As barndominiums continue to grow in popularity, many would-be barndominium owners wonder: are barndominiums safe? These metal structures offer the perfect combination of living space with workspace and have various customization options to choose from at a fraction of the cost of a traditional house. And guess what? They also are incredibly durable and, in many cases, are safer than a conventional home. If you’ve been dreaming of becoming the homeowner of a barndominium but have held back due to questions around safety, prepare to have all your worries put to rest. Barndominiums stand the test of time and natural disasters in many cases, meaning you and your family can sleep soundly knowing you’re protected in an emergency.
Are Barndominiums Safe in Rain?
Unlike traditional homes that are built from mostly wood materials, metal barndominiums are constructed from steel frames and metal siding that keep them protected from water damage. This means these structures are also not susceptible to rot or other wood-related water ailments. When a heavy storm comes through, you can be at ease knowing that mold and mildew are not spreading through your home. The steel sheeting used in these metal structures is also galvanized, making them resistant to rust as well. As an added benefit, by protecting against water damage, the metal materials in this residential building also helps keep critters such as termites, ants, or other unwelcome pests away.
Are Barndominiums Safe in Lightning?
While lightning strikes are rarely a problem for any home, steel barndominiums may have additional safety benefits. It might be surprising to note that steel does not attract lightning. In fact, compared to other materials, metal has a lower electrical resistance. This means that if lightning does strike your home, the steel helps to spread out the heat of the strike and pass through the metal and into the ground. The steel materials used to build your barndo help protect the exterior, which also protects the interior. All your electronic appliances and the people inside are shielded from any harmful effects.
Are Barndominiums Safe in a Tornado?
Barndominiums are highly popular in tornado alley and rural areas, including Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri. This raises the question: are barndominiums safe in a tornado? It only stands to reason that homeowners living in this area of the United States would be highly concerned with the structural integrity of their homes. Barndominiums have an advantage over homes in the durability department. Constructed with metal, a barndo offers superior protection from severe weather. The steel structure of a steel barndominium has a higher wind resistance than a conventional wood frame home.
Tornadoes are rated using the Enhanced Fujita (EF) scale (effective since 2007):
EF0 – 65 to 85 mph winds
EF1 – 86 to 110 mph winds
EF2 – 111 to 135 mph winds
EF3 – 136 to 165 mph winds
EF4 – 166 to 200 mph winds
EF5 – over 200 mph winds
While the metal integrity of your home can endure a tornado, the windows and doors may not. Special windows have to be purchased that have a stronger design pressure rating. All that being said, it is still recommended that homeowners of barndos invest in a storm shelter in case of emergencies.
Read this story of a Worldwide Steel Building customer and how his building stood up to an EF2 tornado: Why Tornado Alley Chooses Worldwide Steel Buildings.
Are Barndominiums Safe in a Hurricane?
One severe weather event that includes various elements is a hurricane. Luckily, the barndominium has already proven to stand up to rain, lightning, and high winds. Hurricanes are categorized using the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. This scale is a 1 to 5 rating based on a hurricane’s sustained wind speed and estimates of potential property damage.
Category 1 – 74 to 95 mph winds
Category 2 – 96 to 110 mph winds
Category 3 – 111 to 129 mph winds
Category 4 – 130 to 156 mph winds
Category 5 – 157 mph and higher
Hurricanes designated Category 3 or higher are considered major hurricanes because of their potential for significant damage and loss of life. A barndominium is more likely to survive a Category 3 hurricane compared to a regular home. Similarly to tornados, while the structural integrity of your barndo is sound, the windows may not be. If you’re considering building a barndominium in an area where hurricanes are a concern, take into account the strength and durability of the windows and doors you select for your new home. Besides the risk of windows shattering due to strong winds, you also need to worry about damage from debris.
Are Barndominiums Safe in Fire?
A fire is a concern for any home, including metal barndominiums. While wood structures and steel structures can both last upwards of 50 to 100 years with proper care, wood building materials don’t compare to steel when it comes to outlasting a fire. No matter the cause, a significant fire can quickly take out the wood frame of a conventional home.
While fire is still a problem for barndominiums (especially if it gets inside), the steel posts, frame, and overall structure of the barndominium home are likely to stay intact. Steel weakens at temperatures of 500 degrees Fahrenheit and starts to melt at temperatures of 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. House fires typically reach temperatures around 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit. This is enough to weaken the metal frame but can still outlast wood materials. Steel is also fire-resistant, meaning your barndominium has a higher likelihood of being safe during extreme weather that can cause fires.
