Shall we build a house?

Well, shall we?

Back in 2004 I started researching building a metal building to live in. I know it sounds more than strange– it sounds weird and commercial. And that is exactly what every building contractor I contacted told me: We don’t do residential metal buildings.

My online research led me to a couple of companies that sell kits for building metal residential buildings, but they were very expensive. So, my search continued, and then the 2005 hurricane season sent everyone into a tail spin of recovery from the flood damage. . .

And a put damper on our spirits. Mine. Everyone’s. When trying to recover from a storm, it’s difficult to think about building a new home. And then once you enter into negotiations with FEMA for any repair assistance, there are dozens of hoops to jump through and lots of dotted lines to sign saying you’ll do this and that and you won’t do thus and such.

Building seemed a far away dream, and not even one I was sure we should pursue–especially after another devastating hurricane season last year (2008). But, here we sit, in our old home four feet off the ground, flooded twice, yet never repaired to pre-storm conditions because it must be elevated about 11 more feet in order to do so. There’s no way we can be good stewards by putting that kind of money into this old shack. It’s just not feasible or practical.

And we’ve waited and watched while the red tape of recovery has wrapped around and around until we have all choked on it. But today, I broke free from the red tape. I am going to build my metal building to live in.

It will be 12 feet above the ground. About 14 feet above sea level, and it will withstand 140 mph winds. If the water comes any higher than 12 feet and the wind any higher than 140 mph, well, there won’t be much of left of anything down here, and that will be the day I follow the steps of LaLoutre (the lead character in my book) and “move up the bayou”.

This is your invitation to come along for the metal-building ride, every step of the way.

Are you game? If so, say so and let the process begin!

Your building BW!

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  1. BW, You need to make a trip over here to see me. My son and daughter-in-law did exactly what you want to do. Only difference…theirs is on a slab . They have recently built their dream home, so the “metal house” is unoccupied at this time. It came through Katrina with no damage and with Gustauve lost only a cap on the roof. The outside looks like a metal building, but the inside is VERY nice. They chose to put their money on the inside rather than on an outdoor facade.

  2. Metal residential buildings are big around here. Everyone is going to metal roofs at the very least. A lot of folks here build big barns, live in them while they build their house and then never really move out of the barn. I think they are really neat because you can do so much with them. Doing concrete floors with colors and designs is also big here.

  3. That is great! There are several around here and some even have businesses in part and live in the other. They are also on slabs, but I will gaurantee that you have researched everything and know what to expect. I can’t wait until you get started on this journey.

  4. I think thats a fantastic idea. When I first moved back to the lower 48, I bought a secondhand washer/dryer from a couple who were living in a metal building while building their home…wanted to get his shop up & running first. They double insulated it and found it to be so comfortable they completely changed their house plans into a metal building. Im in total agreement with Steffi’s kids…put the bucks on the inside & structure, not the outside. That home improvement show with Ty did a house down there built rounded on the outside so the wind would slide right around it, not push it over…its a thought. There are a lot of round houses built around the outskirts of longview…If it were me…I would look into using solar panels for what ever I could (could afford) to reduce the energy costs…thats my 2 Cant wait to see the step by step progress…Im all excited for you

  5. Hip hip hooray! I’ll help you paint once it’s done, as long as I don’t have to go to Lowe’s!

  6. Thanks for all the advice and I didn’t tell y’all all the plans right up front–that would spoil the action as it plays out.

    Today was a fishing charter day and I am whooped from the heat and sun, so I might not have a post up right away.

    However, I want to answer/respond to your comments. Since my initial interest back in ’04, quite a few metal camps have been built down here–all by the same builder. So, it is more common now. Ours wil have a concrete foundation under it, but the floor will be elevated, of course. We already have many metal roofs down here, mine included. They are the only roofs that held up to the hurricane winds.

    My choice of metal exterior and framing was reinforced as a good choice after Hurricane Katrina ripped through southeast La. in 2005. I took a ride down to Hopedale, which sits along a bayou and looks almost identical to our community, and I sat there and wept at the site. The houses and camps were GONE. I don’t mean damaged, I mean they were wiped clean from the pilings, and pilings gone, too, by the 25 food tidal surge. The only two buildings left standing on that bayou were metal camps.

    So Steph, I would like to talk to your son-in-law and see if he has any advice for me, though mine will be a little different.

    Building here is not a decision made lightly. But it is our home. We own our 3 acres free and clear and this is where we make our living. It’s just not that easy to leave.

    So, yes Deloutre, I have done what seems like YEARS of research and homework. And I may run into some permitting issues since I’m the first down here to do a residential application post 05/08 hurricane seasons.

    The foundation will have to be engineered. The building will have to be designed and stamped by a licensed architect (since I’m not using a contractor, you see). It will be interesting, to say the least! Challenging will be more like it. My insurance company doesn’t even have a rating for insuring a “metal building” as a residence. Yes, interesting indeed.

    It’s something about that pioneer spirit. It is not dead at all, but it lives on in this scatter brained head of mine!!!

    Your pioneering,

  7. BW, If you can catch my son, I’m sure he’ll tell you what he can. Son-in-law is an Engineer, but he wouldn’t be of any help. He’s the “Chemical” variety. Hubby can probably answer any questions you may have. He helped our son quite a bit . I was in on the finish work. Have you already checked with the “permit” office about all the regulations, etc.? I know at one time (about 6 yrs. ago) You could get a contractors license ($50) here if you were acting as your on contractor. Of course, every Parish is different , as are the building codes.