Birdseye Construction

Metal Building Construction

Posted on Posted in Outdoor Projects

metal garden shed metal buildingMetal buildings are a sturdy and economical way to create extra storage space or even a home office. There is likely more versatility with both function and appearance than you may realize.

The preparation needed prior to metal building construction is not complicated, but it does include a few key details to consider. Here are a few factors we will further explore in this article:

  • Contents: What are you storing in the building? The overall weight of the building’s contents will influence what kind of base you want. Additionally, the nature of the contents will influence factors like climate control and weatherizing.
  • Available Space: You may have plenty of space, yet your ground is uneven. Or perhaps the ideal location puts the structure too close to the property line. These are things to consider before prep and purchase. Read more about ideas to maximize storage space.
  • Size and Material: It’s important to have a structure large enough to accommodate your needs with in the space you have available. Additionally, the contents and direct sun exposure may affect a few details in regard to preferred material. We will look further into these considerations in a moment.
  • Climate Control: If you choose to utilize your metal building as a workspace or as a storage area for heat-sensitive chemicals, it will be critical that you account for ventilation, shade coverage, and access to electricity.

Why Metal?

Historically metal buildings of any sort have been rather unattractive and quite industrial looking. As a rule, form followed function and left very little room for aesthetics.

The easiest selling point for a metal building is the simplicity and economy of having one built and installed on your property. Modern materials are constructed to withstand all manner of weather-related damage for multiple decades. Not to mention, they are not susceptible to insect-related damage.

With a brave new world of design options, it is now possible to have a metal building that is both functional and attractive. Fortunately, while the basics remain the same, modern metal buildings offer far more options with regard to design.

metal office building with windowsThere is now a variety of styles and colors, including multiple roofing materials, and even a possibility to add windows. These options lend themselves easily to the use of the buildings as workspaces, as well as the value many homeowners give to keeping their yards beautiful.

These days, nearly all metal buildings are sold as kits, whether you’re on a DIY project or hiring a contractor for construction and installation. Birdseye Construction is happy to help you explore your options and make informed decisions.

Visit our Exterior Home Services page to learn more about how our team of professionals can help bring your project to life.

Foundation Options

As mentioned before, choosing the right foundation for your metal building is critical to the stability and longevity of the structure. There are 4 common options to chose from:

  • Concrete Blocks
  • Gravel
  • Post-and-Beam
  • Cement Slab

Concrete Blocks

These are a popular choice because they are sturdy, resilient, and inexpensive. Due to their strength and density, they are ideal for storing heavy items like large lawn care equipment.

There is some debate about whether concrete blocks are more or less effective than gravel. Both materials include the risk of settling, which can threaten the overall structural integrity of the building due to uneven distribution of weight and force.

Some would say that blocks are more likely to settle because they are heavier per piece than a bed of gravel. However, there are also those who claim that settling issues with blocks are easier to address and repair, as each one individually takes up at least a square foot of area.

Gravel Beds

Due to their smaller size, gravel rocks can be easier to level than concrete blocks. That is to say, if there’s a one-inch slope across the ground where your metal building will go, it is fairly simple to gradate the amount of gravel accordingly, to assure a level foundation.

This option is also popular due to the fact that it is inexpensive. Additionally, regardless of the foundation material you choose, it is broadly recommended to surround your structure with at least a 1-foot perimeter of gravel.

When constructing the perimeter, the gravel bed  should be 2 to 3 inches deep with a wooden barrier to hold the rocks in place. This perimeter serves to discourage weed growth and absorb precipitation in order to minimize damage to the base of the building.

As mentioned above, settling can occur with gravel bedding. This can be partially avoided by laying a foundation tarp beforehand, but that still isn’t a guarantee. While settling issues are less likely to occur with gravel, they can be difficult to correct.

Post-and-Beam

Post-and-Beam foundations are your best option for uneven yards. This design is quite literally like putting your metal building on stilts. Some reinforcement may be needed at the ground level, to keep the posts stable, but there is otherwise no concern about initial leveling, or settling issues later on.

There are a few liabilities to consider. One downside to post-and-beam foundations is that even treated wood is more susceptible to damage caused by both water and burrowing insects. Another consideration is that you will likely want to construct a ramp to the doorway, depending on how high off the ground you choose/need to build.

Concrete Slab

This type of foundation is easily the most structurally sound of all the options. While it may be more expensive, it is certainly capable of withstanding all manner of weather, weight, and organic threats like weeds and insects.

The biggest downside to using a concrete slab as a foundation for your building is its permanence. This creates somewhat of a liability when it comes to selling your house or re-designing your outdoor space. Additionally, the relative permanence of the slab makes it far more difficult to repair in the off-chance that it endures any sort of structural damage.

Read more about potential causes of damage to concrete foundations.

Once again, even with a foundation as sturdy as concrete, it is still advised to install a gravel perimeter to protect your building from damage caused by standing water.

Additional Considerations

Now that you know the ideal foundation types for various different circumstances, you may still be wondering what else to factor in before beginning your project.

Earlier we discussed the importance of the placement of your metal building. If you plan to use it as a workspace, be sure you check beforehand with your contractor and with your local “call before you dig” authorities to ensure that you can safely install in-ground electrical wiring leading to the building.

Similarly, if you plan on storing chemicals in the building, it is absolutely critical that you know the safety guidelines for any given product that may be exposed to extreme temperatures. It is strongly advised NOT to store heat-sensitive elements in a structure that is not climate-controlled. Even if you do not plan on using your building as a workspace, best practice for chemical safety would (at the very least) installing a window and A/C window unit.

Additionally, there are certain roofing materials that can help reduce heat absorption. Using light-colored asphalt, clay, or cement for roofing can effectively deflect up to 35% of sunlight. This should especially be considered if the building will have extended exposure to direct sunlight during the warmer months.

You do not want to build your shed on a downhill slope that is susceptible to standing water during heavy rainfall. Similarly, if you own a pool, installing a metal building on an incline can lead to wash-out into your pool water during the construction process.

Finally, each county and municipality has certain zoning regulations put into place with regard to structures and property lines. For instance, your city and/or your HOA may require that any stand-alone building must be at least 18 inches from your fence line and/or property line.

Be sure to educate yourself about your area’s zoning laws before beginning a project you may not be able to finish!

Again, be sure to reach out to our team at Birdseye Construction to find out how our General Contractor Services can benefit you, your property, and your projects.

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