We recommend that you print this article along with the checklist to keep handy while you're talking to any steel building company including General Steel Corporation, Anthem Steel, Butler Steel Buildings, Olympia Steel Buildings, or any of the others you may come across. The tips and tricks of the trade included in this article will save you time and money on your once in a lifetime purchase. Follow them closely and you'll be guided in your purchase. First of all, you should have a pre-qualification checklist to weed out the fly-by-night steel companies. Just as banks and credit card companies pre-qualify you for their services, you should pre-qualify the steel companies for your business! It's really simple. Anybody you consider should pass the following test:
- The company must have a proven track record of 10 years minimum! This is important because it's really easy (and cheap) these days for any Joe Schmoe to create a website that makes a company look like a million bucks. Watch out for this, and ask the representative on the phone how long the company has been in business.
- The company should have a lot of dealers/contractors who purchase from them in addition to their direct sales. This is important because a company who has 500 dealers tells you that there are at least that many local General Contractors who purchase buildings from that company on a regular basis. If a company does not have any dealers or very few, it means that even the General Contractors in the industry are not buying their product. Or maybe they haven't been around long enough to generate interest in their steel buildings
- The company must offer full project coordination and be willing to verify building codes in your area. Today many companies try to pass off outdated building codes or incorrect code requirements for the sole purpose of selling the consumer on a cheap quote. Then the contracts will say something to the effect of “purchaser is responsible to verify local building codes. Charges may be applied in the event seller was not provided with accurate building codes. " The company should be able to give you the name and contact number of your local building authority that they speak with to obtain the codes for you. Remember, the company is trying to earn your business. If they are unwilling to spend the half hour to obtain this info for you, there is something wrong.
- The company should at least offer a full range of services including full project financing, conceptual design services, full project cost analysis, project coordination, and technical services. Even though you may not need or desire to use all of these services, if you choose a company that offers them, you cannot go wrong. A company that offers these services signifies they know what they are doing and can help you with your project without killing your budget.
- The company should have a warranty on their steel buildings. The industry standard is only one year. Some companies offer a frame warranty for 30 years or longer, but keep in mind, it's only on the main frames. Many smaller buildings do not even utilize main frames! So buyer beware. The best warranty we've seen available is a 50 year full structural warranty. In an effort to avoid advertising for the company, I am not disclosing who it is. But suffice it to say, they are probably the most well known steel building supplier in the world. The company should not object to sending you a copy of the warranty before you make your decision to purchase from them. A full structural warranty should cover primary and secondary framing, not just the main frame I-Beams.
- The company should only offer steel buildings engineered with an Exposure C rating. This means the building will last a lot longer and will hold up in a storm much better. Chances are, a building with a 50 year structural warranty will be engineered using Exposure C ratings.
This is not a complete list, but it is pretty inclusive. If you find a steel building company that meets all of the criteria (trust us, they're out there), you will be protected. However, as long as the company meets at least three of the above pre-qualifications and you are familiar with steel building construction, you'll be fine.
We've been scrutinizing many of the pre-engineered steel building suppliers, including General Steel Corporation ( http://www.gensteel.com ) for quite some time and have written other articles to help you through the planning, shopping, and purchasing phases. Be sure to check out all of our other articles. Chances are, you'll find something that will be extremely valuable.