Convert a Used Grain Bin to a New House


Anywhere farmers are growing corn, soybeans or wheat, you’re likely to see empty, used steel grain bins. Those grain bins are durable, and steel is recyclable when the building has served its purpose. Why not convert a used grain bin or two into a usable building — maybe even a house or getaway? Check out the photos below of nifty grain bin conversions.

You can probably pick up a small used bin for a few hundred dollars (or even free). Used bins are frequently available on craigslist or ebay. You could also put an ad in a local newspaper or on your local farm co-op bulletin board. There are companies that can move the bins to new sites — ask around at farm stores to find them.

Prices of new steel grain bins depend on the diameter, height and region of the country, but costs start at about $7,000 for an 18-foot-diameter bin, not including the cement foundation slab or assembly.

Basic carpentry and mechanical skills are required to convert a grain bin to another use. The number of doors and windows will be limited, as too many can weaken the structure. So plan ahead and check with an engineer if you have any doubts.

Readers, we’d like to see more reports and photos of grain bins that have been converted for other uses. Send them to us at

grain bin storage shed
   Mark Clipsham of Architecture By Synthesis in Ames, Iowa, converted this bin
   into ground-level storage space with a playhouse above, using mostly salvaged
   and recycled materials. It was a test project. 

New steel bins create low-maintenance structures, such as this office and apartment on a farm in western Kansas. If the steel is recycled metal, it’s even more eco-friendly. Owners Louise and Vance Ehmke say, “Our grain-bin office/scalehouse/residence is just cool. It turned out far better than our expectations. Everybody who comes here (including the governor) says it is one of the neatest things they have ever seen. The structure itself is clearly unique, but the rustic, high-tech interior takes it off the charts!”

11/28/2018 12:59:39 PM

I'm a television producer - we're looking for upcoming grain silo conversions (& other unusual home conversions) for a new series. If you are planning one, please reach out to me at with some information about your upcoming build. Thank you!

11/28/2018 12:59:36 PM

I'm a television producer - we're looking for projects where people are planning to convert grain silos (or other non-residential structures) into unique homes. If you have a project like this planned please send me an email at with some information about your upcoming build. Thank you!

8/21/2018 4:10:53 PM

Has anyone used earthshipping and grain bin together? I am curious about combining the two green building methods. I have two grain bins that sit very close together and no longer used on the farm. We also have access to plenty of old tires and tires we no longer set round hay bales on. I am curious how it would work to use tire/earth impacted to insulated the grain bin on the exterior. Could this be done? Has it been done before?

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