Shop House

Building kits, design ideas & plans for modern Shouse homes

A steel prefab building is THE solution for your new shop house (Shouse). The integrated live-work structure is economical, requiring only one foundation and one structure. You can customize your home and its attached workshop space to your unique needs.

Start your project with competing quotes from leading US & Canadian suppliers.

Modern shop house - 3 bedroom
Modern 3 Bedroom Shop House Design
Made in USA
Solid Steel
30 Yr Warranty
Custom Engineered

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What is a Shouse?

A Shouse (shop + house) is a durable building that combines residential and commercial or workshop spaces under one roof.

Built with commercial-grade metal framing and sheeting, these buildings are energy-efficient and can be customized to fit your specific needs.

With open-plan living spaces, high ceilings, and ample storage, Shouses are popular with anyone who needs a living space and workspace in one location.

Average Cost to build a Shouse $50 - $120 per square foot

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Why choose a shop house?

American-made, I-Beam steel framing, custom-engineered in factories across North America.

Shomes offer a huge range of structural options in a pre-engineered bolt-together kit. The home-portion of the shop house can be one configuration and style, with the attached workshop section having its own customizations and configuration.

You can use a professional erection crew, or you might want to go DIY. Many buyers choose to self-build - making these structures an extremely economical live-work option.

This durable, pest-proof, rot-proof structure will add to your property’s equity. Structural warranties are 30+ years.

And this could be a big plus: you can quickly and easily adapt to future growth. Simply remove the end wall sheeting, pour a new concrete slab and add additional workspace. Be sure to specify 'expandable end walls' when ordering if this is a possibility.

A fast to build, economical & flexible housing choice

  • Economical, simple construction
  • Fast times from start to occupancy
  • Engineered to meet your local codes
  • Reduced maintenance costs with steel
  • Max. usable clear span interiors
  • Easy expansion, any time in the future
  • Highly customizable
  • Reduced fire risk of metal structure
  • Warranties of 30yrs+ (frame & paint)

What's included in a shop house kit?

All metal Shouse kits come with pre-engineered primary steel I-beams, secondary framing, and pre-painted metal roofing and siding. The framed openings for doors and windows can be customized to your specifications, and detailed Shouse plans and assembly instructions are included.

  • What's included:


    • Steel I-Beam framing
    • Steel roof & wall panels (26ga)
    • Complete trim package
    • Two framed door openings
    • Foundation anchor bolt plans
    • Engineer stamped plans
    • Building kit delivery
    • Installation instructions
    • All bolts, flashing & sealants

    Framing for Pre-Engineered Steel Building
    I-beam steel framing
  • Features

    Benefit from:

    • Bolt-up construction
    • Trussless roof design
    • Clearspan widths to 300'
    • Certified to 160 MPH wind
    • Certified to 110 PSF snow
    • 30+ year warranty
    • Fast, free delivery
    • Fast build time

  • Customization

    Custom options:

    Doors - Choose overhead doors, rollup, sliding or bifold doors.

    Roof profile & pitch - Adjust the gable roof pitch or select a single-slope, gambrel, or monitor profile

    Insulation - Opt for vinyl-faced fiberglass, spray foam, or insulated metal panels (IMPs).

    Structural upgrades - Add porches, overhangs, a carport lean-to, or a mezzanine for loft storage.

  • Exclusions

    Items not included:

    • Permits
    • Foundation
    • Installation
    • Insulation
    • Interior build out

Popular shop house sizes

Featured below are some popular Shouse sizes and designs to get you started and provide you with configuration ideas.

For additional design inspiration, view our full collection of Shouse Floor Plans that include layouts for 1,2 3, and 4-bedroom homes.

Alternatively, create your own space by using your own custom design to best suit your specific 'live work' needs.

30x40 Designs (1 & 3 beds)

A single-story 30x40 metal building with living quarters has sufficient floor space for a one-bedroom, one-bathroom home and 600 sq ft of workspace, and a two-story home can be configured with a two-bedroom apartment on top with 1,200 sq ft of shop space on the ground level. Consider adding a lean-to for additional outdoor covered storage space. Discover why shop houses are becoming increasingly popular as modern live-work properties.

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40x60 Designs (2, 3, 4 & 5 beds)

At 2,400 square feet, a 40x60 metal building can be configured as a single-story, two-bedroom or two-story, three-bedroom shop house. Both options offer an expansive 1,200 square feet of clear-span workshop space. View our most popular configurations.

