Have you been dying to tear down your old family barn and replace it with a newer, more aesthetic design?
It’s finally time to upgrade, and steel is the way to go. But this begs the question, should you DIY the steel building construction or hire a contractor?
To help you solve this dilemma, we’re going to take you through the step-by-step DIY process so you can decide if it’s right for you.
Read on to bring your steel dreams to life.
Find the Right Location
Of course, you’re preparing to construct your new steel building somewhere on your property, but where exactly should you lay the foundation?
Site selection is well worth the hassle, as you can’t move the foundation once it’s down. You may want to consider hiring a professional to evaluate your land and determine the prime site for building.
A professional will take into consideration water drainage, soil composition, and more.
It is important to select your location before permitting as it may influence the size of the building you can choose.
Additionally, your building department may want to know where on your property you wish to build.
Get a Permit
Most counties will require you to get a building permit before you can begin your steel project.
You’ll need to make sure that your building complies with federal and state regulations. Being buried in fines and citations could be the least of your worries, as some counties will force you to remove portions of – or completely tear down – your building.
Fortunately, if you’re working with a contracted erection company, you can expect the contractors to obtain all of the necessary permits before construction even begins.
If you’re insistent on making this a DIY project, the first permit you’ll want to look into getting is the foundation permit. Once your foundation is built, you will need to schedule inspections before you can proceed.
Old barn standing in the way of your steel dreams?
Palmetto bushes and pine trees cluttering up the way?
You’ve got this.
The demolition step of construction can seriously be the most fun. Grab a few friends, some hard hats, and get to work.
Depending on what you’re demolishing, it may require some heavy duty equipment. Even if you’re able to tear the old bar down with a sledgehammer, you’ll soon need to haul away massive amounts of nails, 4x4s, and probably some chunks of glass.
As much fun as this step sounds, it’s no joke. Make sure that everyone involved has the proper personal protective equipment (PPE).
Doing a utility check on the selected site is a simple process, but a necessary one.
You will be able to call your local electric company and request someone to come out and mark any current utility lines. If there are no underground utility lines invading your selected site, then you’re good to start preparing your construction site.
However, if the inspector finds underground utility lines and deems the site unsafe to build, you will need to hire a professional electrical team to dig up and relocate said power lines (or relocate your building).
As you’re aware, electricity is deadly if not handled with the proper care. Because of this, there are very strict state and county regulations and restrictions. It is always a good policy to familiarize yourself with some of these regulations.
Prepare the Site
Now that you have selected the best site, and are approved by the county, it’s time to prepare the site.
If you’re building on undeveloped land, you should expect for it to be irregular. In order to secure future stability for your new building, you’ll want to level the ground as much as possible.
Building a large structure on a sloped or uneven piece of land can result in some serious consequences later, and end up costing some serious cash.
While a new land survey may not be required to build your building, sometimes it is the smart thing to do. If you are building anywhere near your property line (or the enforce setbacks from your property line) it is advisable that you hire a qualified surveyor.
Once you’ve completed the survey you can prepare the ground. This means removing any rocks, shrubs, or trees from there area. Once you’ve cleared the site, you will need to have it leveled and graded.
This is best to have professionally done so you can ensure your building will have the utmost stability.
Decide on the Right Foundation
It’s now time to prepare and lay down your foundation.
When constructing steel buildings, there are typically two types of foundation used: Concrete slab foundation or concrete piers under each column.
The type of foundation that will work best for you could depend on a few factors. Some homeowners choose concrete piers for the cost efficiency of installation. However, if you’re looking for long-term stability, concrete is the best way to go.
Below is a bit more information on both types of foundation.
If you’ve chosen a concrete foundation, you will need to make sure it meets the specs shown on the foundation engineering.
Typically, the mixture needs to meet a minimum 2500 psi requirement. You will also need to use it in conjunction with steel mesh for reinforcement.
Most concrete slabs will need to be at least 4″ thick, with a thickened edge footer around the perimeter. The thickness of the slab and footer, and what types of steel reinforcement are required will be spelled out in your engineered foundation drawings.
It is recommended to use a compactor before pouring your slab to make sure you have minimal settling and cracking down the road.
If you’ve chosen to erect your building without a concrete slab, then your building will need some extra reinforcements. Not using a full concrete slab can be both time-saving and cost-effective, but it is crucial for the future stability and wind-rating of your building that you anchor it firmly to something immovable.
The size and depth of the concrete piers will be dictated by the foundation engineering, so you must prepare accordingly. Powered machinery can make this job much easier, especially if you are in an area with certain soil types.
Don’t cut corners. Remember, the concrete is what anchors your building to the ground in high winds, and the last thing you want is for your building to become a multi-ton tumbleweed wrecking anything in its path.
Pro Tip: If you’re building in a cold climate, you may need to dig deeper holes to accommodate the frost line.
Let it Cure
Whether you have chosen to put your building on a full or partial slab, concrete must be allowed to cure properly before installing a building on it.
A good rule of thumb is to allow it to sit a full week after it is poured. Precipitation and cold temperatures can slow down the curing process, so just remember, it is better to be safe than sorry.
In the long run, you’ll wish you would have waited a couple of extra days if you get on it too early and end up damaging it.
Steel Building Construction: When to Ask for Help
Building a DIY project is fulfilling, energizing, and can be a lot of fun. Unfortunately, not everyone can do the same DIY projects. Steel building construction requires a lot of time, money, heavy equipment, permits, and much more.
For some, it may be more time and cost-effective to consider contracting an expert team to design, plan, and execute your steel dreams.
If you’re fully informed and have decided to embark on your own DIY journey, check out these different steel building designs.