Advantages of Prefab Metal Buildings: Why Build with Anything Else?

Published January 6, 2016 by Whirlwind Team

prefab metal buildings

Using prefabricated or pre-engineered steel buildings provides so many advantages over other building materials. When it comes to customization, speed of construction, and decreased maintenance and insurance costs, nothing beats a metal building.

Pre-engineered steel buildings are customizable and strong

Whatever your client wants, it can be created from steel at a manufacturing plant and delivered to the job site ready to put together. Warehouses, retail spaces, event centers, and homes are all ideal steel projects as are most other buildings no matter their intended use. Steel buildings can be designed to match the surrounding environment or to stand out as a wonder of architecture. Today’s steel building manufacturers can create panels with the textures, colors, and shapes of other materials that retain the strength steel can impart.

Metal buildings can be designed to be indistinguishable from other materials:

  • Metal roof panels can mimic wood or asphalt shingles
  • Wall panels can be painted in an endless variety of colors or be made to look like brickwork
  • A steel frame can be covered with stone or synthetic materials that look like stone
  • Interiors are designed for any use from small office to long span open space

Steel also provides great strength without bulkiness. Stone is strong, but buildings can be created from steel that would be impractical in stone due to sheer weight. Wood construction is much weaker than steel and can be prone to rot without adequate care.

Durable and reliable

A steel structure can last for decades remaining useful during its entire life. Proof against environmental extremes, steel buildings can withstand high winds, earthquakes, and other events that would level a wooden structure. Termites and other pests cannot harm metal, which also retards cracking, rot, and fire.

Specialized steel coatings like Galvalume® protect the surface of the metal from rust while allowing the surface to be painted or coated with other coverings.

Sustainable and eco-friendly

Steel is 100% recyclable. In fact, a good portion of the steel used in construction today has been recycled from other uses. If, in the future, the building you construct must be dismantled or demolished, the steel can be re-used elsewhere instead of taking up space in a landfill.

With today’s emphasis on being green, steel is the best material available for creating green structures. Steel does not give off toxic fumes during the construction process nor in the event of  fire or other disasters.

Sustainable construction is crucial in obtaining a LEED certification, which can make your client’s building more attractive to certain lessees that may prefer or require an environmentally friendly building or, at the least, green construction.

Steel structures are also easy to insulate and have tighter fittings around doors and windows. Heating and cooling costs are lowered. With cool roof design, heat island effects can be mitigated as well, so the surrounding environment is subject to less heat.

Highly efficient material utilization

During the manufacturing process, the use of advanced CAD/CAM processes decreases the amount of waste material substantially. Fabrication is accomplished with minimal raw material waste yet met the strictest strength-to-weight ratios.

In fact, steel has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any material, 25 times greater than wood. A lighter frame translates into a more cost-effective foundation and the ability to add other materials with less concern for completed building weight.

Prefabricated metal buildings = shorter construction time

A prefabricated structure is created at the manufacturer to precise specifications. Each structure is designed and pre-built for easy reassembly. Site work, such as preparation and foundation placement, can be completed concurrently as the building is being manufactured.

Once complete, the structure is shipped with all required hardware to the job site where it is put together. While this still requires skilled labor, the time to completion is significantly shorter than if all fabrication took place in the field.

Shorter construction times translate into lower labor costs and earlier return on investment for your client.

Lower construction costs

Not only are labor costs minimized, other construction costs are lower as well, by as much as 60%.

Automated engineering at the manufacturer saves time and raw material waste. As mentioned above, some construction processes can be performed concurrently at the site while awaiting the arrival of the building components.

A steel structure, being lighter than other materials, can stand on a foundation that costs less to create. Add to this the ease of re-assembly which mitigates construction costs in labor time and, in some areas, the level of skill needed to complete the job.

Comparison of Steel Frame to Stud Frame

Method

Total Cost

Labor

Materials

Steel

$12-18 psf

$5-8

$7-10

Stud

$ 23-40 psf

$10-20

$13-20


Minimize maintenance

Since steel is so durable, it requires less maintenance than other building materials. The members are not susceptible to rotting and will not need periodic replacement. Colored steel coatings do not require repainting. All steel surfaces can be easily cleaned with water and detergent.

Insurance and safety advantages

Insurance and safety advantages begin with construction and live on in a stable building.

  • Investment in research and education = safer manufacturing environment
  • Shorter construction times = Less chance for injury
  • Prefabricated and pre-engineered = Less risk during construction (assembly)
  • Durable, fire and disaster resistant materials = Lower insurance premiums and increased chance of rebates

Easy expansion

Once complete, a steel-framed facility remains highly flexible in how it can be used. Spatial design can be reworked by moving interior walls, adding or subtracting wall and floor coverings, or changing openings.

If your client needs more space, you can add to the building through enclosing more floor space or by building upwards. A steel frame is strong enough to take the additional weight of added stories. More space can be added at ground level by adding more units onto an existing building, expanding its footprint.

In each case, a steel building manufacturer can precisely fabricate new members and frame elements to fit the existing building.

Why build with anything else?

Steel is the least expensive and most durable building material available. It provides design flexibility and an extremely hazard resistant facility that can be expanded and changed as needed. A steel building will be useful for decades and is made from sustainable materials that can subsequently be recycled into new structures in the future.

 

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