Convert a Used Grain Bin to a New House

| 4/13/2009 1:29:00 PM

Tags: house, recycled metal,

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!”

7/9/2015 3:00:04 PM

I'm looking for a 30' diameter or there abouts, bin/silo for a home. 360-565-6745

scott long
2/8/2013 2:52:35 AM

Does anybody know of one or more in the upstate of SC. Thanks.

Patricia Kingsley
12/30/2012 7:06:23 PM

I'm looking for a 35-40 ft grain silo roof to use on a strawbale, post-and-beam octogon hogan in New Mexico....Anyone used one similarly as a metal roof for water catchment, and can I avoid building roof trusses with this approach? For insulation, you could also try the new spray-on water-based, clear acrylic material, called "nansulate." Got a best-builder award in 2008, and they've got lots of products and info for spraying on wood, stone or metal....See Thanks so much! Eiline

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