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How to Expand Pre-Built Metal Buildings?


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Published: April 2, 2024

Maximizing Space in Pre-Built Metal Buildings

Prefabricated metal buildings offer versatile and extremely cost-efficient structures supporting staged expansions over time as operational needs evolve. Rather than abandoning entire buildings requiring all-new construction from the ground up, these reliable pre-engineered frameworks integrate well with phased site development, saving owners dramatically on major capital outlays. This article examines recommended expansion methods, critical planning factors, typical costs, and overall guidance for successfully enlarging pre-built metal buildings.

Maximizing space in pre Built metal buildings

Why You May Expand Pre-Built Metal Buildings

Pre-engineered metal buildings offer highly versatile and modular structural frameworks, integrating seamlessly with businesses' gradual, multi-phased site development plans that can span decades. By prefabricating components, including standardized gauge steel structural members, roofing materials, and fasteners in factory-controlled settings, builders can minimize costly field labor and maximize quality.

Yet the true advantage comes during on-site erection, as crews bolt together buildings in highly customizable layouts and dimensions precisely matching owners' spatial needs and aircraft/vehicle geometries down to the inch. This inherent standardization yet site-specific flexibility allows reasonably straightforward future augmentation more affordably down the road versus abandoning entire buildings and starting completely new construction from scratch.

Savvy owners consider likely expansion needs, timing, and methods during initial builds to incorporate necessary allowances upfront if possible. Common reasons eventually warranting pre-built metal buildings expansion include:

  • Manufacturing Scaling
  • Warehouse Capacity Increases
  • New Equipment Acquisitions
  • Supporting Business Revenue Growth
  • Adding Employee Amenities
  • Improving Customer Experiences
Pre Built metal buildings

Methods to Expand Pre-Built Metal Buildings

When the time comes to add physical space, what are the main methods for safely enlarging pre-engineered metal structures while preserving firms' original infrastructure investments?

Endwall Expansion

The most straightforward expansion technique involves removing an entire horizontal end wall section and then longitudinally extending the existing structural frame outward with additional identical fabricated roof truss and vertical column components. Steel gauge wall girts often reformat and reuse materials efficiently. After mechanically attaching and marrying the extended framework, replaced or new rear walls are properly re-attached, weatherproofing the expanded building envelope watertight.

Sidewall Expansion

Enlarging pre-built metal structures laterally along their length proves more complex but follows similar concepts of mechanically interfacing properly designed all-new structural framing components alongside the original building shell. Careful integration of new vertical wind columns combined with roof purlins between old and new maintains structural continuity across the expanded structure prior to recladding lateral extensions with matching steel gauge wall and roof sheathing.

Raising the Roof

If additional interior height clearance is necessitated by adding overhead conveyors, crane systems, or mezzanine spaces, for example, raising rooflines can deliver needed vertical space. This involves systematically removing sections of roofing to safely insert longer overhead support columns while preserving critical base connections before re-sheathing the entire rooftop at greater heights matching the original building profile aesthetics.

Interior Expansion

Alternatively, the construction of new intermediate elevated floors inside existing buildings can effectively increase overall square footages where height cannot expand outwards significantly. Strategic structural bracing and reinforcing of the original floor often become necessary to support the new mezzanine load. Load-bearing walls may be erected as well if large open spaces currently lack columns. Careful mezzanine placement then allows bolting additional stacked levels onto existing columns and supports while minimizing interventions with ongoing operations below.

Adjacent Construction

In situations where expanding the physical building envelope outwards exceeds allowable property boundaries or zones, constructing matching standalone structures adjoining original buildings can provide logically connected additional capacity. Careful coordination during architectural design phases allows efficient integration of warehouses, manufacturing zones, or office spaces later via enclosed insulated passageways. These maintain convenience and operational workflows.

Foundation Reinforcement

Most importantly, before expanding any metal building's footprint either outwards or upwards through any above-mentioned technique, thorough structural and soils assessments help determine if greater floor loads require foundation upgrades or reinforcements. This may include widening pad footprints, adding supplementary deep concrete pile supports, or installing steel tie beams between separate isolated pad locations to prevent structural distortions from new loading stresses.

What to Consider When Expanding Pre-Built Metal Buildings

While prefabricated metal buildings simplify expansion projects substantially compared to entirely new builds, several factors still demand consideration when planning:

Structural Engineering Analysis

Prior to adding any walls, floors, mezzanines, or rooflines, comprehensive structural engineering reviews determine if existing columns, rafters, interior framing, and exterior wind bracing components possess adequate strength for handling the greater weights and wind shear stresses new structures introduce. Thorough analyses inform suitable reinforcements.

Local Building Codes and Permitting

Municipalities require submitting final proposed construction plans stamped by licensed professional structural engineers before issuing building permits, allowing physical expansions to commence. Ensure all zoning codes, ordinances, fire protection, occupancy classifications, and related regulations are addressed accordingly throughout the permitting process.

Matching Design Integration

When expanding, specify perfectly matching or nicely complementary metal wall and roof sheathing, rain gutters, façade trim accents, and paint colors, consistently tying aesthetics together across both new and existing building faces that now interface. Maintaining seamless appearances proves essential for branded environments.

Infrastructure Upgrades As Needed

Enlarging enclosed spaces often significantly alters electrical load demands, interior lighting requirements, ventilation dynamics and material handling workflows. Adding supplemental lighting circuits and fixtures alongside strategic HVAC upgrades or reconfigurations correctly sizes environmental systems to the increased areas, protecting functionality and compliance.

Average Costs for Expanding Metal Buildings

The average cost to expand a pre-built metal building can vary widely, typically ranging from $20 to $50 per square foot, influenced by factors like material costs, labor, foundation work, and the extent of the expansion. This estimate includes costs for steel framing, roofing, labor, and potential foundation extensions but can significantly vary based on regional prices, building complexity, and additional features such as electrical or HVAC systems. Always consult with local contractors and obtain multiple quotes to get a more precise estimate tailored to your specific project needs and location.

Metal Awning

Final Words

Rather than abandoning still highly functional buildings whenever operational requirements evolve gradually over the years, pre-engineered metal structures reliably support phased, budget-friendly physical expansion initiatives. Verifying adequate existing capacity through detailed structural assessments first combined with properly permitting enlarged footprints ensures large capital investments in wholly new facilities avoid being necessary down the road. Carefully planning buildouts and preserving as much past infrastructure as possible where feasible allows companies to improve their spaces, experiences, and bottom lines for decades to come through prudent, affordable, staged expansions.

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