How to Build your Own Metal Workshop

Published March 19, 2018 by Whirlwind Team

steel workshop

Whether you are a hobbyist or an artisan who needs more space, a metal workshop is your ticket to a great workspace that is designed especially for you.

Building your own workshop can be complex, but it is not difficult. Careful planning and budgeting can produce an affordable and comfortable structure for whatever purpose you have, from woodworking or painting to machining and writing.

Break down the project into smaller tasks and work through each with deliberation. Beginning with developing a budget through installing the utilities, here is how to build your own metal workshop.


Before you begin, decide how much you want to spend or borrow so know your limits. Then begin your research to learn how much building you can purchase with that amount. 

  • Begin with the cost of the outer envelope - primary and secondary framing, wall panels and roof system.
  • Add accessories such as windows and doors.
  • Price out land preparation and foundation design.
  • Budget for permits and specialty contractors.
  • Insurance for the completed building.

You have a couple of options for constructing your workshop. One is to assemble it piecemeal with onsite measuring, cutting, punching and fastening. The other is to purchase a pre-engineered steel building system that comes with precut and pre-punched members and panels, fasteners and customization performed at the factory.

If you consider the difference in the timeline for erecting the workshop, you will find that a pre-engineered or prefabricated building solution will be more cost-effective. Time to completion is shorter, there is little to no scrap to haul off and you will pay less for labor when compared to construction from the ground up using metal or any other material.

Determining Size, Organization and Style

When determining the size, bigger isn't always better. The larger your building, the more you will pay for materials. Take a few moments to visualize how your workshop can be configured to optimize the space for your needs.

  • Add the cost of land and usage when determining building size.
  • Consider material costs and insurance.
  • Utility costs may increase with additional space.

Don’t forget to add space for an office, if you need one, and storage for your materials, tools or other equipment you need to take care of business or pursue your hobby. Take the need to heat or cool your workshop into consideration and include space for the heating and air conditioning units and duct work.

The style of building you choose should match both its use and aesthetics. You may want to duplicate the look of nearby buildings or choose a particular type of roofline for your climate.  By the way, if you don't want the exterior of your workshop to look like a metal building, you have a variety of exterior accessories and coverings to choose from to make the outside of your workshop look the way you want.

One last thing - will you need an onsite bathroom? Put it into your plan now.

Design & price your metal building online »

Obtaining Permits

Most municipalities require a variety of permits to build anything larger than a garden shed. Zoning laws and building codes dictate where you build and what type of structure may be placed on the land. The costs of permits vary depending on local requirements and it can take some time to receive them once requested.

metal workshop

Ordering Your Steel Building System

Now for the fun part - purchasing your building solution. You can either purchase a prefabricated stock building system or you can find a manufacturer who can work with you to create a custom workshop, draw up the engineering plans and provide other helpful services.

Many custom vendors will work with anything from professional architectural drawings to a sketch and some preliminary measurements. A good sales consultant can take your idea and help you flesh it out and ensure you have everything in the plan you need.

  • What type of roof do you want? Standing seam metal roofs are an excellent choice for durability and installing solar energy panels.
  • How much insulation do you need?
  • What type of door do you want? Will you need a broad garage-type door or a simple walk door?
  • Will you need skylights to bring in additional light while leaving open wall space?
  • How many windows do you want? Natural light can make a workshop more comfortable.

You will also have a chance to select the color of your roof and wall panels and talk about the electrical, plumbing and HVAC requirements.

Steel building fabricators may provide you with a project engineer or manager and also help with obtaining the correct permits, providing specifications for the foundation and finding a contractor or skilled labor.

Building a Foundation

A foundation design engineer works with the engineering plans once they are finalized. The foundation for a metal building must be able to support the weight of the building itself and its projected contents. It provides a stable, level area to connect the primary frame and anchor the building to the ground.

When you build with steel, you save money on the foundation because steel is extremely strong but light. The foundation does not need to bear as much weight as it would if you were building with wood frame or concrete.

Assembling Your Workshop

Once you have the proper foundation, you can take delivery of your steel building solution and begin erecting your workshop. Another benefit of selecting a pre-engineered building is the shortened timeline for construction.

Once the foundation is ready, you will be amazed at how quickly the main frame of your building goes up. Once the secondary frame is in place, the panels take no time at all to install. Once the windows, doors and other accessories have been installed, you have an enclosed space for trade contractors to do their work of installing cabinetry, counters, electrical wiring, plumbing and HVAC equipment.

If you need to work with heavy electrical machinery, make sure you have enough juice coming to the shop and the appropriate wiring to handle the load. These parameters should be part of the permitting process and may require specialty electricians and installers.

When you are a serious hobbyist who needs the space or an artisan requiring a shop to create your wares, a custom steel building is the most cost-effective, long-lasting and versatile building you can buy. Steel buildings are fire-resistant, stand up to extreme weather and make a comfortable work area where everything is exactly where you need it.

You are also buying a low-maintenance structure that will require little in the way of repair or replacement.

Are you ready to build your dream workshop?

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