Build a Barndominium to Ride Out Life’s Storms
There are many advantages to choosing barndominium life as your forever home, including durability and safety in a variety of weather conditions. Metal barndominiums are low maintenance, cost-effective to build, have open floor plan options, have faster construction, and protect your valuables. When you want a durable, flexible design option to build your new home, a steel barndo may be the ideal choice. Get started creating your dream home by contacting Worldwide Steel Buildings. Our team of experts can help guide you through the whole process of building your own barndominium kit, from ideation to completion. Contact us today at (800) 825-0316.
Worldwide Steel building kits are designed under the assumption that you’re going to want to erect your new metal building on your own, maybe with some help from a small crew of friends or a local contractor. So we’ve designed our construction process to be super-simple, even if you’re not in the construction industry. As long as you have common sense and a couple more sets of arms willing to help you get the walls up, you can DIY the entire build. Most of our customers don’t even need to rent a crane or any other heavy equipment!
Our metal building systems are manufactured to make construction easy. Our trusses are pre-punched, our sheet metal attaches to purlins and girts with self-drilling, color-coded screws, and we include a step-by-step assembly manual to guide you through your unique building process, start to finish.
But – and this is a big but – just because our steel buildings are simple to erect doesn’t mean they’re accident-proof. You’re working with huge, heavy sheets of metal and tall steel beams, so site safety rules still apply. Here are just a few we consider non-negotiable.
1. Wear personal protective equipment (PPE)
The right clothing and safety equipment can mean the difference between a bandage and a hospital stay on a steel building construction site. Here’s what you’ll need to wear:
- A hard hat. Everyone on or near the steel building construction absolutely must wear an OSHA-approved hard hat, all the time. Even if you’re not actively building, there is always a risk of head injury due to falling objects.
- Boots. Always wear sturdy work boots. They should have good ankle support and no-slip rubber soles. We strongly recommend steel toe boots for peak safety.
- Gloves. Some of the sheet metal building materials can be sharp on the edges. Wear work gloves to protect your hands from lacerations.
- Goggles. Again, make sure they’re OSHA-approved and have a pair handy for anyone who is using a drill or a saw.
- Masks. You don’t need a mask when you’re working with steel, but you should have them on hand for when you’re working with insulating materials or wood trim.
2. Eliminate as many fall risks as possible
To us, this means doing as much work as you can on the ground. We think avoiding the possibility of a fall altogether is much safer than even the most thoughtful fall protection. If you do as much assembly as possible at ground level, you can then lift and install the components (like walls and roof panels) once they’re more complete. For the times when you absolutely need to be up high (every job has these, of course), you can continue to mitigate your risk. Things like ladder safety and avoiding roof work in windy or slippery conditions can go a long way.
3. Communicate with everyone working on the project
Whether you’ve hired help or just convinced your buddies to help you raise the walls on your steel building, everyone on site needs to take the project seriously. This means wearing the correct PPE, knowing how to handle the building components and erect the steel framing, and paying attention to what’s going on around them. Keep emergency numbers and a first aid kit available near or on site, and be sure everyone around the project knows where they are.
4. Keep the job site clean
Sound silly? It isn’t. A picked-up construction site is a safe work environment. Not only will clear work areas prevent falls and falling objects, they’ll allow clearer exit paths in case of an emergency (like a fire). This means keeping all your work surfaces clean and dry, sealing containers that you aren’t using, keeping all objects and tools off work surfaces, stairways and out of hallways, and putting all your equipment away when it isn’t in use.
5. Admit when you’re out of your depth
Thanks to all the resources available today, there’s a lot that can be DIYed. But sometimes, aspects of a steel building project really just call for a professional. Think complicated electric or HVAC installations that could benefit from some oversight from a more qualified person. Don’t be afraid to call for assistance in the form of a general contractor when you think you need it. You’ll end up safer and with a better building in the end … and yeah, you can still say you built it yourself!
For more information, safety protocols and steel building recommendations, download a copy of our Steel Building DIY Instructions. This guide comes with every metal building kit we send out, but we decided to make it available to you before you buy, too. It’s a sneak peek at the metal building construction process and a good way to figure out how much help you’ll need from a Worldwide Steel expert.