CHEROKEE — A McCune native has returned to Crawford County to see his company erect its first metal home in Kansas.

NexGen Framing Systems Vice President of Operations Todd Wright grew up in McCune before spending 15 years in Brazil. When he returned to the states, he started work with NexGen Framing to build steel-framed homes. He’s now brought the technology to Cherokee to build a home for his grandparents.

“My grandparents lived outside of McCune on the family farm and wanted to move closer to Pittsburg,” Wright said. “I wanted to take the opportunity to use our technology to build my grandparents a house.”

Wright has always been interested in green — or environmentally friendly — construction, which drew him to the Melbourne, Florida-based company. He said there are two main categories that make the steel-framed houses superior to block- or wood-framed homes.

The first is durability. Wright said the homes are stronger, more durable and lighter than a block- or wood-framed home.

“It’s a non-combustible, fire-rated product. You don’t have to worry about termites, mold or mildew,” he said. “And they are wind resistant up to 180 miles per hour, which is great here in tornado country.”

The second thing that sets these homes apart is the impact on the environment — and the inhabitants pocketbook.

“They’re very energy efficient,” Wright said. “If I take the same house and build it side by side, one stick and one steel, our building will save the owner 60 to 80 percent on energy bills.”

The homes are on average 10 percent more expensive than building a traditional home, but Wright said the offset cost in utilities and repairs makes the home much cheaper over its life.

The frames, bolts, joists and more are all prefabricated, minimizing the waste. Wright said putting up the home in Cherokee resulted in less than a pound of waste.

Wright wanted to put his grandparents in a stable home, but he’s also hoping the home will attract local builders, engineers and architects to the technology.

“We’re hoping to find people in the industry who are interested in testing and using the technology in Crawford County and Southeast Kansas,” Wright said.

The framing and dry-in process for the home in Cherokee took workers only four and one half days.

— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at choener@morningsun.net or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.