How Much Does a Steel Building Cost?
Steel is advantageous to other building materials, as it is cost-effective for construction projects, doesn’t bend easily, and 100% recyclable. Also, steel prices are not volatile, making it a safe choice for builders. Steel is often used to build airplane hangers, skyscrapers, and storage buildings.
On average steel building cost per square foot is $19. That includes the materials and the labor to construct. Steel buildings using I-beam construction are the cheapest option at $8 per square foot. While modular steel buildings are the most expensive option at $40 per sqft. Steel building kits start as low as $8,000 for 2 car garage.
The price per square foot of a steel building’s construction is based on factors such as the size of the building and the location of the site. Other circumstances that affect the price per square footage are the purpose of the building and the cost of construction materials.
Compare & Save: Free No Obligation Quotes
Steel building kits are best known for having the greatest amount of usable space due to not having beams and trusses. Most steel building kits include long-term warranties and a reputation for high durability. Together they provide a greater sense of security and confidence in your investment.
Steel Building Kit Prices
|Kit Style||Kit Size||Starting Price|
The do-it-yourself steel building kit is designed to be easily constructed in just a few days. They have a single-size nut and bolt system with pre-cut panels for guess-free assembly. Quality steel building kits come with engineer-certified blueprints that meet the standards of all 50 states.
These steel buildings are resistant to high winds, heavy snow, and seismic activity. They have a design flexibility that allows for personalization. In addition, they can accommodate a wide range of customizations to meet your needs.
On average, you should expect to pay between $15 and $25 per square foot (SQFT) all-inclusive for a basic rigid-frame steel building.
What Exactly Influences the Cost of Steel Buildings?
As you may be aware, the cost of constructing a prefabricated steel building varies significantly from one provider and region to another. You must be wondering what causes such variation and how exactly each factor affects the pricing, right?
Discussed below are some of the main factors that affect prefabricated steel building costs:
Size & Location Are Important Factors
Knowing in advance the type of steel building you need and the customizations you want will save time and money. Make sure you have a clear idea in mind when planning the needs of your steel building. Details are important at every stage of the construction but are most crucial during the designing phase.
Steel is a commodity with an ever-changing value on the world market. Fluctuation in the price of steel can occur in a matter of days. One natural disaster in the wrong part of the world can drive steel prices skyward and make your project more costly.
The two factors that have the greatest impact on the cost of constructing a steel building are the size of the building and the location of the construction site. When it comes to building with steel, the cost per square foot decreases as the size of the building increases. However, the complexity of the building’s needs and the number of customizations will push the price per square footage upward.
The location of the construction, as well as the time of year, will play a big role in the overall cost of the steel building. Construction materials will vary based on things such as the climate of the area and local building codes and regulations. In addition, the cost of labor and unions will vary by location.
|Cost per sq ft||U.S Location|
Price differences among these locations are in part due to the extreme weather conditions found in the areas.
Places that have frequent, heavy snow or high winds require the building to meet construction specifications that can withstand the weight and strength of mother nature. Milder weather environments require less insulation and fewer modifications for blasting winds and bitter cold.
Logistics and Building Height
The site footprint and building height will also cause variations in costs. For instance, a multi-story building with small floor plates will have a heavier steel frame per M2 GIFA, as compared to a low-rise building with larger floor plates of the same overall area.
You will also need to consider the logistics and access as it affects the cost of erecting the steel frame. Even where two buildings have a similar frame design, costs will differ if one is in a congested city center.
The cost is erecting the same building in an easy-access business park will be as the logistics and access arrangements are somewhat different.
Working in built-up areas may also mean restrictions on work hours, noise, deliveries, access, and use of cranes (also known as boom lifts). These will eventually influence installation costs and may even increase the construction schedule with the associated expense to the project.
Repeating Grid Will Save You Money
If you are looking for a cost-efficient option, you should go for the repeating grid. If non-standard sections or a wide range of different sections and connections are needed, the project will be more complex and therefore more expensive as a result of the higher fabrication costs.
