Project Design and Planning
An Overview of the Construction Process
As with any building project, purchasing and erecting a steel building takes planning. As a rule, the better planned a project is, the more successful it will be. Let’s take an overhead view of the process, highlighting the various steps involved—from conception to completion.
This “birds-eye-view” of the project will enable you to plan confidently, carry out efficiently, and enjoy your wise investment.
A project like this always begins with an idea. A great way to start stretching that idea out is to put your thoughts down on a piece of paper, considering things such as: What will the building be used for? How big will it need to be? Where should the doors and windows be placed? Putting your ideas on a piece of paper is a great place to start and can be used when initially consulting with the engineer who will proceed with architectural drawings. You will also need to establish a budget.
Once the basic concept has been created, a number of choices and decisions need to be made. What style of building do I want? Where on my property should the building be erected? What kinds of accessories and finishes would I like to have? Customizing your building is an enjoyable part of the process, but there’s no need to rush -- changes and adjustments can always be made at a later time when you consult with the engineer and as you work through the project.
You will also need to decide if you are going to have all the work done by an erector and a general contractor or if you should plan on doing some of it yourself, such as the erection.
After the first two steps are completed, it’s time to have your dream put into a graphic design format. You will need to choose a building manufacturer with whom you will work to flesh out the project. BuildingsGuide can be used to locate a number of specialists in your area that you can consult with.
All of the available manufacturers have engineers on staff. They will take your ideas and sketches and design your building. Since they will be using pre-engineered components, your overall costs will be reduced, but you will nonetheless have a building that has been customized for your specific needs. The design that is produced will be in compliance with your local building code as well as load requirements for your region.
Once you have found the manufacturer you want to work with and the design has been approved by the local code authority, but before any work begins (including the engineering), it will be time to place an order and put down a deposit.
After drawings have been made, they may send you plans and erection diagrams, allowing you to prepare the construction site ahead of time. The manufacturer may also offer to send you the appropriate anchor bolts which will secure the building to its foundation. You will use these in laying and preparing the foundation while your building is being manufactured.
While you are preparing the site for installation, the manufacturer will be busy filling your order, fabricating the components as needed or pulling them from their inventory. If you have not done so already, you will need to hire an erector and a general contractor during this process unless you are going to be doing that work yourself. When the building components are delivered, the site should already be prepared for erection.
The purchase of a metal building doesn’t typically include site preparation unless you’re buying from a merchant who also provides that service. So, while your building is being manufactured, you will be busy getting the site ready for erection. This could include surveying, excavation, tree removal, and grading.
The manufacturer will provide details on type and size of the foundation on which the building will sit. Foundations are typically poured concrete, but other types may also be used depending on the location, climate, and intended use. For details on types of foundation, see our page Steel Building Foundations.
It is important to coordinate delivery with your erection contractor. You are responsible for receipt of your order, but the contractor will need to be present to verify that everything you’re getting billed for has arrived. Shortages or damaged materials must be noted by the carrier; otherwise, the supplier will not be held responsible. If construction is not taking place immediately, building materials must be adequately covered and protected. Please see the page Delivery Day for more detailed information on what to expect.
If you have hired an erection contractor, you may sit back and watch your building take shape, however you’ll need to be available for consultation should any questions arise. General erection consists of the setting of columns, the installation of purlins and girts (ribs), and the attachment of the roof and wall sheeting. Be sure to have everything that the erector has agreed to do in writing in the contract documents so that there is no confusion as to the erector’s responsibilities.
If you are going to be assembling the building yourself, it is imperative that you follow the highly-detailed assembly instructions to the letter, including all safety instructions. As with any construction project, improper handling or unapproved building techniques can lead to serious injury or even death. Doing it right will result in lower overall costs and the long-term enjoyment of your new steel building. We recommend that you visit our Building Assembly Tips page which provides some helpful hints for a safe and cost-efficient construction of the project.
When the erection is complete, you will have a hollow metal shell—a skeleton, if you will. Now it’s time to put some meat on the bones—“building out,” as it is called. Either you or your contractor will add insulation; rough-in plumbing, electrical and HVAC; install doors, windows, and possibly skylights; and construct interior walls and ceilings. For more information on this, see our Steel Building Accessories page.
Finishing both the interior and exterior of your structure will include floor being laid, walls and ceilings being painted, and plumbing and lighting fixtures being installed inside. The exterior will get gutters and downspouts, window and door trim, steps or decking, and whatever kind of wall finish you’ve decided on—from paint to masonry. For more, see the accessories/finishing page.
Depending on your local municipality, your project may have had to pass inspections of various phases, such as plumbing and electrical, for construction to continue to progress. Upon completion, you must schedule a final inspection of the entire project with a local building inspector. He will typically then issue a Certificate of Occupancy, allowing you to put the building to use. You will likely also do a walkthrough with your contractor to ensure the structure and finish is to your satisfaction. A “punch list” of minor corrections may be generated which the contractor will complete in a timely manner.
We hope this overview has given you a good idea of what you have to look forward to on your journey. Building, owning, and using a Pre-engineered Building can be a very rewarding experience, not only in filling a possible need, but doing so in such a way as to bring you enjoyment and peace-of-mind for many years to come.