Words & Phrases Steel Building Shoppers Should Know Before Diving In

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Nobody ever wants to walk into a purchase blindfolded. Why enter any endeavor without all, or most of the facts? At least gather enough information to make an informed decision. The same can easily and obviously be said when it comes to a pre-engineered steel building purchase. If you’re thinking about purchasing a pre-engineered steel building, you’ve taken the first step. However, are you truly equipped to dive into the steel building world? Knowing the benefits of steel is nice, but I think you should be able to swim through the steel building conversation effortlessly. If you can’t, you may end up paying for a lower quality product. I understand many of you might be first time or novice builders. Don’t drown in the unknown. Understand the words and phrases a building expert might use, so you can talk intelligently about your steel building project. 

steel buildingLet’s start at the beginning, shall we? What is a ‘pre-engineered steel building?’ A pre-engineered steel building is a durable, flexible and versatile structure designed and fabricated according to specific lengths, determined by you and your steel building provider. Steel buildings are extremely cost efficient, energy efficient, and offer speedy construction times, especially compared to traditional construction methods. When we say ‘fabricated,’ we mean the manufacturing process of converting raw material into finished steel building system components. The thickness of steel is commonly specified by a measurement known as ‘gauge.’ Plus, when talking about the steel itself, you might come across the words ‘galvanized’ or ‘pre-galvanized’ steel. Galvanized steel is able to protect your building from corrosion because it’s coated with zinc. This is a much better option than red iron steel, which is usually cheaper and has little to no rust protection.

You may hear the terms ‘manufacturer’ and ‘broker’ when you’re looking for a steel building provider. If they both serve the function of providing you with a pre-engineered steel building, what’s the difference? Actually, there is a HUGE difference, and it could cost you down the road. The main function of a Broker is to research different manufacturers to find the best proposal, and arrange purchase and delivery. Brokers are usually referred to as ‘contract manufacturers,’ but they don’t actually manufacture anything associated with your building. A Manufacturer is a party who designs and fabricates steel building systems. While it’s true you can go through either option to purchase a pre-engineered steel building, you should be aware a broker doesn’t actually own their own factory and a broker could hand your project over to the cheapest bidder while pocketing the difference and leaving you with a low quality building. When purchasing through a manufacturer, you know you’re working with the company directly responsible for designing and fabricating a steel building.

Maybe you’ve made your decision and chosen a manufacturer to design and fabricate your pre-engineered steel building, but what kind of help are you entitled to, and what will it end up costing you? A Project Manager is your official contact with a manufacturer like Armstrong Steel, and these steel building experts will guide you through the pre-erection process and specialize in answering all of your questions. But be careful! Make sure your steel building supplier includes a project manager at no extra cost to you. The assistance of a project manager should never come at a price.

steel buildingOnce you’ve committed to purchasing a pre-engineered steel building, you may be able to lock in your steel price. Locking in your steel price requires a small engineering payment, which guards you against the volatile steel market. Now is a great time to lock in your price because steel prices are low right now, but are expected to rise in a few months. An engineering payment is a sum that protects you from price increases for a term of 90 days. This payment covers the cost of building drawings, and any costs associated with detailing and engineering a building. This isn’t a separate charge for your pre-engineered steel building, it’s more like a down payment.

If you’re comfortable taking control and managing certain aspects of your own project, and you’re prepared for your purchase with financing and land ready, you might be able to take advantage of the Direct Buy Process. The Direct Buy process starts when you fill out a contact form and speak to a building consultant. Your building consultant will guide you through the process of the steel building purchase, and educate you on what to expect. The Direct Buy process is a nine step program, designed to assist the first time and experienced builder alike save money on a steel building purchase by buying directly from the manufacturer. To further assist the manufacturer, it’s also a great idea to know and provide your county’s building codes, or set of rules that specify minimum structural standards, and loads, which are forces that are exerted on a structural member of a steel building system.

Do you know what a purlin is? What about a girt, or wainscot? You don’t need to be an expert on the parts of the steel building at this very moment, but a general understanding is necessary when it comes to building erection. Our virtual steel building outlines each part and piece in steel building construction, and is a very handy tool, especially if you plan on erecting a steel building yourself

Just like jumping into the deep end of a pool can be intimidating for an inexperienced swimmer, purchasing a steel building without knowing the lingo can be just as startling. If you’re interested in learning more about steel buildings, or the steel building process, check out the glossary section to educate yourself on various steel building terms. You’ll be a pro in no time.

Photo courtesy: bluefield photos bp

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