For those in the industry, both the initial and long-term value of steel building systems is immediately apparent. Low upfront cost. Streamlined construction. Unmatched durability. Long-term energy savings. And much more.
But metal buildings are just one of the many options available to general contractors and owners. While it’s well-understood among GCs that prefabricated building systems are more cost-effective as a method of construction, few are aware of the many ways in which a metal building provides long-term value to the end user.
Metal building systems present an opportunity to increase margins and streamline construction schedule — all while delivering a high-quality facility the owner can be proud of for decades to come.
Compared with other construction types (wood framing, masonry, concrete), steel buildings lead the way in both upfront and long-term costs. The speed of construction, durability of the material and adaptability of the structure all make steel an attractive building material — and contribute to a low total cost of ownership.
Initial vs. lifetime cost: An important distinction
Steel buildings last a long time. That’s why it’s important to frame any cost discussion in terms of total cost of ownership rather than just upfront cost. Of course, saving money up front will reduce this total cost of ownership, but you also need to consider long-term costs such as heating and cooling, maintenance and electricity.
While this article will mainly focus on the long-term value metal buildings provide, potential short-term savings are worth mentioning — namely faster construction and reduced material costs.
The erection process for metal buildings is as much as 30% faster than traditional construction methods. This is because much of the assembly happens off-site. All members and components of metal building systems are fabricated to strict quality standards, then delivered to the site ready for immediate erection. This results in a streamlined construction schedule — benefitting both the end user and contractor by reducing labor costs and minimizing opportunity costs while waiting to move into the new facility.
Using computer modeling, each component of a metal building system is designed with only the steel required to bear the necessary loads, resulting in cost savings of up to 20%, according to the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC).
Other factors like the complexity of your building design, location, the price of steel and the particular codes in your area also have an impact on the initial cost-per-square-foot price of your building.
3 reasons steel buildings are a smart long-term investment
The idea that metal buildings are only appropriate for industrial warehouses is a thing of the past. The truth is that nearly 50% of all low-rise buildings in the United States use metal building systems. Millions of buildings, ranging from hospitals to schools to airport hangars use prefabricated metal building systems.
The state-of-the-art designs available in metal buildings deserve a serious look by owners and contractors alike. They’re cost-effective, environmentally friendly, durable and incredibly versatile. Most importantly, though, steel is a great long-term building investment regardless of application.
1. Lower insurance rates
The recurring insurance costs for metal buildings are significantly lower than wood-framed or masonry buildings even in areas with high seismic risk, according to a study from the study from the Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA).
In terms of value engineering, this continual savings contributes to a much lower total cost of ownership in comparison to other construction types. Check out this bulletin from the MBMA for more information on why metal building insurance costs are lower than other building types.
2. Adaptable by design
Another selling point for metal buildings is ease and lowered cost of additions and renovations in the future. If there are plans for future expansion, your building can be designed with the collateral load and expandable endwalls needed for cost-effective expansion.
3. Minimal maintenance, maximum durability
Compared to other building types, steel building maintenance is minimal, resulting in a much lower maintenance budget over the lifetime of the building. The components of prefabricated steel buildings are not only stronger than other materials — they’re also designed to prevent rust and weathering.
But perhaps the most critical element of your metal building system purchase is the distributor who sells it to you. The right distributor will provide value through service, expertise and client commitment. They’ll think not only in terms of reducing upfront cost — but maximizing long-term value.
At Searcy Building Systems, we hold ourselves to a higher standard. We do more than save our customers money — we provide value in every aspect of your metal building without cutting corners. 26-gauge panels come standard. So do framed openings and deluxe base angles with flashing. In fact, a lot of “extras” come standard with every Searcy Building Systems — see the full list of standard features here. And you’ll have a dedicated building consultant to guide you through the process every step of the way.
We take care of our clients. Whether you’re a major general contractor who sells dozens of custom buildings a year or a small church committee looking for a cost-effective church option, you’ll receive above-standard service and expertise.
That’s why partnering with a reputable and knowledgeable distributor like Searcy Building Systems is a great value-add for the owner and competitive advantage for the contractor. Download our guide to capturing value with your building purchase to learn more about how a metal building system can save owners thousands in the long term, and how contractors can leverage this information to close more sales.