If you’re in the market for a low-cost, long-lasting, sustainable prefabricated home, you should consider purchasing a Quonset hut. This article explores the ins and outs of everything you need to know about buying a Quonset hut.
What's In This Article
What Is a Quonset Hut?
The Quonset hut design was developed in the U.S. in 1941 and became popular during World War II when they were mass-produced by the hundreds of thousands. The U.S. military chose it due to its lightweight frame that could be shipped worldwide and assembled without skilled labor. The original design was a steel structure measuring 16 feet by 36 feet with a long, rounded roof.
Today, the standard size is 20 feet by 48 feet with a 16-foot radius, allowing 960 square feet of usable floor space. However, smaller and larger sizes are available. For example, Quonset huts are available in a smaller size of 20 feet by 40 feet with 800 square feet of usable floor space. If you’re looking for more space, the larger 40 feet by 100 feet allows a maximum of 4,000 square feet of useable floor space.
They can easily be formatted into two-story homes or kept to a single-story with a majestic, soaring ceiling. They hold up well to extreme weather, can be insulated, and can last for up to 100 years or more if well-cared for.
The sides are constructed of corrugated steel sheets, and the two ends were typically covered with plywood. Although many homeowners today are opting for floor-to-ceiling glass windows for a stunning visual effect.
Visually, they look like half a cylinder, sliced lengthwise down the middle and laid flat on the cut. They were popular for use as warehousing units, although today they are employed in various uses, from commercial structures to temporary housing to luxury homes comparable to the popular barndominium kits.
How Much Does a Quonset Hut Cost?
The average cost per square foot for a Quonset hut varies, and many companies avoid placing prices on their website. However, for storage and garage usage, Quonset huts generally range from around $7 per square foot on the low end to $36 on the high end. These prices depend on the optional additions you may add to the structure and the size.
If you’re considering using Quonset huts as a housing option, then expect to pay more, as you will need to install appropriate insulation, electric, plumbing, sewage, and possibly heating and cooling systems. Still, Quonset homes come in considerably cheaper than standard stick-built homes and are competitive in the general prefabricated home market including other types of metal homes.
A residential us Quonset hut can cost anywhere from $30,000 to $400,000 once all costs are included. You will first need to purchase your land. Then you will likely need to pay someone to come in and professionally grade the site and pour a slab for the foundation and flooring. Then you can do it yourself or pay a local team to erect the shell.
The home will need to be insulated against the elements. Then either you or a local team will need to install the windows, doors, flooring, appliances, and other necessary features. The installation of utilities like plumbing, sewage, water, and electricity can cost anywhere from $1,000 to more than $30,000, depending on your local regulations and the building’s size.
Still, these prices are significantly lower than you would expect with the building of a traditional home. As a bonus, Quonset huts hold several advantages over traditional, stick-built homes.
Quonset Hut Advantages
Quonset huts have several advantages over traditional homes, such as their:
- Quick assembly
- Low maintenance
- Long-lasting construction
- Lower insurance and taxes
Once you consider each of these advantages and weigh them against the standard traditional home, you may be ready to invest in a Quonset hut as your new home or holiday cottage.
When you’re considering the costs associated with a Quonset hut home, you should know what your alternative options cost. For example, you may be comparing Quonset huts to traditional stick-built homes, or you may be comparing them to prefabricated homes in general.
In the U.S., housing prices can vary wildly by state and city. But the current median home price per square foot is roughly $123, according to realtor.com. However, some areas can demand much higher prices, even thousands of dollars. If you have your location selected, you can easily find the average home price in your area for a more accurate comparison.
The average U.S. prefabricated home costs between $30 and $150 per square foot, depending on the quality, the number of rooms, and whether assembly is included. If you need to pay for the foundation, assembly, water well, septic tank, and electrical and plumbing installation, then you should expect to pay at least $90 per square foot.
However, building a Quonset hut home for as little as $30,000 is an attractive offer. Of course, if you opt for luxury finishes and install hardwood floors, granite countertops, floor-to-ceiling windows, and an in-ground pool, you can expect that number to climb rapidly. Still, your costs will likely come in far below a traditional home with the same luxury features.
Quonset huts are very quick and easy to erect. This is one of the reasons they’re soaring in popularity among the DIY crowd. Four unskilled laborers — such as you, your partner, and two of your friends — can typically assemble a Quonset hut house in just a few days. It’s likely that you already own the necessary tools or can borrow them from a friend, and the necessary prep work isn’t particularly extensive.
