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Thread: Steel headaches or Morton sticker shock?

  1. #1

    Shocked Steel headaches or Morton sticker shock?

    Hello! First post for me, thanks for having me.

    I own 2 acres in a beautiful airpark in AR, and we’ve decided to build a hangar with a living quarters versus springing for the “forever home” under the current economy (I’m a pretty junior FO at a major airline). This way, we can get to the airpark without being “house poor.”
    Hangar specs: 50x70 with 20’ sidewalls, 40’ Schweiss bifold door, 50x40 dedicated to hangar space, 30x35 is a 2 story living quarters, with a 30x15 garage.

    Here is my question:
    Is it worth an extra 10-20% cost to go with a turnkey Morton Building versus a less turnkey steel structure?

    So far, Morton has been the fastest, most professional, most impressive, and most expensive of the 6 companies we have requested estimates from (they are the only stick built estimate as well). Of the 5 steel structure options, 2 of them have no real experience finishing out a heated/cooled living space inside a steel structure (their preliminary estimates are the cheapest). Of the 3 remaining builders, I am waiting on estimates and have been for weeks (I predict they will quote about $30k lower than Morton).

    Here are my concerns with steel:
    1. Made in china.
    2. The problem with the steel builders is one of confidence and hidden costs; I have been warned by so many people to keep a close eye on their work, especially when it comes to the living space. The GCs with barndominium experience haven’t done a hangar door installation. The steel GCs who have hangar experience have few examples of hangar-homes. There simply aren’t many hangar-homes in my region.
    3. No chance of fixed rate mortgage with steel, due to lack of comps. With Morton, there is a chance at least. Otherwise it’s in-house loans at about 4.5% with a 5 yr balloon.
    4. 6-12 week wait time for steel right now. No significant wait time for Morton.
    5. No advertised warranties on the work with the steel GCs. Morton has a 50 yr warranty.

    Here are my concerns with Morton:
    1. 20% extra cost could be $40k more. Ouch.

    I want to know your opinions and experiences on both sides. Please keep in mind the finished product will be home for us and our 2 kids for at least a couple years, so it must be truly livable.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    New Hampshire
    All of the Morton buildings that I have seen are high quality. Hangars, horse barns, etc.

    I have a detached hangar next to my house that is a steel Erect-A-Tube building. The drawings and materials supplied are complete and first rate. Nothing left out of the materials delivered to the job site. I highly recommend them. The variable is the company who puts it up. As for foreign steel, the steel for a simple hangar is a lot less critical than the tubing in your airplane. I would fuss more over picking the company that puts the building up.

    Hangar door installation - Should come with specs and drawings. Not rocket science. Just check that they follow all of the drawings, especially where tie in to the rest of the building is spec'ed. When the door is up there is a lot of force asking to tip it forward off its anchors.

    From the sounds of your post I would go with Morton. They do good work. Buy once cry once.

    Best of luck,


  3. #3
    FlyingRon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    NC26 (Catawba, NC)
    I have a Schweiss door. Installation was pretty straight-forward. The biggest issue is making sure you've prepped the opening. Remember that's a lot of door and you need to make sure the lintel (or whatever you call the thing) over the opening is up to the job. Mine's a steel boxbeam. (The hangar otherwise is stick framed, it's integral to my house). The door came on a big flatbed and dropped in front of the hangar. We were fortunate to have a boom lift available (one of the subs had one) and lots of laborers (we had the framers, the soffit guy who had the boom lift, and employees of Carolina Garage Door) to hang the door. Once that's in place, the rest of the installation is within the realm of most garage door guys I would think. The controller comes straight out of a Liftmaster commercial opener (I've got two more of the same box on my garage doors). The door comes as a 2" square tubed frame. You then can sheath the outside with what ever you want (mine is plywood cleverly layered and grooved to look like a wooden door (and the garage doors were made to match). On the inside we fit rigid 2" polystyrene foam panels inbetween the tube to insulate.

  4. #4
    I helped my cousins put up a Cuckler steel "pole barn" building with a crippled girder center and other wise wrapped channel main uprights and roof beams. Getting the site flat was the first major act. We tore down an old stone wall and used the flat flag stones to avoid settling of fill on a corner. A John Deere orchard tractor with front bucket was used to raise the two "cripple girder" sections. It had been a demonstrator at the New York State Fair my uncle bought at a discount and the "J" bolts to attach the uprights to pour concreted piers were missing and had to be ordered. One of the uprights had a angle tab broken off and I had to use my acetylene welding skills to arc weld it to the upright. The biggest problem we had was pouring the floor after the building was up and the mixer could not get through the door and an improvised chute was too weak to move the mix to the rear. Shovels and wheel barrows was way too much hustle for two guys to avoid a demurrage on the delivery mixer. Insulation was minimal for a cidar mill that was used mostly in the fall. House portion I only know about vinyl siding on a two story house on a ridge with walkout basement downslope. My uncle was a volunteer fireman and did the three story rear on ladders. He never came down just stayed up and jumped the ladder along to cover the rear.
    Last edited by 2ndsegment; 05-18-2020 at 10:05 AM.

  5. #5
    Great responses so far. Any Morton Building hangar-home owners with an input? Also, any of the guys who built their own steel hangars who also have a livable apartment space in it?

  6. #6
    My hangar is a Morton building, 60 X 72. I liked them so well I had them do my plumbing & electric business shop building, 40 X 75. Then, my brother had a Morton build his 42 X 80 shop at his house.
    We like the Morton buildings, they're great people to work with. I built my hangar 26 years ago, had a roof leak a couple years ago. I called Morton, within 2 days they had someone out and fixed the leak. I think they charged me something like $125.00 or so.
    I like the wood structure, it's easier to build in or on to. Morton's been around a LONG time.
    Another thing about Morton is: you buy form a Morton salesperson, the building gets delivered by a Morton truck, then it's erected by a Morton construction crew. Everybody is employed by Morton, no finger pointing if there's a problem with delivery, roof leak, etc.

    You're welcome to come look at my hangar anytime you like. I'm on an airpark too in Oklahoma, 2OK2. Twin Lakes is 6 miles SE of Tinker AFB in Oklahoma City.

    Disclaimer: I don't work for Morton or own any stock in them, I just like the Morton buildings.
    Last edited by mbalexander; 05-18-2020 at 04:31 AM.

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