View Full Version : Metal buildings for studio/workshop
01-10-2008, 09:31 AM
I am going to be building a new workshop/studio in March. I'm planning on doing a pre-fab metal building and I'm wondering if anybody has any recent first hand experience. I am really looking for feedback regarding metal building suppliers you may have used and also suggestions on layout. I will be using this building for constructing larger metal and occasionally wood or stone sculptures. My budget is limited to around $20,000 for building and slab. I'm looking at something around 30w x 40L with overhead doors at each end, several windows on each side, and a few skylights.
Not sure if it matters, but this will be done in Arkansas.
Your comments are welcome and appreciated!
Where I live, I found it was cheaper to hire a company to build a pole barn, which is a wood framed building with metal walls and roof,than it would have been to build it myself.
I have 3 large studio buildings, similar to what you describe, built over the last 12 years, and in each case, it was much quicker and cheaper to hire it out.
The pole barn companies deal with everything- permits, materials, building and slab.
I suppose if your time is worth nothing, and you have access to heavy equipment, you could do it cheaper- in my case, I can get paid more doing what I do than I would save building by myself.
My last building, a 30 x 40 building was a bit more than you want to spend- but thats because I wanted it to be shed roof, rather than gabled. I did not want any trusses in the interior, and I needed 22 feet clear at the low end, so that I would have the headroom to eventually install a bridge crane. This meant higher cost for large gluelam beams, stiffer framing, and custom engineering.
For a straight, 12' to the beams, gabled roof 30x40, you should be able to get one built for about your budget in most parts of the country.
I do rather intense metalworking- we build large sculptures constantly, with multiple welders, a 4x8 plasma cutting machine, a powerhammer for industrial scale forging, frequently use a forklift to build and move work- and I have never NEEDED an all metal building.
I have never had a problem with fire, or felt the least bit endangered by a pole barn style building, which has large wooden framing members and a metal skin.
Pole barns are substantially cheaper than all metal buildings, and I can see no disadvantages.
All metal buildings are used for larger spans- not an issue with a mere 30x40. If you need 100 feet, or 200 feet clear span with no posts, sure, you need metal structural framing. But for what you are describing, its overkill.
I insulate my pole barns, and then I usually put OSB on the lower 8 feet of wall- this has proven to be durable, easy to clean, paintable for a light color, easy to install shelves, racks and fixtures to, and quite cheap.
Welding spatter, red hot pieces of forged steel, and grinding sparks have never proved to be the slightest problem in my pole barns.
I once had my studio in a traditionally framed, I beam style all metal building- and it was more hassle and more expensive for most things. I merely rented, so I skipped the initial building expense, but every time I wanted to run power, or put in a wall, or hang something up, it meant either buying quite expensive brackets, mag drilling, or welding. Its much easier to do most things in a wood framed pole barn- easy to insulate, easy to wall, easy to wire, easy to change things.
It seems like a cool idea to buy the big erector set metal building- but its more money, more hassle to adapt to working in, requires expensive equipment rentals to install, and gains you nothing, in my book.
I would (and did, 3 times) hire a pro crew- your building will be up, slab poured and ready to move in, in a month or 6 weeks. Try building it yourself, and 6 months from now you will still be dicking around.
I have seen several friends go this way, insisting they can do everything themselves, and all but the most stubborn admit they regret it now.
Spend your money on a better electrical system instead of bragging rights for steel framing- 200 amps of 3 phase is awful handy.
01-12-2008, 04:00 PM
The only thing I know about metal buildings is that I'd want some of that cool spray-on foam insulation inside. Mostly for the thermal insulation, but also for the sound-proofing. I hate the sound of rain or hail on a metal building.
01-12-2008, 07:34 PM
I agree, based on experience, the constant noise from rain on a metal roof can be annoying, especially heavy rain drops.
01-13-2008, 01:53 AM
I'd have to agree with every thing Reis has said. If you can hook up with the Amish.......all the better......they're like suicidal when it comes to building pole barns.
30 x 40 seems kind of small.......go as big as your monthly payment will allow. In the realistate market, square footage is everything. The more concrete you cover, the more equity you have in the end. And don't forget, big garage doors make all the difference.
Alot more may be involved in a building purchase, consider acreage, plumbing........sewer/septic.......and a well or cistern.
So many thoughts ......so little time.
01-13-2008, 10:01 AM
Ries- that was a great detailed response. do you have a picture to post of one of your pole barns? Thanks
01-13-2008, 06:21 PM
OK, First off you need to make friend with the power company. Often they have telephone poles that you can get for cheep if not for free, also they sometimes have some large channel iron that could help out also. My family as I was growing up build a really nice size pole building using old telephone poles, and then built a deck that is built to last forever on top of some galvanized 1/4 inch think channel iron. If a storm comes through that is the time to get them as they will often be replacing a whole line that may have gotten blown over. We set the poles in holes and filled with concrete and then built the roof and skinned it with the metal. I don't know if it was code but its still there after about 25 years.
01-14-2008, 08:09 AM
Thank you guys for taking the time to respond! The wealth of knowledge in this forum and the willingness to share it never ceases to amaze me.
Ries - your detailed and informative response is GREATLY appreciated and I second Suburban's request for some photos if it's not too much trouble.
Anatomist and Merlion - I had planned on doing insulation for weather purposes but really didn't consider the rain noise factor. However, I'm not sure how much of that I could hear over the hammering and grinding. :-)
Aaron - the land (40 acres) is already purchased and all the utilities are in place. My Mom and brother both have homes there. I'm not sure how many Amish are in the area but I agree, they rock pole barn erections (building) and furniture too. What minimum size garage doors would you recommend?
Matt - Since cost is always a factor and inexpensive and free stuff get my attention, your suggestion about contacting the power company for the poles is now at the top of my 'things to do' list.
