Don’t Buy a Steel Building on eBay!

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I was on the phone with a buddy of mine the other day. It’s the same conversation you’ve had with your friends before. We had a quick chat about our wives, kids and careers. He asked me how my job was going, having recalled I worked in the steel building industry. That’s when he said it.

“Did you know they sell steel buildings on eBay?”

Honestly, I didn’t believe him at first. Don’t get me wrong; I think eBay is pretty awesome. You can find autographed sports memorabilia, discounted electronic equipment, clothes, collectables and even cars! Want a cheap new dining set for your house? Go to eBay. Want some toys for your kids? Yep, you can find it all on eBay. All you have to do is throw in a bid, and be lucky enough to win.

So, calling his bluff, I went right to the computer, called up eBay, and typed in ‘steel building.’ Sure enough, listings for hundreds of steel buildings appeared.

Right now, you’re probably thinking I’m trying to tell you not to buy from a competitor. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, you’re violating the very core of what a steel building is.

The proper term for a steel building is ‘pre-engineered metal building.’ These building structures are touted for their durability and speedy construction times. While the construction of a traditional wood building might take a few months to complete, a steel building can be erected in a few days or weeks. That’s because it’s ‘engineered’ to be that way. All major connections bolt together with pre-punched holes, and your components are pre-cut to correspond with your construction drawings.

steel buildingPre-engineered metal buildings are also engineered to handle a specific weight. The way we determine the weight a structure can endure is one of the most basic principles of structural engineering. When we engineer a steel building in our in-house design and engineering department, our drafters take a look at the area in which you live. For a steel building to be structurally sound and livable, it has to withstand snow, seismic activity (earthquakes) and different wind events. Because of this, identical-looking steel buildings at different ends of the country can likely weigh completely different.

For example, picture a steel building in the city of Los Angeles. LA sits on the San Andreas Fault line, so a building, in order to be considered structurally sound by the Los Angeles County building code and permitting department, must be able to withstand extra seismic activity. The same building might and will most likely stand in Norman, Oklahoma. However, buildings in Norman, OK must be engineered (there’s that pesky word again) to endure gale force winds and tornados. When we design a building, we don’t design it to merely ‘stand.’ A steel building has a job to do. It must perform 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Engineering makes that possible.

Now, I’m all for customers getting a deal on their steel buildings. There are many ways to save on many different types of buildings, but sacrificing design and engineering isn’t one of them. People who buy steel buildings on eBay need to know that they might be getting a cheap building, but often times, cheaper isn’t better. Plus, how do you know the building isn’t used? Do you have a guarantee that each building comes directly from the manufacturer?

When you buy a steel building from a steel building supplier, you’re ensuring that the parts line up and each piece fits together. You’ll receive a custom garage, workshop, barn or even home that was engineered with your area’s specific codes and loads in mind. Armstrong Steel buildings come with a 50-year structural warranty, 40-year paint warranty, and 35-year roof warranty. You won’t get that same guarantee, that same peace of mind from any seller on eBay, even if they have 100% positive feedback or a perfect reputation.

What’s more – you’ll get a project manager to work with you throughout the process. Want to change the dimensions by just a few feet? Would you like to pick the color yourself? How about selecting your own doors and windows? You can make those personalized selections with your project manager. Steel Buildings on eBay come as they are listed. Be sure to check the fine print, too. Doors and windows might not be included in the “deal.”

WorkshopOn eBay, you’ll see a list of advertised prices. As you shop around (and don’t worry, we encourage you to do so), you’ll see steel building suppliers offering to give you quotes. The steel market constantly fluctuates, and prices are usually on the rise. Plus, because of the engineering that goes into a steel building like I talked about before, we’re unsure of how much steel your building will need until you tell us where the building will be located, and how much steel you plan to use. Engineering isn’t guesswork. It’s an exact science. When you cut corners, people don’t get what they want, but more important, they’re not safe.

In an auction, the item in question goes to the highest bidder. You might have to fight off a buyer or two to get the final prize. Isn’t that pretty telling right there? If a steel building is up for sale on eBay, then that must mean the same product is good enough for the next guy?

I’m fine with you buying a new watch on eBay. Heck, go ahead and shop for a new wardrobe on eBay. These items aren’t tailor-made for you. A steel building is uniquely designed and exclusively planned for your personal use. A steel building should last for decades, protect your family or even your prized possessions. Invest in something that is distinctively yours, customized by you and guaranteed to keep you safe.

Photo courtesy: Lindsey Turner

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