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40x80 Designs (2, 3 & 4 bedrooms)

A spacious 40x80 metal building transforms into your dream live-work space. Design a single or two-story layout with 2-4 bedrooms and 1,200-2,000 sq ft of open workshop area. Explore our sample designs and start customizing your ideal layout.

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50x80 Designs (2, 4 & 5 bedrooms)

A 50x80 shop home with a single level offers sufficient floor space for a 2,000 sq ft shop, and a two-level building provides up to 4,000 sq ft of workspace; both configurations can easily accommodate living space with three bedrooms, open-concept living areas and large kitchens.

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Shouse floor plans & shop house plans

Explore our collection of free Shouse floor plans designed to meet the diverse needs of both hobbyists and business owners looking for a live-work residence. Our goal is... Read more »

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The Construction Process

Red iron building - build process

How to build a shop house

  • Step 1: Planning

    Good planning can save you money, time, and stress. Consider all factors when determining how much live-work space you will need currently and in the future. You don’t want to be working or living in cramped conditions, thinking, “I only wish I’d……”

    Determine Requirements

    The first step is to decide on the amount of square footage for the workshop portion and then how many bedrooms you want in the living quarters. Most Shouse buildings are split evenly between the workshop and living space; for example, you might have a 1,200-square-foot workspace with 1,200 square feet of living space.

    Go as big as you can afford and try to anticipate future requirements. That is the most economical way to go. But one of the major benefits of pre-engineered structures is that you can expand them relatively easily if you outgrow your current space.

    Decide on a Budget

    Be sure to carefully prepare your budget before you begin the design of your shop home. The building package ranges from $15 to $25 per square foot. Then you should consider the layout of the shop house, foundations, permitting, building erection, interior framing, and finishing. The finished shop house portion could total $120 per square foot or more, depending on the degree of finish you choose. The good news is the workspace portion will be significantly less due to the lack of interior finishing required; this portion will range from $30 to $60/sq ft.

    Pick a Shop House Size

    This will depend greatly on how many square feet will be required for the work area and how many rooms you need in the residential portion.

    Buildings are available anywhere from 1,200 square feet to several thousand square feet.

    Pre-engineered building widths start at 30 feet and increase in 10-foot increments, with no restriction on the length. Bay spacing along the sidewall of the structure is either 20’ or 25’.

    The most common sizes for metal shops with living quarters include:

    • A single-story 40x60 with 1,200 square feet of workspace and 1,200 square feet of living accommodation, and
    • a two-story three-bedroom 50x80 with 2,750 sq ft of workshop space.

    See our main workshop page for details on typical shop sizes and layouts.

    Size and layout considerations:

    • Do you need a full-height work area? If so, consider an apartment loft-style configuration, with the workspace to the side of the living space.
    • What clearance heights will you need for overhead doors?
    • What interior clearance will be required?
    • Do you want a second-level mezzanine that looks out over the space below?
    • Do you want a shop with living quarters above?
    • Will you be using car lifts? If so, you will need a minimum eave height of 12’.
    • How many bays (20’ or 25’ wide) will you need?
    • Will you need a separate half-bathroom in the work area? If so, allow approx. 25 sq ft.
    • Will you need office space? If so, allow approximately 80-120 sq ft.
    • Are you looking for an open-concept living space?
    • Will you need a mudroom or shower stall between the work space and the home?

    Popular Shouse Home Sizes:

    Single Story

    Bedrooms Size Shop Area Home Area
    1 Bedroom 30x40 600 sq ft 600 sq ft
    2 Bedroom 40x60 1,200 sq ft 1,200 sq ft
    3 Bedroom 50x80 2,200 sq ft 1,800 sq ft
    4 Bedroom 50x100 1,800 sq ft 3,200 sq ft

    Two Story

    Bedrooms Size Shop Area Home Area Configuration
    1 Bedroom 30x40 1,200 sq ft 600 sq ft Loft apartment
    3 Bedroom 40x60 1,200 sq ft 2,400 sq ft Half & half
    3 Bedroom 50x80 2,750 sq ft 2,500 sq ft Side-by-side
    4 Bedroom 50x100 3,500 sq ft 3,000 sq ft 70/30%

    What Height Do You Need?

