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How Do You Calculate the Total Price of a Metal Building Project?

A few days ago, I had a surprising conversation with our Director of Communications. He routinely sees me flying in an out of my office, helping our creative and marketing department with specific steel building language and working with the project managers and engineers. He even told me he knows when I’m at our manufacturing plant, because my office phone continues to ring with no one there to answer it. So he walks into my office one day and sees me pouring over some metal building quotes. He looks at me, laughs, and says, “What exactly would you say is your specialty here?”

Michael knows I’m the Chief Estimator here at Armstrong Steel, but he jokingly made the point that I’m always running around, helping employees and customers alike figure out all the intricacies of metal buildings. Also, as the Chief Estimator, I feel like I’m one of the most qualified to answer a question that I get A LOT.

I’m sure you realize this already, but buying a metal building might be one of the biggest purchases you ever make in your lifetime. We’re not just talking about the price of your steel building, but also the size. That means you need to do it right the first time. Before you go out and do your research on what type and style you want, it’s time to make a realistic budget. By knowing what goes into a building purchase, you’ll be able to refine your budget, and estimate your costs as closely as possible.

Building Dimensions

Dimensions might be the most important aspect of determining your metal building price, and some counties and HOA’s will only allow for a certain square footage on your property. I’ll look at your width, length, and height to determine how much steel will go into making your building. From there, I’ll generate a steel building quote by looking at the price per pound of raw steel, and give you an estimate. Once you’re ready to lock in your order with a small engineering fee, the engineering and drafting department will get started on your project and produce preliminary designs.


metal buildingIt depends on exactly what type of foundation you’d like, but you must be sure to budget for something for your metal building to ‘sit on.’ You can pour your own concrete, but we definitely recommend you opt for a professional local civil engineer for this task. The engineer will have all the knowledge of your area’s seismic requirements, soil types, and geography. Plus, since this might be one of the more expensive facets of your metal building project, you want it done right the first time. You want your building to stand the test of time, and a poor foundation will lead to many problems down the road.


Land grading or leveling reshapes the ground surface to a planned slope. This is very common in construction and other drainage projects. Grading is done to control surface runoff and soil erosion, and lends itself to the creation of a more suitable spot for a metal building. If your site is on an uneven slope, make financial arrangements for some kind of earthmoving equipment and grading permits.


Are you interested in doors, windows, gutters or insulation? You can add several accessories to your building to enhance the look and the function of your metal building. If you utilize the Direct Buy process, you’ll be able to control your costs, and select your own doors and windows. Even if you go a different direction, you can always find a local supplier and buy your gutters or insulation at a later date. Keep in mind, your steel building quote will not include the price of accessories.

Permits and Taxes

This is one of the costs that people forget to include in their final budget. Obviously, building permits are required before beginning construction projects. Unfortunately, this process isn’t free. You need to be prepared to pay state and city filing, application and inspection fees, just to name a few. According to the website, the national average cost of a building permit is $800, with most people spending between $350 and $1,150. Of course, the cost differs across the country based on what type of construction you need.


metal buildingRemember playing with Erector sets as a kid? Well, metal buildings are the grown up versions of Erector sets. They are very easy to erect, and many people, whether they have an extensive background in construction or not, choose to build these buildings themselves. Just remember to gather all the necessary tools and safety equipment for construction. However, if you don’t want to erect the building, you can find a local builder, or a professional who is experienced in metal building construction.

Once you add up the cost of all these items, you’ll be able to get a good idea about the total cost of your metal building project.  Ready to get started? Contact a building expert today!

Photo courtesy: Rick Kimpel, Wayne National Forest