What Information Do I Need to Get the Most Accurate Steel Building Quote?

Published November 20, 2017 by Whirlwind Team

steel building quote

An accurate quote for a steel building relies on a number of factors ranging from the basic dimensions of the building to the trim you plan to use. Many suppliers have online steel building calculators that guide you through the process by asking you to make a series of choices for the building and accessories as well as where the building will be located.

Let’s take a look at some of the selections you will be asked to make so you can do your homework before going online or consulting a salesperson.



The location of the metal building tells the manufacturer the building codes to follow and the type of environment the building will experience. Building codes differ between municipalities and states; most vendors can tap into the correct codes from the location information provided.

  • State
  • County and municipality
  • Zip code

Once the correct building codes are known, the vendor calculates the appropriate loads for snow, wind, and seismic conditions in the region.

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How big is your building?

Beyond square footage determined by the length and width of the building, the vendor also needs to know your proposed eave height, meaning the height at the top of the walls, as well as the roof pitch and peak height.

Typical roof pitches run from 1:12, which is nearly a flat roof, to 6:12, which is more steeply pitched at an approximate 27-degree angle. If you require a sharper pitch, you can ask the vendor what is available and suitable for the location.

Building Use

The type of metal building you require determines your selection of accessories and provides context for the vendor when fabricating the building kit. A hangar requires large doors, a mini-storage may need roll-up doors, and a commercial building needs walk doors for the customers and roll up doors for the unloading area.

An agricultural building is often built as a large, open-span space with plenty of room for equipment and feed storage, and animal shelter. Sports facilities are often open span, also, but require other space for locker rooms, offices, and other recreational spaces.

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Doors and Windows

Doors and windows are called framed openings.

Door size is driven by what needs to fit through the door, obviously, and you also have a variety of options for the type of door your facility needs.

You will be asked for the number of door openings your building needs as well as the width and height of each. You may be asked if you will need an electric operator kit. You may need an electric opener for buildings with large doors, such as hangars, although steel roll-up and overhead doors are typically well-balanced and easy to open by hand.

Door type ranges from walk doors, which are designed for human use to enter and egress the building, to overhead and roll-up doors.

  • Overhead doors may be insulated or non-insulated and can be coded for wind if required.
  • Roll-up doors may be insulated or non-insulated and be coded for wind if required.
  • You may only need the opening framed and trimmed.

Other door types you may have available to you include sectional, sliding, bi-fold, and hydro-swing doors. Walk doors, sometimes called personnel doors, can be designed as a single or double door with several options for levers or other handles as well as locksets.

If your structure needs windows, let the vendor know how many windows you need including the dimensions of width and height. Windows are available as insulated or non-insulated. Windows can be designed for a horizontal slide or they may only be for lighting purposes with no need to open.

Windows can also be designed with wind locks if you are in a location with frequent high winds.

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Metal building Accessories and trim

Now that you know the size of your building and the type of openings you require, it’s time to select accessories.


Vents provide air flow to control the temperature, humidity, and air mix inside the building. Your vendor can recommend how many and how far apart they should be, depending on the size and shape of your building and whether you will be installing heating and air conditioning equipment. One recommendation is to install one vent every 25 feet in building length.

Agricultural buildings may not need heating and air conditioning but will require a way to allow air to flow for humidity reduction and introduce fresh air if animals are sheltered within. Ridge vents come in an array of sizes depending on the building and code requirements.


Insulation for the roof and walls can reduce your energy bill substantially and may be needed to protect the building contents. Roof insulation can be selected in three inch to six-inch thicknesses or more while wall insulation may be three to four inches thick. Insulation is now governed by building codes, so your vendor will be able inform you of the requirements. There are many new insulation systems available to meet these codes.

Steel buildings accommodate several different types of insulation, including blanket, batt, and blown-in. Insulation easily fits between girders and can come with fire suppressive properties.

Design & price your metal building online »

Gutters and downspouts

Gutters and downspouts are critical for protecting the ground surrounding the building’s foundation, collecting water and guiding it away from the base of the building. Gutters may save the walls from deterioration from water sheeting down the exterior, potentially entering the insulation or the building’s interior through small openings around fasteners or seams. Vendors have gutter systems designed for high snow areas if required.


Skylights can be added to a building for additional lighting or in place of windows. Like vents, skylights are installed into openings which may be trimmed like windows and doors. If you like, operable skylights are available to allow you to open and close louvers or the windows themselves for ventilation and adjustable light levels.


All steel panels are coated to prevent rust and oxidation, but most manufacturers have a menu of colored coatings as well. Selecting a stock color means faster fabrication time and less expense but if you want a custom color that is available as well. It may take a bit longer to obtain panels in your color or to coat them with custom color in the factory.

The color of roof panels is critical to the energy use of the building. A “cool roof” is a white or light-colored roof with high reflectance and emittance of the heat and light from the sun. Some coatings even have added reflective material. A cool roof can save a substantial amount on your energy bill, particularly in hot, sunny climates.

If you provide your steel building vendor with all this information, you should be able to obtain an accurate quote for the price of the steel building you want. If you are buying a basic or standard building, you can order your building completely online, or you may choose to contact a consultant to put together a custom building.

Either way, you will receive a highly durable steel building that requires little maintenance, resists weathering and fire, and will serve you well for decades to come.

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