As 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:
- The Condition of the existing building
- How closely the addition needs to match the aesthetics of the original structure
- Confirming there is another space to build per the setbacks
- 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!
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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.
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:
- Someone else bought a building close to the size you are looking for
- They had to cancel their order for (fill in the blank) reason
- They lost their 30% deposit
- If you can take it, you can save 30% on your building price
- 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
- 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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When I contribute to SOLID Steel Building’s blog sometimes I am highly technical, sharing clear Industry Best Practices and sometimes I am simply writing from my personal perspective and experiences in the Custom-Engineered Steel Building Industry. This post is going to be a clear “In My Opinion” type of blog.
I recently sold a job to a client who had won a bid to build multiple training facilities for a highly visible Government Agency. I was ecstatic when I was awarded the bid because this job was a big deal. This bid will lead to many more jobs after my company and I prove our capabilities, expertise, quality and performance in the field. I was nervous when the PO was with my Legal Department and going through a couple of rounds of “red lines”, but after both parties did their equal share of compromising, we “closed” the deal. In the end, I had nothing to be nervous about because my CEO and COO had it all taken care of. I enjoy every time I am reminded that I am working for the “Right” company.
Anyways, so here we were, the deal was closed and we’d engineered the Foundation Plans and the Building’s stamped drawings. The County’s Building Department had approved the engineered Foundation Plan done by SOLID Steel Foundations and we had completed the foundation per the Stamped Drawings and Contract. Stage 1, perfection!
Stage 2- The building was delivered on-site and SOLID Steel Construction employees unloaded the building, inventoried the components, and were ready to start building. Since the County had already approved the structure, we were cleared to start erecting. Over the next several weeks, all went according to plan with the build and I was so pleased with myself, with my boss, and with all the departments within the SOLID Steel Corporation. Stage 2, perfection!
Let me go back for a minute; with most Government jobs the payday comes when the job is completed. For a company like SOLID Steel Buildings to be awarded a Government job the Company has to front all materials and labor. SOLID Steel had to have the funds to “float” the costs for 30-90 days after the work was complete. This is the standard for almost all Government funded bids.
Stage 3-Payday. Well, guess what? The Engineer of Record (EOR) for the job would not put his stamp and signature on the Building’s Envelope because he did not employ SOLID Steel himself. We were hired by the General Contractor directly.
So what, who cares if he won’t stamp the final envelope, right? We already had the County’s Approval and Permit to build and the work was completed to everyone’s satisfaction. And when I say “to everyone’s satisfaction”, I am committing a gross understatement. The End Users loved us! They loved their new facilities and the work the G.C. executed with his crew and the expertise of his subcontractors. Why would we need the Engineer of Record to sign off? We needed him to sign off to get paid per the bid package.
This led me personally down a long road of extensive research as to what really is an Engineer of Record? What is the EOR’s job description? Can he just refuse to sign off on a Specialty Component like an Engineered, Steel Building? Why is the EOR refusing to sign off in the first place? I had so many questions. I had to find a way to resolve this so that SOLID Steel could get paid.
Once again, I reiterate my disclaimer that what I am about to say is just a synopsis using my own verbiage that I cultivated after I spent way too much time researching an EOR.
I believe the EOR’s job description is to ensure that all Components and/or Specialty Trades involved in the job are properly engineered per the local building codes including the energy codes. He needs to double check the mechanics of all the trades within the envelope. He does not need to do any actual engineering unless hired to do so but, he has to review all engineering done by the Specialty Trades and ensure the engineering is per code. It’s the equivalent of getting a second opinion on a medical diagnosis.
The EOR does not have to hire the Steel Building Manufacturer but, he does have to review the building’s engineered drawings produced by the Manufacturer and then apply his stamp to the drawings in effect saying, “This is engineered correctly”. The EOR needs to double check everything to protect the public’s safety.
Why would the EOR want to refuse to sign off on something? The bottom-line answer is, the EOR is responsible for the entire job’s engineering. When incidents of building failure occur, tradesmen tend to point the fingers at each other as to what went wrong. It is difficult to pinpoint the actual cause of failure because there is generally lack of communication between the trades. Was it the building itself or was it the foundation that supported the building? Was it the weight of the HVAC system hanging from the roof or was it the roof itself? Was it the hoist system installed inside the building or the columns themselves? And so on and so on. There are many questions, a lot of finger-pointing and no clear point-of-accountability. And that is why you hire an Engineer of Record, to have one clear point-of-accountability. And that is exactly why an EOR would refuse to sign off on the final building’s envelope. It’s his tail end that is on the line should anything go wrong.
Does the hired EOR have the ability to refuse to sign off on a Specialty Designed System? The answer is “Yes and No”. If the EOR sees that the Specialty Component is not per code then “Yes” he absolutely has the Right of Refusal. But, if the Designed Systems like a Custom-Engineered Steel Building is engineered correctly per code and it flows with the mechanics of the building then “No” the EOR has no Right of Refusal. And in our situation, the EOR eventually did apply his signature to the building’s envelope after he was shown a clear definition of the scope of his work that he was hired to do.
