Planning a Steel Warehouse Building

Prefab commercial storage building

Planning a prefabricated steel warehouse building is without doubt the most critical stage for your company's growing storage requirements. Today, warehouse designs have advanced greatly in their development, creating options that weren’t available in the past. Pre-engineered building manufacturer will provide features to make planning and constructing a painless process with sample plans and drawings for your proposed space & storage needs.

There are a few major sets of factors that will influence the design and construction of your metal warehouse building. Some of these include indepth research as to the exact purpose of your warehouse, finding a good location and discussing with experts as to the best way to design and construct your particular project.

So, How Much Does it Cost to Build a Warehouse?

Pre-engineered, I-Beam, buildings over 5,000 square feet (SF) are the most economical with building package prices as low as $7.50 per square foot. Q-Model Quonset structures come in even cheaper at approximately $5.38 per square foot.

Sample Pre-Engineered Steel I-beam Building Costs:

Building Size (ft) Estimate Price Cost/SF
30x40 $13,800 $11.50
40x50 $23,000 $11.50
50x60 $30,700 $10.30
50x100 $51,200 $10.24
80x150 $92,200 $7.68
100x150 $115,200 $7.68
200x300 $460,800 $7.51

Sample Quonset Building Costs:

Building Size (ft) Estimate Price Cost/SF
30x40 $11,500 $9.58
40x50 $19,200 $9.60
50x60 $21,500 $7.17
50x100 $35,840 $7.17
80x150 $64,512 $5.38
80x200 $86,016 $5.38
100X300 $161,564 $5.38

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A few key factors you must consider before actually constructing your steel warehouse building are the following:

  • Building Code - Make sure you know your local code information. This can be done by calling your local building department and telling them that you would like to build a metal building at the given location. It is up to you, as the customer, to give the metal building supplier the final code information. It’s also a good idea to look into the setbacks and other code information that may prohibit the use of a metal building or any building on a given lot.
  • Building Dimensions - Gather the dimensions of your warehouse building and indicate things like where you would like to have doors and windows and what color walls, roof and trim you want to have as well as the height of the building. This is extremely important when constructing a warehouse building, as doors must be the right size for large machinery and the dimensions will determine what inevitably can fit inside your warehouse.

When it comes to height, there are two main aspects:

  • Overall height measured on the outside
  • Interior clearance

The overall height may be regulated by zoning laws, but the clearance height will usually have more of an impact on your design decisions. At the low end, 10 ft. clearance is plenty for many applications. Heights of up to 30 ft. can accommodate your extensive warehouse shelving systems, your warehouse heavy construction vehicles and tractor-trailers.

Roof -Shape & Pitch
The building dimensions of your roof are extremely important to consider when constructing a metal warehouse building. Make sure you look at both the shape and the pitch of the roof as rigid frame metal buildings can come with several types of roofing options and you want to make sure you get the roof that will best suit your warehouse needs.

  • "Single slope" construction starts with one side wall higher than the other and the roof simply slants from the high wall to the lower.
  • "Peaked" or "gable" roofs have a more traditional peak, with the roof running down to both sides.

When it comes to the pitch of your roof, it’s usually expressed as a ratio. For example: 1:12 is the flattest type of roof, rising 1" for every 12" of width. 4:12 is usually the steepest pitch available for steel buildings. Increased pitch gives you more interior clearance which is great for warehouse buildings; it also helps improve the building's ability to shed rain and snow and can result in a better looking building (more on roofing here)

Once the design of your building has been established, there are a few more things to consider before the actual building begins and they include:

Engineering-Once the basic design is complete and you've paid a deposit, an engineer needs to create the specifications and blueprints for the building. The blueprints will specify what materials should be used and what loads the building will need to be able to withstand to meet local building codes.

  • Fabrication and Delivery-After the blueprints are signed off on, the real production begins. The beams, posts, girders, side and roof panels, and even the fasteners to hold the building together are all produced at a factory, then shipped to your construction site. The parts are pre-cut to the exact dimensions you need, pre-drilled, and ready to be bolted together. This step can take 3 to 6 weeks so factor in this time when thinking about the overall construction process.
  • Sitework-While the components are being manufactured, the building site can be readied. Steel buildings require foundations, which are usually poured concrete.

It’s Finally Time To Build:

  • Construction-Once the components arrive and the foundation is ready, the actual construction can take place. This can be done on your own with the manual, or you can hire an erector to help you put up your building.
  • Finishing- Adding insulation, interior walls, exterior finishes, doors and windows, steps, plumbing, and all the pieces that turn a metal box into a building you can appreciate. Your warehouse building might not need that many extra additions depending on its use.
  • Walkthrough-Like any construction project, your steel warehouse building needs to be approved by a building inspector once it is completed.

Author: Conrad Mackie