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Construction 101: Metal Buildings Cost Per Square Foot

Construction 101: Metal Buildings Cost Per Square Foot

Since time immemorial, metal has remained one of the most commonly used building materials in the world. It’s known for its durability, strength, and efficiency in keeping structures steady and firm.

But before you start your construction project, you have to factor in the cost. This article explains the metal building cost per square foot to help you estimate the overall cost of your metal structure.

Is a Metal Building Cheaper Than Wood?

Metal Building

Before you start your next construction project, the first important decision you have to make is the type of construction materials to use. Several critical factors will influence the construction materials you choose for your building. For instance, the cost of obtaining the construction materials is very important because it will determine the success and viability of the project.

One of the common questions that property owners grapple with when figuring out which materials they should use is: Are metal buildings cheaper than wood? This is a genuine concern considering that metal and wood are now the most common construction materials in many parts of the world.

The short answer to this question is yes. Metal buildings are fairly cheaper than wooden buildings, depending on various factors like the size of the building, local building codes, potential loads (seismic, snow, and wind), building design, and building accessories. However, your building needs will determine the overall cost of your metal or wooden building.

For instance, the cost of your metal building might be more than that of a wooden one if your preferred style requires you to purchase more metallic materials.

But when you compare the overall maintenance cost of a metal building to that of a wooden building, it’s clear that a metal structure is cheaper. You may be required to repair or replace part of your wooden building two or three times before your metal building develops any signs of deterioration.

It’s also important to mention that you have to factor in other building expenses on top of the cost of construction materials. For example, you have to consider the cost of laying the foundation of your building and the cost of erecting the structure. A metal structure usually needs a concrete footer and assembly, which will push the overall cost of the building up.

Depending on the type of building you’re constructing, a metal building kit might include steel framing, wall sheets, doors, window frames, roll-up doors, metal roofing, and insulation. Therefore, the overall cost of this building kit depends on the size and design of your building. The larger and more sophisticated the structure is the costlier it will be.

The building kit for a wooden house includes wooden pools to hold the structure, roofing rafters, roof, and siding. The overall cost of these materials is generally lower than that of metal but the maintenance cost of wood is almost two times higher than that of metal.

Also, the cost of labor for the construction of a wooden building is higher than that of a metal building because you need to hire an experienced carpenter and the building will take longer to complete.

Metal building materials arrive at the site ready for assembly. So, you won’t need to hire a specialist to style your roofing sheets or frames. You just need a welder to put the materials together to form your desired structure.

The building codes set up by your local government may cause the cost of your metal building to shoot up. You are supposed to obtain building permits for your structure before you start the construction work. The cost of the permit will vary with the type of construction materials you intend to use and the type of building you want to erect.

Metal Buildings Cost Per Square Foot

Cost Per Square Foot

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If you’ve finally decided to build a metal building, you need to consider the cost of the building per square foot. From the onset, it’s important to understand that the overall cost of your metal building per square foot depends on the location of the building, the specifications of the building, and the optional upgrades. But generally, steel buildings cost between $12 and $25 per square foot for the building kit materials.

Please note that the square foot cost reduces as the overall size of the metal building increases. You can also keep the cost of your metal building low when you choose standard building sizes like 30’x40’, 60’x40’, 50’x50’, 60’x100’, and 80’x100’. These sizes tend to be cheaper than irregular sizes like 33’x58’, 44’x67’, etc. Here are examples of the costs of metal buildings per square foot based on their sizes:

• 30×40 = $12.50
• 30×60 = $12.50
• 40×60 = $12.50
• 50×50 = $10.25
• 50×80 = $10.25
• 50×100 = $9.10
• 60×100 = $9.10
• 80×100 = $9.10
• 100×10 = $9.10
• 100×200 = $9.10
• 150×250 = $9.10

The above costs indicate that the larger the overall size of your metal building the lower the cost per foot. However, these prices are just approximations. So, you should consult your local contractor for accurate prices and quotes.

Fortunately, most contractors offer online quotes. You can just send them the details of your metal building or fill out an online form on their website. Some even have online price estimator tools that you can use to calculate the cost of your metal building instantly.

Other Factors That Impact Commercial Metal Building Costs


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As mentioned above, many factors affect the overall cost of your metal building, including the size and design of your building. But even as you consider these factors, here are several other important considerations you have to keep in mind when estimating the cost of your commercial metal building.

1. Proximity to the Building Materials

The cost of your commercial metal structure may go up or reduce, depending on the distance that the construction materials have to travel to get to the site. For instance, if the nearest manufacturer of metal building materials is hundreds of miles away from your site, the cost of transporting your materials will be high. The cost of your building will be even higher if you have to source some of the materials from overseas.

2. Availability of Metal Building Materials

Before you start building your metal commercial structure, you need to ensure that your preferred construction materials are readily available. For instance, you need to find a local metal fabricator who creates your desired metal designs. Otherwise, you’ll have to source the materials from manufacturers located far away from your site thus spending more money on transport.

You also have to ensure that the manufacturer you choose can meet quick turn-around orders to help you meet your project completion needs. But short delivery deadlines always come with an extra cost because the manufacturer will be forced to put other orders on hold to deliver your order.

3. Building Contractor

Although most metal building materials are prepared and styled by metal fabricators before they get to the site, you’ll still need a construction specialist to assemble them and erect the structure. So, you have to factor in the cost of labor. Most contractors will charge you depending on the amount of work involved and the level of their experience.

4. The complexity of Your Building

If your commercial metal building features some complex designs that require special styling skills, you have to find a specialized metal fabricator to create the designs. This will cost you a few extra dollars.

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About Author

Priscilla Dreher

Known for her travel blogs, Priscilla Dreher started out as sociologist in her career only to combine her love for writing with her penchant for philanthropy in the later years. A widely traveled author, Dreher has championed many human rights causes and continues to advocate for socio-political inclusivity in all her writing.