Daniel Shaw likens his hangar home in Geneva, Fla., to the movie “Field of Dreams” where professional baseball players of days gone by return to play at a baseball field a corn farmer built in the middle of an Iowa field after he heard a voice telling him to. “‘If you build it, they will come,’” quotes Shaw. “It [baseball in Iowa] happened because of what he built, and that’s kind of what happened here.”
Rather than build a baseball diamond, though, Shaw, a plumber and recreational aviator, built a unique hangar home out of a pre-fabricated metal building and hydraulic metal door. The home is in an eight-residence community north of Orlando that sits along a private grass airstrip.
Although the hangar was necessary for his airplane, Shaw’s primary interest lay in integrating a guest house into the hangar. “The hangar portion lent itself [to building a guest house inside] because we were building a shell and the shell was able to meet the 120-mph wind loads,” he explains. “Once we had that structure built, everything else we built inside was freeform because it no longer had wind load requirements.”
Shaw’s guest house isn’t what you’d expect to see. When the hangar door opens, a small city line façade greets the eye. “The metal building created the opportunity for a lot of creativity on the inside. It’s high enough that I can create that [cityscape] look inside of it. I couldn’t do that with any other structure,” he says.
The energy efficiency of the structure also is worthy of note. After building and insulating the metal building, Shaw then duplicated the insulation on the inside as he would on a more traditional house not encased in metal. Beyond the metal building insulation is 8 inches of air space then 6 more inches of insulation when the interior frame structure was built. The insulation also made the home soundproof, which is of particular benefit because of its airstrip location.
To lend a more creative and home-like atmosphere to the building, Shaw added overhangs and wraparound porches, including a wraparound porch on the hangar door. The porch also disguises the door. “We have people drive up and have no idea how to get in until we push the button and the whole hydraulic system activates and the door lifts up. It adds a wow factor before they even get in the building,” says Shaw.
Hangar doors have a beam, or truss, about 18 inches out from the front that serves as a structural member. Shaw requested a truss 4 feet wide to accommodate the width of a porch. “Once the manufacturer got the idea of what it was they put a door together with enough hydraulics to lift the weight and put it together,” he recalls. “The door is very, very customized, but not complex.”
The customized door also presented an initial challenge with the county zoning commission. “We were building something totally unique that they hadn’t seen before,” recalls Shaw. “The door issue was challenging because it sounds impossible. We had to convince them it could be done with letters from the engineers saying it was okay.”
Because the hangar door is so much larger than a typical door installed on a metal building, Shaw stresses the importance of communication between the metal building manufacturer, door manufacturer and others involved. “There are some builders who build metal buildings that have never installed a hangar door, which is a very big door,” says Shaw. “There’s an expertise there, not necessarily from the installation side, but from the design side, that’s critical they build the building correctly for the door to be installed correctly.”
Neighbors and other locals have responded positively. “It’s so unique that as people drive by they’ll stop by and ask to come in and see it,” says Shaw. “The whole porch up in the air is a pretty amazing thing. We’ve never seen another one like it. We’ve seen small structures up, but no one has ever built the entire porch and raised it up. We don’t know why because it wasn’t that difficult and it certainly makes a very interesting door.”
Shaw conceptualized his hangar home and built it himself, with help from the neighbors, who all live on the airstrip because of a shared interest of flying. “The community has a very communal type atmosphere,” says Shaw. “We help one another do stuff. We constructed the building as more of a barn-raising concept than actually hiring contractors to do it.”
The construction slowdown also worked to Shaw’s advantage. He hired a trim carpenter who custom built all of the cabinets and crown molding in the kitchen. Everything was hand built from boards and plywood then stained; the kitchen is not modular. Because of the quality of the workmanship in the house, people started to ask Shaw to use the facility, which prompted Shaw to apply for a bed and breakfast license to rent it out for weddings and other events.
Every aspect of the hangar home was what Shaw refers to as affordable construction. “Everything was bought on the cheap,” he explains. “Deals, going to the salvage yard and lumber liquidators, and buying whatever we could and finding a creative way to use it really made the construction very cost effective. You can’t duplicate it because we had no idea what it was going to look like until I brought items back from the lumberyard. That’s part of what gives it so much character.”
Shaw wanted each building on the façade to represent a different building built by a different person at a different time. Some façades resemble brick while others are sided. “It really created the image we were looking for inside,” he says.
Shaw emphasizes how much fun it’s been to build the hangar home and then watch the awe factor in people when they see it for the first time. There are two rocking chairs and a glass of wine affixed to the porch on the hangar door. “Obviously the wine isn’t real,” says Shaw. “Many, many people try to stop us and go save the wine when the door starts going up. It’s a lot of fun.”
Daniel Shaw’s hangar home in Geneva, Fla., features a 45- by 15-foot hydraulic door from Schweiss Hydraulic Doors, Fairfax, Minn., www.bifold.com. Instead of the typical 18-inch-deep truss at the bottom of the door, there is a 4-foot-deep truss across the door so it could be transformed into a porch. This larger, specially designed truss necessitated stronger members and hydraulic cylinders to support the additional weight. The metal building is 60 by 50 feet, with a 30-foot ceiling at its highest point. To see more of Shaw’s home, visit www.danvillehangar.com.