Biggest Disadvantages Of Pre-Engineered Metal Buildings

Business owners looking for a convenient, cost-effective alternative to conventional construction may find that pre-engineered buildings made of steel are just what they're looking for.

Pre-engineered metal buildings are often used for commercial spaces, but they can be designed to meet any builder's needs.

Pre-engineered steel building systems are cost-efficient, customizable, quicker to construct and erect than traditional standard buildings.

But are there any disadvantages to building a pre-engineered metal building?

While pre-engineered buildings are excellent for many building types, nothing is perfect.

In the article below, we will look at a few disadvantages of pre-engineered metal buildings.

Table Of Contents


What Is A Pre-Engineered Metal Building?

A pre-engineered metal building system is constructed with a steel frame system that supports a metal roof and wall panels.

Pre-engineered buildings are pre-designed to adhere to precise dimensions better than conventional buildings.

The dimensions are specific to the building owner's needs, and other factors, including area-specific building codes, potential load problems, and environmental considerations, are taken into account.

Pre-engineered metal building systems have the versatility to be fabricated to meet many unique requirements.

Frame components are made and then shipped to the location to be erected.

What are pre-engineered buildings used for?

Common Uses For A Pre-Engineered Metal Building

A pre-engineered metal building can be used for many applications, but some of the most popular are:

  • Agricultural: Steel is cost-effective and low-maintenance building material that will keep your agricultural equipment and livestock safe.
  • Commercial: Steel is a sound investment in the long-term success of a business, no matter the size. Various layouts can be used to create an attractive commercial steel building.
  • Government: Government budgets have little to no wiggle room, and building with steel is a great way to keep construction costs down. Steel can produce various building types, anything from fire stations to public works buildings. It helps cut costs and bring facilities into compliance. And steel makes it easy to be green.
  • Storage Warehouses: Thanks to clearspan capabilities, prefabricated metal buildings allow business owners to construct larger buildings to house their goods. And due to their strength and durability, those goods are better protected from the elements and pests than if the structure was constructed with traditional building materials.
  • Recreational Sports Facilities: Pre-engineered structures are the perfect choice when constructing a sports complex or recreation center. They allow for maximum use of the space and can be adapted or expanded in the future to allow for further accommodation. 


Disadvantages Of Pre-Engineered Metal Buildings

Finishing Details May Take Time

Many people think constructing prefabricated steel buildings can be difficult.

Drywall cannot be directly attached without adding additional structures because of the nature of the exterior walls in metal building systems.

If you require insulation, you may have to use an additional wall, decreasing the interior square footage.

The columns in prefabricated steel buildings are sometimes considered large and bulky, making them difficult to hide.

But working with a reputable steel building provider will ensure these details are finished to your specifications, and they will make sure to communicate any timing changes or issues.


Roof Top or Hanging Metal Units

The roofs of these structures are typically framed with light gauge cold-formed metal purlins.

These purlins are not designed to support additional equipment loads, and they can't be easily strengthened.

So, additional structures must be added to deal with mechanical loads.


Late Deliveries

Many people worry that when they order their PEMB they will have to wait longer than the promised time.

Deliveries are effected by the weather and the location of the delivery.

If your manufacturer is far from your location, you will likely wait a little longer.

That's why it's essential to choose a metal building dealer that serves your location.

However, delays in the winter are expected because snowfall blocks the roads and interrupts transportation.

So schedule your metal building installation in the warmer days so you get your structure on time.

And, with traditional construction, weather can delay construction, while PEMBs are constructed in factories that don't have to account for weather.


Design & Expansion Constraints

Some structures require additions to accommodate growth.

PEMB critics claim that future expansion isn't easy with a metal structure.

Pre-engineered steel buildings typically only accommodate expansion if the addition is an extension of the existing building in a direction parallel to the ridge of the existing building.

However, you can easily build additional floors and expand the existing structures if you work closely within the constraints of your existing build.


Durability and Longevity Issues

Some critics of steel structures claim that metal siding and roofs fade quickly and are easily dented.  

They argue that prefabricated steel buildings do not age well and look considerably different after some time.

However, steel is one of the strongest building materials, and recent advances in steel building technology and finishes provide increased longevity and strength.

What are the advantages of pre-engineered metal buildings

Advantages Of A Pre-Engineered Metal Building

They Save Time

Traditional construction cycles are often very long.

When you consider the time from design to final construction, the time adds up fairly quickly.

However, the construction cycle of pre-engineered buildings is generally several weeks less than other types of structures, even when you factor in delivery times.

Pre-engineered metal buildings can be constructed quickly because they are built from construction diagrams with clearly designated numbers and pre-cut components to be used in the structure.

Pre-engineered metal buildings often take half the construction time of a traditional structure like a wooden or concrete building.


They Save Money

Cost savings are essential no matter what you're building.

Pre-engineered metal buildings can be inexpensively constructed, often costing half the amount that other types of facilities might.

You can save on everything from labor costs to raw material costs.

This is because pre-construction bypasses many steps and processes that normally occur on a traditional construction site.

The time and cost savings alone make these buildings appealing to commercial and industrial interests that have to accomplish tasks economically to stay competitive.


They Are Low Maintenance

Metal and steel structures require far less maintenance than their traditional counterparts.

Steel is incredibly resistant to rust, corrosion, and even extreme weather conditions.

You can also paint them to accommodate design needs, deflect the sun, and provide an extra layer of protection against the elements.

Once a PEMB has been constructed, there is very little upkeep necessary on an ongoing basis.

Over the years, this results in even more cost savings for the owner.


Choose STEVENS For Your Pre-Engineered Metal Building

At STEVENS, our metal building systems team can provide advanced Metal Building Kits to streamline your next steel warehouse project.

Pre-engineered steel building kits have unlimited, customizable options to make your structure unique and one-of-a-kind and tailored to your business needs.

The STEVENS building systems team uses customizable, high-quality pre-engineered metal buildings with industry-leading capabilities and are constructed with American-made, recyclable Nucor steel.

STEVENS is ready to provide you with the highest-quality metal warehouse buildings constructed with durable steel that suits your needs.

Contact STEVENS today for an estimate and allow us to make your next building project a success.

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About The Author


I'm Ben Sparhawk, the Content Writer and Marketing Account Manager for the esteemed STEVENS company. As someone passionate about crafting captivating content, I take great pride in creating pieces that highlight STEVENS' capabilities and communicate the depth and breadth of their outstanding work.

In my role, I'm constantly striving to develop messaging that resonates with our clients and effectively showcases the exceptional work that we do here at STEVENS. I believe that communication is the key to success, and I work tirelessly to ensure our marketing efforts are engaging and informative.

When I'm not working, I often spend time with my three wonderful children. Becoming a dad is one of the best things that has happened to me, and I love every moment I get to spend with my wife and kids. You can also find me in the gym, trying to better myself, and I also enjoy spending time outdoors hiking or checking out local parks.