Did You Know That a Custom Engineered Metal Building…..


…Is Green:  Custom-engineered steel buildings are increasingly recognized as energy efficient and cost-effective buildings with optimum functionality. The green qualities of a metal building system with recycled content and recyclability makes them an easy choice for today’s ‘Green Campaign.’ Metal buildings can be insulated to achieve extremely high R-values. A steel structure can aid in achieving credits with LEED registration and in achieving an EPA Energy Star Cool Roof rating.  A significant percentage of the steel in custom-engineered metal buildings can be made from recycled materials.

…Is Designed to Suit: Custom-engineered steel building systems are designed to suit an owner’s specific needs. Steel building systems appeal to Architects and Owners because they allow for cost- effective design versatility. Most buildings are a traditional rectangular shape, but often an Architect or Builder or even the site itself will require we use different geometric shapes.  A steel building can achieve most imagination-forward designs.

…Is Assembled Quickly On-Site: Building owners can take occupancy sooner; some estimates show time savings of as much as one-third that of conventional construction time.

…Can Be Climate-Controlled:  We can engineer a building system to be climate-controlled.

…Will Be Delivered to Your Site Within 6 to 8 Weeks: Efficient design and fabrication of materials within a custom-engineered system result in a low-cost building project. A short manufacturing cycle results in lower construction costs.

…Can Have Clear Span up to 200’: The flexibility of a custom-engineered system has several application benefits. For example, the spanning capacity of a metal building is significantly more than that of a wood, concrete or even a conventionally framed structure. This results in much more flexibility concerning floor space. Additionally, customizable column locations and depths offer adaptability to most floor plans. Metal buildings give the end-user more flexibility and customization for their final design.

…Is Value-Engineered: When we value-engineer the metal building system we save the owner material and labor cost over a less efficient alternative design.

…Can be a Hybrid Building: A custom-engineered building takes advantage of all the benefits of an engineered steel building and adds traditional construction elements like tilt-up walls or architectural elements made of light-gauge steel or wood.

…Has Entered New Market Segments: Due to their versatility, growth can be found through providing structures that go beyond the typical industrial applications. We see great potential in schools, churches and commercial structures. Everyone is looking for more efficient ways to build without sacrificing quality. This need has opened new markets not only in the private sector but also in the government sectors. Barnominiums are one of the new trends in this space.

…Is Virtually 100% Recyclable: So, it does not usually end up in a landfill like other construction materials.

What Is a Building Envelope?

Lately, almost all my Projects have had to address the “Building’s Envelope” to satisfy our client’s local Permitting Office’s energy requirements.  “What is a building envelope?” you may ask.

The building envelope, or shell, is the collective of several parts of the structure that work to enclose the interior environment and includes the roof, walls, windows, doors and foundation.  The purpose of the envelope system is multi-fold and includes ensuring structural integrity, controlling moisture, preventing thermal leakage and controlling air pressure boundaries. The enclosure begins in the ground with the footer, piers, frost wall and floor. It then extends out of the ground as walls, windows and doors and is ultimately capped with a roof.

All parts of the envelope must work together to achieve a common goal, of stopping the flow of air, water, cold and heat while still allowing the inevitable intrusion of water a way to dry out. The parts of the building where this balance is always the trickiest is where the roof meets the walls, the walls meet the floor and the floor meets the foundation.  When the design of these lines is uncertain, there will be a weak spot.  And where there is a weak spot, there is a potential break in the building’s envelope which will allow wind, water, dirt, insects, rodents, etc. to penetrate the interior.
Each part of the envelope has unique challenges that must be accounted for in a proper design.  A roof is bombarded by the sun, cold, heat, rain, snow, wind and hail. Walls contend with most of the same conditions, to a lesser degree. Walls have more weak links, such as doors, windows, signage and decks. Foundations see very small temperature swings because they’re buried underground but, unless you live in the desert, the ground is always wet, and that water is always pushing its way in. Water in the soil will wick all the way up to the roof framing if you let it. Capillary breaks such as brush-on damp-proofing, sill sealer, and rigid insulation block this process.  Many considerations must go into each component of the building to create a proper envelope.