In addition to low cost and quick assembly, the low maintenance of Quonset huts is another advantage that many homeowners find attractive. The low maintenance will reduce your future costs, saving you even more money on your Quonset hut home.
Quonset huts are some of the strongest buildings in the world. They’re built of commercial-grade steel, and the arch design creates additional strength that stands up impressively well to extreme weather such as strong winds, hail, storms, heavy snow, fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes.
You would expect such a stable structure to also come with an equally stable lifespan. You won’t be disappointed to learn that the Quonset home’s average life expectancy is around 80 years.
Sustainable Green Buildings
Many homebuyers today are interested in making their abodes green and sustainable. This is a particularly easy task when building a Quonset hut house. Many Quonset hut manufacturers offer environmentally friends buildings made from recycled steel.
Steel is an incredibly sustainable material, as it loses none of its quality during the recycling process. This means that steel can be recycled endlessly. Many other materials can only be recycled a finite number of times before they lose structural properties. In fact, when we recycle one ton of steel, we help prevent the mining of 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,400 pounds of coal, and 120 pounds of limestone — that 4,020 pounds of materials that won’t need to be mined!
Additionally, it’s relatively easy to hook your new Quonset hut house up with additional eco-friendly features, such as solar panels, double-glazed windows, insulation, and low-flow showerheads. Not only will these features cut down on your carbon footprint, but they’ll also save you money on your monthly bills.
Lower Insurance and Taxes
One advantage of Quonset huts that few are aware of is the lower insurance and taxes associated with these homes. In addition, Quonset huts often qualify for tax breaks for the use of recycled materials — such as steel.
Due to Quonset huts being so incredibly strong, stable, and resistant to extreme weather, you may find that your insurance rates are lower on your new home. Insurance companies certainly prefer homes that are more durable and resistant to “Acts of God.”
Clear-Span is just one of many Quonset hut manufacturers. They do their best to keep the costs down while offering a variety of building options for a range of uses. Clear-Span structures feature lots of natural light, spacious interior designs, and minimal foundation requirements.
Building a Quonset Hut
When it comes to building your Quonset hut home, there are some tasks that can be completed simultaneously and some that must be completed sequentially. Learn how to build a Quonset hut in a DIY manner.
First, you’ll want to purchase the Quonset Hut structure and the land upon which it will be erected.
Next, you will likely need to hire someone to professionally grade the site. Once this has been completed, you may hire someone or DIY the next step: pouring the foundation. If you have plenty of time on your hands and you’re fairly handy, you may decide to attempt this step on your own or with a few friends. However, if you’re trying to save time, this may be an area to splurge on and hire professional concrete pourers.
Once the foundation has been poured, it will need to undergo a curing process. While it won’t reach its full strength for between 28 and 60 days, you can begin building once the foundation is about 50% cured. For proper curing, the temperature should be warmer than 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and the temperature should remain somewhat stable. Temperatures over 50 degrees can reduce the necessary curing time.
Once the foundation has sufficiently cured, then you can begin to erect the shell of your Quonset hut home. Many people choose to do this part themselves, but if you aren’t a DIY type of person, then you can easily hire someone to put it up for you. If you’re doing this with a team of three friends, you can expect to complete this step in just a few days. Although if your structure is particularly large, it may take longer.
After the structure is complete, then it’s time to consider working on the inside — insulation, electric, plumbing, water, heating and cooling, sewage, and septic systems will need to be installed to make your Quonset hut home feel liveable, of course, some people may be able to exclude certain systems from their plans. For example, if you’re lucky enough to live in a warm, temperate climate, then you may have the luxury of excluding heating and cooling systems from your design.
Once these systems have been installed, you can begin to consider internal design features, such as walls, countertops, tiling bathrooms, and hard flooring. You may also begin to install features such as sinks, showers, and bathtubs. You will also begin to install your windows and doors.
Once the doors and windows are in, you’ll want to bring in your selected appliances.
It’s generally a good idea to save carpet installation for the end of the project after the drywalling and painting have been completed to keep your new carpet clean.
Finally, you can begin to bring in your furniture and begin the move-in process, making the space your own.
Quonset Hut Foundations
The most popular choice of foundations for a metal building like a Quonset hut is a concrete slab foundation.
If you’re planning to place your Quonset hut in an area with wind uplift, then you may need to consider a heavy foundation or a foundation with deep footings to lessen the effect of wind uplift on your building.
