What Is a Shouse? Discover these 4 Advantages of Living in a Shop House

If you frequently travel through rural areas, you have likely seen a shouse or two. Shouses are one of the latest real estate trends, thanks to the lower cost of construction and unique features.

So, what is a shouse? Here is everything you need to know about these alternatives to traditional single-family homes.

What Is a Shouse

A Shouse Is a Shop House

The term “shouse” combines shop and house. It is a type of home used for centuries by tradespeople who wanted to keep their work close to home. Blacksmiths and tailors could save time and keep a better eye on their inventory.

Modern shouses include the same basic concept. The typical shouse is a residential property with a workshop, garage, or storage shed connected to the living area. People often use the terms “shouse” and “barndominium” interchangeably. However, shouses and barndominiums are two separate types of properties.

Shouses include a workshop or garage while barndominiums include a barn. Yet, both options are typically built with metal frames using post-frame construction.

Common Features of a Shouse

Shouses are often built from the ground up based on the needs of the homeowner. You can choose from a wide range of designs or work with a professional builder to construct the perfect home.

While you can choose from a variety of options, shouses tend to include several common features:

  • Living quarters with attached workshop or garage
  • Post-frame construction (often with a metal frame)
  • Non-load-bearing walls
  • In-floor heating and slab foundations

No two homes are identical. You can build a single-story or two-story shouse. You can also make your home incredibly large or small. The options are endless when building a shouse instead of a standard home.

Shouses Often Have Living Quarters with Attached Workshop

The most common feature of a shouse is the “shop.” The attached workshop is suitable for a wide range of applications, including:

  • Conducting a trade
  • Hobbies
  • Vehicle or equipment storage

The original use of a shop house was to combine the workplace with living quarters. The attached workshop is perfect for tradespeople with their own equipment. Instead of driving to a separate location each day, you can simply walk across the house.

Instead of using the extra space for work, some shouse owners use it for hobbies. You have a dedicated space to set up equipment or store supplies. Some of the potential uses for a workshop include woodworking, metalwork, sculpting, furniture making, brewing, and repairing equipment or vehicles.

Most Shouses Are Built with Post Frame Construction

Shouses are often built using post-frame construction, which is the same type of construction used for pole barns and other large commercial or industrial structures. You can use post-frame construction (pole framing) with wood or metal frames. A metal frame offers enhanced structural integrity.

A sturdy home is essential when you live away from the city, especially if dust storms or tornadoes are common in the area. Open fields can leave your property vulnerable to stronger winds. Luckily, shouses are often highly durable. Strong winds are less likely to damage the frame, metal siding, or metal roofing.

The Frame of a Shouse May Allow for Non-Load-Bearing Walls

With post-frame construction, the frame can typically support the roof or a second floor without the need for load-bearing balls. Without load-bearing walls, the interior is a blank canvas.

The living area inside a shouse resembles any other home. The interior is typically framed with wood framing. Drywall is hung on the walls and ceiling. However, you can add almost any type of floor plan.

Post-frame buildings also provide greater flexibility. You have more space between posts, which allows for wider windows and doors.

Shouses Are Often Built on Slab Foundations

Shouse on slab foundation

Shouses are typically built on slab foundations, as the concrete slab can support the metal frame, which increases the stability of the structure. Slab foundations are typically five to six inches deep. The posts are anchored to the sides of the foundation.

To improve the energy efficiency of the home, shouses also often include in-floor heating. The heating element is installed between the slab and the ground floor to protect against colder ground temperatures.

Where Can You Build a Shouse?

The typical design of a shouse may not match the building requirements for residential properties in every region. For example, urban and suburban areas often have restrictions on the types of properties you can build in residential neighborhoods.

Metal buildings may not be allowed in all areas. The workshop portion of the shouse may also fail to adhere to local standards. For example, the workshop portion may be considered an attached structure.

In residential areas, attached structures need to be set further back than the main property and cannot exceed a certain size. Luckily, shouses are often permitted in rural areas, especially in regions that are zoned for both commercial and residential use.

Why Choose a Shouse Over a Traditional Home?

The unique features of a shouse provide many advantages over traditional dwellings. The metal frame and non-load bearing walls allow for greater flexibility and increased stability.

Some of the reasons to consider building a shop house include:

  • Lower costs
  • Open floor plans
  • Large ceilings
  • More space for storage or work
Shouse large ceilings

Here is a closer look at these advantages.

Building a Shouse May Cost Less

Building a shouse should cost less compared to building a standard home. The base materials for constructing the frame, outer walls, and roof may cost $10 to $40 per square foot. However, you also need to add furnishings to make your property livable.

You can expect to pay $50 to $120 per square foot for a fully furnished shouse. The average cost of building a traditional home is between $100 and $200 per square foot.

