Quonset and Nissen Huts look very similar but have distinct design differences.
The huts are based on a semi-cylindrical steel-covered structure, quickly erected and dismantled from an affordable kit.
The Nissen Hut relies on a steel framework covered in curved corrugated steel panels, whereas the Quonset Hut uses its steel panels as the structural supports.
Its simple design, easy construction, and versatile customization ensure Quonset Hut’s place as the US leader in many applications, such as agriculture, industry, and residential use.
What Is A Quonset Hut?
Quonset Huts are lightweight prefabricated steel buildings with an approximate semi-cylindrical cross-section.
Initially, they were developed in 1941 by the US during the Second World War, and based on the British Nissen Hut introduced during the First World War.
Furthermore, the name comes from their first deployment at Quonset Point in Rhode Island.
The United States Navy needed a general-purpose, lightweight building that could be shipped and erected using non-skilled labor. The Quonset Hut fulfilled this requirement.
Today, the Quonset Hut design is used for many types of buildings, from emergency and permanent accommodation, business and offices, agricultural storage, fabrication and machine shops, general warehousing, and many more.
The modern Quonset Hut comes as a bolt-together kit, erected onto a pre-installed foundation. Usually, erecting the shell takes less than 14 days.
Then, after the initial erection, additional installation time depends on how many “bells and whistles” you incorporate into the design.
For a simple and typical Quonset Hut, the average kit price ranges from $14-$30/sq. ft. However, this figure depends on the features you choose at the design stage.
What Is A Nissen Hut?
During the First World War, the British government produced Nissen Huts as temporary troop accommodation.
Designed by Major Peter Nissen of the Royal Engineers, the original versions had compressed dirt or concrete floors, had no insulation, and usually had a small coal-fired stove as the only available heating.
Therefore, they were freezing in the winter and stifling in the summer.
As well as being used for accommodation barracks, they were used as military hospitals, offices, canteens, and recreational areas.
Basically, the idea behind the design was to make an easily erected structure that could be quickly assembled or dismantled as the battle front line continually moved, using unskilled labor and transported using a standard military truck of the era.
During the Second World War, Nissen Huts were used again as barracks and as emergency accommodation for British civilians made homeless by the continual bombing in the large cities.
However, the British Nissen Hut ceased production after the war, and the only original models remaining stem from this period.
After the war, the British government sold off the surplus huts to other government agencies as storage units or to farmers for agricultural use.
Recently, Major Nissen’s great-grandson, George Nissen, has started production again, targeting the home office and garden-hut markets.
6 Differences Between Quonset Huts and Nissen Huts
Although being very similar to look at, there are significant differences between the two prefab designs.
Historically, Nissen Huts were smaller than Quonset Huts and usually came in limited standard sizes and had less curvature in the structure. On the other hand, Quonset Huts have several standard sizes and are easy to extend and customize.
Standard Nissen Hut sizes had spans of 16 ft, 24 ft, and 30 ft, and lengths in multiples of 6 ft. In contrast, the original Quonset Hut was 16ft by 36 ft and 20 ft by 48 ft.
However, because of the simple customization, other standard sizes emerged, such as the 20 ft by 40 ft and 40 ft by 100 ft. But, it’s possible to create Quonset Huts of almost any length simply by adding additional arches.
Compared to the Nissen Hut, the Quonset design is easier to customize and add additional arches. This is because the Nissen design requires extra framing before adding more sheet metal covering.
In comparison, Quonset Hut just needs the addition of more roofing panels.
Manufacturers no longer produce traditional Nissen Huts, and any for sale will almost certainly be many decades old.
Typically, any still in use will be for agricultural and industrial storage, with the remainder being demolished many years ago.
3. Construction Methods
Nissen Huts use an interior steel frame covered with corrugated iron sheets bolted to the framework.
In contrast, Quonset Huts get their structural support from the prefabricated panels bolted together to form a single unit.
In the US, Quonset Huts are very popular for all types of use. Also, they are one of the premier choices for prefab, arched structures.
Generally, there are many designs based on the basic semi-cylindrical pattern, which suit many different purposes.
Furthermore, the quality of manufacture, insulation, and innovative features means that many more models and sizes are available.
Older-style Nissen Huts relied on steel framing and corrugated iron or asbestos cement covering panels. It’s now known that as well as being very brittle, asbestos cement panels, when damaged, can be a potential health hazard.
Furthermore, poor-quality steel panels are liable to rust and require maintenance.
In contrast, modern Quonset Huts use the latest advances in construction technology to produce a structure that won’t rust, bend, rot, or attract mold, is fireproof, and meets the modern requirements for energy efficiency.
Prices for Nissen Huts vary depending on their condition, location, and many other factors.
They aren’t produced anymore; the only remaining huts are decades old. Therefore, the only Nissen Huts available will be second-hand and many decades old.
In contrast, typical pricing information for a Quonset Hut kit is as follows:
|Garage – Single||12 ft x 12 ft||144 sq. ft.||$5,000|
|Garage – Double||24 ft x 24 ft||576 sq. ft.||$6,000|
|Garage – RV||40 ft x 20 ft||800 sq. ft.||$12,000|
|Storage Area – Small||30 ft x 30 ft||900 sq. ft.||$12,500|
|Storage Area – Medium||30 ft x 40 ft||1,200 sq. ft.||$13,000|
|Storage Area – Large||40 ft x 60 ft||2,400 sq. ft.||$25,000|
|Storage Area – Extra Large||60 ft x 100 ft||6,000 sq. ft.||$45,000|
Note that these figures are indicative only; you should use them as a starting point for your research. Furthermore, they don’t include tax, delivery, erection, and costs of foundations and accessories.
Also, a Quonset Hut can be customized to suit almost any application. From a house for your chickens to a fully functional residential home for you and your family.
Therefore, you should contact Rex Metal Buildings for an up-to-date quotation.
Manufactured in the USA, Quonset Huts are the structure to choose if you’re in the market for cylindrical houses or storage sheds.
These buildings are simple to transport and erect and come as a kit ready for someone with basic DIY knowledge to turn into a valuable and weathertight enclosure.
However, if you intend to live in the hut, you must use registered tradespeople to install plumbing, electrical, and drainage. And you must comply with the local and state building codes.
Rex Metal Buildings can supply a Quonset Hut made to your specifications. So, complete the form on this page to contact our sales team for a no-obligation quotation.