In commercial applications, pre-engineered metal and steel buildings provide cost savings across the board. By implementing these structures in new construction and retrofit projects, developers and property owners are realizing cost reductions from the planning and permit phase through construction and completion. Project managers have found that construction schedules can be noticeably compressed, which translates to reductions in contractor’s overhead, as well as any down time that might affect the tenant of a new or retrofit building.
Typical pre-construction costs that are associated with conventional buildings can be substantial in terms of the project management needed to compile bids and submit items for pricing. Wood famed construction systems demand extensive hours for these activities, and even though concrete block structures reduce the typical pre-construction time somewhat, the pricing of materials and coordination of continuous inspections require project management that is all but eliminated with steel building construction.
In addition, the numerous trades that are involved with conventional wood and concrete block construction require project management in order to finalize contracts for each of the sub contractors. Many of these project management costs are all but eliminated with steel buildings, since the fabrication combines the services of framing, roofing, and window and door installations within the scope of work. By reducing project management, the initial on-site activities can begin once the contracts are complete and the construction plans have been approved.
With any commercial project, generating the construction plans begins with a design that is tailored to suit the intended use of the building. Even the most straightforward structures, such as a service building or storage facility require approved plans with structural and mechanical engineering in order to obtain permits. With conventional systems, the architectural fees and mechanical engineering costs can be extremely costly.
However, fabricators of steel buildings offer a number of pre-approved designs that require no architectural involvement or building department plan check. Plans, plan check and permits for pre-engineered building projects are most often limited to the concrete foundation and the mechanical trades. Initial on-site activities, such as footing excavations and the installation of underground utilities are consistent with the construction of all new commercial buildings, and this remains the case with steel buildings as well. The cost savings in this phase are often realized in the omission of structural pads and extensive footings that are required to support wood framed and concrete block load-bearing walls.
Designs for pre-engineered metal building employ steel I-beams as clear span headers and interior vertical support columns. This system eliminates the need for wood or poured in place concrete support systems that are substantially heavier and more time consuming with regard to installation. In addition, steel web trusses are used as the roof support system, which is far more efficient than wood trusses or a panelized roof in terms of the installation time.
Further, the lighter load ratios of sheet metal siding and metal roofing will reduce the size of the required concrete footing. This translates to a marked reduction in costs that are associated with the concrete footing materials, man-hours, footing excavation and hauling of footing spoils. By eliminating the need for conventional structural systems and those related activities, the construction completion schedule requires less time, and this in turn, reduces the general contractor’s overhead costs.
The process of erecting steel buildings on site is relatively uncomplicated when compared to typical commercial or residential construction. Once the concrete footings and underground stub-ups are in place, the structural components are transported to the site, off-loaded and erected without interruption. Following this assembly, electrical circuits, plumbing connections and air conditioning units can be installed without the need for intensive coordination on the part of the job site supervisor.
Any additional equipment or systems, such as compressors, mechanical lifts or pressurized air lines can be easily installed without inconvenience to those particular vendors. These installations can be clearly defined and coordinated with a minimum of project management, and the contractor’s supervision needed to oversee these activities is often reduced to a portion of the standard involvement.