Understanding the Cost-Effectiveness of Metal Buildings

Have you been seeing commercial metal buildings a lot lately? Wondering what makes structural steel so desirable? Take a glance at the table below to learn about the qualities of metal.

Advantage Of Structural Steel Over Other Materials

Here are some qualities of structural steel that give it superiority over others. Have a look at the list.

1 Strength 25x more strength to weight than wood; High load bearing capacity
2 Cost effective Reduces cost in areas like foundation and facades
3 Inorganic material Pests and termite resistant
4 Increase usable floor space Lightweight and robust, allowing column free interior
5 Non porous material Do not absorb moisture; No rot or decay
6 Dense material Can’t be chewed by rodents
7 Rust resistant Galvanized using a zinc coating
8 Sustainable material 98% recycled; 100% recyclable
9 Non-combustible Fireproof for up to four hours


Now, let’s see why metal structures are affordable and justify metal building prices. Let’s start with the raw material itself.

Here’s How Cost-Effective Metal Buildings Are.

Material Cost: Prefabricated Metal Building

The average cost of a pre-engineered metal building (PEMB) in America is $10 to $25 per square foot. However, you must know that metal building prices can be as low as $6 per square foot if you opt for a prefab metal structure or as high as $80 per square foot for highly customized buildings.

When installing a steel retail building, opt for the customization necessary for your business and then plan the business accordingly. Any unwanted add-on can increase the overall cost.

Labor Cost

Commercial metal buildings are less labor-intensive than traditional structures. This is because most work, such as designing, cutting, drilling, etc., is already done off-site. So, less manpower is needed at the construction site to get the job done.

Steel buildings cause minimal disruption at the site during installation. The entire assembly process is smooth and fast, and they also have less impact on the surroundings.

Installation Cost

Construction of a metal structure is pretty time-efficient. Metal buildings have a standard installation process. Most raw materials only require assembly at the site, making the construction process easy and quick.

How fast can a steel retail building be installed? Size and design complexity play a huge role here. For instance, a warehouse is simple and fast to install, whereas a multi-floor skyscraper takes a lot of time.

A fast installation process allows businesses to open early, minimizing downtime and maximizing revenue generation. Generally, prefab metal buildings take less time to install than customized metal buildings. We will discuss this part later, so keep reading.

Price Per Square Feet Decreases With Increase In Size

In contrast to traditional structures, metal building prices (per sq. ft.) tend to decrease with the increase in size. That’s because certain fixed costs, such as designs and machinery, are spread out over a larger area. Hence, it is economical to scale.

Here, we have compared some average prices to give you an idea. Have a look.

Commercial Metal Buildings’ Size


Total Sq. Ft. Cost Per Sq. Ft.
40 x 32 x 14 1,280 $23.6
44 x 40 x 18 1,760 $25.3
40 x 60 x 12 2,400 $19.7
60 x 60 x 14 3,600 $16.1
50 x 100 x 12 5,000 $13.6


Note: Metal building prices vary in height and customization, such as clear span, extra doors, vertical roof, gutter, etc.

Customization Affects The Total Cost

A steel retail building can have multiple custom features that can enhance the functionality of the building and increase profitability. Here are some customizations that you can add:

  1. Clear Span: It is free of internal supporting beams that obstruct the space. It allows you to design the floor plan according to business requirements.
  2. Mezzanine Floor: You can section the steel building into front and back sections. In the front section, you can install racks and shelves to display items for customers to browse and buy. At the back end, you can install a mezzanine floor to store products that are in high demand so that you are never out of stock.
  3. Additional Doors: Retail stores should install extra walk-in and roll-on doors to unload stocks.
  4. Insulator: An insulator reduces heat transfer, making metal structures more energy efficient, thereby saving energy bills.
  5. Other Accessories: These can include vents, windows, a HAVC system, a gutter with a downspout, etc.

Note: Metal building prices vary greatly with these add-ons. So, choose one that you need, and keep aesthetics as the last option if you have the budget to spare.

Low Maintenance Saves Money

Metal is non-porous, inorganic, sturdy, and resilient to pests, mold, mildew, weather, and rot or decay. So, there is no need for frequent repair and replacement. Once a high-quality steel building is installed, you don’t need to spend on rusting repairs or termite inspection & control. Hence, you end up paying less for maintenance.

Low Energy Bills

Commercial metal buildings are energy-efficient. Their insulation, vents, and cool paint for roofs reduce energy consumption, saving energy bills over time. They are also environment-friendly choices.

Tax Credits

There are many government schemes wherein if you save on energy of 30% or more, you are eligible for tax credit. So, don’t forget to apply for it.

How Does Steel Retail Building Benefit Business?

  1. Clear Span For Extra Space: Clear-span metal buildings are popular in the industrial sector as they offer column-free space that can span up to 300 feet wide. This gives the freedom to design the floor plan according to the business’s needs.
  2. Mezzanine For Keeping Stocks: A retail store can divide the entire steel building into sections. The front can be used for customer browsing and billing, while the backside can have a mezzanine floor with an inventory of items that run out of stock frequently.
  3. Withstand Daily Wear & Tear: Since retail outlets have rush hours during specific times, the structure, including the foundation, must be robust enough to bear the load and pressure of people. You can opt for 12-gauge steel frame and 26-gauge steel panels.
  4. Tolerate Worst Weather: Certified steel can withstand high-speed wind, hail storms, and seismic activities without any structural failure.
  5. Security & Safety: Steel doors are robust and dense enough to prevent burglary. You can install surveillance and motion sensor cameras to know what’s happening when you are not at the location.

Other Uses Of Commercial Metal Buildings

1.       Restaurant 2.      Manufacturing Unit 3.     Factory Outlet
4.     Automobile Showroom 5.     Car Washing Station 6.     Cafeteria
7.      Office Building 8.     School 9.     Church
10.   Commercial Parking 11.     Local Hardware Shop 12.    Warehouse
13.   Aircraft Hangar 14.   Commercial Sport Club 15.   Cold Storage
16.   Industrial Building    

Summing Up,

Commercial metal buildings have an edge over traditional structures, so they are sought-after materials. You can also open steel retail buildings and enjoy the cost-saving benefits. So, hurry! Install commercial metal buildings for your business.

Catherine Pearson
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