The misconception has been around for many years that steel is way more expensive than wood. It originated for many reasons. First, the quality of lumber was much better than it is today and it was much cheaper. Second, wood framers who attempted to build steel frame homes with no knowledge as to the structural strength of light gauge steel used an enormous amount of steel in their homes that was unnecessary.
Not understanding how strong steel is, they built their homes the same way they would with wood. The result was an enormous waste of material and a very expensive structure. Given these two reasons, one can see where the misconception arose that steel frame homes are more expensive than wood . But this is no longer the case.
Over the years, the cost of lumber has grown greatly while the quality of lumber has reduced significantly. Due to both the dwindling resource of first growth large trees used for quality wood studs and the environmental movement, which is limiting the availability of forests to timber, wood prices skyrocket while the quality of wood dwindles. Steel prices on the other hand remain mostly consistent.
The result is that construction prices are closer to the price of steel offering consumers a viable choice for the type framing to use in their homes. Furthermore, steel greatly outperforms wood in building construction and its quality. Since wood prices fluctuate often, while steel prices remain consistent, an actual price difference is difficult to determine. But the difference in price should never be great. Given the performance and quality of a steel frame home, it is a better LONG TERM VALUE for the consumers money than purchasing an inferior lower quality wood frame structure. In regards of value a steel frame tiny home is a good deal.
The steel on the Breathe Easy was $325 more and the weight was 1/3 less. On the Wildflower II, the steel is $435 more and the weight for the steel is 579 pounds less than the wood frame would have been. In tiny houses, I am convinced that weight is more of a consideration than costs. When you consider that for $435 you get a stronger, straighter, more durable structure that weighs less, is sustainable with less maintenance, green, and weighs less.
However, there is one down side to a steel framework, and it is a big one in MacMansions. Steel is a great conductor of hot and cold, so it will conduct the cold from a cold outside climate into a house, and also allow heat to be conducted. The steel industry is working hard for a solution, and that is why you always see steel framed structures with foam as sheathing. In a MacMansion, this could impact the fuel costs considerably. However, I have had several clients say that their downsizing more than offsets the increase energy to heat a steel framed tiny house.