Thanks again everyone and have a great week!
01-14-2008, 11:45 PM
My pole barn is 48'x48' and feels cramped..........yet the road side wall has an a 30', 8' and standard 3' door, so all I have to do open them to feel better. A 30' door feels great. Now that I have one I can't imagine living with out it.
I'd skip the telephone poles and just contract a package deal. Go with an outfit that does barns all day everyday. They'll have a routine down that can't be beat. Creativity complicates things and costs more. A basic pole barn is an established value, the only thing that takes them down is high winds/tornadoes, buy insurance that covers that. Speaking of high winds and destruction........work a storm shelter into the plan if you can. After watching a twister form outside my shop this last summer, all I can say is " you want one ".
If you decide you can't have the real big barn, make accomodations for a bigger slab while you have the guys on the site. Work a leanto into future plans because the more space you have.........the more you'll want.
You're on the path to happiness, big open rooms feel so good.
01-15-2008, 09:26 AM
Hi, I have a 24X30 stick built building with 10-14' ceiling height. It is WAY, WAY, WAY too small for my current needs. It wasn't too small when I built it. I either need to expand it or move.
My advice is to make it bigger than you need, believe me, you'll grow out of it.
Have a great day,
01-15-2008, 10:22 AM
I sold my 11,000 sq foot, 27 foot ceiling building...moved to mass, and tried to cram everything into a 3000 foot barn. At first I was devastated, giving all that space up but I am now taking over the outdoors and eating up square footage like breakfast sausages. Winters a bit tough, that means I gotta be tough (some days are "paperwork" days). Basically, if you have the outside option the inside isn't so critical. But if there are issues with zoning, nieghbors etc - there could be trouble. But as Aaron said, build it as large as your wallet can stand. And as Ironman said, you will eventually fill it up and need more anyway.
Bigger is better. Less is...less.
01-15-2008, 11:14 AM
Thanks again Gentlemen!
I have to honest….my head is kind of spinning right now. I would love to build a 11,000sf building but I am leaping off the secure, full-time job 'cliff' into the black abyss of a full-time artist. So I think I will have to go a little smaller with the building, but do as Aaron suggested and pour a larger slab for possible future expansion into a covered outside area. As Evaldart mentioned, the main advantage I will have is that there is plenty of outdoor area to work in (and clutter up) when the weather is decent. I don't currently have that option here in MN (-3 this A.M.), but I know that Arkansas has a little more moderate temps. Unfortunately they have more tornadoes too. I grew up in FL and rode out many hurricanes but those tornadoes are a different animal.
I hope you are right Aaron about the road to happiness…….
01-15-2008, 02:14 PM
Gee you guys all make me so jealous, i work in the garden :)
Good luck with your building mate it sounds like a great leap forward :)
01-15-2008, 02:33 PM
Thanks Furby! If it makes you feel any better, I will probably be working a lot in a garden too….trying to raise food that I can no longer afford to buy at a grocery store. :)
01-16-2008, 06:23 AM
The food you raise in the garden wil make you a stronger and healthier person. This stronger and healthier person will be able to better the vississitudes of being a sculptor - lifting, moving, creating, etc. You are changing your career and lifestyle - it's all good.
01-16-2008, 08:31 PM
Jaak..........I purchased a pre-existing barn so many of the decisions I could have made were made by someone else. If I were going to have one built, I'd focus on big, cheap and done to start with. The slab and septic will be the biggest expenses. A portion of the barn may not need a slab, just level gravel and a legal footer. You could save some money by purchasing less concrete. Things like insulation, finished walls, windows and skylights can be added later as conditions allow. To start with wide, deep and tall and covered with metal should be the top priority.
01-18-2008, 09:05 AM
Carl - I totally agree……thank you for the encouragement!
Aaron -I really appreciate all your feedback and suggestions! I will let you know you how it turns out.
03-03-2008, 04:57 PM
my only thoughts on this thread are to stay far, far away from future steel buildings company. i responded to an ad in the local buy and sell flyer requesting a pamphlet, they have not stopped calling me at least once a month for the past three years. they have left messages, rammed my mailbox full of literature, and sold my contact information to aggressive telemarketers and email spammers, to this day i still get flyers, phone calls and spam from commercial/industrial related advertisers. they will not leave me alone. the CRTC as yet does not have a do not call list in canada, you can bet when they do i will be calling my lawyer.
03-04-2008, 08:48 AM
Pick up the phone and say "I'm in the business" it can get some of these cold callers off your back.
06-26-2008, 04:38 AM
hi, I'm really interested to see some photos and find out what solution you came up with because I'm thinking to do something myself and I'm checking options. Please post any followup information - thanks a lot, -Fishfool @ The Reef Tank (http://www.thereeftank.com)
08-11-2008, 11:24 PM
There is some great building information on www.garagejournal.com forums. It is mostly geared towards motorheads and woodworkers, but the basics of building a shop/garage/studio are the same. There are many build threads also, guys documenting the process from start to finish.
02-23-2012, 01:14 PM
The Garage Journal site includes a thread discussing flammablility issues with OSB walls:
Much of the discussion could also apply to wood-framed structures.
I think a fair summary of the comments would be: OSB does not easily catch on fire, but if a fire should start, it will contribute to the fire, unlike drywall or metal panels. Of course, safe working practices are the most important aspect of fire prevention.
02-23-2012, 02:05 PM
Is the money that you have 'earmarked for constructing' your shop for the 'structure' only? Because you will need to include running the power to and inside the building which includes receptacles and lighting. One really big one is how do you plan to heat a building that size? There are many more costs that need to be factored into this plan. There is a very big difference between:what you want to spend and what you will have to spend. :)
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