It is vital to create an air barrier, a thermal break, a controlled internal environment, sealed seams and a few other components to be considered a true envelope in all steel structures.  An air barrier is the sum of many parts and consists of materials assembled and joined together to prevent air leakage between the conditioned space and unconditioned space — aka, the inside and outside. A typical air barrier incorporates more than a dozen materials, including some or all of the following: poured concrete, sill seal, wall sheathing, wrap, mastic tape, caulk, spray foam, gaskets, window glass, drywall, polyethylene, weather-stripping, etc. If any of these materials are leaky, the building’s air barrier may be compromised.

A Federal guide has been developed for the exterior envelope design and construction for Federal Institutional, Federal Office Buildings, etc.  This guide has been adopted by most State and Local Permitting Offices either as a general guide or as the official regulations.  Since more strict requirements have been applied to all Construction through local Permitting Offices, that equates to my clients having to spend more money on the building’s materials to get the final Permit to Build.

Unfortunately, many companies in my industry either do not possess the knowledge or choose to ignore properly addressing these building envelope requirements.  When my counterparts at other companies are speaking to customers who are entertaining the idea of building a steel structure, they readily quote a building with 6” (R-19) roof insulation and 3” (R-10) wall insulation even though they know there is NO WAY these minimum R-factors will EVER pass Permitting.

Why is that sort of behavior being conducted in my Industry?  The answer is simple, many companies strive to appear that they are giving the best cost and rely on the customer not thoroughly reviewing exactly what is included for the price.  Everyone wants to spend less money, right?  First-time builders look at a quote that has the building, drawings, gutters, doors, windows, insulation, and delivery all included and think, “That is a price that fits my budget.” Unfortunately, they are soon to find out that the insulation does not meet the Building’s Envelope Requirements.  Now they have an unexpected expense to upgrade the insulation.  And this is when the unsuspecting, trusting customer gets whacked over the head with a brutal change-order.  This problem is usually compounded when the customer realizes, in many cases, that the building does not have a full trim package, the doors are chintzy, gutters are sold to them without the downspouts, screws aren’t included, mastic tape is not included, and the list goes on of potential costs the customer thought were all included.  Leaving these items out of the initial building sale and then issuing change orders to the customer later is just an unfortunate way that many companies try to make profit.

Back to the Envelope…. When you are planning, preparing and investigating on what Steel Building Provider you are going to engage to help you fulfill your dreams of constructing a new building for your business, please do two things to protect yourself as a consumer.

  1. Do your due-diligence with your local Permitting Office and verify what your Building Envelope Energy Requirements are going to be.  Verify your local office does not have a “one-off” law requiring something that no one would know is required.  For example, one time a building required an 8” curb around the perimeter per the Building Inspector on every building in his township.  That was the Inspector’s preference and there was no way around it.  I didn’t know what I didn’t know and my client didn’t know either.  It cost my customer more in concrete to create that curb.  And unfortunately, it was an unexpected expense.
  2. Only work with Steel Building Representatives that mention to you that you will have a minimum Energy Requirement. A Representative that mentions your minimum requirements is more concerned about your Investment than about grabbing a building deposit check.  A Representative who shares his or her knowledge with you, even though it may not be what you want to hear, or prevents you from building because the requirements kill the budget, is an honest Representative.

So, please reach out to your local officials and ask, “What are my Building’s Envelope Energy Requirements?” And, “Are there any requirements a first-time builder in the area wouldn’t know that I need to know?”

Good Luck and Happy Building!!!

Before You Add-On an Addition to Your Existing Building Read This…

img_3121As of recent, it seems that there has been an uptick in companies that are needing to expand their facilities.  I have been getting a lot of calls from clients interested in adding on an addition to their existing facilities.  Some of my clients have an existing metal building and some do not.  Either way, a Custom-Engineered Steel Building is a cost-effective and quick solution to any business owner looking to add more square footage to their space.

