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What to Look Before Buying a Pre-engineered Metal Building

Purchasing a pre-engineered metal building may seem like an impossible task. Without intimate knowledge of the process of designing, ordering, manufacturing, delivering, and erecting it can seem overwhelming. Navigating this world goes a lot smoother when you follow the tips and tricks of ordering a project found below.

Two construction workers oversee a metal building being erected. The sheeting is not yet on revealing the massive metal framing of a pre-engineered metal building
A recent project outside of Omaha, NE begins to take shape.

Purpose and Intended Use:

Determine the specific purpose of the building: Are you planning to use it as a warehouse, manufacturing facility, office space, or something else? Understanding the intended use will help you determine the necessary size, layout, and features of the pre-engineered metal building. In addition to this, code requirements may change with different uses. This can affect pricing of the project and not clarifying this to your building supplier could lead to a painful revision come permitting, or worse after it’s been erected. For example, a riding arena might require 14’ to 16’ eaves to ensure that every clearance (specifically under the haunch or knee of the I-Beams) doesn’t interfere with a rider and their horse. However, if you specify a 12’ eave without explaining this to your building supplier, this could lead to a very painful, and quite literal, headache when you find out that the building you bought and erected is too short for what you want to use it for

The exterior of a new Taco Bell is shown here. The entire building is made of a pre-engineered metal building which is a non-traditional use for this building system
A less than traditional use for a metal building is shown here at this new Taco Bell location

Verify Required Permit Requirements at Jobsite:

Familiarize yourself with local building codes (Snow/Wind/Seismic/Exposure) and regulations: Different jurisdictions have specific requirements for construction materials, design, wind and snow loads, fire safety, and more. You must ensure that the pre-engineered metal building you choose complies with all applicable codes. While most building suppliers are above board and reputable. There are unfortunately some bad actors who will purposefully underload the building in order to keep pricing down only to charge you on the back end to correct them after you’ve signed a contract. Since you, the customer, are ultimately responsible to verify these codes prior to purchase knowing what is required to build on your jobsite is critical to project success. Some other things to verify with your city or county include, but are not limited to, setbacks on the property, aesthetic requirements, size of the building as a proportion of lot size and other imposed zoning restrictions that are put in place by local municipalities. Not every project will be subject to these, however identifying if you are has a huge impact on the final design of the building. Don't believe us? Here's what a former customer had to say about a previous building company before finding us at Peak,

"I was working with another building supplier out of Texas on a building in Golden, Colorado. The region in which I was building was a special wind region and had a much, much higher code than what was normal in the area. The building company assured me that they could achieve the necessary rating, but never showed any documentation of it. After I signed the contract, they realized that they couldn't meet the code they told me they could and left me high and dry. Peak Building Systems couldn't have been more different. They attentively worked through all the issues providing documentation as they confirmed all of my needed codes. I now have a permitted building and couldn't be happier" -Gregory Golden, CO

 Construction permit drawings are shown with a big red "Approved" stamp diagonally across them

Site Selection:

Evaluate the site on your property where you want to build. Make sure to consider factors such as soil conditions, drainage, access to utilities (water, electricity, sewerage), and proximity to roads or other infrastructure. The site should be suitable for the installation of a pre-engineered metal building, and any limitations or additional preparations should be identified. It may seem obvious, but taking the time to survey and assess the property will pay dividends down the road by avoiding easily identifiable problems with drainage or property easements. The only carpentry adage is true even in steel; measure twice, cut once.

Size and Layout:

Determine the required size and layout based on the intended use. Determine the necessary interior space, ceiling height, column spacing, and any specific features or sections needed (e.g., offices, storage areas, loading docks). Ensure that the pre-engineered building you select can accommodate these requirements. Are you putting a car lift in the building? You’ll need to make sure that the clearances will work, first. Remember, a pre-engineered metal building’s height is measured to the OUTSIDE of the eave and does not account for internal clearance. This does not account for any framing members that will lower the internal usable space. When you are working with a reputable company with experienced employees, like Peak Building Systems, communicating these things to your building expert should alert them to design a building sized and designed according to your needs.

