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Martin, Electrical Engineer
Category: Home Improvement
Satisfied Customers: 4956
Experience:  Design, construct, fix and grow stuff around and in the home.
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I am considering building a pole barn house because of the

Customer Question

I am considering building a pole barn house because of the lower cost of construction and the larger interior clear span open spaces. I have several questions, and some of them may be vague and not particullarly well focused, so feel free to ask for additional
information: 1. I have heard that metal buildings have problems with insulation/condensation/mold, etc. If this is a metal building, what is the best way to insulate on a budget for cooling/heating in Kansas City, while avoiding condensation and/or mold issues?
2. A friend proposed a "house within a building", where the outside/metal building is insulated to a certain degree, then the interior "house" is set back approximately 3' from the sides of the building, and insulated moderately. Advantages we've thought of
are lesser insulation needs for the house due to taking advantage of the enclosed space and insulation of the metal building, deep window seats in the "house", ability to easily run new wire/re-wire for electrical or low-voltage changes, ability to run pex
plumbing in the "attic" instead of embedded in the slab, etc. Is this a good option at all? Would it increase, decrease, or have no affect on the cost of construction? Any additional advantages we've not thought of or disadvantages we're not aware of? 3. Is
there any way to estimate what the interior costs of finishing would be (Kansas City) so I can even decide if this is a viable alternative to purchasing a home? For estimation purposes, assume 2000 - 3000 square feet of interior space, exclusive of the garage,
organized in large open spaces of kitchen/dining/great room, with 3 bathrooms, and 3 - 4 bedrooms and a study. We'd need framing (9' tall rooms) including a roof or joining the interior house to the exterior metal building roof; insulation for "exterior" walls
and attic; drop ceilings (so no drywall/texture/framing) needed on ceilings; line voltage wiring; gas lines to kitchen, utility room, gas log fireplaces (x2), and patio; drywall, taping, mudding, texture, but no painting; AC/Heating venting; hollow or solid-core
wood stained doors; and wood stained baseboards. Presume no lighting fixtures, no ceiling fans, no plumbing fixtures, no cabinets, no floor coverings, no low voltage wiring, and no electrical outlets, switches, or electrical termination needed. 4. Any idea
what size (height) of a pole barn/metal building would be required to have a first level with 9' ceilings and a second level/loft area with 8' ceilings? 5. Am I crazy to be thinking about a pole barn as a house?!
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Home Improvement
Expert:  Martin replied 2 years ago.

Hi. Are you crazy, well it can be done be that would not be my first stop. It is low cost in a sense but it is hard to compete with commodity material and technique (it also require more equipment to manipulate the "poles". The finishing in the interior would cost about the same as in a normal house of the same size, there is not much different unless you also want to try alternative interior finish.

Yes Metal building can have more condensation and insulation problem because they don't have a progressive thermal gradient. As the gradient is very sharp because metal conduct heat easily, condensing can occur more than more insulating material. insulating expending foam can help a lot with that.

The house within a house concept increase the cost and you can also have problem with condensing if hot air from the outside get between the two walls.

In Kansas (because of tornado risk) and your love for clean span open space, i could see a possibility of a geodesic dome house if you want to go in crazy territory. They also have problem with hot air but that can be solved with a cupola on top.