadic employment, zero to little savings, and little hope of being able to get a mortgage.
– T-House O’Steel! is: The kind of thing a guy going through a mid-life crisis might do, though most guys would buy a motorcycle or maybe go bungee jumping or something with more of an adrenaline rush.
– T-House O’Steel! is: Simply put, what I’ve always wanted to do – to live inside the object of my own building.

Steel building materials are not only lighter but so much more reliable than wood – they won’t warp, shrink or rot. Don’t get me wrong: I still love the smell of sawdust as much as the next wood worker. But there are so many ways to engineer steel that I feel like I’ll never build with anything else.

Over the course of a year, the frame and beams and windows have gone up, giving me a better perspective of what the space will look like inside. It’s breathtaking, really – high and long. From the outside, the silver of the frame from a distance reminds me of the old Airstream motor homes. The arc and curves are like sculpture.”
How could I not live in something so beautiful?”

Tiny House of Steel
I have to admit my first reaction was concern over using too much metal, which has high embodied energy. But I soon changed my mind when I realized how little metal is actually used in a tiny house such as this one. For starters, a tiny house uses way few materials and energy to heat and cool than a typical American home. When compared to other tiny houses, there are fewer wall and roof materials. In fact, the roof and walls are one as they point out. So you’re saving on materials and (possibly?) labor. Plus, the Galvalume Plus coating has a maintenance free 30 year manufacturer- backed warranty. Think how much time, money and effort you would save on patching and replacing roofing, staining, painting, cleaning gutters, etc. over the years. You’d never have any worries about a wind storm blowing your roof off. It’s also very aerodynamic on the highway. Most importantly of all is it’s affordable enough that this family can escape the rent trap and live the life they want traveling.

So… if this tiny house of steel works out for them then I wonder if SteelMaster or some other manufacturer would consider selling partially assembled tiny houses? They could put together the basic shell on a trailer, and the homeowner could do all the finish work. Another option is to pay a contractor who works with Quonset huts all the time. They’d have the tools and experience to assemble a tiny house like this in a few days instead of one year. That way the owner could focus on the much more fun and interesting parts of fitting out the interior.

7 thoughts on “Tiny House of Steel”

  1. it’s great
    thanks for sharing it.I love how you said that sustainable building and building supplies are the future to making a healthier world.

  2. At last someone with quantum brains in their head. Great concept, hope it goes well. I’m not into tiny but quonsets, containers and grain silo hybrids in small to medium houses are very interesting.

    • Maybe this guy will trigger a market so big companies start mass producing these. Right now the cost of tiny houses if often very high. Mass production could greatly lower the cost.

  3. I like quonsets. I’ve spent this past weekend helping my neighbor erect his 25×24. The two quonsets I’ve built prior to this were much bigger. I enjoy their wonderful qualities and challenges in finishing.
    This guy needs to add nylon nuts, ‘nyloks’, double nutting his interior bolt ends if he wants to tow this without his fasteners vibrating off behind framed finishes, since he clearly used the supplied nuts.
    That is unless he applies a 2lb+ SPF to the interior, which effectively glues it tight. I know the small q huts are pretty rigid, but that’d add a lot of rigidity for suspended ceilings, lofts, shelves, etc, while barreling down the washboards. The problem is SPF dusts out in campers/RVs when the miles rack up, unless you go 3lb roof foam, then you can tow it until the trailer rusts out. Not cheap by comparison, and this is small, but they complained of costs already…
    I like steel. There isn’t much steel weight here, and the 14 GA corrugated (both q huts and containers) is awesome strength to weight ratio. Add the galvy, and maybe a quality epoxy paint, it’s a bomber flashed exterior

    • Good input as usual. Thanks Chris. That minded me how the most sustainable buildings are durable. Use quality materials and good workmanship and you can pass the home down to your kids.

    • Here’s an idea for you Chris. Consider assembling these tiny steel houses in a shop during winter. Beats working outside. Network on tiny house blogs and forums, or advertise to find customers in the region. Remember, there are tens of thousands of potential customers in Colorado. If you can afford it, you could make one and take it to the next Jamboree in CO Springs. You might get swamped with orders. https://naturalbuildingblog.siterubix.com/tiny-house-jamboree/

      Fit out the inside to customer specs or just assemble the shells. 1/4″ T&G aspen would look awesome.

      • I’m too swamped in the workshop all winter. But I know there are tons of tiny house contractors killing it right now.
        I personally think that containers and q huts are a good combo hybrid. But then we are getting away from the name of this blog. Except for the rest of the world in code land.


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