Steel buildings are well-known as a cost-effective and fast building option. But, if you’re looking into putting up a steel building, you want to know exactly what it costs and how to calculate those costs.
Here, most costs will roughly stay in the same range. However, you’ll get a different rate based on whether you’re using a building kit, a prefab building, or an on-site construction.
Steel building erection costs typically start from about $35-$40 per square foot. That includes the metal building, a 4-inch concrete slab on grade, and all doors, windows, and roofing.
Those flat rate prices mean that costing a metal building is extremely predictable compared to other building materials, because roofing, doors, and windows are never included in those cost estimates.
How Much Does Steel Building Erection Cost?*
Steel buildings should cost roughly $25-$45 per square foot to erect. However, those costs will vary depending on the building size, location, height, and other factors.
A barndo can cost over $120 per square foot. On the other hand, a warehouse can be as little as $15 per square foot.
The following chart includes estimates for erecting metal buildings with a foundation, with the lowest costs representing the minimum foundation thickness for the building and the highest estimates showing estimates for a basement foundation.
Depending on your location, labor may be cheaper, but the estimate of $5+ per square foot covers equipment rental and transport.
|Building Size||Building Kit Cost per Sq. Ft.||Foundation Cost per Sq. Ft.||Construction Costs per Sq. Ft.||Cost of Metal Building Kit||Estimated Total Cost|
*Please note these costs are based on estimates at the time of writing in July 2023. Actual costs are subject to change and there are many factors that can impact the actual cost of your building. Please use these numbers as a baseline for your own research.
12 Erecting Steel Building Cost Factors
Erecting a metal building will cost a significantly different sum depending on what type of building and foundation you aim for.
You’ll also have to adjust quotes based on your location, because labor rates can go from $15 per hour to $94 per hour depending on whether you live in a union location or not.
1. Type of Metal Building
There are several different types of steel building you can opt for. For example:
- I-Beam – The standard for prefab metal buildings. Typically costs $7-$15 but $24-$35 per square foot installed
- C-Channel – Sturdy beams ideal for larger buildings, typically costs $16-$34 per square foot – or up to $60 per square foot installed
- Quonset Hut – Simple rounded-top buildings that cost from $7 per square foot, but an average of $17-$34 installed
In most cases, you’ll receive an I-beam construction.
However, if you want more floors or a very large building, you may end up with a C-channel building, which will mean paying more.
2. Construction Type
You can also opt for multiple types of construction for your steel building. For example:
- Prefab Kits – These are standardized metal buildings which you cannot customize. They typically cost as little as $5 per square foot but up to $24 depending on the size of the building and amenities.
- Prefabricated Buildings – These buildings are made to order but pre-cut and assembled in a factory and then shipped, ready to bolt together, to your construction site. Costs are typically $5-$18 per square foot just for the building.
- Modular Buildings – These are standardized sections of metal buildings which you can put together in whatever shape you want. They are typically luxury products and cost $40-$60 per square foot just for the building.
- On-Site Construction – Here, you order the steel and have it cut to order on-site. This greatly reduces the cost of steel (typically dropping it to as little as $3 per square foot). However, you can expect labor costs to double or triple.
Each of these has its own pros and cons. For example, prefab metal buildings are the most popular for projects requiring some customization.
On-site construction is the most popular for very large metal buildings. And, if you want something cheap and requiring as little engineering as possible, prefab kits are the way to go.
The larger your building, the more it will cost. However, you’ll usually pay less per square foot in total for a large building than for a small one. In part, that’s because construction will go faster.
A 60×100 warehouse may only take fractionally more time to put up the frame than a 40×60 – which means the cost of labor will go down.
Size also impacts the cost of the foundation, the cost of the steel frames, and what kind of steel frames you need.
For example, if your building is large enough to need supports in the center, you’ll have to pay more for those. And, if you have a high sloped roof, a second story, etc., you’ll end up paying extra for those features, because it means adding strength to the bottom floors as well.
A simple foundation typically costs from about $4 per square foot. That’s a slab on grade, 4” thick foundation.
However, if you’re using a foundation for residential purposes or as a parking slab, you’ll need at least a 6” slab, which typically costs $5+ per square foot.
In addition, you may want a basement, a crawl space, or a raft foundation under your building. Depending on what you choose, foundations can cost as much as $44 per square foot, which will cost the same as the building.
A shorter building with a lower roof pitch will always be cheaper to build than a taller building with a steeper roof pitch. For example, if you have a 2-story barndo with a gabled roof, it can use more than twice the roofing material as a flat roof building with the same height.
In addition, adding floors and height can require using more expensive C-beams to reinforce the ground floor. It may also require a stronger foundation.
The cheapest buildings are always single-story with a flat roof. Once you start adding different roofing options, costs will go up.
Delivery costs can be a factor in your steel building construction. However, many metal building manufacturers will offer free delivery on large orders.
