Planning a Steel Community Building

community steel building

This section offers some key planning information for those considering a steel church, school, recreation center, or public building, such as a fire hall.


By spending adequate time and energy during the planning stage, you ensure that you’ll save time and money in the long run. This stage involves careful consideration of all your present and potential future requirements.

Site Considerations:
All of the following are necessities for these types of community buildings. If they are not readily available at the site you have chosen, you may have to pay extra to create or bring them to your site.

• natural drainage
• firm and level ground
• access to utilities
• easy access
• room for future expansion

Building Orientation:
Prevailing wind directions, and the direction facing the sun at different times during the day, can also be considerations worth taking into account. For example, you may wish to have the sun bursting through a large stain-glass window for your largest Sunday morning Church service.


The building’s size will depend directly on what it is being used for. In the case of schools, for example, you need a pretty good idea of the maximum number of people who are going to occupy the building at one time. With this statistic, manufacturers will be able to determine the required dimensions.

It is a good idea to build bigger, rather than smaller, because occupation may increase with time. With extra space, you also have the option of renting space to others to supplement funds.

It is usually most economical to design and specify dimensions in 10-foot increments, for example: 30’ x 40’, 40’ x 50’, etc.

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The height of your community building will vary. Churches, for example, usually tend to have very high ceilings to add to their spiritual ambience. As a rule, building eave height must be at least 2 feet taller than the highest framed opening. (Framed openings are large openings, through which vehicles, large equipment, and loading items pass through). So fire stations, for example, must take into account the size of trucks and equipment.


Roof slope is expressed by the “roof pitch ratio,” which indicates the number of inches of vertical rise in a roof, for every 12 inches of horizontal run. 1:12 is considered standard. Desired roof slope will depend on the amount of clearance space you want in the center of your building, the look you want your building to achieve, and the snowfall in your region. A steeper pitch will run snow off more efficiently.


“Framed opening” is the term used to describe any opening in the building, either covered by a door or not, that is larger than a “walk-door” (a door people use to enter and exit through). A garage doorway would count as a framed opening, for example. These are not only useful for passing vehicles, but also for loading equipment and large boxes. Schools often have a loading bay area, closed off by a massive door, which trucks can use to back up to, or to deliver larger scholastic implements.


In the tables below, we have included some sample building measurements, along with links to rough floor plans. These are included to get you started, and to help you picture some of the ideas manufacturers will want to talk to you about. Your supplier will provide highly detailed professional floor plans.

Author: Conrad Mackie