Steps to building a steel building


Two questions to ask at the start of this process;

  1. What is the main aim of the building?
  2. How will the building be used?

It’s not just about erecting a steel building; it’s about finding a solution to a challenge. Your finished building should make your daily work easier and more productive, this can only be achieved with a sound design.

All buildings and sites are different

When we ask these questions, it enables us to put together a steel building that:

  • Works efficiently
  • Provides a comfortable working environment
  • Fulfils the business objectives
  • Is flexible for the changing needs of your business
  • Makes the most of the space you have.

Starting your design

When you’ve thought about all the things you need your building to do for you, it’s time to start your planning. Here are some of the features our experts can advise you on

  • How many doors are required and what size they need to be
  • How much light you will need in your building
  • Partition walling
  • Louvres in the side
  • Brick, block or concrete walls
  • Forklift barriers
  • Pedestrian railings

Designing the right structure for you

The five primary considerations that affect building structure are:

1. Storage of bulk materials and loading of side walls

Products such as grain or crops, aggregates, waste materials or other bulk products, require the structure of the building to take forces from the weight of the product. Maybe also machinery and loading shovels pushing against the structure of the building, without the correct steelwork for this, the building will bend and twist causing damage or collapse!

2. Mezzanine floors

All steel framed buildings move, some move a lot, and have been designed to sway. However, when a building has a mezzanine floor attached to it, the frame must be designed to be very rigid. This is not a safety concern but for your comfort. You and I are very perceptive of movement underfoot. For this reason, buildings incorporating a mezzanine need specialist designs.

3. Hoists and cranes

If your building needs a material lifting device attached to any part of the steelwork, the extra weight and strain that the load will put onto the steelwork will need to engineered.

4. Large span buildings

If large clear working areas are needed, then it will impact on the type of construction and the weight and size of the steel frame required to support itself and roof structure.

5. Solar panels

Solar panels will need to be considered in the design and may affect the steel sizes and the roof purlins, which would be engineered to suit the extra loadings.

If your building is going to be used to perform any of the above, it would need to pass structural calculations to ensure that it would be fit for purpose, safe, strong and last for many years.

6. Futureproof your building

It is also important to ask the question of what further expansion is there likely to be?

What knock-on effects would that have? Would it impact the layout of your building internally, and how will it be used? It is also about making sure that the position of windows and doors allows an extension without impacting on them, and ultimately adding further costs and disruption in the future.

Simple things can be done, such as pre-drilling some steel work, so that it is ready to accept further steelwork for any extensions.

What about insulation? You may not require it now, are you likely to need it in the future?

7. Prolong the life of your building and aesthetics

Materials with a longer lifespan will look better now and in the future.

The main choices we use are:

  • Plastisol coated, or polyester coated cladding
  • Galvanised or painted steel work

Features such as a drip flashing over doors and at the base of the cladding enhance the appearance of the building, but has practical uses too, deflecting the rain away from the building reducing any water ingress issues.

The gutter type, plastic or steel trim line, aesthetically this probably depends on the cladding type and the situation of the building, but performance wise the steel gutter can be large capacity and won’t expand and contract like a plastic one will.

8. Is maintenance a design issue?

Does it need anchor points for safety harness for roof maintenance? Does it need man safe skylights? Does it need a platform for gutter cleaning? It would mean that future maintenance costs are reduced and is safe to carry out.


Great design is all about understanding the overall objective and how your building will perform, but it’s also about working together, asking each other questions from the first call to the finished construction to ensure that the completed project is a success.

If you’re considering your options for a steel building design, book your consultation with our team today.

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