Knowing how to buy a steel building is key to bringing a project in on time and within budget. There are three main avenues for obtaining prefab steel structures. The correct choice is often predetermined by the scope of the project and other factors which may already be in place.
Manufactures of steel buildings often sell directly to the public. This means that there is no middleman marking up the product. In addition, the customer can request specific designs and customized features by working with a designer from the manufacturer's workforce. However, the manufacturer will only create and ship the prefabricated pieces of the building to the desired location, and usually will not provide assembly services. Foundation expenses are also not included, and insulation may or may not be negotiable.
Building brokers may be found to do the footwork and comparison shopping based on specifications provided by the buyer. A broker will research different manufacturers to find the best proposal, and arrange purchase and delivery. Again, assembly, foundation and insulation costs will generally have to be handled separately through a general contractor.
General contractors often have a preferred manufacturer or broker they use for buying metal buildings. They arrange purchase, delivery and assembly as part of their own contract with the customer, often marking up the cost of the building as part of their bill. This is the most streamlined way to buy a steel building, but not always the most cost effective.
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Some things to insist on when purchasing a factory-direct building include:
- A written contract. Don't be pressured into giving verbal authorization before having all the details down on paper. Some companies will offer special deals or quicker delivery in order to hustle customers past the paperwork stage and leave loopholes for themselves to skimp on material or obligations.
- A detailed list of what is included, down to brand names and model numbers. Some components can range from several hundred dollars to thousands depending on brand and quality, so it is important for buyers to ensure they won't be paying top dollar for bargain bin materials. A request should be made for proof that paint, insulation and other materials used are of the proper quality.
- Verification that the building adheres to building codes in the location where it will be assembled. This should be provided in writing before manufacturing begins, and should be checked with local building officials.
Well-made and properly assembled steel buildings can last for 20-30 years or longer and require little maintenance, making them a good value for many buyers
Always research the manufacturer. This is important before making a final purchase, even if a general contractor or broker is arranging the buy. Price is not the only factor - it is vital that the materials used are sound and that building codes are being adhered to.