Pre-engineered metal buildings are a convenient, cost-effective alternative to conventional construction. Generally, pre-engineered metal buildings are used for commercial spaces, but these structures can be designed to meet an array of needs, such as airplane hangars, places of worship or places of education. These structures are cost-efficient, customizable and generally quicker to construct and erect than buildings that are designed and built with standard construction procedures.

But what exactly is a pre-engineered metal building? To put it simply, a pre-engineered metal building is a building that is constructed with a steel frame system that supports a metal roof and metal wall panels. These structures are pre-designed to adhere to precise dimensions. These dimensions are specific to the needs of the company investing in the building, but there are other factors that are taken into account, as well, such as area-specific building codes, potential load problems and environmental considerations.

Pre-engineered metal buildings are fabricated to meet many unique requirements. Frame components are made offsite and then shipped to the location to be erected. Many times, these frames are I-beams, which are referred to because of their shape. I-beams are generally created by welding steel plates together to form the section, which are then built together to create the frame of the building. Naturally, there are different types of pre-engineered buildings with different types of frame designs and structures, but this is historically how pre-engineered buildings were constructed.

To design a pre-engineered building as accurately as possible, engineers have to consider the following:

  • Bay spacing
  • Slope of roof
  • Loads (live, dead and collateral)
  • Wind uplift
  • Space between bearing points
  • Deflection criteria
  • Maximum practical size and weight of engineered components

Over time, pre-calculated measurements for each unique component have been utilized in order to engineer precise designs and measurements. Engineers have developed programs over time that make pre-engineered buildings efficient and cost-effective. Computer-aided design programs have made this easier.  Computer technology has allowed the design and construction of pre-engineered steel buildings to become much more advanced; many computer-aided design programs allow for 3D design and analysis before creation, making the process even more cost-effective, efficient and easier.

Pre-Engineered Buildings External Design

There are many different materials that can be used for the external cladding of a pre-engineered building. A few of these materials include wood, tensioned fabric, masonry block, glass, concrete and steel sheets. These external cladding materials are dependent on the specific criteria delineated by the company investing in the structure. How the building will be used and where the building is being built makes a difference on choice of external material. Engineers will take into account environmental factors, use and durability. The idea, of course, is that a pre-engineered building has the same appearance, design flexibility, function and advantages of a conventional building – if not more so.

Benefits of Pre-Engineered Buildings

There are many benefits of pre-engineered metal buildings, including cost, speed (shorter project duration), design and structural integrity. These buildings take almost half the time of a conventional construction project to construct, saving on time, labor and material. These steel buildings are strong (often stronger than conventional buildings), durable and resistant to most types of weather, including blizzards, heavy winds and hail.

Many owners interested in pre-engineered metal buildings are interested in a structure with an open, extensive interior space. There are endless options for the design of pre-engineered buildings, both interior and exterior.

Standard details are where many realize the best advantage of a pre-engineered metal building. Pre-engineered structures are generally created with steel, but as technology advances, there are types of steel available that are light and more energy efficient than steel utilized in the past. Energy efficiency is both an economical and environmental advantage of a pre-engineered structure. These structures are tightly sealed, require less insulation than standard buildings, and can be designed with roofing that deflects the sun’s harsh rays, efficiently keeping the structure cool and allowing energy systems to run smoothy.

Pre-engineered metal buildings can be built and adapted to suit a wide variety of applications. The advantages of this type of structure have been realize more and more over the years, as companies looking to build or expand realize the economic wisdom of investing in a structure that takes less time to design, produce, erect and take care of. Pre-engineered metal structures proves their worth from the onset, providing companies and professionals many opportunities for expansion and growth.