    For single-story shop houses, this will largely depend on the clearances you require for the workshop. For example, will you need large 14-foot or 16-foot overhead doors? The height of a metal structure is measured at the eave, and door openings need a 2' clearance between the top of the door and the eave. To accommodate car lifts, most workshops will need a minimum door height of 12' and will require a 14’ eave height.

    How Many Framed Openings?

    Walk doors and overhead doors each require their own framed opening. Determine the number and size of the framed openings you will need. Due to the extra steel required for framed openings, each of these will add to the final cost of your structure.

    Will I Need a Building Permit?

    Yes, you will need a permit to build. Once you've decided on the dimensions and where the structure will be erected, contact your local building department to start the permitting process. The more details you can provide, the easier and faster the process will be. If you are using a general contractor, they will pull all the necessary permits on your behalf.

    Our suppliers specialize in engineering buildings to withstand high winds, heavy snowfall, and seismic activity. They use the latest technology and engineering techniques to ensure that your structure meets all local codes in both the United States and Canada.

    For further details, see our page on building permits & codes

    A Critical Decision BEFORE Placing Your Order

    When ordering your primary framing columns, you can choose between tapered or straight profiles. Tapered columns are less expensive, but straight columns create a neater finish if you're planning to add interior wall finishes. Straight columns also make better use of interior space. Most steel frame buildings don't have interior wall finishes, so most companies will provide the less expensive tapered columns unless you request straight columns. Keep this in mind when placing your order.

    Read our article on planning a construction project for more details.

    Do You Require Financing?

    Some lenders may not be familiar with this type of structure. If you are interested in learning more about the various financing possibilities for a Shophouse, see our page on financing a prefab building for more details.

  • Step 2: Design

    You don't need to hire an architect. Our suppliers will work with you to implement your layout ideas and will provide you with a complete set of engineering designs for construction.

    With some creativity, you can easily design your Shome to reflect any style you desire - be it ranch style or contemporary modern. This can be achieved with choices for roof profiles, color combinations, door options, and other customizations.

    For inspiration, view our collection of custom shop house designs and layouts.

    Pick a Roof Style

    Gable roof profiles are by far the most popular option. Typical pitches range from 1:12 to 4:12. Higher pitches are available but require custom engineering. Shed (single-slope) roof profiles are also popular if you want a more modern design. These usually have a 1:12 or 2:12 pitch. Read our metal roofs, styles, and pitches guide for more details.

    Design a Floor Plan For The Living Quarters

    Once you know the square footage you need for your living quarters, research sample plans online to find the best layout. Take a copy of your preferred choices and have a designer tweak these to fit your available floor space.

    As a starting point, see our collection of  Shouse floor plans for inspiration and sizing ideas.

    Choose Custom Options

    Get your shop house configured precisely the way you want it. Specify the number, size, and placement of doors and windows. Add a lean-to for extra covered storage or parking, add covered deck spaces, and a mezzanine level in the work area, etc.

    Some of the most common customizations include:

    Color Combinations: You can select the metal roof and siding colors as part of the standard package. All our suppliers provide pre-painted, 26-gauge, PBR metal siding and roof panels in 12–20 basic colors and extra specialty colors.

    Doors and Windows: Your supplier will have a selection of standard doors and windows. Or you may prefer to look locally for brands and styles that go with your preferred aesthetic.

    Siding Options: All kits have pre-painted, 26-gauge metal siding as standard, but you may switch this out for Hardie plank, stucco, or faux stone panels.

    Structural Additions: Choose from roof overhangs, covered porches, wrap-around porches, covered deck spaces, or an attached lean-to carport.

    For additional details on customization options, see our customizations page.

  • Step 3: Ordering

    After you have settled on your new Shouse's size, layout, style, and design, the next step will be to get quotes. This is where BuildingsGuide can assist with your project. You give us some details in our quote request form; we then match you with the FOUR most suitable, vetted suppliers, who then provide you competing quotes for your metal home kit package.

    Once you decide on a supplier, you will pay a deposit (usually about 20-30%) and sign a contract. The manufacturer will then begin engineering YOUR custom structure. About 2-3 weeks later, you will receive a set of building and foundation/anchor bolt plans stamped by an engineer licensed for your state. Detailed engineering plans are included in the price, but some suppliers charge extra for foundation plans. Be sure to clarify this with your chosen supplier.

