As the name suggests, a grain bin house is built using an old grain bin – or silo – as the frame. For the uninitiated, grain bins are tall, round metal silos with conical roofs. These structures are mostly found in farms, however old ones are rarely in use. To prevent them from wasting away, many architects and builders have reused these silo house structures to give it a new life.
Since living space is getting harder to financially secure these days, to build a grain bin house can be a more affordable option. An existing grain bin can go for as low as $9,000, which is a significant price difference to what’s currently on the real estate market. Given that its structure is ready-to-go, all it needs is a little clean-up and minor renovations, which will still cost you less than a traditional home built from scratch.
Are you keen to build a home using a grain silo bin? Read on to find out more on how you can be the new owner of one.
Find The Right Bins
There are many grain bins in rural and farming communities that are not in use today. Most farmers use other methods of storing their corn, hay, grain, and other resources. It’s only a matter of finding one that suits you. You can find used grain bins in different sizes, and depending on the size, you can easily move them in one piece on a flatbed truck. If it’s too big, some bins can be taken apart and reconstructed on your land.
Certain states refer to these grain bins as ‘government bins’, which are around 18 feet in diameter and 18 feet tall. As they’re no longer commercially viable, these bins will be scrapped unless purchased. To get a hold of these bins, you can put an ad in farm magazines or find a local bin dealer. You can also try online marketplaces like Craigslist to see if anyone is selling them.
Planning a Grain Bin House Build
Grain bins are a good structure to build around. It can become a part of a larger unique home if you desire or storage buildings. Before building a grain silo home, it’s important that you plan out everything to avoid making large mistakes. Even though a grain bin is already structurally intact, it’s still a good idea to plan other parts of the home. For instance, a grain bin requires insulation to be lived in, especially if you live in colder areas.
Depending on the quality of your grain house build, you may also need to do some tweaking. Old grain bins might need some improvements. Check the roofs are securely fastened and that there are no leaks. Once the essentials are checked, you can then start working on the interior.
Installing Utilities for a Grain Bin House
Installing electric and water lines in a grain bin tiny homes can be tricky, due to its unconventional shape. However, your efforts will all be worth it! Keep in mind that if you are not an expert, you should always seek a professional’s help when installing utilities.
As grain bins are metal, it’s essential that you make the building safe from lighting strikes. It’s best to use industrial grounding rods and run separate copper grounding wires throughout the building. Lastly, to prevent pipes from freezing over, consider using polyethylene tubing instead of copper.
Interior Designing a Grain Bin House
Since the original state of grain bin houses have no interior walls, you get to let your creative side free on floor plans. It’s all up to you how many bedrooms and bathrooms the house can hold, and where the kitchen or living room should be in your diy tiny house. The division of space options are endless and you’ll get a super customized metal grain silo home that you can be proud of.
The round structure can be a new concept to grasp. Certain basic things like windows and doors may have to be given more thought. These will have to be modified to fit the curved nature of the exterior walls. According to Mother Earth News, you’ll need to install corrugated metal doors and windows using a modified bin “human door frame” designed for grain bins.
Benefits of a Grain Bin House
Apart from providing unique aesthetics, a grain bin house has several advantages over traditional homes.
Grain bins are environmentally-friendly, as you are directly reusing material that is otherwise going to be wasted. As opposed to building a stick-built home, grain bin houses require no additional major materials. You can even put a smaller bin inside your bin house that you can use for insulation, resulting in an even more energy-efficient home!
Metal grain bins are strong and durable. A curved form is actually considered a prestigious and expensive build and you can have all of that in an affordable grain bin.
Your new grain bin home can be very low-cost, especially if you buy a used one. Prices can vary depending on the cost of the steel, location, and season. However, these bins can cost as you as low as $30 per square foot. Remember that there are many factors that influence the price, so be sure to check out all your options before settling on one.
It’s easy to assemble
Luckily, most companies or people that sell grain bins can help in moving them as well. This is beneficial if your land is further away like in a small town of Iowa or Woodland, Utah. Bins that measure up to 36-feet wide can be moved by separating it into two sections. Smaller, 18-foot-wide bins can be tipped on their sides.
Are grain bin houses safe?
Our modern day grain bin houses are designed for people to live in. They are meant to be leakproof, but in fact they can be very dangerous. The most common way that they fail is through the steel pipes in the house. The pipes in these houses can freeze during the winter months, causing them to burst and causing the grain to spill out of the bin. Other reasons that they can fail are through failure of construction or when mice or rats chew on the wood siding of the house.
The design of these houses is pretty straight forward; there is a steel pipe going down from the top of the bin house down into a container for storing grain. The idea is that if a rodent gets into this pipe, it will freeze and burst open, causing a large amount of grain to spill out into a collection container below. These pipes are supposed to be covered with a metal screen that prevents leaks from occurring from outside sources such as rain or snow. If these pipes do get chewed on by rodents, water can still get inside through other holes in the pipe, which would cause it to burst and spill more grain out onto an area below.
The other common way that these houses fail is from rodents chewing on the wood siding of the house. Wood houses are not designed to withstand any kind of chewing, and if they are chewed on enough, they can come apart and fall over on the grain inside. This would cause a huge mess and a lot of grain to spill out onto the ground below. There are a few safety tips that can be taken to keep these houses safe from rodents and pests. The first thing that should be done is to put some sort of sealant around the bottom of the pipe that is going down into the bin house.
Sealant is commonly used in homes for keeping out moisture and keeping out insects from getting into pipes. It also has been found to work very well in keeping rodents out of pipes as well. It can be purchased at any home improvement store for less than $10 per gallon, so it is a very cheap solution to this problem. Sealant can also be used around other areas where mice may get in, such as around pipes, electrical wires, or even directly on top of siding. There are even some sealants made specifically for use on wood siding, which would make this part much easier. Another tip that can be taken is to put some sort of cover over the top of the bin house so that rain cannot get in and cause a leak. Rain is the main reason for most grain bin failures, and it is very important to keep this from happening. Grain bin house is also safe if the structures are installed according to code or with proper permits or inspections by local fire departments.
Grain bin houses are the perfect solution to more affordable prefab housing. Apart from being budget-friendly, these round homes are sustainable and you can expect them to last a long time. It may also be trickier to get utilities in and designing the interior can be a fun challenge. However, building a grain bin home like shipping container tiny houses will bring out your inner creative self out. After the work, the end result will give you a special and unique-looking homesteading home.