Steel Buildings: Purchase Do’s and Don’ts

   By David Lieberman

Steps to follow when planning a steel building purchase

When planning a steel building purchase – whether it be for residential or commercial purposes, there are a few steps which you must follow and areas which need to be addressed.

Firstly, you will require a check list to ensure that you have everything covered. There are certain basic guidelines which are strongly recommended that you follow. Have you done your homework and found out the difference in costs if you DIY versus a contractor?

Basic Guidelines

There are certain things which you must know if you are planning steel building purchase.

  • Do NOT fall for the “offering a special pricing if you buy NOW” gimmick. Take your time.
  • Be certain that your building conforms to the local building inspectors requirements BEFORE signing the contract.
  • Once the contract is signed, obtain all of the permits required. All of the following questions need to be checked off PRIOR to starting:
  • “What is the building code?
  • What are the design loads?
  • Will you need to submit Engineer stamped structural drawings?
  • Will you need to submit Engineer stamped foundation drawings?
  • Will you need to submit design calculations?
  • Will you need to obtain approval from zoning or community planning commission?” (
  • “The items described on your contract are what you are buying. Please be sure to carefully review all contract documents before you sign off. If a contract does not describe an item in specific terms, you should not expect the item to be the best product available. And just as important – is what a contract does not say. Specifically if your contract does not indicate that you are getting framed openings and garage doors – then you are NOT going to get framed openings and garage doors.
  • Understand that making changes after the sale will cost you money. Once the design is completed it will cost money to make changes. If an order is in fabrication – and requires modifications due to customer demands – the entire process has to be stopped, pulled off-line and inventoried. Once the inventory of completed items is confirmed, it’s back to the drawing board. You will be responsible for extra time required to re-design the project and all other associated expenses.
  • Do NOT get creative. Follow the building plans as specified in the manufacturer’s plans. “An erection manual offers important general guidelines and the proper procedures for erecting a steel building safely.


When you are planning to purchase a steel building, nothing is more important than your budget. Your budget will let you know exactly what you can and cannot do. “When preparing your budget, it is essential to reflect on the overall cost of the project. Even on small jobs, the cost of the building materials usually represents less than half of the total cost…The entire cost of your project will depend on how much additional work is required to complete it as planned. Adding “build-out” items such as sheetrock, plumbing and electrical are only a small part of the total cost.


Though not the average modus operandi, some steel building companies will request that you put down an initial deposit. Do not be confused thinking that this goes towards the purchase price. Normally, these “deposits” are to pay for the engineered plans that come with the kit.

Benefits of Building it Yourself

Currently, there is state-of-the-art software which will assist you in designing and planning the prospective steel building you are going to purchase. Another plus of doing this project yourself is that you get to choose the accessories and options versus having them chosen for you in a kit.

The Foundation

Steel building foundations is what will support your steel building. When planning the steel building purchase, “Most manufacturers of steel buildings recommend that the foundation be designed by an experienced foundation engineer. This will insure proper design, make the actual erection of the steel building go a lot smoother and reduce costs. Proven construction techniques and adherence to OSHA and other local codes are highly recommended.


Another aspect which must be decided during the planning of the steel building purchase is access to the site. “…Obviously, the vehicle transporting your steel building must be able to access the site from the adjacent highway or road. This access must be prepared in advance of the truck arriving!

Any overhead obstructions or anything in the way needs to be removed, including trees, boulders, debris. A landscaping contractor might need to be hired for this purpose.

Put down gravel or lay planks on the access route if the soil cannot sustain the heavy wheel loads.

Check the planned building site to make sure there is enough space to physically perform the tasks required to erect the steel building. The proximity of adjacent buildings and other obstructions can severely hinder the construction process. “ (

The importance of accurate foundation construction and anchor bolt settings cannot be overemphasized! The anchor bolts must be in the exact locations as specified in the Anchor Bolt drawing provided by your steel building manufacturer. There is an extremely small tolerance for the placing of the anchor bolts, only +-1/16″ to +-1/18″.

The foundation must meet local design/load conditions.

Foundation errors and improper location of anchor bolts are the most frequent and troublesome errors made in steel building construction. Errors can wind up costing you a lot of money!

NOTE: DO NOT, repeat, DO NOT start the erection process on “green” or uncured concrete. Anchor bolts may pull loose, concrete spall (chip out along edges) may occur and equipment may crash or crack the slab! Normal “Portland” cement should cure in at least seven days and high-early-strength concrete in at least three days. Special circumstances may require even longer curing periods.


Author: My name is David Lieberman. I am a blogger and also have my own site Bestforacar. I am a graduate of Psychology from the Columbia University in the City of New York, where I edited the literary journal.


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