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Steel Building Buyer's Guide
Whether you need a building for personal or business use, steel is the solution for you. Steel is one of the most commonly used materials in construction. Its versatility ensures its effectiveness in commercial, industrial, office, warehouse, garage & workshop, airplane hangar, agriculture, riding arena, and mini storage system settings. Combining pre-engineered components with steel construction will provide your building with four clear benefits:
- Cost Savings: When compared with conventional building systems, up to 40% in labour costs can be saved when putting up your pre-engineered building.
- Fast Construction: Pre-fabrication of steel components means your construction can be done in minimal time – it takes only weeks for simple projects and even large complex jobs can be assembled in 60 to 90 days - compared to 6 months or more for traditional methods.
- Remarkable Resilience: The durability of steel helps buildings last 20 to 30 years without requiring painting or other maintenance, outlasting other materials..
- Environmental Sustainability: Pre-engineered steel buildings use galvanized steel sheets that are made with 25 to 30% post-consumer recycled content. All steel is 100% recyclable.
While construction takes a short time with pre-engineered steel buildings, it is always important to consider the full project timeline - from planning to finished product. An accurate plan translates to a well-executed project from inception to occupation. Below are the four main steps involved in the production of any building, along with the timelines for the average pre-engineered steel building. This information will help you know what to expect when you approach a steel manufacturer with a project for your new building.
Step 1: Specify the Design
Before any work can start on the project, everyone involved needs to know what it is expected to look like. An initial meeting will be held with your building consultant where you will describe the function that you want your building to serve. If your project is a complicated one, you may need an architect to be involved as part of your design team. Working together, general information about the building will be identified, but before your first discussion, try to consider the following things:
- Type of interior walls and roof;
- Number and placement of windows and doors;
- Any façade or cosmetic enhancement needed.
To help this process go smoothly, it is good to have an idea of each of these characteristics for your building prior to the meeting. It’s also important to discuss the functionality of your structure – what you are using it for and all the requirements it needs to fill. Most companies should have brochures available for you to browse and get familiar with their capabilities.
Based on your criteria, your Building Consultant will work with you to produce preliminary designs for your building. You may go back and forth a few times before you are completely satisfied with the final preliminary design. The engineering of your structure will be based on these, so make sure you are completely happy with them before moving forward.
Timeline: Simple projects can take only hours to design. Complex multi-faceted facilities can take months. How prepared you are for this first step in the building process, dictates how long it will take. It’s one way to cut down on the overall timeline of your project.
Step 2: Engineering
Once you have your preliminary design and have made an initial deposit, the engineers can get to work creating the specifications and blueprints for your building. Every pre-engineered building is individually customized for its specific use and geographical location. This is a very important fact. It means that your specific geography must be taken into consideration in order to secure the integrity of your specific building. The National Building Codes are used in this engineering process. You will receive these structural drawings to take to your permit office. These should be signed, dated and stamped by a licensed engineer from your province or state.
You will also give these drawings to your foundation engineer who will use the anchor bolt locations and the reactions from your structural drawings, to design the proper foundation for your requirements and soil conditions. Like the pre-engineered structural drawings, your foundation engineer will produce certified drawings for you to bring to your local permit office for approval.
Timeline: For simple projects, engineering can take from 6-10 days; for complex projects, engineering can take 2-5 weeks (engineering part), the same may be true for your foundation drawings.
Step 3: Permit Processing
Acquiring the relevant building permits that you will need before beginning construction is the next step. How long it takes will depend on your particular municipality, your site location, and on the complexity of your project, as well as on the time of year that you apply for permit approval.
It is always advisable to take advantage of the lull in construction during the winter months when the permit offices are not overburdened by spring and summer projects. This is one way to cut the timeline – time your permit submission so they can be approved quickly, or any issues can be resolved while the frost is still in the ground. This way you can be ready to break ground as soon as the weather allows.
And remember, any changes that are required at this stage will lengthen the project timeline and can result in surcharges and high re-engineering costs.
Timeline: 3 weeks to 1.5 years for county/city permit processing.
Step 4: Fabrication and Delivery
Once your permits have been approved, your project can then be released to production and at this time, you will likely be asked to provide a second deposit. The detailing team will begin by producing the essential component inventory for your specific building and manufacturing will begin.
In the case of pre-engineered buildings, all these parts are produced and pre-cut to the exact dimensions that you need in a separate facility. They are even pre-drilled so they will be ready to be assembled and bolted together once they arrive at your construction site. This considerably reduces the construction timeline compared to buildings that are not pre-engineered, letting you enjoy your finished building much sooner.
Timeline: 3 - 12 weeks depending on complexity.
This 4-step process is the typical sequence of events for most of the customers we work with. And while the timelines we have listed in this blog are averages, it is important to remember that all timelines will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. At Norsteel, for typical projects, we get all the work done within 6-8 weeks. Many of our customers have already received approval from their permit offices and in such cases, we can move very quickly from inception of design to delivery. These projects can take as little as 4-6 weeks to arrive at your site, from the time that you have your initial discussion with your consultant.
The ultimate goal is a smoothly executed timeline so that while we are busy manufacturing, you are preparing your site, pouring your foundation, and getting ready to receive your building.
One last piece of advice – before you start planning your new building, take the time to contact your local permit office so you are aware of any restrictions for your building and specific municipality. It’s also a good time to ask them to send you the current building codes and loads for your area.