Metal Building Additions: Get More Space from Your Existing Building with Less Cost

Published January 9, 2017 by Whirlwind Team

steel building addtions

You have a building that doesn't quite meet your needs. If only it had some more space. Have you thought of adding a steel addition? Your existing structure doesn't have to be steel.

Steel building additions are cost-effective and easy to implement. Almost any building can accommodate a steel addition creating added space for expanded business, storage, or living needs. You may only need a lean-to or, if the building supports it, you may want to build on a second floor.

Building an addition is construction, however, so be sure to consult with a knowledgeable contractor and steel building manufacturer before making your decision.

What to consider before expanding your building with a steel add-on

Determine the condition of the existing building

It won’t do much good to put a nice metal lean-to on a barn that is about to fall down.

The condition is crucial if you are adding a second floor. The original building must be able to handle the load and be in code compliance. If not, you may be better off tearing it down and putting up a new building altogether.

Get onsite estimates of your lot including the need to grade, excavate, install new utilities and what have you. Check your lot setbacks, too. Are you able to fit an addition to your lot size?

Does the addition need to look like the existing building?

Decide whether the addition needs to look just like the existing building. You may not care whether it matches, but if you do, it’s no problem. Steel building panels can be fabricated to look like almost anything. If you are adding to a stone shed, you can request panels in a coordinating or matching color, or you can have cladding created to look just like stone, even to the moss.

What kind of expansion are you envisioning?

  • Endwall
  • Sidewall
  • Additional story

Once complete, will the expanded building have additional valleys in the roof where snow or ice can collect? How will the rain impact the new roof line? What about flashing?

Be aware of the impact to both the addition and your original structure when you decide what you want to add onto it.

A deeper look at structural issues

The more extensive the addition, the more extensive the research. If you have the original drawings and plans for the existing structure, you are ahead of the game. The structural engineer will have more assurance with the design if you can clearly show what is already there.

As we said, the first thing to look into is whether the building is in good enough shape. Determining the type of foundation and load bearing elements in use will tell you what, if anything, you can do.

Some older structural systems may not meet code, whether they are wood, reinforced concrete, or structural steel. They might not be able to handle the load, or you may not be able to tell what it can support. Some internet research might help; many property records can be found online.

You need a structural analysis to find out if the floor and lateral-load resistance are acceptable, especially if you are in a seismically active area (which seems to be almost anywhere these days).

If structural members are deteriorated, can they be replaced or safely repaired? Depending on the building material you may be looking at corroded rebar, mold, water damage, or bugs creating a condo. If the building has settled, you may have a cracked foundation.

Will it still make financial sense to build a metal building addition?

Check your air conditioning, heating, and ventilation system. Does the current set-up have the capacity to service the new addition? Or do you need to upgrade? Where can you make openings and run ductwork into the new space?

If new penetrations are created, the structural integrity of the original building may be compromised. If not, make sure all penetrations have adequate flashing and sealant to prevent leaks.

Additional floors may be the trickiest extension of all. Unless the original building was designed for a greater load in the future, you have more work to do. New floors add more dead weight and require additional support in the form of new columns and reinforcing existing supports.

Ways to add onto your existing building

Now that you have the existing building taken care of, what sort of addition were you thinking of?

  • Roof extensions can reduce water build-up and corrosion for the entire structure. New roofing is attached to the existing roof, and then you place walls at a slope to support it. Roof extensions provide extra storage space for equipment or if you want high ceilings.
  • Adding units to an existing steel building often requires anchoring the addition directly to the secondary framing of the existing structure. Typically, you will anchor to the struts under the roof supports. Anchoring to the struts reduces the chance the building will collapse due to excessive weight or high winds.
  • If your existing building has expandable endwalls, you are in luck. Those endwalls will eliminate a whole lot of work when building an addition. If you are in the process of erecting a steel building now, consider using expandable endwalls and sidewalls for the ease of future expansion.

If you are fortunate enough to have a growing business or simply lack storage for your new hobby, building an addition onto an existing building is definitely an idea worth pursuing. Steel building components come ready to assemble for quick erection. Today's panels can be coated with virtually any color. You can make it match or leave it the way it is. It's all up to you.

Before selecting your addition, though, have your existing building thoroughly inspected and researched to make sure it can handle the additional weight and loads. You may find you only need a little reinforcement to put a lightweight steel section onto your barn, shed, or even your home. Have a skilled structural engineer check things out with regard to your ideas about expansion. If it’s a go, you have a quick, easy way to make more space.

 

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