top of page

The Ultimate Guide to Understanding the Cost Breakdown of Pre-Engineered Metal Buildings

Building a new pre-engineered steel building can be a smart and cost-effective choice for a wide range of applications, from industrial warehouses to commercial office spaces. These structures are known for their durability, versatility, and rapid construction. However, to ensure a successful project and accurate budgeting, it's crucial to understand the cost breakdown of constructing a pre-engineered steel building. Luckily Peak Building Systems is here to help you navigate these waters. In this comprehensive blog, we'll take a deep dive into the various factors that influence the cost, providing valuable insights into design considerations, materials, labor, permits, and more.

A tall Pre-engineered Metal Building is shown with the sidewalls sheeted and the end walls open

Pre-engineered steel buildings (PEMB) are gaining popularity due to their cost-efficiency and quick construction. However, the total cost of building one can vary widely depending on a multitude of factors. This blog aims to provide an in-depth breakdown of these factors, enabling you to make informed decisions when planning your steel building project.

Design Considerations

Building Size and Purpose:

A draftman's table is shown with a draftsman working on construction plans. Also shown are tools like a ruler, calculator, compass and other items for drafting construction plans

The size of your steel building is one of the most critical factors affecting the cost breakdown of Pre-Engineered Metal Buildings. This calculation should always consider first the use of the building. Always start by identifying the layout and dimensions that would make using the building the easiest. Since you will likely be in this structure for many years, you should make the building work for you. From there, you must consider several factors. Larger structures generally require more materials and labor, resulting in higher costs. Additionally, the purpose of the building impacts the design, as industrial structures may have different requirements compared to commercial or residential spaces. The width of a PEMB is also a huge driver of cost on a project. Larger spans mean larger I-Beams which means more steel and by extension more cost. Not only this, but should your project be located in a high snow, wind and/or seismic area a wider span is going to become more expensive to cover and account for those loads.

Aesthetics and Architectural Features:

The architectural design and aesthetic features can substantially impact costs. Complex designs, custom finishes, specialty panels and unique architectural elements can increase expenses. Pre-engineered buildings offer flexibility in design, but going beyond the standard configurations may require additional engineering and materials. Stucco is a perfect example of this type of material.

A complex pre-engineered metal building is shown completed. The building features mixed metal panels, bump outs, glass features and canopies.

Accessories and Add-ons:

Consider the accessories and add-ons you want for your steel building, such as mezzanines, canopies, roof overhangs, bump-outs, wainscots or custom exterior panels. Each of these elements adds to the overall cost and complexity of the design, so it's essential to prioritize and budget for them accordingly.

Materials and Components

Steel Framing:

The primary material for pre-engineered steel buildings is, of course, steel. The type and quality of steel, as well as the gauge and thickness, impact costs. Additionally, coatings like galvanization can affect longevity but may increase the price. Most manufactures provide red primed I-Beams as a standard cost. Upgrading to gray or galvanized is often an upcharge.

A yet-to-be-sheeted metal building is shown with the primary framing having been erected.

Roofing and Siding:

Roofing and siding materials can vary in cost, depending on factors like material type (steel, aluminum, or other), insulation requirements, and finish options (color, texture, etc.).


Insulation is essential for temperature control, moisture prevention and energy efficiency. The choice of insulation material, its thickness, and its placement can all influence costs. Some people claim they want the "best insulation possible" but with pricing ranging from $1.50 to $10 per square foot, that might not be feasible for your budget. By speaking with your representative, you should be able to come up with a solution that meets both your usage requirement and budget.

Doors and Windows:

Selecting the right doors and windows is crucial for functionality, aesthetics, and energy efficiency. Costs vary based on materials, sizes, and the number of doors and windows required. In most cases, buying doors and windows locally will ensure that you are getting the best price and warranty/service. When you purchase these through a building company you're buying them at a mark up and without any service or warranties. Building companies will need to know the rough openings so that they can provide a framed opening that will work with your doors and/or windows.

Labor Costs

Design and Engineering:

Design and engineering services are necessary to ensure your steel building meets local building codes and your specific requirements. The complexity of the design and the need for customization can affect design and engineering costs. More complex buildings cost more in the engineering and take longer to produce drawings on.

