Whether you are erecting a brand new building out of pre-fabricated steel or you are replacing one, this guide will help you to choose a proper size and design for your structure. All of these steps are important to take before you contact manufacturers or get in touch with your local building code authority.

Consider Your Building Site

The site for your structure determines much about the building you need. Before you even think about that, though, you need to ask yourself if the site meets the most basic requirements for any steel structure. All building sites must at the very least feature a flat, level area on which to build, firm ground that provides easy natural drainage, and easy access. If you have any plans for possible future expansion, you will want to have ample space for additions.

Consider the Building Orientation

Once you establish that your building site is adequate, you will need to ask yourself how the building will be oriented. Think about the specifics of your geography. Where will the sun rise and set over the course of the year? Do you have any natural shade from hills or trees? Where will windows go on your building? Do you want direct sunlight to shine through the windows or not?

Building Dimensions

metal building dimensionsNext you will want to think about the size and height of your pre-fabricated steel building. Size will be determined both by the dimensions of the building site and what you are planning on using the building for. Think about the capacity you need for people or for storage. As a rule, it is generally a smart idea to build a structure that is slightly larger than you think you might need. Why? It is a lot easier to deal with a building that is slightly too large than one which is slightly too small. It also gives you the option of renting out your extra space. Dimensions are usually specified in increments of 10 feet, for example, 30’ x 50’.

You will have to think about height as well. Certain types of buildings tend to need extra height, like churches. It is also helpful to know that the height of your building’s eaves should be at least two feet above the highest framed opening.

Your framed openings are garages and the like—openings that large vehicles and so forth can pass through. Remember that for certain buildings like fire stations, schools, and warehouses, these openings will have to be extra large, adding to the building’s overall height. These openings may be covered by a door or left wide open, but are always larger than “walk doors,” the standard doors that you walk in and out of. You might use framed openings for moving vehicles in and out or for loading bays.

Roof Pitch

This refers to the slope of your roof, and is expressed as a “roof pitch ratio.” This is the number of inches your roof rises for every 12 inches it runs horizontally. So for example, the standard roof pitch is 1:12. Every 12 inches, the roof pitches an inch higher. How do you select a slope? It depends on the shape and look of the building, and maybe even the designs of other buildings in your area if you want your building to blend in. You should also account for snowfall and rain. The steeper your roof, the better the runoff.

Now that you know more about planning the dimensions and site for your pre-fabricated steel building, you are ready to proceed to the next section on steel building designs. In that section, you will learn all about straight wall and Quonset hut designs.

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