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Steel Building Quotes: Get a Grasp on Prices and Estimates

What is the first step of a steel building project, or any construction project for that matter? After you decide to add a new garage, agricultural or commercial building to your property, you’ll most likely start contacting steel building manufacturers for steel building quotes. From there, you can create a timeline for yourself and develop a realistic budget for your project.

Getting a quote from a steel building supplier is relatively easy. However, you’ll want to do your research first. Are you getting a quote from a steel building broker or a steel building manufacturer? What is the difference between the two? Brokers typically are called “contract manufacturers” because they don’t actually manufacture their own product. A broker will take your dimensions and shop them around to different building manufacturers. For instance, if you contact broker A, B, or C for a quote, those companies will turn around to manufacturer 1, 2, and 3 and request a building price. Brokers are simply expensive middlemen between you and the manufacturer – but you don’t get to pick the manufacturer! You’re stuck with the decisions, the quality, the price and the craftsmanship the broker chooses for you. Why not speak to a manufacturer first and cut out the expense of a middleman? In addition, you’ll get to deal directly with the manufacturer, so you know exactly who is fabricating your building, and the specifications and quality to which it is made.

converted_file_91e0c462The next step is to fill out a form online, or give your steel building supplier a call. It’s recommended that you know your building dimensions, or have a good idea about what you’d like to build – even a rough square footage estimation– before you contact your supplier. Also take the time to contact your local building authority. Your county, municipality or possibly even homeowner’s association will have knowledge of building guidelines and rules of your area. Understanding of these zoning regulations will also help you understand what you can build on your property.

I wish it was easy as publishing a list of building prices for people who are curious about costs, but pre-engineered buildings are much more complicated than a tuff shed or a lumber package at your local hardware store. There are no set prices like you’d be accustomed to seeing at Home Depot. There are snow loads, wind loads and seismic factors unique to ever job site, which in turn affects how the buildings are engineered and fabricated. For that reason, we ask that you speak with a building consultant.

Next, your steel building consultant will provide you with an accurate quote based on the information you provided. That’s why you’ll be asked for an address, zip code and county information early in the process. Again, all pre-engineered steel buildings are engineered for your specific area, elevations and loads and codes. Think about it this way: Look at two identical 40×60 buildings, one designed for Los Angeles, CA and one designed for Miami, FL. While both buildings might have matching appearances, they are extremely different in the way they were designed and engineered. The Los Angeles building will be engineered for the appropriate seismic codes of Southern California, and the Miami building will need to be designed to resist the heavy winds of the Florida coast. In the steel building industry, prices are determined by location, design, weight and current supply and demand, and several other factors.

When you receive a spec sheet from any company, your first instinct is to look directly at the price. That’s natural. Your second instinct should be to look and see what is included in your purchase. Review it carefully. I realize you’re looking out for yourself, and that might mean getting multiple quotes. Remember, not all steel buildings are created equal. Sure, your quotes might have different prices – but ask yourself first why the quotes are different. Are the columns painted with gray oxide or are they cheap red iron? Is the secondary framing galvanized? Is a 50-year structural warranty offered? Will a U.S. manufacturer fabricate your building? Is one product genuinely better than the others? These choices matter! Your spec sheet or quote will describe exactly what you’re buying. A better quality building might require a slightly greater investment upfront, but does the prospect of saving money upfront really matter if you’re forced to spend more over the product’s lifetime?

So how to you identify a cheap building? While a poor quality building might not be as evident on paper, there are a few details you should stick out. First, consider the source. Brokers who work, buy from or are owned by overseas companies might use Chinese steel in its products, which is almost always inferior to American steel. Chinese, or any foreign steel, isn’t subjected to the rigorous testing and quality assurance protocols as American steel, and often contains additives, which often compromise the integrity of the product. Secondly, pay attention to the details. Again, see what type of warranty is offered. Usually, cheap buildings have shorter warranties for a few reasons. If you’re not buying a building from a manufacturer, your broker or contractor can’t pass along a warranty for a building they didn’t manufacture. Product warranties are pretty good indications of how that product is expected to perform. A shorter warranty doesn’t speak to the faith a company has in its steel building. Armstrong Steel buildings have a 50-year structural warranty.

log inIf you decide to take advantage of the factory Direct Buy process, your next step is to lock in the price of steel by putting down a small engineering payment. Your engineering payment serves a variety of functions. It freezes the price of steel for your project for a period of 90 days. If steel prices rise, you’re protected for that time frame. Rising prices are fairly typical in the industry, but a chance to protect your purchase from unseen or unpredictable price hikes isn’t standard of every manufacturer.

Lastly, when determining your costs, look and see who gets involved in your steel building project. You generally don’t need an architect to draw blueprints because engineers and designers from your steel building supplier can provide them. Save yourself the added expense. Plus, project managers at steel building manufacturers offer their assistance at no extra cost. They’ll help you source components and provide you with an estimate for your costs on accessories, like steel building doors, windows and insulation. Check your quote to see if the building comes with an erector as well. Armstrong Steel buildings are bolt-up buildings and come precut, pre-welded and numbered for easy erection. Steel building materials are ready to be erected as soon as they arrive on the job site, so quite often, first time builders choose to erect the building themselves and save a great deal of money on labor costs. In addition, steel buildings go up in days or weeks, not months like other forms of traditional construction. If you can eliminate several unnecessary expenditures, why wouldn’t you?

Finish your budget by estimating costs for land grading (if necessary), accessories, foundations and permits. Each project will have different costs based on your unique requirements.

Estimating your costs correctly is the key to defining a realistic budget. Your steel building quote contains the information you need to begin. Ready to get started? Contact a building expert today!