What Affects the Cost of a Steel Barn?

Published May 14, 2018 by Whirlwind Team

cost of a steel barn

The cost of a steel barn is determined by a variety of factors from the current cost of materials and labor to the local building codes. Your final design also impacts the cost, including the doors, windows and trim you select.

From location to energy consumption, let's take a look at what goes into the cost of your steel barn. Keep in mind that prices fluctuate according to the economic climate and the availability of materials and skilled workers.



Building a steel barn in Minot, North Dakota has different regulatory requirements that one built in San Francisco, California. California is well known for heavy regulation while North Dakota is famous for being cold. Both conditions can add to the cost of the building.

Nearly all building codes in the United States are based on the International Building Code, but each region or municipality can modify it to serve the area better. For example, California (and lately other parts of the nation) is very seismically active. New buildings must be able to withstand a particular amount of earth movement without catastrophic failure. Depending on the design, this requirement can add to material costs and, perhaps, labor costs as well.

In Kansas or Texas, on the other hand, the greatest issue is wind load. The roof must be able to withstand the prevailing winds and the uplift force placed upon it. The tolerances are set by local building code according to historical data.

Besides complying with regulations, there is also the cost of permitting and inspection. Certain zoning restrictions may apply. If you hope to change the zoning of your property, it will take time and effort as well.


Size counts. The basic dimensions of height, width and length are a start for determining the cost of the building. Roof pitch and eave height are also factors.

Also, how complex is your steel barn design?

  • How many windows will you need?
  • How many and what type of doors will you install?
  • How will you handle ventilation?
  • What type of trim do you want?

The answers to these questions and more will help you get an idea of the cost of the building itself. It also provides the data the foundation engineer requires to create and build an appropriate foundation for your barn. Since you are building with steel, the foundation is less extensive than for a wood framed barn but, unless you decide to leave a dirt floor and sink the columns into concrete footers for stability, you will need to consult a foundation designer.

You must also determine the various loads the building is likely to experience. We already mentioned wind load and seismic load, but you must also consider snow load and the pitch of the roof. A steeply pitched roof will shed snow and rain, but if your design requires a flatter roof, you must design it to withstand the weight of the water, so the roof doesn't collapse or leak.

Insulation is another material to consider. Insulation under the roof along with proper ventilation can keep the barn cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. If you are keeping livestock in the barn, ventilation is particularly important to reduce the moisture trapped in the building.

Frame Style

The type of frame you choose can affect the price. Clear span construction provides open spaces without the obstruction of columns. If you need a barn with plenty of clear floor space, clear span construction may be your best bet.

If columns are not an issue, you may opt for a rigid frame with a post and beam design. Multi-span rigid frame provides the most space under a single roof, but there will be columns for additional strength.

Roof System

You have your choice of roof styles and colors. To regulate the interior temperature, you might consider a white metal roof to reflect the solar radiation away from the barn. If you need added energy efficiency, you can request a special pigment that re-emits heat absorbed into the panels.

Metal is an excellent conductor of heat, and a steel panel can transfer heat from the sun quickly into the barn. As mentioned above, installing insulation will prevent the issue and allow the heat to be re-emitted to the outside as the temperature drops.

The type of roof you select can impact the price of your building.

  • Through-fastened or exposed fastener roofs are less expensive to install but require more maintenance.
  • Standing seam roofs cost more up front but require less maintenance and fastener replacement than through-fastened roofs.
  • Vertically seamed roofs are more durable than shingles because they are less likely to be pulled off the building in high winds, will not deteriorate and are excellent for shedding water.

If you decide to add gutters and downspouts, you will have an additional expense, but these accessories can help protect the wall panels from leakage and potential corrosion over the lifetime of the barn. Allowing water to sheet down the sides or wear away the soil near the foundation could cause issues in the future.

The Price of Steel

Steel prices, like other commodities, fluctuate according to supply, demand, regulatory burden and tax burden.

  • Steel upon which a tariff has been placed will cost more than steel sourced from within the country.
  • If the supply of steel is low, prices will increase.
  • The proximity to materials impacts the price of transportation, fuel and delivery charges.

Labor prices also impact the price of construction a steel barn. Depending on the local labor market, you may pay a premium for skilled workers due to their need for travel and board. Some areas of the country lack the skilled labor of others; those workers who are skilled can command higher wages.

Rental equipment prices are also affected by distance and availability. The farther the equipment must be transported, the more you will have to pay. Your decision whether to buy your building direct from the manufacturer or go through a broker determines not only price but the amount of customization you are allowed.

There are many elements that determine the cost of a steel barn. A steel building manufacturer can guide you through your decision-making process to provide the best structure for your needs.

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