Keep in mind that prices vary from region to region. The cheapest states to build a new home include Oklahoma, Mississippi, Nebraska, Arkansas, and Michigan. The most expensive states include Hawaii, California, Washington, Massachusetts, and Alaska.

The affordability of a shouse makes them an attractive option for vacation properties. For example, if you have land that you use for fishing or hunting, a shouse may be more advantageous compared to a traditional home. Due to the lower cost of construction, you may also be able to build a larger home by choosing a shouse design over a standard wood stud frame design.

Shouses Can Have Open Floor Plans and Taller Ceilings

As mentioned, without load-bearing walls, the inside of a shouse can accommodate almost any floor plan. You can have large, open rooms.

The frame of a shouse is often built with taller levels compared to stud frame homes. The metal frames support taller heights. Taller ceilings may also be necessary for the workshop area. For example, you may need taller ceilings to bring in vehicles or equipment. Shouses have an average height of 12 to 20 feet per level while the standard ceiling height for residential homes is just 9 feet.

Shouses Offer More Storage Space

One of the main advantages of a shouse is the extra space that you gain. You can use the workshop for hobbies, work, or storage.

While you can add a garage or shed to almost any property, shouses are more convenient. Your workshop is connected to your living quarters. You do not need to walk across the yard. Depending on the layout of the shouse, you may be able to go from the living room, kitchen, or main hallway to the workshop.

The time that you save gives you more time to work on your hobbies or profession. You may also enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your equipment and supplies are on your property instead of stored at another location.

How Do You Build a Shouse?

The process for building a shouse includes many of the same steps involved in building a traditional home:

  • Determine your budget
  • Find land for your shouse
  • Choose blueprints or a builder
  • Develop a construction plan
  • Receive an appraisal for your plan
  • Obtain financing
  • Start construction

Shouses are often built using blueprints purchased online, shouse building kits, or a professional builder/contractor. Hiring a contractor reduces the risk of mistakes and eliminates the hassle of coming up with a construction plan.

You need a detailed construction plan before applying for a loan to build a shouse. Lenders also typically require the construction plan to be appraised by a professional appraiser.

Construction starts with site preparation. Developers often need to clear trees and vegetation from empty lots before they start building. You may also need to level the land. The foundation is constructed after you finish preparing the site. As mentioned, most shouses are built on slab foundations. You can also build a shouse on basement foundations, but the process involves more work to ensure that the posts are properly set.

After pouring the foundation, the frame is erected. The roof, outer walls, and siding are added next, followed by the major mechanical and electrical systems. The plumbing and electrical work is often installed before completing the interior.

Finishing the shouse involves framing the interior, hanging drywall, and installing the flooring. Light fixtures, countertops, and cabinets are often added toward the end.

How Do You Finance the Construction of a Shouse?

Building a shouse often involves obtaining a construction loan, which is a type of short-term loan used to finance the construction of a real estate project. Depending on the lender and type of construction loan, the loan may cover the purchase of land.

After approving a construction loan, lenders send out payments to cover each stage of construction. During construction, you do not make payments on the principal balance of the loan. You only pay interest on the funds released by the lender to cover construction costs. The original loan balance is repaid after the construction is completed.

Stand-Alone vs. Construction-to-Permanent Loans

There are two main types of construction loans: stand-alone loans and construction-to-permanent loans. Stand-alone loans simply cover the construction. After the project is completed, you need to pay off the loan, typically by obtaining a mortgage. A construction-to-permanent loan saves you the hassle of needing to obtain a separate loan. After the construction is complete, the construction loan is automatically converted into a mortgage.

While shouses tend to cost less compared to traditional homes, financing can be a challenge. Lenders may worry about the resale value of the property, as shouses are not the most common choice for a residence.

You may need to shop around to find lenders that permit construction loans for metal buildings. This is more common with farm banks and specialized lenders. Having a large down payment can also increase your chances of getting approved for a construction loan. Lenders typically prefer applicants to have 20% to 30% available for down payments on construction loans.

If you have less available for a down payment, you may qualify for an FHA construction loan or a VA construction loan. Both options are intended for low-income households and come with extra restrictions but do not require a high credit score or large down payment.

Construction loan

Conclusion | What Is a Shouse?

A shouse (shop house) is a type of home that includes an attached workshop or garage. It is also typically built with post-frame construction and a metal frame, which leads to many extra benefits.

Shouses tend to have non-load-bearing walls and sturdy frames that provide more options when choosing the layout of the rooms and hallways. You can create an open floor plan or add rooms with tall ceilings.

The one drawback to a shouse is its uniqueness. You are unlikely to find existing shouses that meet your needs, which is why most shouses are built from the ground up. If you want to build a shouse, take the time to find a qualified contractor or building company. While you can buy a shouse building kit, working with a contractor ensures that your new home complies with local building codes.

In the end, shouses are a great alternative to traditional homes when you want more space for work or hobbies.

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