5 Steps To Starting A Successful Steel Building Project

SO... you have decided to embark on a steel building project and are eager to get the ball rolling. But where do you start? Who do you go to first?
 
Even though you are not a construction expert, what things can you do to help ensure that your project is successful, comes in on budget and is free from aggravation and stress? This article will review 5 initial steps that will go a long way to helping make your steel building project a success.

Step 1   Get your finances in order

Largely speaking, financing is not available in the steel building industry. For smaller residential and small business projects that are not financed by a bank, if you can't afford to write a check for your project, your project is pretty much dead in the water.
 
If you have no idea what kind of costs you should be anticipating, reach out to a few steel building companies and ask them for some rough ballpark estimates on a building similar to one you are thinking about in your area.
 
An experienced estimator should be able to provide you with a rough ballpark estimate for your building and erecting. Additionally, more experienced estimators might also be able to share some basic concrete costs with you as well.

Step 2   Visit your building dept

A visit to your local building department is a crucial step in the building process. Whether you like it or not, your local building department is going to have a lot of control over your project and will likely be doing the final building inspection, so communicate effectively with them and educate yourself on what they expect. Here are some of the more important things you should discuss with them:

  •  Can you even put a steel building on your property
  •  What are your property setbacks and what is the largest size building you can you put on your property
  •  Are there any restrictions on using steel panels on the walls of the building
  •  What is the site-specific wind load for your project site
  •  What is the site-specific wind exposure for your project site
  •  What is the site-specific snow load for your project site
  •  Are there any specific energy codes you will need to adhere to

Step 3   Visit your HOA

For residential projects, after leaving your local building department, you should be visiting your Homeowner's Association (HOA) if your project is in a community governed by one.
 
Your HOA very well might have their OWN restrictions regarding what you can build on your property. Here are some important things you should discuss with them:

  •  Can you even put a steel building on your property?
  •  Are there any HOA restrictions regarding building size? Height? Roof pitch?
  •  Are there any HOA restrictions regarding the type of garage doors or personnel doors you can use?
  •  Are there any HOA restrictions regarding the type of exterior finish on the building?
  •  Are there any HOA restrictions regarding the color of the roof or walls?

Step 4   Obtain quotes

Start by searching the internet for steel building companies - visit their websites and make a list of the sites that convey a sense of professionalism and provide informative information. A reputable steel building company with meaningful experience is going to be eager to share their experience with their site visitors and prospective customers.
 
After you have narrowed down a small list of prospective steel building suppliers, perform separate internet searches for the company's name followed by the words "rip-off", "complaint", "lawsuit", and "attorney general". While no company will have a 100% perfect customer satisfaction record, you certainly want to avoid any company whose name appears over and over again in the search results for the aforementioned terms!
 
Contact the companies that remain on your list and share the information you gathered in the previous steps. Ask questions - take notes - and listen to the estimator to determine his level of experience. A good estimator will ask you a lot of questions as well as sharing some of his knowledge with you. If the focus of the conversation repeatedly comes back to placing an order immediately, move on to the next company.

Step 5   Compare quotes

This is the hardest and most crucial of steps. Comparing quotes from different steel building companies is very difficult even for those of us IN the business. If you intend on simply tossing out the most expensive and least expensive quotes and selecting one in the middle - you'll be making a very big mistake that you'll have time to regret later.
When comparing quotes from different companies look at the following:

  •  Is the SIZE of the building (length, width, eave height, roof pitch) the same on all the quotes
  •  Is the wind load, wind exposure, snow load, collateral load, and other engineering specs the same on all the quotes
  •  Is the size of the rollup and personnel doors clearly listed on all the quotes along with their exact location in the structure
  •  Do the framed openings for rollup doors all clearly state that they include full cover trim
  •  Do all the quotes include a rough 3D sketch of the building showing all the framed openings for rollup doors, personnel doors, and windows
  •  Do all the quotes have the same base condition listed
  •  Do all the quotes include full trim and closure strip packages

It's very important to remember that if you DO NOT SEE IT in writing on the quote - it's NOT INCLUDED in the quoted price!