But do you need an EOR for your project? Maybe. But, almost always my answer will be “No”. If it is a simple “box” project most End Users can manage the different trades themselves. If it is a larger, commercial project the G.C. can hire the trades, and take all the required stamped, engineered drawings to the Building Department for Approval and Permits. The G.C. will schedule all site visits with the Building Inspector for Approval as needed. The co-ordination of the trade’s Engineers, the G.C.’s experience and team, and the Building Inspector will ensure the building is designed and constructed per code. No EOR necessary.
The only time I would professionally suggest to hire an EOR is when the project is so complex and has so many trades that there is no way for the G.C. to guarantee everything is per code and that the mechanics of the building are synergetic or, when the Bid Package requires an EOR be hired. I would strongly suggest multiple parameters to hiring an EOR:
- The G.C. should hire the EOR. This is a must. Any other way creates a conflict.
- The EOR should be paid in installments with the progression of the project.
- The EOR understands that his purpose is to protect the G.C., the End Users and the Public by guaranteeing every single component, system, etc. is per code and working well with each other inside the building.
The best way to avoid having to incur the expense of an EOR is to hire reputable, highly rated, and referred Subcontractors who will do their part with the highest standards and professionalism. Partnering with a company like SOLID Steel, Inc. that can handle every part of a build is a smart move. SOLID does the engineering, the concrete, the manufacturing, and the erection of the building. When you hire a sub that is inclusive like SOLID you have only one source of accountability which eliminates finger pointing, scheduling issues and the question of who is accountable, etc.
Alternatively, you could hire a seasoned, highly rated G.C. and sit back and let him do all the work for you. G.C.’s add on average 15-20% to the cost of a project but, depending on the scope of your project, it could be the best 15-20% you spend.
In either case, you can rest assured that having a reputable single point of contact and accountability will make your life and your build much more manageable and dare I say pleasant!
Have you ever ordered something that you have wanted for a long time? And then, as soon as you finalize your order, you start the countdown to the delivery date? Well, we at SOLID Steel Buildings do the exact same thing with each Custom-Engineered Steel Buildings we produce, just on a larger scale.
Now, imagine the package that you were waiting for so excitedly just did not show up? I imagine your next step would be to call Customer Service and try to figure out where your much anticipated package is. I know from experience that Customer Service is not what it used to be. Customer Service Agents should be doing everything in their power to help you, instead they seem to just want to push you off or transfer you to another department. At SOLID Steel Buildings Customer Service starts the moment you engage with us!
In our industry, time really is money with our construction and delivery schedules being crucial to maintain. For example, we had a customer in Texas that we’d ironed out their schedule and had delivered their order to them on agreed dates that worked for their project. All was going smoothly until I received a call from the customer informing me that they were missing gutters and downspouts. At this point, this was all they needed to complete their project. Instead of pushing them off to the “other” guy, I took action myself to get to the bottom of these missing parts as quickly as possible. When situations like this occur, the customer should never be left out of the loop. I assured him that we would work out the kinks, locate the parts and he would be updated on any information that I found out.
My first step was to call our factory where the building was manufactured. I directly contacted the shipping yard. The shipping yard was also very proactive and pin pointed exactly what crate the missing parts should have been in. I was informed within the hour that Crate #2 was the one we should be looking at. With this information, I took it straight back to the customer to update him.
Now, not only were the parts missing but the customer informed me that they were missing Crate #2 entirely. Again, I went back to our factory and they assured me everything was shipped together and on time.
My next step was to call the shipping company. It ended up being a mistake on their end. After learning this information, I immediately had the parts re-ordered and shipped right away, even personally calling the shipping company to push the process along. I then called the customer to let him know what was going on and he could not have been any more understanding. He was very grateful on how proactive that our company was in solving the problem and today they are another happily satisfied SOLID Steel Buildings customer because we put the most important factor first in our process…the Customer!
There are many studies pointing to how important Customer Service is and below are a few of the research findings that we take to heart at SOLID Steel Buildings
78% of consumers have bailed on a transaction or not made an intended purchase because of a poor service experience.
Source: American Express Survey
70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated.
3 in 5 Americans (59%) would try a new brand or company for a better service experience.
Source: American Express Survey
News of bad customer service reaches more than twice as many ears as praise for a good service experience.
Source: White House Office of Consumer Affairs
80% of Americans agree that smaller companies place a greater emphasis on customer service than large businesses.
Source: American Express Survey
We take Customer Service very seriously and we understand that everyone has different needs. We make it our mission to have all of our customers’ projects go off without a hitch. Whether we are erecting the project or just supplying the building, every customer is just as important as the rest. When trouble strikes, we strike back and do everything in our wheelhouse to solve problems in a timely yet efficient manner. That’s the SOLID difference!