How Much Do Steel Buildings Cost?

How much do steel buildings cost? They offer a long-lasting construction solution but are they right for you? Let's take a closer look and see the costs this year.

Steel is one of the strongest, most durable building materials. This makes it a popular choice for many construction projects, including buildings.

STEEL BUILDING COSTSteel building prices are generally determined by the total square footage of the building. The national average cost of a steel building ranges from $13 to $26 per square foot. However, depending on your needs, some buildings can be priced as little as $7 per square foot, while other steel buildings can run as high as $95 per square foot.

Many factors impact what steel buildings cost to erect, and many of them can fluctuate over time. This can make budgeting for a steel building very difficult, which can influence your business and cause a lot of stress.

Fortunately, once you understand what these variables are and how they impact the steel market, you can better plan your project. Keep reading to find out more.

Steel Basics

Steel is produced by removing impurities like nitrogen, silicon, and phosphorus from iron ore. Elements like carbon and manganese are then added to make different grades of steel. These alloying processes require the use of a powerful blast or electric furnace.

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People have been making steel for thousands of years, but steel's commercialization took off during the 14th century. Today, there are many different uses for the product. It is one of the most popular building materials from buildings, tools, automobiles, and various machines and appliances.

That is partly because steel is durable and resistant to rust and corrosion. It also is much lighter and stronger than wood, concrete, and other construction materials. It’s also resistant to insect infestations or the effects of moisture.

Another big advantage of steel is that it is customizable. This means you can meticulously design your building to your needs and have it fabricated to-order. Steel also is very affordable relative to its durability and sustainability.

What Impacts How Much Steel Buildings Cost

The price of steel can fluctuate, and often does. A variety of market factors impact its cost, which can change daily. In fact, what prefabricated steel buildings cost today may be much different a month from now.

Here are four major factors to consider when determining the cost of steel and buildings constructed from it.

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1. Supply and Demand

Like most commodities, supply and demand are market factors that determine the price of steel. Much of this revolves around China, one of the leading producers of steel in the world. This is due in part to Beijing subsidizing the country's steel industry.

Tariffs imposed by the United States and Europe have caused China to scale back production. While this was intended to protect the domestic steel industry, it has steadily driven steel prices up.

The new administration will likely tweak these steel tariffs. However, it is unlikely that this will bring about dramatic changes. It is something to keep an eye on, but you should probably not base your steel building construction plans around it.

Also, the COVID pandemic continues to play a part in this. A recent outbreak in China’s Hebei province, which contributes more than 20 percent of its steel output, affected production. Such events are unpredictable and will continue to exacerbate steel market volatility.

2. Shipping Costs

One of the biggest influences on the price of steel is the cost of oil, which impacts shipping costs. While you might think this mostly has to do with steel shipped from overseas, it also drives up domestic prices as well. That's because the worldwide industry tends to maintain a somewhat harmonized market price.

While you can’t control the global steel market, you may have some choice in when you start your project. If that’s the case, keep an eye out for dramatic market swings and plan construction accordingly. It could save you a lot of money to lock in steel prices when they are low.

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3. Economy of Scale

The size of your construction job could influence how much you will pay per square foot of steel, but only at a certain threshold. In terms of volume, a good rule-of-thumb is that discounts will come with increments of about 5,000 square feet.

Below that, the economy of scale will not be a huge factor in determining cost. In other words, you won’t get much of a discount if you decide to go with an 8,000 square foot building versus a 6,000 square foot one.

Besides the size of a particular building, you might leverage economy-of-scale discounts with multiple projects. Like most services, you can save money by consolidating planning, engineering, and labor. Contractors may be more willing to give you a discount if they can guarantee them work and income for an entire week versus a project that only takes half a day.

4. Design

The complexity of your project will impact the cost as well. While labor for these processes will be steady, the amount of time that goes into design and fabrication will factor into your cost calculation.

For instance, simple steel buildings for storage need less structural engineering than larger ones with many modifications. Vehicle doors, walk-in doors, windows, skylights, and other specific design requirements warrant more time and engineering. This will be reflected in the cost.

Likewise, if you live in an area with strong winds or a lot of regular snowfall, the construction of your building must reflect these external factors. It could mean additional steel or specific design modifications that make the structure more robust.

Determine Your Steel Building Cost

Now that you know what steel buildings cost, you can determine the best time and course of action for your project. Understanding the factors above is key to keeping your costs to a minimum.

Online tools can help you in this regard. Rather than spending a lot of time getting quotes from individual companies, our service can match you up with one that can meet your needs at the lowest price.

We work directly with over 10,000 companies that sell a range of products. Simply answer a few questions about the requirements of your steel building, and we’ll do the rest.

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