Home & Hobby Residential Metal Buildings

Attention DIY Enthusiasts! Do you have a need for a hobby shop, a storage area for your boat, airplane or RV, or even have a teenager seeking their own private space outside the home?

A pre-engineered residential metal structure is the most durable and cost-effective solution to all your building needs. These easy-to-assemble structures can be erected quickly and efficiently, often without a need for professional help. Although they are self-assembly, pre-engineered steel buildings have a high-end customizable appearance.

Residential Metal Building Applications:

Although traditional building methods using wood, brick or even stone form an important part of the heritage of barn, shed and workshop construction, there's no comparison to the durability and cost-effectiveness of a modern building material like steel. Built from the strongest and most durable construction material on the market, a steel building can stand up to all kinds of weather forces, from hail to wind gusts, snow, rain and ice.

If you plan on using your steel building in all seasons, the structure can be insulated to keep it warm in winter and cool in summer. Insulation also provides soundproofing qualities to help keep outside noises muted, or prevent loud noises inside from being heard by outsiders.

Building Design Choices

Quonset Hut Buildings

Quonset Hut Steel Building (arch building designs)
  • The most economical building option
  • Superior wind & snow loading
  • Fast DIY construction

Straight Wall Buildings

Pre-engineered residential steel building
  • Attractive “Peaked Roof” building design
  • Multiple exterior finishing options
  • Maximum interior space availability

* For more information on design options refer to the steel building designs page


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Pre-Construction Planning Considerations

Zoning Restrictions

  • Building regulations vary between municipalities, so it is important to do your research on whether there are any specific limitations on your property with building an additional structure.
  • Properties each have individual zoning permissions. For example, a property could have residential or commercial zoning, or even direct-control zoning, which all come with unique building requirements and rules.
  • Common building regulations relate to how far the structure is from the property line, the height of the building, or even the appearance.
  • If there are zoning restrictions preventing you from erecting your pre-engineered steel building, you can appeal the bylaw at town hall.
  • In an appeal process, you must be ready to vouch for why you need to have the zoning changed. It is often helpful to gather support from your neighbours before reaching this step of the appeal process.

Building Permits

  • Before assembling a pre-engineered residential steel building, always check first if you need to obtain building permits from your local municipal office.
  • If you do, you will need blueprint plans of your proposed building, which can be provided by the respective manufacturer of your pre-engineered steel building kit.
  • A registered third party must certify the plans.
  • A building inspector will review your proposed construction.
  • Typical issues a building inspector looks for include electrical wiring, the durability of the roof for the climate in which you are living, earthquake safety, and structural elements of the building.
  • Generally, larger buildings have more stringent building regulations.
  • Steel building manufacturers are unlikely to sell you a pre-engineered building if they don't believe the structure will qualify for a building permit within your particular municipality.

Local Environmental Conditions

Although steel is an incredibly durable and resilient construction material, when engineering a steel structure one must take into account the forces of nature, especially snow and wind.

If you live in a climate that receives a lot of snow, it is important to research the structure you wish to purchase and provide the manufacturer with the correct expected snow load. Snow is a unique force of nature in that it can drift and accumulate more on some parts of the roof, causing inconsistent stress on certain structural devices. While it is possible to calculate typical snow load for your region in real time, many municipal planning departments also have figures on truss size, pitch and materials to the pounds per square foot of pressure from snow.

Metal buildings tend to be light in weight and require secure anchoring to the ground. Wind is one of the most important forces to take into account when purchasing a steel building. Wind load is a determination of the amount of stress a structure experiences at a given wind speed. This calculation is important when determining the height of a building, as well as other structural aspects like the number and location of openings in the building. Determining wind load for even a simple structure is complex and should be carried out by a design engineer.

Other forces to take into account when engineering a steel building are the dead and live loads. A dead load is defined as the weight of a steel structure, meaning the building must be able to structurally support itself. A live load is an external force applied to the building, such as construction workers that would be on the building while it is being erected. Rain is also considered to be a live load.

Tips for Maintaining a Metal Building:

  • Touch up scratches or any exposed metal as soon as possible to prevent rust. Clean the area with a wire brush and then apply a paint recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Inspect your structure at least once a year. Tighten loose screws, bolts, and other hardware. Loose connections lead to premature wear.
  • Sweep off the roof to remove wet leaves and debris, which can be hard on the finish. Also clear the roof after heavy snowfall to reduce the risk of collapse.
  • Seal open seams and other potential entry points for water with silicone caulk. Keep the structure's doors closed and latched to prevent damage from wind gusts.

Every steel building is made up of the same basic components and requires similar do-it-yourself assembly instructions. If you are conserned about the difficulty of assembling a steel structure, consider the following basic directions.

1. Before you begin, you will need to prepare the building site by leveling and grading as needed, then excavating and adding at least a 4-inch thick layer of compacted gravel. The gravel can be compacted with a tamper, ensuring the foundation is flat using a level and a long, straight 2 x 4 (more about steel building foundations). You may want to apply landscaping fabric under to gravel to limit the growth of weeds.

2. The first step in assembling most metal building kits is the floor. Keep in mind where you would like the door to be located during this step, and try not to fasten any of the parts together until you have laid everything out on the ground. Always wear thick work gloves when handling the metal kit parts as the edges can be sharp.

3. If your kit suggests it, anchor the floor to the ground of the site. Once the floor is secure, you can begin installing the wall panels by following specific directions from the manufacturer. Most panels are pre-drilled for fasteners, and can be easily constructed by ensuring the fastener holes align between panels and with the floor.

4. Attach the wall panels using fasteners, taking together mating corner panels on at least two adjacent corners. Fill in the wall panels between completed corners, attaching them to the frames with fasteners.

5. To assemble the roof, lay out the roof beam parts and the side frames, using fasteners to connect the parts together.

6. Fasten the shed panels to the top frames, ensuring the fastener holes are aligned. Fasten the doorframe trim pieces to the frames to finish the door opening. Take extra precaution to not overdrive the fasteners.

7. Insert the building gable panels into the side frames and the door track, sliding them together so the fastener holes are aligned. Then fit the main roof beam into the clips of the gable panels.

8. Now install any supplementary support hardware for the beam, like gussets or angle braces. Then attach the roof panels to the roof beam and the top flanges of the side frames.

9. Before you attach the overlapping roof panels, apply weather-stripping tape to the top ends to seal the joints. Any adhesive-backed foam tape available from most hardware stores can work, or your kit will provide it.

10. Finally, you will install the plywood floor and assemble/attach the doors.

How to Properly Anchor the Structure:

Metal buildings tend to be light in weight and require secure anchoring to the ground. Manufacturers will sometimes sell an anchor kit separately, so check to ensure this before you order your metal structure.

There are several anchoring methods to keep in mind, depending on the type of base you've built.

  • On concrete and wood bases, use corner gusset anchors that are attached directly to the floor frame and then fastened with landscape screws for wood or masonry anchors driven into concrete.
  • On a gravel or dirt base, you will need to anchor the structure on at least two sides using auger-type anchors that are driven into the ground just outside the building. Once the anchors are driven, cables are strung through the structure so they are connected to the roof beam.