A good metal building supplier is an invaluable resource for your construction project. Unless you are a metal building expert yourself, you need someone on your construction team to assist you in making decisions related to the metal building system.
This article will 1) identify some of the most basic suppliers of metal buildings in the market today and 2) provide you some questions to help screen prospective suppliers regarding their experience with, and knowledge of, metal buildings.
Purchasing a metal building is not like purchasing an automobile. A loaded Ford F150 pickup is the same vehicle regardless of the name of the car dealer selling it. Your challenge as a buyer is simple – get the very best price you can.
The challenge is not as simple when buying a metal building system. A 5,000 square foot building manufactured by two different manufacturers can have a long list of differences. The reason for the differences is that a metal building system is a custom manufactured product. Each manufacturer has its own set of standards regarding sales practices,engineering & detailing standards, material specifications, etc. Plenty of options is a good thing as long as you know the right questions to ask.
That brings us back to the importance of selecting the right metal building supplier for your project. So what are your options? In order to keep this article concise, I will limit the discussion to three basic types of suppliers – the manufacturer, contractor and broker.
Manufacturer– The metal building manufacturer is the entity that actually manufacturers the metal building system. Starting with your building size, building code, design loads and accessories, the manufacturer performs the structural engineering of the building, creates the different types of drawings required for the project, fabricates the buildings, and delivers the building to your job site.
Contractor– The Contractor purchases the metal building system from the Manufacturer and re-sells the building to you. The Contractor will also be responsible for the on-site construction of the metal building.
Broker– The Broker neither manufactures the metal building nor constructs it at the job site. The Broker simply purchases the building from the Manufacturer and re-sells it to you. The Broker is a classic middle-man.
Any of these options may be a legitimate source for your metal building system. Regardless of the supplier you choose, there are some common questions you should ask before you choose your supplier.
- Question #1 – Is the metal building manufacturer AC472 accredited? This question directly addresses the quality of the manufacturer. AC472 accreditation is a comprehensive, third-party accreditation program for the inspection of metal building manufacturers. It is based on the requirements of Chapter 17 of the International Building Code® and provides code officials with a means to approve the inspection programs of manufacturers involved in the fabrication of metal building systems. An AC472 accredited company has been placed through a rigorous examination to confirm that it has the personnel, organization, experience, procedures, knowledge, equipment, capability and commitment to produce work of the required quality. Purchasing your metal building from a manufacturer that is AC472 accredited is a positive step towards improving your chances of getting a building that meets your requirements. For peace of mind, you can independently verify an accredited manufacturer.
- Question #2 – Is the metal building manufacturer a member of the Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA)? The MBMA is the trade association of the metal building manufacturing industry and has been instrumental in defining and promoting the common interests of metal building manufacturers in the United States. There are more than forty metal building manufacturers that are members of the MBMA. So there are plenty of companies from which to choose. MBMA members are actively involved in the development of their industry and the improvement of their product and service. Isn’t that the type of company you want to purchase from?
- Question #3 – What is the name of the manufacturer you are purchasing the metal building from and where is the manufacturer located? This question is directed towards the Contractor and Broker. Your metal building system may well be the single most expensive part of your construction project. There is no valid reason for the Contractor or Broker to with hold the identity of the building manufacturer. You need to know the name of the manufacturer to verify that the manufacturer is AC472 accredited and that it is a MBMA member. Knowing the location of the manufacturer is pertinent for freight reasons. If you have two manufacturers that are equal in every way except one is located across town and the other is several states away, the best choice is the one across town. Any last minute changes to your project will ship more quickly and at less expense the closer the manufacturer is to your job site.
- Question #4 – How often do you work on projects that involve a metal building system? This question is mainly for the Contractor since the Manufacturer and Broker always deal with metal building systems. The point here is that if you are purchasing the metal building from the Contractor you are assuming that he will be the metal building expert on your construction project. The contractor may know everything about pouring a concrete foundation, installing stud walls, or installing the HVAC system. But you want to be sure that the Contractor has the necessary experience and knowledge to successfully guide you through the purchase of the metal building too.
To recap, identify your potential suppliers as a manufacturer, contractor or broker. Then use the four questions above to screen the potential suppliers to select the one that works best for your project.
Posted in: Metal Building Supplier