A few factors for a business owner to consider prior to commencement of any Expansion Project is:

  1. The Condition of the existing building
  2. How closely the addition needs to match the aesthetics of the original structure
  3. Confirming there is another space to build per the setbacks
  4. The grade of the lot

If the condition of the existing building is poor, many times it is more cost-effective to demolish the structure and start over.  Additionally, if the original building is not in compliance with current building codes, it is also sometimes more cost-effective to go with a full demolish.  So, please examine the condition of your original structure verses what your area’s codes will require you to “upgrade” and decide what the best solution is for your Investment.  Is it to demolish and start over or to keep the structure you have and just add onto it?  Once that is decided, consider the aesthetics.

A Custom-Engineered Steel Building is so versatile that it can be designed to match any exterior look on the market.  With all the various options available comes an array of price-points.  If you want your addition to have a brick exterior wall just like the brick on your existing building, just know it will have a higher price per square foot than an addition with standard steel sheeting.  That said, any exterior look is within reach with a Custom- Engineered Steel Building.

Most local Building Departments have guidelines for how close you can build to your property lines.  Please practice due-diligence and confirm with your local municipality that you can build the size building that you think is best for your Expansion Project.

Get proper site-work estimates on your lot.  Make sure you are fully aware of what the cost of grading, excavating, installation of utilities, etc. will be prior to moving forward.  I have seen site-work quotes “kill” a project.  And you do not want to be blind-sided by an unexpected cost during the Construction phase of your project.

Once you have hurdled these initial considerations it is time to move onto the actual expansion.  What type of expansion are you considering?  Is it an endwall or sidewall expansion?  Will this expansion create valley conditions between the two structures where snow or rain can penetrate the exterior?  Do I need additional engineering to “beef-up” my existing structure?  Am I creating a condition where snow can drift off onto the other building resulting in a structural issue?  What type of flashing is required to weather-proof my two buildings?  Does this expansion require a load-bearing endwall or a full rigid frame endwall?  Am I making my building wider, or longer, or both?  What will be the Foundation Requirements for my expansion?

There are a myriad of questions that need to be asked and answered just like the ones listed above.  Make sure any Building Rep you are speaking to asks you these type of questions.  Anyone at SOLID Steel would address these concerns in our first discussion with you because we want to custom engineer a building that works for your business 30 to 50 years from now and not just on day one.  If you are not being asked questions like the ones above, hang up.  Move on until you find someone who is as interested in your investment as you are.

No matter what idea you have for future expansion, a Custom-Engineered Steel Building can produce the results you are planning.  Reach out to a Building Solutions Manager and share your ideas with us so we can supply a solution that works for you!



Please Do Not Say All Steel Buildings are Built The Same…


There is no better way to get me on a highly-technical, detail exhaustive, way-too-long rant than to accidentally call my building “pre-engineered”, “red iron” or say that “They are all manufactured the same”.  When I hear “red iron” I instantly start pontificating the virtues of galvanized steel over red iron. It’s a scene that ends with me closing the conversation with, “Oh geesh, I went on too long, sorry I just beat your ear down….”


On November 5th, 2015 I went into a deep dive on why my building cannot be defined as a pre-engineered in my blog post entitled “Is There Such a Thing as a Pre-Engineered Building Anymore?”.  So, if you are interested in that topic, please feel free to look that post up on my Company’s website.  Now let’s tackle the inaccuracies of saying all building are the same.


The term “red iron” gets in my craw just as much as the term “pre-engineered” and both for the same reason…it is such an inaccurate, cheap way to describe my building.  The term “pre-engineered” is a dated phrase because, for all intents and purposes, no buildings are pre-engineered anymore.  But, the term red iron can and does still apply to many buildings on the market today.  I can even go so far as to say, that most steel buildings today are red iron.  So, you would think this phrase wouldn’t bother me as much as an antiquated definition.  But, the reason it does, is because my building in particular is not a red iron building at all.  I do not like to be compared to something of far less value.


I was inspired to write this blog today because I participated in a meeting with an eight person Building Committee yesterday.  They have been charged with obtaining the best, most cost-effective building for their County’s Historical Society.  This is a lot of responsibility for this team of eight who have never built a steel building before.  They had a ton of questions for me….a ton!


