Steel Buildings – Everything you need to know

Last updated Wednesday, March 14, 2018, 12:56 pm


Buildings are something which we see every day. In fact, because for the vast majority of us they have been a constant feature, they now appear almost as if they are a part of the wildlife. We take them for granted, so much so that most people simply never consider how a building is made or what materials should be used.

In this article we will be explaining the merits of steel buildings and why those who are involved in construction projects should always be on the lookout for steel buildings for sale. Whether it’s a steel industrial complex, or steel home, this versatile building material suits the majority of construction projects.

1. How are They Built?

Steel buildings are wonderfully simple to construct. The parts can all be made to order and built so that they simply slot together, these are sometimes known as Prefab buildings – prefab being short for prefabricated. Sometimes it is just the frame of the building that is built in this way, other times entire sections of the building are constructed in this way. In fact, a lot of modern constructions, especially where there is a need to minimise costs, are constructed using steel building kits. Now that 3D printing technology is maturing, it is becoming possible to 3D print entire structures, steel is proving a popular material to use.steel building process

2. Are They Easy to Build?

Steel buildings can be designed for just about any situation. Once a list of requirements has been shown to an architect they can then design a suitable structure in such a way that it can mostly or wholly be built by attaching separately produced components of the structure together.

As with most building types, steel buildings can vary in complexity. They are versatile because of the advanced manufacturing methods we now have, these allow us to design and build steel building kits to suit all kind of environments. With that said, there are a number of considerations – weather conditions, labour requirements, equipment, local terrain, to name just some – which can affect the cost and complexity of putting a steel building together. Building a steel building can be easy and cheap or complicated and generally more expensive, although, even at its most difficult steel buildings are much easier to put together than the alternatives.

3. Finding Planning Permission

No matter what type of building project you are undertaking, you will need to obtain planning permission. The linked guide will help you in pursuing planning permission requests and appealing a denied application. You will also need to make sure that you understand the building regulations that apply to steel buildings. For example, there are specific regulations pertaining to fire safety standards. As fire affects steel differently to other materials, it is crucial that you check all this at the earliest opportunity.

Failing to obtain planning permission can have dire consequences for a project. It is not uncommon for unauthorised building projects to be torn down after completion. The cost of getting planning permission is nothing compared to having to scrap an already finished project.

4. Common Uses of Steel Buildings

Because of the properties of steel, in particular its strength and resilience relative to its price, it has been put to use in a wide variety of construction contexts. Among the many types of building that steel has been used for, some of the most common steel building uses are:

  • As a cheaper alternative to brick when adding a garage to a property.
  • A way of creating a small studio or workshop space.
  • Using it as an agricultural steel frame building to store & keep equipment safe.
  • Hangers for light aircraft.
  • Public projects with a limited budget.

Steel building typesIn the future, steel or just general prefab buildings could be used to solve certain problems, such as residential issues, as steel is durable and resilient – perfect for long lasting yet quick to assemble housing. In the past, general prefab buildings have been put forward as a temporary solution to housing the homeless, and so using steel buildings as prefab homeless housing is something that is likely to increase as the amount of people living on the street continues to increase. Once you have a steel building it is easy to customise and modify it for different uses, and so the range of problems that could be solved through steel buildings is huge.

5. Why Steel?

Steel as A Building Material

There are a number of reasons why steel makes such a good building material, since it’s not only extremely strong, but it also has many advantages in industry. For example, when making the parts for steel buildings, any excess steel is 100% recyclable, making it a sustainable and environmentally friendly building material especially when compared to the most common alternatives such as brick or concrete. As well as the environmental advantages, steel buildings have many other advantages over materials such as concrete. The most important features of steel are its low cost, its excellent safety record, and the speed with which steel buildings can be constructed.

Steel for Prefab Buildings

When it comes to building prefab buildings, there is nothing better than steel right now. With 3D printing, it is possible that we will see exotic materials in the future, but for now steel is easy to work with and is one of the most durable building materials out there. Steel is strong, but it is also light, an important consideration for prefab buildings. There are two types of prefab building produced by steel manufacturing: temporary structures where steel is often the only material used, and more permanent structures often use a steel frame, in which case only the internal skeleton of the building will be steel.

6. Other Materials Used

General Steel Buildings

Steel is most commonly used alongside other building materials; these materials depend upon the context that the building will be used in. The most common building materials used are concrete and brick.

Prefab buildings can also be made of concrete or wood. In general steel buildings, concrete is mostly used over a steel frame for the most permanent structures, this is because concrete is low maintenance and durable.

Steel Clad Buildings

Metal, namely steel is sometimes used as cladding on the exterior of building. Cold rolled Steel clad buildings are resistant to fire, an effect which is often aided by the addition of other materials to be used in the cladding.