The inside of a metal building is show with the purlins, girts and mainframes of a pre-engineered metal building captioned
The "haunch" or "knee" is the traditionally the lowest clearance in a pre-engineered metal building. It's shown here where the main frame rafter meets the main frame column

Customization Options:

Assess available customization options: Pre-engineered metal buildings offer various customization options, such as wall panels, roofing materials, colors, insulation, doors, windows, and more. Evaluate if the available options meet your aesthetic preferences and functional requirements. While many providers can sell accessories such as doors, windows, and other items like louvers or cupolas, they are often of the lowest quality so that price looks attractive and you think you’re getting a good deal. In most cases, those options are best sourced locally so that you can have them installed by professionals and warrantied by the local company. Insulation often is better purchased from the building supplier as it has some coordination needed with the factory and in many cases the bulk pricing advantage of the building supplier provides a better rate than the one off building purchaser.

A commercial metal building with 5 different retail spaces is dressed up to look like traditional row homes.
A metal building used for commercial retail space can be easily customized to meet any municipal or HOA aesthetic requirements.

Quality and Durability:

Research the manufacturer or supplier: Look for a reputable company with a track record in designing and manufacturing pre-engineered metal buildings. Consider the quality of materials used, warranty offerings, and any certifications or industry standards followed by the company. If you are being pressured into buying something that isn’t exactly what you want, RUN! This is a tell tale sign that you are working with a broker who will farm your project out to the cheapest manufacturer they can find and will nickel-and-dime you at every opportunity once you’ve signed a contract. A reputable supplier will be attentive to your needs and never force you into signing a contract under the guise of a fire sale or a project that was ordered and never paid for. If it sounds too good to be true, it always is.

A massive pre-engineered steel building manufacturing facility is shown with several workers in the foreground.
Working with a reputable building supplier is the best defense against projects going over budget or worse.

Budget and Cost Considerations:

Establish a budget: Determine your budget for the project, considering not only the purchase cost but also installation expenses, potential customization costs, and ongoing maintenance and operational costs. Ensure that the chosen pre-engineered metal building aligns with your budget. Many times, concrete companies won’t provide an accurate estimate for the work until the engineered drawings are ordered, but most companies can provide a not-to-exceed number until they get those drawings.

A Budgeting tool is shown literally pinching pennies.

Future Expansion and Flexibility:

Anticipate future needs: Consider if you may need to expand or modify the building in the future. Assess if the design of the pre-engineered metal building allows for such future changes or additions. It’s almost always possible to add space out on a metal building along the length or width. However, the height of the building is in virtually every case impossible to add.

Delivery and Installation:

Understand the delivery and installation process: Clarify whether the supplier will handle the delivery and installation or if you need to arrange for contractors. Ensure that you have a clear timeline and plan for the installation process, considering any additional support or coordination required. Most every building comes with engineered drawings, column locations and building reactions. However, virtually no building comes with an engineered foundation design which details the size and depths of the columns needed under the I-Beams. Make sure you understand exactly what you’re getting before you sign the dotted line. Think something should be included? Ask your building representative. There are not bad questions and any reputable company will have no problem providing you the information you need to feel confident and comfortable with proceeding to contracts. Assuming is what causes a lot of projects to go over budget and resentment can form between the customer and the supplier.

A pre-engineered metal building is delivered on the back of a flat bed trailer.
A new Pre-engineered metal building is delivered to Commerce City, Colorado

By thoroughly considering these factors, you can make an informed decision when purchasing a pre-engineered metal building that aligns with your specific requirements, budget, and long-term goals. Once you’ve identified a reputable company to work with, be annoyingly thorough with your questions and get everything (or as much as humanly possible) before you sign on the dotted line. To speak with a sales expert please contact us today at 720-282-5074 or via email at

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