On the other hand, you might work with a smaller provider, which will mean paying several thousand in total delivery costs. That will include truck rental, crane rental, and the cost of gas from the manufacturer to the construction site.
7. Local Construction Costs
The cost of construction can vary from about $3 per square foot to over $15 per square foot depending on your location and the size of the building.
For example, about 10% of construction labor costs from about $15 per hour. On the other hand, in union regions, those costs average about $94 per hour, per person.
If you estimate that it takes a large team of about 10 people a week to put up a 100×100 building, and you estimate that the national average construction labor rate is $200 per day, per person, you can estimate that will cost you $30,000 in labor.
However, you’ll have to look at local rates to get a better idea of what you’re paying. And, many steel building erection companies will charge you a flat rate for everything, with labor costs rolled into a single fee.
8. Materials and Interior Finishing
If you want a simple, empty, warehouse, you don’t have to worry about these costs. However, adding finishing and interior can greatly increase the cost of your building.
Going from an empty warehouse to a residential home can increase the cost to erect a building from about $44 to about $120. That is with insulation, interior finishing, doors and windows, and even electricity and plumbing included.
However, it is a large increase in costs and one that you should check and calculate before committing. In addition, actual costs will depend on what you choose to have fitted.
9. Steel Prices
Steel prices can actually vary quite a bit from month to month. Most metal building manufacturers attempt to stabilize prices by fixing prices for 6 months to a year.
This means you shouldn’t see too much fluctuation in prefab buildings and in metal building kits. However, you may see significant fluctuation if you’re buying steel for an on-site construction.
For example, at the time of writing, steel cost $920 per metric ton, or a 17.9% drop from the same time the year before.
10. Site Preparation
If your building site is already prepared, graded, and ready to build on, you’ll have minimal extra costs. However, if you have to excavate, trench a foundation, or dig and install sewage and other amenities, you could be looking at significant costs.
You can typically expect site preparation to cost $200-$6,000 per acre plus $0.47-$2.28 per square foot for grading and leveling. Depending on the size of your building, that can be a significant factor in total costs.
You can also look at other costs like:
- Survey – $1,500+
- Planning – $500+
- Soil Testing – $700-$2,000
11. Permits and Inspections
Unless you’re completely outside of city limits, you’ll have to pay for building permits. That averages at about $750 across the United States.
However, costs range from a flat rate of about $120 to a variable fee of $0.50-$5 per square foot for residential projects and up to $2 per square foot for commercial projects. Typically, agriculture and storage buildings do get cheaper rates.
This means you’ll have to call your local building authority or check their website for an actual estimate of how much you can expect to pay in permit costs.
12. Customizations and Extras
There are dozens of extras you can add onto your metal building to increase the price. For example:
- Framed Openings – $200-$800 each
- Commercial Doors – $900-$5,000 each
- Designer Siding – $2-$18 per square foot
- Drywall – $8+ per square foot
- Plumbing – $2+ per square foot
- Insulation – $1+ per square foot
For example, if you want to switch away from standard metal siding to structural insulated panels, you can expect to almost double the cost of the siding.
You’ll want to discuss these options with your metal building provider to choose the best option for your needs.
Metal Structure Construction Timelines
Constructing a metal building typically requires anywhere from 3-5 weeks from start to finish. However, that includes the foundation. In addition, if you’re doing an on-site build, it will take longer.
- Order your metal building and get a timeline. For most metal building manufacturers orders are delivered at something like:
- 10-60 days – 50%
- 61-80 days – 30%
- 81-100 days – 19%
- 100+ days – 1%
Delivery timelines will always depend on the customization requirements of your building.
- Get planning permission and permits out of the way. Most cities require that you start planning at least 1 month in advance, but some require 3 months in advance. So, get in touch with people well in advance.
- Handle site inspections and any soil testing.
- Do site preparation and grading.
- Install the foundation – typically you want to finish the foundation in at least 7 days but hopefully 28 days before building on the foundation – so the concrete has time to cure properly.
- The building is delivered.
- Your building crew sets up the frame and then installs the exterior paneling. Timelines will vary depending on the size of the building and the size of the crew. For example, you can expect the following timelines based on building sizes, once the foundation is up:
- 24×24 – 3-4 days
- 40×60 – 4-5 days
- 60×80 –6-8 days
- 100×100 – 7-14 days
However, if you have a 4-man crew for a 100×100 building, it could take as much as three times that.
- Handle any building finishing or interior at your own pace.
Why Opt For Rex Metal Buildings?
Rex Metal Buildings offers prefabricated metal buildings and building kits in all 50 states. We can also help you to find the best deal on your metal building and erection costs.
Contact us to learn more about how one of our consultants can help you with everything for your new steel building.
Fill out the form on this page to get in touch with Rex Metal Buildings, so we can help you get the best deal on your steel building.