Pre-engineered Buildings 101: The What, Where & Why?

Pre-engineered Buildings 101: The What, Where & Why?

A pre-engineered steel building utilizes universal connectors to ensure quick build times.

If you’re new to pre-engineered steel building construction, you might be surprised to learn that they’ve been around since the 1960s. Over the course of more than half a century, they’ve quietly established themselves as one of the most reliable and cost-effective construction methods for a wide range of applications.

There seems to be some misconception regarding these structures. Some people believe they rely on inferior manufacturing techniques and can only be used for garden sheds and similar projects. As you’re about to find out, nothing could be further from the truth.


The What

At its core, a pre-engineered steel building is all about efficiency and predictability. Using computer-assisted design programs, manufacturers can quickly produce these structures to a client’s specifications, and to very tight tolerances.

These building kits are then delivered to the worksite, where they are ready for assembly. These structures utilize a combination of support columns and I-beams, held together using universal connectors. This allows for exceptionally fast build times.

Because the size and weight of these buildings are known beforehand, crews can begin the foundation work while the building is being produced in the factory.

The size of pre-engineered steel buildings depends completely on the desired use. It could be as small as a 1,000 square-foot garage, or a 200,000 square-foot industrial building. With the strength of pre-engineered steel, it’s possible to achieve open spans of up to 150 feet.


The Where

Industrial and commercial steel buildings use this construction method a lot. In some cases, you could be looking at one and not even know it. In particular, they’re useful for:

  • Agricultural buildings
  • Warehouses
  • Self-storage facilities
  • Multi-purpose facilities
  • Large-scale retail outlets (i.e. furniture showrooms)

Furthermore, these buildings can be found in any climate. From the frigid cold of Nunavut to the scorching hot Prairies in summer, they can handle the toughest conditions. Clients often choose to insulate these structures to provide a comfortable interior climate year-round.


The Why

Aside from quick build times, there are many other distinct benefits to choosing this building method over traditional steel buildings: 

  • Requires less steel, which saves money
  • Requires less foundational support, which saves more money
  • Less building waste
  • Readily expandable

Another outdated notion people have about pre-engineered buildings is that they all look like big metal boxes. While that may have been more accurate in the early days, it is no longer the case. These structures can be clad with an array of attractive external finishes, including:

  • Wood
  • Stucco
  • Stonework
  • Glass

For more on this, read: 4 Reasons Why Architects Like to Design with Pre-engineered Metal Buildings.


To learn how Metal Structure Concepts can assist in your next project, talk to one of our knowledgeable designers—1-877-840-4278.