How to Expand Your Steel Building

Published July 29, 2013 by Whirlwind Team

expand steel building resized 600One of the best reasons for constructing a steel building is for the ease of later expansion. The ability to expand can make your building much more profitable.

Expansion can be done by installing expandable endwalls in the original building, allowing for the addition of bays at the ends of a building. Expansion can also be created roof by adding extensions and secondary framing.

However, care is required when expanding any building because much will depend on the original structure including the strength and type of the primary framing and whether the endwalls were meant for expansion. Expansion could go upwards, adding a second story, but again, special framing techniques are needed.

Expansion of Endwalls

It takes more than expansion endwalls to allow growth of a building. The building itself must be designed with the appropriate moment-resistant frame. If such a frame was not used in your building, you will need to temporarily shore up the purlins and girts, remove the girts, and erect a new clear spanning moment-resistant frame before adding bays and new endwalls.

Side by Side Expansion

A new building can be constructed against an existing one where the two gabled roofs share a wall. However, if the building is in a region where snow and ice is common, snow overloading can occur between the two gables. While the new building may be constructed with this in mind, there is no guarantee the older portion is as sturdy.

If the newer building has a higher roof elevation than that of the original building the same issue occurs. The lower roof becomes overloaded and collapses.

Adding a Second Story

You may be locked in on all sides and unable to expand outwards. That only leaves upwards. But, as mentioned above, special framing techniques are needed to prevent disaster.

It is unlikely the original building, particularly if it is very old, was constructed to withstand the weight of a second story. Instead of allowing the original frame to bear the new flooring, walls, and roof, the second story can actually be framed so that the outer vertical members rest on the foundation outside the original building. In this case, you need to have sufficient foundation space to foot such a building.

There are some manufacturers who provide pre-engineered second story additions that are rather like canopies over the original building or over a group of smaller buildings.  In either of these cases the bottom story does not take on any additional weight that could end in collapse.

Do you have a need for more space but don’t want to build from the ground up? Then go ahead and expand your original building. If you planned for this eventuality then you shouldn’t have too much trouble. If you did not, just be sure to take extra care in determining how to add new building to your old.

Check the Building Code Requirements

If the existing building is several years old then there is a good chance that the building code has changed. In these situations the code enforcement authority may require the existing building to be brought up to the current code requirements. This may require things such as structural reinforcements, additional walkdoors, or the addition of a sprinkler system. These changes have the potential to be quite extensive and very expensive so some initial investigating is highly recommended.

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