One of those questions was, “Why are you better than your competition?”  My answer was direct, “I do not know who I am in competition with, but, I can tell you everything we do to our buildings to make them superior.”


In this meeting yesterday, when I was talking about what makes my building the best, including that it is not a red iron building, I realized I rarely get the opportunity to discuss the nitty-gritty details of my product.  Because, although my building is superior in so many ways, rarely do I find a client who wants to talk about those details.  They just assume all buildings are made the same and focus on price, time-line, colors, etc.


So, I want to take a minute and list out some of the important and often overlooked things we

do to every one of our buildings that make a huge difference in the overall quality and beauty:

  1. We do not ship a red iron building. The name “red iron” started because manufacturers would apply a light, red, oxide coating to the members of the building to protect it from rusting during shipping. That coating is only for shipping the building and not to prevent long term rusting.  It’s properties are meant to evaporate.  SOLID Steel does put on the red-oxide coating but, we go the extra step of applying an additional coating of gray primer on every I-beam. We do this to get the anti-rust benefits of the red-oxide coating but, we also choose to seal the coating in by placing an additional primer on top of it that does not evaporate like the red iron.  Additionally, if a client wants to paint his I-beams for aesthetic reasons the beams are primed in preparation for the paint, eliminating a step for the GC or end-user business owner.
  2. All of our screws are stainless steel screws. They will never rust or oxidize.  This is important to the long-term structural integrity of your investment but, it is also vital to your rust warranty and paint warranty.  If any of that black oxidizing gunk drips onto your panels in a rainstorm (and it absolutely will), you void your paint and rust warranty.  You must only have stainless steel screws.
  3. We only use PBR panels. Most companies sell R panels.  Customers only look at the gauge of the wall and roof sheeting and think that is comparing apples to apples but it isn’t.  The PBR panel’s secret is an extra lip on the edge that provides superior overlap between panels and seals out the elements. Most companies sell R panels exclusively.  You do not want R-panels!  R-panels have a flimsy connection to each other, resulting in the paneling bowing, canning, buckling, smashing under the weight of a little snow, etc.
  4. We only use 26-gauge steel on the roof and wall sheeting, unless we use an even thicker gauge of steel like 24-gauge or 22-gauge. We would never use anything lighter than 26-gauge.  A lot of companies use the lighter 29-gauge steel.  Please do not ever invest in a building that has 29-gauge roof or wall sheeting; you will be so disappointed in what happens to the sheeting in less than 6 months to a year.  The panels will start to bow in and look horrible.  And once the panels bow, it allows room for insects, rodents, dirt, rain, snow, wind, etc. to get inside your building.  Can you imagine being inside your new, beautiful building that you dreamed of having for years and then the wind blows and you feel it on your back inside your building?    Invest in nothing less than 26-gauge.
  5. Our commercial trim package is exhaustive and included standard. Do you know most steel building companies list out “includes trim package” on their quotes and then ship the base trim only?  We ship trim wherever there is a transition in the sheeting, wherever the sheeting starts and ends, trim for all overhead doors and walk-doors, wainscot trim, eave trim, gable trim, corner trim, cover trim, base trim (with a drip edge so the water drips away from the building and not into the building), rake trim, etc. I can keep listing out all the types of trim we ship with every building but, here is the bottom-line… We make your building beautiful by supplying all the trim on the building so you are left with a finished, polished, professional-looking building.
  6. We use AZ-55 galvalume panels. This is the highest percentage of aluminum you can get on the sheeting to avoid rust. We send that out on every building we sell.  Most companies supply an AZ-50 or lower.
  7. All of our secondary framing is hot-dipped galvanized steel. We provide a lifetime warranty that those members will never rust.  The secondary framing usually makes up over 50% of the steel on your building so that is a huge warranty compared to most building that ship red iron secondary framing that does not provide any warranty with it at all.
  8. Our base angle is also hot-dipped galvanized steel AND it is also 16-gauge steel which is 60% stronger than the typical 20-gauge base angle. This is so important because that base angle member is supporting the bottom of the sheeting.  This is where snow and dirt build up and push against the base of the building.  This is definitely want to have heavier, stronger, steel supporting the base of the building.
  9. Our warranties are the best in the industry with a 50-year structure warranty on the framing, 25 years against rust, 30 to 40 years on the paint against chipping, chalking, peeling and fading.
  10. Our Standing Seam Roofs are the 360 degree seams, which means you get a complete seam seal. Some S.S.R.’s only have one seam. We do 3 seams for total and complete protection in your roof.