Steel Framed Buildings

When just the frame of a building is made of steel it can be used in a much wider variety of contexts. For all its strengths, steel is not ideal for very large, permanent structures. Modern residential buildings are usually mostly made of wood over a steel frame. Steel framed buildings usually contain a mixture of materials such as glass and wood which are used to give the building a stylish finish. Steel framed buildings

7. General costs

The cost of steel buildings is usually lower than for other materials. The price of a steel building is related to both the weight of the steel that is needed to build it, and the amount of physical space it occupies. A steel framed building costs roughly £35 per square metre, if you want to add cladding that’s another £5, bringing it to £40 per square meter. If you want to add in galvanised steel then it becomes £42 per square meter. This cost doesn’t factor in the additional costs of windows, heating systems, doors, etc.

Because steel buildings come in so many different types, the price can vary a lot, which is why looking at online for an online quote to estimate the cost.

8. Do they Look Nice?

There is no reason that a steel building can’t look every bit as nice as any other building type. Steel buildings often look ‘simple’ in their design, meaning that they do not incorporate many of the curved edges and other shapes that modern architecture often does, but, to many this minimalist look is quite attractive. Obviously, there are many different styles, and so it’s best to check out pages such as the Steel Buildings Gallery for some examples of different builds. New manufacturing methods are allowing us to do more and more with steel, and many architects spend considerable effort in beautifying the exterior of the building.

For industrial buildings and agricultural storehouses, aesthetics are less important, when you see pictures of steel buildings, the ones that look ‘ugly’ are usually there purely for utilitarian purposes.

9. Different Design Options

With steel buildings you are free to let your imagination run wild with designs. Steel buildings can be customised and designed to function in any environment they are needed in, their modular design makes it easy to add in new features to existing structures, as well as designing them into new ones. The simplicity of steel construction has led to many individuals trying their hand at steel home design. When building a house, for example, the advantage of being able to have input in the design process is that steel building house plans can easily be drawn up which contain all the features that you want in a new home.

10. Sizing Ranges

The standard steel building sizes on offer will vary depending on the exact type of building that is being constructed. There are also a number of regulations that need to be observed, for example, the building’s height should be equal to the clearance height inside, plus two feet. Another restriction, which exists on steel framed buildings which are to be used either industrially or as a warehouse, is that no new buildings or extensions can be higher than 5 metres if they are within 10m of the curtilage boundary.

11. Impact on the Environment

We are living in an ever more ecologically conscious society. It is therefore hardly surprising that many builders want to know that the buildings they erect have a minimal disruptive effect on the local ecosystem. Steel is a fantastic material where the environmental impact is a concern. For one thing, excess steel is entirely recyclable and reusable, this means that construction firms don’t have to be as shy when ordering materials. In general, prefab buildings are very environmentally friendly, but the environmental impact of steel buildings can be further reduced when solar panels are used.

12. Resistance to Harsh Weather

The durability of steel is one of its biggest selling points. During the hurricane season of 2017, the southern United States was hit by a series of powerful hurricanes. These hurricanes wiped out wooden structures, but were unable to bring down a single steel building. Fortunately, weather in the UK is not so extreme, but it is an excellent demonstration of the durability of steel. Steel is able to cope with all the weather that it is likely to see in the UK, and weathering steel is often used to further avoid steel corrosion and create a more weather resistant steel building.

13. Building Safety

Steel has an excellent safety record, as an incredibly durable and versatile material it has proven itself in a wide variety of construction contexts. Because steel buildings are constructed from parts that have already been made, it is much safer to work with and there is usually less room for things to go wrong. When designing industrial and storage units it is essential that they are the right size. Some companies purchase small steel buildings, planning to expand them later, but then in order to save costs they keep the small building and over pack it, this compromises the steel buildings safety.

Most safety hazards with steel buildings are the result of human error. If the building is heated, for example, and appropriate precautions aren’t taken then this can compromise the building’s safety record.

14. Average Required Maintenance

Steel is generally quite a low maintenance material. It is very durable and resilient to weathering, especially if it is treated. There may be some cases where occasional structural building maintenance is needed, but with steel this is becoming more rare. Buildings with many features, such as doors and windows, will need cleaning more often and usually more extensively. Some people opt to purchase second hand steel buildings, in this case the building will require maintenance sooner. The best way to clean a metal building is to use a pressure washer, which should be done more frequently if the building is located in an area with heavy traffic or nearby industry.

15. Are They Prone to Infestations?

Infestations are a real pain for everyone. Both landlords and homeowners fear an infestation of termites or other creepy crawlies. Many prefab buildings are resistant to some types of infestation, this is because they are thoroughly sealed against draughts and so it is harder for small bugs to find anywhere to nest. In a steel barn or steel garage, rat infestations may arise due to the presence of food; keep all food elevated to avoid this issue. Regardless of what your steel structure is, or where it is, if you leave doors and windows open for extended period then your chances of infestation increases dramatically.