Steel Building Buyers Guide

About This Guide

With well over a decade in the steel building business, Buck Steel has accumulated a tremendous amount of experience serving a wide variety of customers in planning, designing, and erecting their steel building projects. Our pre-engineered metal building experience has taken us from Alaska to Key West and just about everywhere in between.
This Steel Building Buyers Guide is an attempt, by us, to share some or our steel building industry knowledge and practical experience with you in an effort to ensure that you don't fall victim to some of the errors we have witnessed others make over the years.
While we certainly hope you will choose Buck Steel as your metal building supplier, irrespective of whom you choose, we want your project to be a successful and these tips on buying metal buildings will help get your project off on the right foot.

Building Departments & HOA's

Check with your local building and zoning department to determine if you are allowed to put a steel building on your property. Some municipalities have restrictions on the use of steel buildings and some require the use of stucco, brick, or other exterior finish on one or more sides of the structure.
Building Permit red stencil stamp.Before making a purchase decision, visit your local building department again with a copy of the quote from the company you are considering doing business with and get a preliminary verbal approval before proceeding.
Additionally, check with your HOA as it might have its own restrictions on the use of a steel building on your property. You do not want to have signed a Sales Contract and placed a deposit on your backyard shop, only to find out that your HOA is going to prevent you from erecting your project.

Anchor Bolt and Foundation Plans

Anchor Bolt Plans come standard with all buildings and are provided by the pre-engineered metal building manufacturer.
They are drawings representing the design of the base plates on the columns, showing the location of the anchor bolts used to secure the building to the slab.Metal building anchor bolt plans sample screenshot.

Foundation Plans are drawings that are designed using your building engineering, soil condition, seismic activity, and many other factors. Foundation plans contain important information for your concrete contractor regarding the size of the piers to be poured, size and placement of rebar, wire mesh, and hairpins.
Stamped engineered foundation drawings are required as part of the permit process. Most steel building companies do not provide foundation drawings, which are designed/provided by a licensed structural engineer.
Metal building foundation design plans sample screenshot.

Comparing Quotes - No Easy Task!

Discard any quotes provided to you by any steel building company telling you it's a "one - day special offer" or "cancelled order". Steel building companies that use the “cancelled order” story are often the least reputable in the business and simply telemarketing firms.
Comparing metal building quotes with an apple and orange on scale.
Study the remaining quotes and attempt to compare apples with apples. Make sure that the length, width, height, and roof pitch are the same as well as the wind load, wind exposure, live load, snow load and other engineering details. Differences in steel building engineering details between quotes could result in a significant difference in price. Discard any quote that does not clearly specify the engineering details used to design the building being quoted.
Make certain that features you assume to be standard are in fact that and not listed in the "options" section in a confusing or misleading manner. All included items and optional items should be clearly marked as such and remember if it isn't listed in writing as being included - then it isn't.

Beware of the "Components Building"

Puzzle with pieces labeled as metal building components with center puzzle piece missing. Component buildings should be avoided at all cost. Component building brokers use metal building engineering software to engineer their own buildings and then source them out to several different component factories.
A frame shop may make the primary frames while another factory will make the secondary framing, purlins, girts etc. while still another factory might roll the panels for the roof and walls. In the end this leaves a greater margin for error in the fabrication of your steel building and results in additional shipping costs.
Additionally, the "morning of delivery" may actually wind up being the “week of delivery” by the time all the different shipments actually arrive from their respective factories. This scenario also makes it easy for all concerned parties to engage in the “blame game” when items are missing or damaged in shipment leaving you unable to erect your building.

Wind Rated vs. Wind Certified Doors

Wind "rated" simply means that the door being provided for your metal building has been subjected to internal wind testing by the manufacturer of the door.
Wind "certified" means that the door being provided for your metal building has gone through very intense wind testing in an independent laboratory, meets all the requirements of the pressures required to sustain certain weather conditions, and will have a label stating such affixed to the door.
Wind certified graphic in wind font.
Whether or not you need a wind "rated" door, a wind "certified" door, or simply a standard door will depend on your local building department. The difference in price of a standard door and a wind "certified" door can be substantial!
We strongly recommend you contact your local building department to determine what kind of doors will be required for your building and then to carefully review your quotes to make sure the required type of door is the one being quoted.

Full Cover Trim vs. Trim Package

Some companies use the term “trim package” to lead you to believe that you are getting a complete trim piece to cover the “C” channel framed opening - otherwise known as “full cover trim”, when in fact they are merely providing you with the basic “J-trim” package provided with every building.
Metal building framed opening with full cover trim shown.

Don't Fall Victim To "The Bump"

Yellow caution sign labeled with Price Bump Ahead. Telemarketers and unscrupulous steel building companies will often price your building with wind, exposure, or snow requirements LESS than your local building codes require - just to quote you a low price.
Once they obtain your non-refundable deposit, they will advise you that the cost of your building is substantially higher due to the modifications needed in order to meet your local building codes.

Accessory Placement Affects Cost

Every metal building needs to be braced in order to maintain its structural integrity and to meet local codes/loads. Depending on the bracing method used, the bay being braced might be unavailable for use with accessories such as rollup doors, personnel doors, windows, etc. or an alternative higher cost bracing method might have to be used.
Be suspicious of any steel building company that does not discuss accessory placement prior to providing you a quote. Additionally, the placement of your accessories should be clearly specified on your quote - as well as the bracing method used to brace the steel building.

Cancelled order red stencil stamp.

The Cancelled Order - The Oldest Trick In The Book

While we have mentioned the infamous "cancelled order" sales pitch earlier it bears another mention. Beware of any metal steel building company that allows their salesmen to use this dishonest selling technique. The "cancelled order" sales pitch has been used by unethical salesmen, telemarketers, and untrained metal building brokers for ages. Why? Because it works! Unsuspecting customers fall for it all the time.
We recommend that if you hear about "one-day sales" or "cancelled orders" and are asked to provide a credit card number over the phone for a deposit that you hang up the phone! Find another company to work with and remember that the overwhelming majority of steel building companies are honest, knowledgeable, and eager to have your business.

Want to learn more about the steel building process?

Read our most popular blog articles Avoid Metal Building Scams and 5 Steps To Starting A Successful Steel Building Project