You should speak with the manufacturer of your Quonset hut to see what kind of foundation they recommend for your particular structure. Some units may require deeper excavations for the proper foundation. It’s important to get the foundation right the first time, or it could negatively impact the structural integrity of your home.
Quonset Hut Insulation Options
Your insulation decisions will be based upon both the usage of the building and its location. For example, if you only plan to visit your lake house in the summer, you may not worry much about insulating against the cold weather. Likewise, if you live in a warmer, temperate climate, your insulation needs will be much different than a home that experiences scorching summers and freezing winters.
Aside from heating and cooling effects and lowering your home’s energy costs, insulation can offer other benefits, such as sound control. For example, adding insulation to your metal Quonset hut reduces the sound transmission between the interior and exterior walls, which can add to your quality of life by reducing noise pollution.
If you plan to use your Quonset hut as your primary residence, then insulation will be a necessity. But, of course, there are many uses for a Quonset hut outside of residential usage.
Quonset Hut Uses
While Quonset huts have recently soared in popularity as residential structures, there are also many other uses for these versatile structures. Some of the other uses can include:
- Pool house
- Kids’ playhouse
- Hunting lodge
- Vacation home
- Airplane hangar
The uses for a Quonset hut are limited by nothing but your imagination! But, if you can dream it up, it can probably be accomplished.
Arch Steel Buildings vs. Quonsets
When people research Quonset huts, they quickly run into arch steel buildings. So often, people are confused about the difference between the two and are left wondering what the pros and cons of the two options are. The truth is, they’re pretty much the same thing. A Quonset hut is a type of arch steel building.
Best Quonset Hut Suppliers
Once you have committed to the idea of a Quonset hut, you’re likely left wondering where you should purchase your Quonset hut. We’ve listed the five top Quonset hut suppliers so that you can choose the best one for your needs.
PowerBilt Steel Buildings
PowerBilt Steel Buildings are one of the top manufacturers of Quonset huts in the U.S.A. they offer a variety of buildings by industry. They’re also the first steel arch builders to receive Government Services Administration approval. In addition, they meet requirements for the U.S. armed services and the Federal Prison System.
Their steel Quonset hut structures are 100% made and manufactured in America — in Steel City itself, Pittsburgh, PA. Their designs all come with a 30 year and six-month warranty. They use a heavy commercial galvalume coated steel in their Quonset huts that has been tested under the harshest weather conditions on the planet.
Curvco Steel Buildings
Curvco Steel Buildings are also manufactured in America and distributed around the world. They use the finest commercial-grade U.S. prime steel in their Quonset huts. They have a variety of building types to cater to various usages. They advertise that their Quonset huts can be used as prefabricated homes and many other usages.
Curvco buildings can meet any requirements for commercial, industrial, residential, or agricultural applications. They can also customize facilities for unique solutions that aren’t featured on their website.
Pioneer Steel Buildings
Pioneer Steel Buildings have been around for 40 years and focus on providing Canadians with high-quality pre-engineered steel buildings. These buildings can be used for various uses, including agricultural, residential, recreational, industrial, and commercial uses.
Pioneer uses super-tough Galvalume Plus steel in their constructions. As a result, their steel buildings are incredibly durable and rugged and can withstand extreme weather conditions. In addition, their constructions are affordable, easy to install, maintenance-free, eco-friendly, and long-lasting.
SteelMaster Buildings creates steel buildings for every person’s needs. They’re a U.S.A. based company that creates steel arch buildings for a variety of needs and uses. They have also been in business for 40 years, and they do business worldwide. They have buildings in every American state and buildings on six continents in over 40 countries. They’ve sold over 50,000 buildings to commercial, industrial and residential clients. Their buildings have been used for any use you can imagine.
SteelMaster offers disaster-resistant buildings as well as eco-friendly structures. In addition, they have an extensive collection to browse and provide prefabricated kits for the DIY crowd.
Metal Building Kings
Metal Building Kings offer fast, reliable quality service on their custom metal structures, including steel arch Quonset huts. Additionally, they offer worldwide delivery and installation of their products. Their structures are made in America and come with a 40-year warranty.
Their steel structures are manufactured in North America and tested to withstand extreme weather conditions, including 170 MPH winds. They’re made of 14 to 22 gauge Galvalume steel with an 80,000 KSI tensile yield. The carbon steel is coated aluminum-zinc alloy to offer maximum lifespan and strength.