Steel Building Do's and Don'ts
No matter who supplies your steel building, you're more likely to have a positive experience if you follow a few basic rules:
- Check with your building inspector before you buy
We can't repeat this too many times.
- Never assume anything
Wishful thinking usually ends in a surprise -- a bad one.
- Get anything important in writing
The written contract is the ruling document. If it says blue walls but the salesman verbally promises to change them to red, understand that he cannot send red panels without breaching the contract.
- Read your quote / contract carefully
Every word and every line is important -- what it says and doesn't say. If the contract describes an item in vague terms, expect to get the cheapest thing that satisfies the description. If the contract doesn't mention something, don't expect to get it at all.
- Don't buy before you're ready
Beware salesmen who urge you to sign a contract before you have decided exactly what you want (see below).
- Understand that changes cost money
Once a supplier starts processing an order, it costs money to make changes. You will pay the bill (see above and the section on misconceptions below).
- Inventory your building as you unload it
This is another absolutely critical responsibility. Honest companies want to correct their mistakes, but they can't unless you give them a fair starting point.
- Follow your drawings
Not all buildings go together the same way, and your erection drawings are the only accurate and comprehensive description of the building engineered for you. Make sure your erector reads and follows them.
- Read your erection and safety manual
The manual offers important general guidelines and describes the proper procedures for erecting a steel building safely and correctly. Your erector and crew need to understand and employ them.
|Misconceptions and Misleading Information
A couple of the most fundamental principles of the steel building industry are often misunderstood. Unfortunately, a few unscrupulous companies deliberately mislead people on the first point below because they think it increases their sales. STEELBUILDING.COM believes that the more you know about steel buildings, the greater regard you will have for these remarkable structures.
- No one keeps an inventory of "stock" buildings
Almost without exception, rigid-frame steel buildings are made to order. Although some companies create price lists for a few common sizes, the selection is usually very limited because of the massive number of variables that influence a single design. We've never heard of anyone actually fabricating buildings that haven't been sold. Companies who imply they keep an existing stock of buildings are likely just playing word games. If you want to find out whether a "clearance" building really exists, just ask how soon it can ship. If it is already made, there's no reason it should take more than a week at most.
- There are no minor structural changes
While it's not rocket science, designing a steel building involves some fairly complicated structural engineering. When done well, it produces a tightly integrated system of components in which it is almost impossible to change one part without affecting others. For example, moving an opening might increase the amount of bracing needed in a bay. This could alter the bolt-shear force and necessitate adding another run of purlins. Changing the purlin spacing would change the number and location of clips on the rafters and fasteners for the roof panels, among other things. On the other hand, none of this might be necessary; we might be able to move the opening without altering anything else. Unfortunately, we can't know until we re-engineer the building. The bottom line is that a structural change essentially creates a new building and requires us to redesign it from scratch and generate new shop details, new drawings, and a new parts list. This takes time and costs money. Whenever possible, make your changes before you buy.