    With plans in hand, you can now get quotes from local subcontractors (or a general contractor) for the foundation and erection of the building. You will also be able to contact your local building department to start the permit process and talk to lenders if you require financing.

  • Step 4: Pre-Construction

    Site Preparation

    Careful site preparation is critical to the success of any construction project. Many factors must be considered when constructing a shop house on your property, including:

    • Setbacks and easements.
    • Clearing the job site.
    • The ability of the ground to support the structure.
    • Access to utilities and how far these have to be run.
    • Add more fill, grading, and compacting.
    • Pull permits and run services to the job site.

    Pour the Foundation

    • Your new structure will require a slab-on-grade foundation.
    • This is your responsibility. The foundation and anchor bolts are not included in the package. Allow $4-$8 per square foot for the foundation.
    • Permitting and code compliance necessitate a structural engineer-designed foundation plan. You will need to engage a licensed structural engineer for this.
    • Unless you have substantial foundation installation knowledge, it is STRONGLY recommended you have the foundation poured by a professional crew.
    • Have utilities laid and roughed in.
    • Consider adding in-floor heating before the pour.

    Read our guide to foundations for more details.

  • Step 5: Construction

    Delivery Day

    Your metal building kit package will be delivered somewhere between 1 and 4 months after your order.

    You’ll need lifting equipment at the site to offload the structural components and a place to store everything safely and out of the elements. The final balance of the payment will usually be due upon delivery.

    See our page on prepping for delivery for more details.

    Three Options for Construction

    Complete DIY: Buildings supplied by our distributors include detailed plans and instructions. You will take care of permitting, pouring the foundation, erecting the building, installing wiring, plumbing, insulation, and all interior finishing. This route could save 20-30% on the total construction cost. On the negative side, a lot can go wrong when you may not have the skills or knowledge to do the best job.

    You act as the general contractor: You hire and manage the various sub-contractors required for the foundation, erection, interior finishing, etc. This will save you the GC fees.

    Hire a General Contractor (GC): You contract a GC to arrange and manage all the subcontractors. This is the most expensive option and best suited for those without previous construction experience or if you require a short construction timeframe. GCs typically charge 10-20% of the project cost, but you can benefit considerably from their experience and the Shouse ideas they bring to the project.

    A GC's local connections may also help with a quicker permit approval process. Try to find a GC with previous experience in erecting pre-engineered shophouse buildings.

    Read our construction guide for more details. on the construction process and what to expect.

  • Step 6: Finishing

    Add Insulation

    In almost every location, sound insulation is necessary for your comfort in cold and warm weather. Over time, the investment in good insulation will yield worthwhile - possibly dramatic - savings in energy costs. Insulation also helps prevent condensation and reduces noise levels. The most common is spray foam insulation or fiberglass blanket. More on insulating a metal frame building.

    Interior Framing

    The workshop portion may be a single space, open from wall to wall, or have one or two small rooms sectioned off, e.g., for an office or bathroom. The home area will need interior framing to separate all the rooms and storage spaces. Framing will typically be traditional 2x4 construction, but steel stud framing is also an option.

    Wiring, Plumbing, and Flooring

    To finish the interior (framing, wiring, lighting, heating, plumbing, insulation, flooring), you must engage the appropriate local subcontractors.

    Milestone and Final Inspections

    Inspections should be carried out regularly throughout the build to catch potential problems. Milestone inspections could include:

    • Site and foundation
    • Primary and secondary framing
    • Roof and siding sheeting
    • Plumbing and electrical

    When the project is complete, and you've passed the final inspection, the permit process is complete, and the inspector will provide a certificate of occupancy.

    For further details, see our page on interior finishing.

How much does it cost to build a shop house?

The cost to build a shop house will vary depending on the proportion of workshop space to living accommodation. On average, the home portion of the structure will range from $75 to $150 per square foot, and the shop portion will cost $25 to $45/sq ft.

A typical single-story two-bedroom Shouse with 1,200 sq ft of living space and a 1,200 sq ft shop would cost between $120,000 and $240,000 to build.

Let us help you find the best shop houses for sale - share your project details with us, and we will match you with four local suppliers who will send you written quotes for your new live-work residence.

ItemSquare Foot Cost
Building kit (shell)$15-$25
Interior Finishing$25-$150+

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