A Pre-engineered metal building is shown being erected. The primary and secondary framing are erected but the sheeting is not yet on,

Site Preparation:

Site preparation includes clearing, grading, and foundation work. The cost depends on factors like soil conditions, foundation type, and site access. Poor soil conditions may necessitate deeper or more extensive foundations, driving up costs.

Assembly and Installation:

The assembly and installation of the pre-engineered steel building itself involve labor costs. These costs are influenced by factors such as the complexity of the building's design, local labor rates, and the expertise of the construction crew. In the same way building design affects cost, labor costs are also tied directly to the design and layout of a building. For instance, a straight, four-wall, basic building with PBR sheeting and a few overhangs will cost considerably less to install than a cut-up, high complexity building with overhangs and mezzanines.

Permits and Regulations

Building Permits:

Before construction begins, you must obtain the necessary building permits from local authorities. Permit costs vary depending on location and the size and purpose of the structure.

Zoning and Land Use:

Zoning requirements and land use regulations can impact building design and location. Compliance with these regulations may require adjustments to your project, affecting both time and costs.

Environmental Compliance:

If your project involves environmental considerations, such as wetland mitigation, erosion control, or habitat preservation, these will add to the overall cost.

Foundation and Site Work

Soil Testing:

Conducting soil tests is essential to determine the foundation requirements. Different soils have varying load-bearing capacities, and a comprehensive soil analysis can save you from costly foundation issues down the road.

Foundation Types:

The choice of foundation, whether it's a simple slab, pier and beam, or deep foundations like piles or caissons, significantly impacts the cost. The type of soil and local building codes influence this decision.

A foundation rendering is shown here with an I-beam, anchor bolts, sheeting, base angle shown

Site Preparation:

Preparing the construction site, including clearing, excavation, and grading, adds to the overall cost. The condition of the site and its proximity to utilities and infrastructure can affect these expenses.

Utilities and Services

Electrical and Plumbing:

Depending on the building's purpose, electrical and plumbing systems can add significantly to the cost. Consider the requirements for lighting, power distribution, HVAC systems, and plumbing fixtures.

HVAC Systems:

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are essential for occupant comfort. The type, size, and efficiency of these systems impact both installation and operating costs.

Security and Fire Protection:

Security and fire protection systems, including alarms, fire suppression, and access control, are crucial for safety and compliance. The complexity and features of these systems influence costs.

Transportation and Handling:

The cost of transporting the pre-engineered steel components to the construction site, as well as the equipment and labor needed for handling and assembly, should be factored into your budget. The distance between the manufacturer or supplier and the site, as well as the size and weight of the materials, affects transportation and handling costs. By utilizing key relationships with industry leading manufacturers, Peak Building Systems has access to over 20 shipping locations across the United States.

A pre-engineered metal building is shown bundled on a truck ready for delivery.

Project Management and Overheads:

Project management costs encompass expenses for coordination, scheduling, and quality control. General contractors or project managers may charge a fee for their services, impacting the project's overall cost. Overhead costs such as insurance, permits, and other administrative expenses should also be considered.

Contingency and Financing:

It's wise to include a contingency budget for unexpected costs or changes in the project scope. A common approach is to allocate 10-15% of the total project cost for contingencies. Additionally, financing costs, if applicable, should be factored in when assessing the overall project budget.

A recently sheeted pre-engineered metal building is shown here awaiting the window and door installation

The cost breakdown of Pre-Engineered Metal Buildings can vary significantly based on numerous factors, including design, materials, labor, permits, site work, utilities, transportation, and overheads. Careful planning and a comprehensive understanding of these cost factors are essential for a successful and cost-effective project. Choosing the right building company to handle this design process is integral to keeping PEMB projects on time and on budget. With Peak Building Systems, our knowledgeable representative can help you navigate these waters.

By considering all these elements and working with Peak Building Systems in the design phase, you can better estimate and manage the cost of your pre-engineered steel building project. Whether you're constructing a small garage or a large industrial facility, being well-informed will help you make the right decisions and stay within your budget. PEMBs offer excellent value and long-term durability, making them a smart choice for a wide range of applications when approached with careful planning and cost management in mind. To speak with one of our experts, please give a call at (720) 282-5074 today to start the design process. You can also visit our website and design your building today with our 3D Builder.


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page