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6 Steps to Plan Your Commercial Metal Building

Alicia Morales

The idea of putting up a commercial metal building can overwhelm even the most experienced business owner. While it may seem an impossibly complex task, don’t fret—we’ve outlined a few basic steps that will guide you from dreaming about a new metal commercial building to crafting the metal building of your dreams.

Step One: Planning

As with any building project, purchasing and erecting a metal building requires planning. The better you plan your project, the more successful it will be.

Planning includes deciding on the size, setting a budget, creating an engineered plan and blueprints, securing required permits, and choosing building materials, insulation, doors, windows, and foundation.

Start by developing a wish list for your building. Decide where to situate it and how you plan to use it. How big will it be? Where do you want windows or doors? Do you need offices or living space? Armed with a preliminary plan, consult a commercial metal building engineer to create a design that meets your needs and budget.

Step Two: Create a Design

Most manufacturers have engineers on staff to bring your ideas to life. These professionals produce customized designs that comply with local building codes and load requirements.

Pre-engineered metal building blueprints show how building components assemble. Most engineered plans are 10 to 20 pages long with each page focused on specific parts of your building. Plans are site-specific, and some come with a metal liability and warranty.

Blueprints also include a cover page that shares structure specifications and details about how the commercial steel structure meets specific building codes. The cover page also shares the building application, your name, the building site, and the completed building’s description.

The design phase includes looking at traffic and building use patterns to determine where windows and doors will go, as well as which types your building will need. You’ll also consider layouts, building styles, colors, roof types, and insulation.

How you insulate your building depends on the application. A building used for storage will require minimal insulation, while an office building needs more to keep workers comfortable. The most popular insulation types for commercial metal buildings are fiberglass insulation, spray foam, double bubble insulation, and prefabricated insulated panels.

Ready to plan your commercial metal building? Our guide will show you how. No  personal info required to access!

Step Three: Get a Permit

Most local municipalities require a completed application and engineered structural plans to pull a permit.

The structural plans completed in Step 2 provide detailed information about your metal building. How it’s constructed, how it’s connected, where it’s welded and bolted together, and how it’s drilled into the ground. This information will help you secure a building permit.

The permit application will ask about the building’s foundation, which for commercial metal buildings is most likely a concrete slab. At a minimum, a commercial building needs concrete footing strips around the outside base, though you may prefer a concrete pad instead of gravel or dirt underneath your feet.

Most municipalities also need a site plan for land improvements. A site plan is an architectural plan, landscape architecture document, and a detailed engineering drawing of proposed site improvements. The site plan shows a building footprint, travel ways, parking, drainage facilities, sanitary sewer lines, water lines, trails, and lighting, as well as landscaping and garden elements.

Don’t forget plumbing, mechanical, and electrical permits for buildings with restrooms and kitchens, HVAC, and electricity.

Completing required permit paperwork takes about three days, plus another four to six weeks for local authorities to approve.

Step Four: Ready the Site

The structural integrity of a commercial metal building rests on a firm foundation. This begins with a properly prepared construction site.

Site prep involves removing trees, stumps, vegetation, and large rocks to make room for the building. Graders remove less stable soils and level the land. You may need to use fill dirt to create a solid foundation bed.

Once you have a firm and level pad, crews can pour concrete for the foundation. A concrete foundation needs at least 72 hours to cure before your commercial metal building can go up.
If your commercial building has concrete strips around the outside base, this perimeter footing must be 18-inches by 18-inches deep for 24x24 and 24x48 feet buildings.

The right foundation resists load from the building and the climate, which makes the steel building more durable and ensures it stands longer. Your building engineer knows the requirements and guidelines for loading and anchor bolts. This information ensures the foundation supports the building well.

Your commercial metal building supplier will help determine the best foundation type and design for your metal building. Flood zones, soil, frost lines, building size, and application all factor into foundation selection.

Step Five: Erect the Building

Erecting a metal commercial building is the fun part. You just step aside and let the installers work.
Putting up a commercial metal building takes less time than a wood building. The times vary depending on the size, the experience of the assembly crew, and the equipment at their disposal. Larger buildings require a lift to put trusses in place. But with prefabricated pieces, most installers can erect a small commercial building in a couple of days and larger buildings within a week.
Installing the building doesn’t mean you can move in right away. Remember to allow time for HVAC, electrical, and plumbing installation.

Step Six: Approval

Every part of your metal project—from the foundation to the plumbing, electrical wiring, and the building itself—must pass inspection upon completion.

The local inspector will examine the project to make sure it meets local building codes. Inspectors will require you to correct identified issues before issuing a certificate of completion. You can move in once you receive a certificate of completion.

The key to a smooth commercial metal building project is choosing the right metal building company from the start.

The right manufacturer maintains a staff of qualified engineering professionals to walk you through design choices, permitting, installation preparations, and more. They will supply blueprints and other documentation for local building authorities.

The right partner is a guide who keeps you from feeling overwhelmed. Your commercial metal building company makes sure your project moves forward. And before you know it, you’ll be working from the commercial building of your dreams.

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