How to Build Living Quarters Inside Metal Buildings

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Things You'll Need

  • Catalogs of metal buildings

  • City codes and restrictions

  • Building permit

  • Sketch pad

  • Framing lumber

  • Drywall

  • Plumbing fixtures

  • Appliances

  • Electrical wiring and outlets

  • Flooring

  • Paint

Metal buildings can provide very unique spaces for interior rooms.

Constructing living space inside a metal building can offer many creative choices. For example, the rooms can be built in an over-size fashion to create large entertaining areas. Dimensions of most metal structures will allow for high ceilings and options for vaulting ceilings in certain spaces. Investing in remodeling a metal building can yield a return on that investment, if care is taken to design a floor plan that would appeal to many other people. Avoid creating an interior that would only a few people would find appealing.


Step 1

Obtain books and catalogs of metal building construction. Visit local authorities to get a copy of building codes and restrictions for remodeling a metal building for living space. Ask about any restrictions, and obtain the proper kind of building permit. Make sure authorities understand the space will become living quarters and not a commercial space.

Step 2

Plan to use insulation with a high R-value in the roof areas and exterior walls to conserve energy. Make sure reflective panels are used on the roof area, since summer heat will be easily absorbed by non-reflective metal. Frame all living areas with 2-by-4-inch lumber boards once an interior layout has been decided. Leave exposed metal rafters, strictly for an artistic effect, in certain areas of the building.


Step 3

Add drywall throughout the building to enclose rooms. Install plumbing lines and electrical wiring before all walls are entirely sealed with drywall. Remember to add touches such as recessed lighting, a doorbell and a burglar alarm system before walls are entirely finished with drywall. Finish the drywall and paint it before installing bath and kitchen fixtures, plus kitchen appliances and cabinets.

Step 4

Finish up all interior drywall and trim, including crown molding and baseboards. Hang closet doors and interior doors. Build exposed wooden shelving or install built-in media cabinets next. Add plastic-coated wire shelving to walk-in closets and any pantry closets.


Step 5

Add hardwood flooring, tile over concrete and carpet in bedrooms and closets. Soften the look of concrete flooring, which a steel building will rest upon, using alternative flooring materials throughout the house. Leave some exposed concrete flooring and metal walls or framing to add high-tech visual interest. Utilize furnishings and fixtures that play up the high-tech style of a metal building.


Create a high-tech feeling by adding chrome accessories, stainless steel shelving and glass bricks. Think of ways to give the metal building a New York loft appeal. Use mirror tiles on walls, for example. Add sections of hardwood flooring planks on one or two accent walls. Use bright paint colors, such as red or bright yellow, to give hallways or bathrooms more pizazz.


Avoid building living quarters in a metal building that is not steel construction. Aluminum buildings, for example, may warp or get dents more easily. Don't invest in constructing a living space in an inferior metal building that could be damaged in a hail storm, for example.


references & resources

Judi Light Hopson

Judi Light Hopson is a national stress management expert and psychology issues writer. Her column on relationships, co-written with a nurse and a psychologist, is distributed by McClatchy Newspapers to over 300 major publications worldwide. Ms. Hopson has written for employee assistance programs that serve over 15% of America’s Fortune 500 companies. links provided below.