Things to Consider Before Buying a Steel Garage Kit

By: Matt Fay


The popularity of the steel garage kit is increasing. People appreciate the easy maintenance of steel. Steel buildings do not have to be painted and maintained like wood structures, and insects don't eat steel. Also, the fire-resistant properties of steel over wood are becoming ever so important in wildland urban interface communities.

With this popularity comes a growing internet availability of garage kits. You can find companies across the internet offering various types and styles of garage kits. You can find steel building kits, carport kits, garage kits, and even home kits. But with the ease and availability of these buildings, there are some important facts that you should understand before making your purchase. One such item is what you will need in regard to required plans for permitting.

As with traditional wood structures, you will need to get building permits from your local permitting agency (most likely - depending upon the size and type of your structure). Here is where you need to have done your homework. Before ordering your building kit, speak with your local permitting agency to find out what types of plans you will need. Typically, you will need three sets of plans. You will need engineered building plans (with structural calculations), concrete / foundation plans and a site plan.

When making a building kit purchase, companies often require you to put down a deposit (but you shouldn't, and I'll touch on that later in this article). Your deposit will typically include engineered plans for your building (If obtaining a permit, engineered plans with all structural calculations are usually required for permitting purposes). Buyers are often surprised to find that the included engineered building plans do not include concrete / foundation plan or the site plan. Of course, this means the included structural calculations are pretty much irrelevant and unusable since the concrete / foundation plan is required in order to properly compute the structural calculations!

This also means a building kit buyer will have to find a local engineer to prepare the concrete / foundation plan for them. This can cost an additional $500-$2000 in addition to the original building cost. Let's add this cost to the cost of obtaining correct structural calculations after the fact.

You will also probably need a site plan. Speak with your permitting agency to determine exactly what they require. The specifications will probably differ between a project classified as commercial or as residential. If you project is classified as commercial, there will probably be more requirements needed from you than there would be if the project is classified as residential.

In summary, before you purchase a steel building kit I recommend you take the following steps:

1.Before making your purchase, speak with your local permitting agency to find out what types of plans you will need.

2.As you shop building kits vendors, you will find some reputable companies that will include the concrete / foundation plan with the building kit price. Make sure to specifically ask them about this!

3.When you find a supplier that will supply both the engineered building plans AND the concrete / foundation plans, be prepared to supply some basic information (gathered from your permitting agency). This information will be items like required footer depth, depth of frost line, etc.

4.Some permitting agencies will allow hand-drawn site plans. Find out the specific local requirements. Site plans will have to be obtained locally.

5.Some building kit suppliers will ask you to make a deposit on your building so that they can supply your plans and you get a permit. DON'T do this, unless you are very comfortable with whomever you're dealing with. A reputable supplier will not ask for a deposit, but will only ask you to buy the plans first (about $500 to $700). The problem with putting a deposit down is that there are too many variables that can happen that can make the building project fall through. If this happens, then you can be out a sizable amount of money.

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