Other steel buildings are known to have special requirements, such as retaining a historic façade, close neighbors, or even poor ground conditions to overcome.
If such scenarios require complex structural solutions, such as the transfer of structures and heavy fabricated beams, the fabrication costs will increase the overall cost. It may as well increase installation time and cost.
While estimating the cost of a steel building, you should consider consulting with your supplier. This should be done with the aim of ensuring that your estimates reflect the supply chain’s detailed knowledge of order books and material prices. You also need to check whether this is the case both for the present time and the immediate future.
Building Purpose and Facilities
The proposed usage of a building will influence the design of the frame directly. The purpose and required facilities will influence such aspects as the design loadings, grid, floor-to-floor heights, and whether or not spans are required.
This being the case, the overall weight of frame material varies from one building to another. For instance, a simple low-eaves industrial portal-framed building may have a steel frame weight of about 40kg/m2 GIFA. A-frame for a multi-story office that has long spans to minimize internal, on the other hand, may have twice this weight.
Using the same cost range for both buildings would be misleading and either significantly underestimate or overestimate the cost, depending on the steel intensity you choose. As such, you first need to understand what the building will be used for as well as what its floor-to-floor height will be.
While doing this, you need to understand that FIFA rates are only based on the floor area. As such, they do not factor in the significant variances in floor-to-floor heights from those used in standard cost models. Therefore, you need to use the most appropriate standard cost range as the base for the initial frame elemental target cost.
While standard cost ranges based on previous project data are useful tools, it is still important to find out as much about the facilities and function of the building as possible.
For example, an open-plan office will require fewer columns, requiring longer spanning beams, and heavier steel sections. This will, in turn, increase the overall weight of the frame, and its cost.
Another example is an out-of-town business park type of office. Such a steel building may feature a shorter and more regular grid.
This will lower the overall cost of establishing such a steel structure. Buildings that have a range of different spaces, such as atriums and boardrooms, tend to have different grid and loading requirements.
Each building and site have individual requirements. Again, you will also have a vast array of structural products used to form the steel frame to choose from.
In order to get a clear picture, you should seek to understand the proposed structural products and systems along with any related considerations that could influence the choice, such as the strategy for integrating services.
The most widely used structural steel products are rolled I-sections, commonly referred to as universal beams, and universal columns. Other commonly used products are structural hollow sections, which may be square (SHS), circular (CHS), or rectangular (RHS) in shape.
Fabricated plate girders are used to support heavy loads or span long distances beyond the capability of the largest standard rolled I-sections, for example in bridges. They are usually I-sections made up of plates welded together to form the flanges and web.
|Construction Method||Price per sq ft|
For very long spans, built-up trusses comprising horizontal, vertical, and diagonal members are often used to achieve the most economical solution. A good example of such an application is the roof structures of very large industrial buildings. Other steel frame aspects you need to consider include:
Individual Member Types to Be Used
You need to enquire about which member types are proposed in your design. Different products have different erection and fabrication requirements. Similarly, the rates per ton will differ from one project to another.
The specific building configuration proposed can also affect the volume of steel used. The type of members may also determine the weight of steel required as well as its height.
This will ultimately determine whether you will be able to save some money on cladding. Heavier steel sections are known to have inherently greater fire resistance.
Using such components, will, in turn, lower your fire protection costs, as discussed below.
Connections and Fittings
When the primary and secondary members have been designed and quantified and their costs estimated, you will also need to consider the allowances for those items that cannot yet be quantified. Such allowances include connections and fittings.
A separate allowance – usually a percentage – is generally included for additional plates and fabrication at column bases, beam-to-beam and beam-to-column connections, bracing connections, column splices, and haunches.
Lower Cost of Materials When Using Steel Building Kits
In a normal multi-story building, fittings and connections can make up 5-10 percent of the weight of the frame. However, the same components may account for a higher proportion of the total frame cost as the cost of connections is mainly related to their complexity and weight.