I don’t get to talk about the quality of my building verses the competition very often but, I really enjoy it because not all buildings are engineered and manufactured the same.  And the difference really does show itself in the appearance and performance of the building in the end.


Please be careful and ask your building Rep a lot of questions about every detail of your building.   Ask for pictures, diagrams, lists, etc.  Get as much information as possible before you commit to any building.  Good luck with your Steel Building Investment!

Mistakes To Avoid When Buying A Steel Building


In my opinion, there are some common errors customers make when they are shopping and/or buying a Steel Building.  I talk to a lot of “new” potential clients every day and I hear the same things over and over from them.  I want to share some of the most popular recurring themes I encounter, so that you can avoid making costly mistakes.


#1 Mistake: 

Believing the “Cancelled Building Pitch”


When a consumer shops for a Steel Building they will usually speak to at least 3-5 different companies to compare quality and prices.  If you fall within that range you will be “Cancelled Building Pitched” at least 2 to 3 times.  The “Cancelled Building Sales Pitch” will have some version of these key points:


  1. Someone else bought a building close to the size you are looking for
  2. They had to cancel their order for (fill in the blank) reason
  3. They lost their 30% deposit
  4. If you can take it, you can save 30% on your building price
  5. The building’s frames have been made but the building’s sheeting has not been cut yet so you can still pick your framed opening sizes and locations as well as the building’s color
  6. There are 3 other people looking at this building and the first person to put a deposit down on this “cancelled building” wins the deal


There are so many different ways to say the same thing.  Another version of this tactic is the “In Stock Building”, in which the sales rep uses the same tactics but refers to the building as being “In Stock” vs. being a “Cancelled Building”.


The Truth:

Each and every “Pre-Engineered” building is hardly pre-engineered at all.  Each building is custom-engineered to your State Codes, Local Codes, insulation thickness, your personal specification, your color choices, etc.


If I designed (2) 50’x100’x16’ buildings with the exact framed openings but, one of those buildings was going to New York and the other was going to Texas, they would both have to be engineered separately because they have different snow, wind, seismic, etc. loads.  Even though they look exactly the same from the outside, they are very different in weight and complexity based on the Building’s Codes.


So please don’t be duped by this “Cancelled Building” or “In Stock Building” nonsense.  It’s a pitch designed to trigger the Fear of Loss that is inside everyone.  Its’ goal is to push you to put a deposit down before you are ready or have had a chance to talk to other Steel Building Companies by asking you if you want to lose out on a heck of deal and let someone else get the 30% savings.


#2 Mistake:

Not Discussing Both Your Short & Long Term Plans for the Building With Your Building Consultant


When you are discussing your building with your “Sales Rep” you will be asked questions like, what size building are you looking for?  What size doors?  Insulation? Gutters and Downspouts?  But, your Rep should also be asking you what will you be doing inside the building?  What do you plan to be doing with this building in 5 years?  In 10 years?


Why should your Rep ask those questions?  Because what you are doing inside the building could directly affect the price of the building.

For example if you are manufacturing and the materials are corrosive, there are coatings that can be put on all the interior members of the building to protect the steel from corroding.  That coating has a cost associated with it but, a Rep who cares about your end product isn’t worried about having the “cheapest” price but delivering you the best value and that coating is of extreme value under certain scenarios.


Another example is an Agricultural building that will be housing livestock.  The minimum pitch on a livestock building should be a 3:12 pitch so that the building has a “chimney” effect in which the gases will be pushed out of the ridge vents naturally without the need for fans.  A 3:12 pitch costs more than a 1:12 but, it saves the farmer money because he can eliminate the need for expensive fans.  But, for a Rep to make the proper suggestions to you, they must first know what you are using the building for.  Sadly, most Sales Reps don’t care.



