A steel building is a big budget purchase. You need to do your homework to learn about the various aspects of buying and erecting a metal building to avoid mistakes and get the building you want. You already know why you want your building to be made of steel. It’s a durable, versatile, low-maintenance structure that you will be able to use for decades.
When buying a steel building, you need to look at the big picture and the long-term to avoid making mistakes. You may be able to get the same size building for less money up front if you opted for wood frame, but you will end up spending more on maintenance and repairs for a structure that will only last a fraction of the time a steel building endures.
Steel buildings have “non-load bearing” exterior walls allowing you to use several different construction materials to enclose the building or easily expand the structure. On the other hand, wood uses “load bearing” exterior walls that limits the choice of coverings and the building is not easy to expand.
Here are five tips for buying a steel building.
Cheapest is not always best
Like anything else, you get what you pay for. Nobody wants to overpay but you do need to make wise spending decisions.
- A steel building is prefabricated to rigorous quality standards in a controlled environment.
- Other materials may be less expensive, but they probably won't last as long.
- Wood is less expensive but is more vulnerable to risks like fire and termites.
- Steel is stronger, foot-for-foot than any other building material.
Looking for the cheapest steel building isn’t always the best move either. A cheap steel building kit may arrive missing parts, the pre-drilled holes may not line up properly, or the frame members may not be qualified for the load you need.
A cheap building may also imply the supplier is not dependable. If you need replacement parts, transportation, or other support, a vendor who sells cheap probably won’t be able to help you. The lower price comes from cutting service as well as selecting the cheapest steel on the market to fabricate the building. The vendor is going for volume business. Quality assurance is probably not high on the list.
To add to the injury of using cheap materials, your cost savings will evaporate because it will take longer to erect the building. You can forget about customization altogether.
Focus on cost, not price.
Know who you are buying from
You can purchase a metal building through a broker or a general contractor. You can also buy directly from the manufacturer.
- A broker sells based solely on your budget and the building's measurement specifications. You put together your wish list, and the broker looks over the market to find something that meets your requirements at the best price. You won't have a chance to customize, and a broker will not handle delivery or erection. Additional requirements, such as insulation, are handled separately.
- A general contractor often works with a preferred manufacturer or may go through a broker to obtain the building kit. Purchase, delivery, and assembly are taken care of, but the cost of the building is marked up to pay for labor and turn a profit. As with a broker, you have no opportunity to customize, and the building will be selected based on your budget and the measurement.
- Steel building manufacturers often sell directly to the public. If you have special needs or a custom design, the manufacturer is the one to see. Most have on site engineers and designers to help you put together a workable plan for the building you want and can afford. Manufacturers also provide delivery and project management services or recommend highly qualified general contractors plus they’re available to help if any problems crop up.
Whichever way you go, ask for references and do your due diligence before selecting the best way to buy your metal building.
Know what you want and need
If you already know dimensions or rough square footage, you may be able to accelerate your project. If you have a detailed plan, you can get your building manufactured and delivered even more quickly. There are fewer delays in manufacturing and you can schedule activities to run concurrently if everything is locked down.
If you meet with the broker, general contractor, or manufacturer and have not settled on what you want or if you are just guessing, the product you receive will not match your needs. You will be stuck with a building that isn't what you wanted, or you will have the extra expense of change orders after construction begins.
Define your needs. Ask yourself what you expect the building to do for you. Think about the details such as the number and type of doors and windows you need. Will you need insulation? Do you need a multi-story building? What do you want it to look like?
Think about these things before you make a purchase. Also, do not be afraid to ask questions. It’s far better to get things worked out before you begin.
Get the paperwork done right
Get everything in writing. Check for the appropriate signatures. Double check everything, including the final plan for your building.
Make sure you review and understand all your contracts. Check the order form to make sure everything you need is there. Read through all the clauses that describe what the contractor or the manufacturer will do in case of delay or if a problem is found after the site work begins.
Next, ensure all the proper permits have been obtained. Your general contractor may take care of getting them, but it is up to you to ensure your building is constructed to your local building code. You need permission to build, your site must be appropriately zoned for your building, and special use permits may be required depending on what you intend to do with your building.
Check that all inspections are performed and any rework completed before signing off on completion of the project.
When your building kit is delivered, you and your general contractor should check to ensure every part is included and that nothing was damaged in transport. Note any damaged material on the delivery paper work and contact the contractor or manufacturer immediately.
If you do not check inventory, you will run into delays later in the game, causing you to go over your budget due to scheduling issues.
Buying a steel building is a challenge with lots of moving parts. If you do your homework and keep on top of things, your building experience will run smoothly. Even if glitches occur, if you have prepared for contingencies, your project will still be completed to your satisfaction.
Remember, the cheapest isn’t always the best deal, know who you are buying from, know what you want, double and triple check the paperwork, and make sure everything you paid for arrives in good shape at your building site.