A cost-effective approach would be a high level of standardization and repetition. This will allow you to take advantage of reduced material costs, quicker and cheaper fabrication, and ready availability. For complex structures, standard connections cannot always be used and in these cases, cost allowances will need to be higher.
The key is to achieve the best balance between material cost and the cost of fabricating the connections. Initial designs may try to reduce costs by using the lightest columns, but this may mean extra welded stiffeners are needed, adding cost and weight to the design.
Small increases in the beam or column weights may mean the stiffeners can be omitted, reducing fabrication costs and therefore the total cost of the frame.
Other Important Considerations
Section Sizes and Availability
Availability will also affect the potential cost of proposed products for a structural frame. A product that looks lighter or more cost-effective on paper may, in fact, be more expensive than a heavier alternative section if it has limited availability. In such a case, limited availability may also delay the schedule, if sufficient quantities cannot be sourced in time.
Popular sections may be manufactured three or four times more often than less common sections. This is often the more cost-effective option whenever the heavier options are readily available.
A cost consultant should talk to a steelwork contractor early in the process to identify any products or systems where availability may be an issue, so this can be fed back to the design team or incorporated in the cost estimates through adjusted allowances.
Frame Erection Costs
On average, writing the steel building frames on-site will account for between 10 and 15 percent of the total cost. In this regard, you need to consider whether the building or site will have features that could affect the erection cost.
The amount of repetition, piece count, type of connections, and site access can all have a significant impact on the frame construction cost and the construction schedule. For instance, a long-span layout may weigh more but maybe erected faster than a short-span frame since it has fewer beams and columns.
Similarly, repetitive structures not only bring cost savings during fabrication – but a repetitive grid with standard components also reduces construction time.
Fire Protection Cost
Fire protection essentially accounts for around 10-15 percent of the steel frame cost in commercial multi-story buildings. Therefore, the fire resistance of the structure and choice of fire protection materials will be key considerations.
As with all construction materials, when temperatures increase in a fire, the steel begins to lose its strength. Protection measures like fire alarm systems or commercial fire sprinkler systems will ensure that the structure meets the required fire resistance period. This will allow occupants to safely evacuate the building.
Fire resistance periods for buildings are expressed in terms of the length of time the structure must remain structurally sound in a fire and they depend on the type of building, its occupancy, and the size of the steel members.
It may be more economical to use slightly heavier structural members, which require less fire protection than lighter sections because of the increased thickness of the steel. This way, you will be able to achieve a fire-resistance period with less fire protection material and at a reduced overall cost.
Choice of Fire Protection Materials
A mix of different fire protection methods may often be used on a project, so allowances for fire protection should be discussed with both the structural engineer and architect as the method adopted will depend on both performance and aesthetic requirements.
Some of the fire protection materials you should consider, include:
Boards – often used where the structure will be visible, such as to exposed columns. They provide a clean, boxed appearance and can be pre-finished or suitable for decoration. They can be relatively expensive and slower to apply than alternatives.
Intumescent Coatings – the predominant method for fire protection in the UK, these are thin-film coatings that swell when heated to insulate the steel. Less than 1mm thick provides 60 minutes of fire resistance, and up to 90 minutes of resistance can be achieved at a competitive cost. Up to 120 minutes is available at a premium.
Concrete – Concrete encasement was the most common form of fire protection for structural steelwork until the late 1970s, but the time, cost, and impact on the usable space of the building means it is seldom used today.
It may still be used where resistance to impact is important, such as in some car parks and industrial buildings. Using concrete to fill structural hollow sections is sometimes used to provide the necessary fire resistance and increase the section’s load-carrying
Ready to Get Steel Building for Your Next Construction Project?
As compared to other construction materials, steel is stronger and longer-lasting. However, the initial cost of erecting a steel structure can be a bit high. However, the cost of a steel building will vary from one project, locality, and provider to another.
As you have learned throughout this guide, this variation will depend on an attachment of aspects including location, availability, site constraints, and building purpose.
Regardless of the structure, you wish to erect, this guide will help you estimate steel building cost more accurately.