Pre-Engineered Steel Buildings vs. Conventional Metal Buildings

Published September 11, 2015 by Whirlwind Team

pre-engineered metal buildings

So, you've made the smart choice and have decided to construct a metal building. Now there's another decision to make: pre-engineered or conventional ? Both yield strong, durable and low-maintenance buildings but there are some significant differences between the two options.

9 Advantages of a Pre-Engineered Metal Building

In most cases, a pre-engineered building (PEB) will yield a quicker, lighter and more quality-controlled product than its conventional counterpart.

  1. Quick and affordable design. Typically, your PEB will have a quicker and affordable design and build process. In most cases, all of your engineering, architectural design and relevant sketches, drawings and plans are included in the price of your metal building. Metal building manufacturers have highly-specialized computer software programs and in-house designers who can quickly and efficiently tailor your building's design to your needs.

    This is somewhat different from a conventional building, which is designed from scratch, with substantial design and detailing work required from various consultants. Conventional design methods are typically less timely and more costly - often costing 30% more than PEBs.
  2. Delivery speed. Once you've decided on a building design, a metal building can arrive at the jobsite location in about six to eight weeks. Conventional buildings must be ordered piecemeal and that can result in product delivery times ranging from 20-26 weeks, causing weeks to months of delayed building time.
  3. Improved quality control. Your steel building will be designed and fabricated in-house, with strict levels of quality control at every stage of the game. There is also the added advantage of a single source of safety and responsibility. Conventional metal buildings are mostly fabricated on-site, where more than a single source is at work and where quality control is less easily monitored and enforced. Not only can this affect the durability and longevity of the building, it can also jeopardize the safety of future occupants.
  4. Smarter and more efficient design and build process. PEB frames are highly-specific to the project, without a pound of material wasted. They are typically constructed from standard steel plates stocked in masse by the manufacturer. The frames are usually tapered and have flanges and webs of variable thicknesses and depth along the individual members. The frame's geometry is more indicative of the internal stress of the building, reducing the amount of materials used.

    A conventional metal building is often framed using mill-produced hot rolled steel beams and columns, which are much less streamlined due to their "all-purpose" nature. Extra materials can mean extra cost and added weight.
  5. Lighter overall building weight. Continuing with the idea of a smarter and more efficient design and build process, the precise materials used to construct a PEB result in a building that is 30% lighter than its conventional version. This makes a tremendous difference in materials cost, as well as the impact on the foundation and soils below.
  6. Simpler foundations. A lighter building requires a lighter foundation; a heavier building requires a heavier foundation. For that reason, your PEB will also mean a simpler and more basic foundation pour. Conventional steel buildings require a more extensive and heavier foundation design.
  7. Seismic advantages. The more a building can move flexibly during a seismic event, the less damage it typically incurs. The lighter and more flexible qualities of the materials used in a PEB result in a higher resistance to seismic tremors. The heavier and rigid form of a conventional option makes it more difficult to perform well in seismic zones.
  8. Better integration = better overall performance. When you order a metal building, the entire design process and all of the parts are tested and proven to work together as a functioning system. They have the same connections, so erection is streamlined and there is only one point of contact so, in the rare event there is an issue, the supplier will take responsibility and address it.

    A conventional building is designed, fabricated and assembled in separate phases, by a mix of professionals, with the hopes that they will integrate as a whole during construction. If they don't, you have to deal with multiple suppliers and fabricators to resolve the issue(s), which can make for costly construction delays and a finished building that may not perform as well as you hoped for.
  9. Easy expansion. It's always advised that you select a building design as likely to accommodate your needs in 10 years as it does today. Even so, your building may need to be expanded in the future. This is very easy to do with a steel buildings since they're built with future expansion in mind. Expansion of a conventional metal building means going back to the drawing board.

These advantages of a pre-engineered metal building mean you get to enjoy a higher-quality product, in less time and at a lower price. Once you experience the advantages of a pre-engineered metal building firsthand, you'll never look back.




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