The reason to ask about your 5 and 10 year plan is because there are things we can engineer into a building today for future use.  If it is not engineered into the building in the beginning there is no way to add it later without adding great cost.  Only work with a Rep who cares about your building long-term.  Never buy from someone who is trying to sell a building fast.


Mistake #3

Not Preparing for the Total Project Cost & Only Focusing on the Cost of the Steel Building


The steel building “kit” costs roughly $5.00-$7.00/ square foot (sf) depending on you building loads, framed openings, extras like gutters and downspouts, etc.  Steel is a commodity, it does not matter who you buy from, that is the price range.  Some companies give you more dollar for dollar but unfortunately most companies give you less for your money.


That said, the building cost is just one expense in a project that has at least 3 more types of expenses before the project can be considered “finalized”.  Some of the expenses can be self-performed and you can save a lot of money if you DIY.  But, if you need to hire someone else, you will need to price 1. Site-Work 2. Concrete Foundation 3. Erection 4. Mechanicals; to name a few.


At SOLID Steel Buildings our wheelhouse is engineering your building and foundation, manufacturing your steel building, delivering your building to your site, installing your concrete foundation, and erecting your building on your job-site.  There are many factors that affect your sf price when we are pricing the entire wheelhouse.  All things considered for a rough estimate, you can use the range of $20 – 25.00/sf for your engineered building drawings, your actual steel building, delivery, concrete and erection.


Even if you don’t use SOLID to perform all the work, if you use that sf price you will be realistic about the real TOTAL cost of your project.  I do strongly suggest that you use one company to do all the work.  Which leads me to Mistake #4.


Mistake #4

Hiring Different Companies & Subcontractors for Different Parts of the Job


This mistake costs my clients more money than any other mistake.  You can hire SOLID to do any or all parts of your project.  We are an a la carte firm. Some hire us to just engineer, manufacture and deliver a building.  Most want us to execute our full offering of services.


Many of our clients choose to purchase both the building and erection services from us, but go elsewhere for the concrete.  In this scenario, we manufacture and deliver the building to the job site and then put the building up.  When clients choose this option, they either perform the concrete foundation work themselves or they hire a “local guy” to do the concrete.  Whichever way they get the concrete done doesn’t matter to us, we just need the concrete to be cured when we arrive on-site.


1 out of 3 times that we arrive to erect the building though, the concrete anchor bolts are in the wrong spot.  The bolts need to be placed in the precise location in the concrete, as indicated on the drawings, in order for the building to be properly erected.


Usually, when we inform our customer that the anchor bolts are in the wrong location, mayhem ensues. Our client calls their local concrete guy and says, “The anchor bolts are in the wrong location.”  And the concrete gentleman says, “No they are not!”  The client turns to us and says, “The bolts are not in the wrong location.”  So then we have to show our clients their stamped, engineered drawings and point out where the bolts should be located.


Once the client can see the bolts are not located correctly, then his real headache begins. He needs to get the concrete guy to come back ASAP and cut out the bolts and reinstall them. Even if the concrete guy comes that day and fixes his bolts, the client has lost a day of labor that he has to pay for.  Our clients have tried to get the concrete laborer to pay for the lost time but, that rarely happens.  So it ends up being an additional expense for the end-user.


Usually, the concrete guy never shows up that day, if ever.  He has already been paid in full and has no incentive to come back.    So, the end-user has to pay us to fix his concrete guy’s mistake.  We always fix it at cost but, it is still an expense our clients did not anticipate.


This kind of scenario is so common and it’s always painful to hear about.  I feel so bad for my clients who hire one person to do the concrete and another person to erect the building and yet still another person to manufacture the building.  There is always so much finger-pointing involved and the only person who loses is the customer.


Please do not make this costly, time-consuming mistake.  Hire one company to do the engineering, manufacturing, concrete and erection.  When you hire one  company, then there is a single-source of accountability should you need to address any concerns.  Plus, there is no finger-pointing.


If you are interested in hearing about some other common mistakes and how to avoid them call or email SOLID Steel today.