Metal Building Location: Why It Matters Where You Build

Published January 22, 2018 by Whirlwind Team

metal building location

Realtors are perfectly correct when they say three things matter in real estate: location, location, location.

The location of your metal building determines a host of requirements, options, and availabilities spanning everything from building code requirements to the ability to hire labor with the right skill sets. If you have not yet purchased a site for your building, keep these issues in mind as you peruse the market. If you already have a building site, the following information can help prepare you for what’s to come.

Prevailing weather

Every region of the United States has its peculiarities of weather and environment. This nation spans everything from desert climates to mountains, sea to shining sea. In the middle, severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are part of the weatherscape. The west coast, and recently other areas, experience a higher incidence of seismic activity.

Heavy snow, high winds, hurricanes, blizzards, you name it, we got it. The prevailing weather and seismic activity are primary drivers of building codes. While most states and municipalities begin with the International Building Code, they make modifications specific to their respective regions.

One very important detail to know is whether or not the site sits within a floodplain. Recent experience has shown the importance of building and insuring for the occurrence of a major or minor flood. Construction costs may rise due to special requirements, but your operational budget will take a hit with higher insurance rates.

The size, shape and type of steel building you erect on a site are predicated on the design elements required for structural safety.

Proximity to other buildings

Is the lot under consideration surrounded by tall buildings? How close together are they? Tall buildings can block sunlight and add to the ambient temperature in the hyper-local area. Also, crowded urban blocks pose a challenge to the coordination of construction materials, laborers and equipment.

There is also a higher concern for the safety of passers-by and traffic when you need to squeeze your building into a dense neighborhood, adding costs to your construction budget.

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Site conditions 

Take site conditions into consideration before designing your building. 

  • Slope - the property’s slope impacts the cost of construction. If the building must sit on a pronounced slope, design elements to accommodate can add to the cost of your building. Depending on the layout of the site, you may build at the top or bottom of the slope or build into the slope and create an entrance or exit one floor below the entrance on another side of the building.
  • Directional exposure - the orientation of your building to the sun’s progress impacts your lighting design and window selection and placement, as well as your choices for heating, ventilation and air conditioning. If you plan to use rooftop solar panels, the orientation of your roof must coincide with the longest incidence of sunlight exposure throughout the day.
  • Soil conditions - soil type influences construction costs. Also, it can be difficult to be certain of the type of soil in each layer underground. Different soils drain and retain water differently and are variable in their capacity to support structural loads.
  • Utility availability - if you purchase an unimproved lot, you will need to have cash in reserve to run utility lines into the property including sewer, electricity, water and gas. Depending on the location of the nearest urban area, you may need to design a private sanitation system.

As you shop for a building site, keep these four elements in the forefront of your mind. If you already own a site, your building designer will need to know all the site condition details to create a safe structure. 

location of your metal building

Zoning and permitted use

Local zoning and permitting will affect your choice of site. If you are planning a residential building such as a family home, you must find a site that is zoned for single-family residential construction. On the other hand, the desire to build a restaurant will keep you in particular areas of commercial zoning.

  • Zoning laws are created to protect property values and organize the municipality into select areas. As cities age, zoning laws can get quite complex. Make plans to speak to the local building officials to ensure you follow them to the letter.
  • Building permits are concerned with construction and occupant safety. Applications for building permits often require the submission of certified blueprint plans of your proposed structure. Certification must be by a third party registered for your area. Your steel building manufacturer should be happy to furnish preliminary and final structural and engineering plans. If they are not, you may want to work with a different manufacturer.

The awarding of a building permit is mainly based on regulations for safety.

  • Is the electrical wiring plan to code?
  • Is the roof designed to handle wind, snow, rain or other prevailing conditions?
  • Does the design accommodate the local seismic conditions?

An accredited building manufacturer is probably aware of the local building code requirements, but it is up to you to ensure they are met.

The plans and blueprints must include the foundation design along with the structural plans. Any building larger than a small garden shed should have a proper foundation for support.

Remember to include the cost of permits in your budget. 

Labor and materials costs

Labor and material are impacted by skill set availability, the distance to the site, and other factors. 

The construction labor market is quite tight at the moment so your labor costs may be higher than expected. If the workers must drive long distances to reach the site or if they must remain in the local area, your costs can rise dramatically. The need for special skill sets will also drive up labor costs.

Your basic material costs change according to global and national demand, but you may pay more if the materials must be transported very far from the manufacturer. The location of the manufacturer's nearest plant impacts the length of transportation, fuel costs and the logistics of delivering the materials to your site. Unimproved roads or a site that is far off the main road will add to the transportation costs.


There is no doubt that construction is a complex undertaking. The location of your building brings up a number of considerations before you even design it. Everything from the distance to the site to the type of soil on your site impacts the cost and logistics of your project.

It matters where you build. 

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