How to Choose The Right Contractor for Your Steel Building

Follow These Steel Building Contractor Search “Do’s” & “Don’ts”

Have you decided to invest in a pre-engineered steel building for your commercial, government or private property? Congratulations, you have made a wise choice!  Prefabricated steel buildings are some of the sturdiest, most cost-effective structures you can build. However, erecting a metal building with an unqualified or dishonest contractor can be a recipe for disaster. Here’s how you can avoid this disastrous mistake and choose the right contractor for your steel building. 

DO Look For a Contractor That Has Experience with Metal Buildings

Like any profession, experience matters. Erecting a pre-engineered steel building is a unique process, unlike any other structure. Each detail of the building process is specialized for steel buildings. An experienced contractor that specializes in constructing steel buildings has an enormous advantage over contractors that do not. They are more likely to make quick decisions, work efficiently, and anticipate potential problems that they may encounter during the process. 

As you begin your search for the right contractor for your project, one of the first questions to ask is if they have any experience with prefabricated metal building systems. If they do, request to see samples of their work. Most metal building component manufacturers like ours will have a list of preferred contractors in your area with a steel building experience.

DON’T Automatically Hire the First or the Least Expensive Company You Come Across

A metal building is an investment that should last for decades – do not trust this monumental task to the first company you come across. Shop around to get at least three different quotes from contractors in your area that you feel are best suited for the job. Also, do not automatically go with the company that offers the lowest price- it does not mean that it is the best. You are much better off paying more for quality metal building construction that meets local code requirements than paying less for a poorly constructed building that puts you over budget and past your deadline.

DO Read Online Reviews and Ask for References

A qualified contractor understands you must do your due diligence and should be more than willing to provide references upon request. Ask the referral specific questions about the project and their experience. What was the size of the building project? When was it built? Was it completed on time? Did they run into any issues during the building process? Were they happy with the finished work? Were they disappointed with any aspect of the job? 

If the company has been in business for a while, you can probably read what others had to say about their experience with them by doing some online research. Here’s a list of websites where you can find more information about contractors who specialize in prefabricated metal buildings.  

Metal Building Contractors and Erectors Association (MBCEA)

Better Business Bureau

Angie’s List 

The Blue Book

DON’T Just Assume a Contractor is Licensed & Insured – Ask for Proof!

If you inadvertently hire a building contractor that is NOT fully licensed or insured, you are putting your investment in jeopardy. One would think a working contractor would meet those most basic requirements, however, all too often we hear stories of companies who hired unlicensed contractors- a mistake that cost them valuable time and money. 

Find out if they are licensed.

A licensed contractor must meet local and state requirements and undergo rigorous testing so you can feel confident they will handle your metal building project with professionalism and integrity. The requirements vary from state to state. For example, in Oregon, “Anyone who works for compensation in any construction activity involving improvements to real property needs a license” whereas Idaho doesn’t license general contractors at the state level but should ask their city or county. You can search the requirements for each state here

Ask if they are fully insured.

An experienced, reputable steel erector will carry both liability insurance and workman’s compensation insurance. Ask them for proof of insurance! If a contractor seems irritated or dismissive of your request, this is probably a red flag and you’ll want to move on to the next one.

DO Ask if the Contractor is Familiar with Local Building Codes and Permits 

Any reputable contractor is going to make sure that your new metal building complies with state and city codes. Never assume a vendor is knowledgeable about the local building code, this mistake could come back and haunt you later. Always ask! Buildings that are not up-to-code will not only pose a risk to the owner, but they could result in excessive fines, penalties and legal hassles down the road. You always want to be sure that your contractor knows all the required permits and can secure them on your behalf. 

DO Find Out if They Partner With Specialists

Even the very best contractors are probably not going to perform the necessary HVAC, electrical or plumbing work as well as a specialist could. A steel building erector who partners with local HVAC, electric and plumbing professionals to streamline the building process are a preferable choice. 

DON’T Just Take Their Word For It – Get Everything In Writing!

Not all states require a contract, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have one. Once you have found the right contractor and agree on a fair price and the terms of service, get everything in writing. A good contractor will understand that written contracts protect both parties and serve as a master plan on the work to be completed.  Your written contract should contain the following details (and more) to help you stay in budget and avoid pricy mark-ups down the road: Individual expenses. A list of all required materials. A detailed list on all warranties and workmanship. Any/all equipment rental. 

Document everything!

Take notes and keep a record of every conversation you have with your contractor on the phone, through email, and in person. Take pictures of the ‘before,’ ‘during’ and ‘after’ phases of your build. Document everything so you have a solid history of any problems that may have arisen during the building of your structure.

DO remember the key takeaways from this post!

Contractors are essential to the steel building process and should be thoroughly vetted and researched before signing a contract. To choose the right contractor, remember, 

  • Experience matters- it’s better to go with companies with experience with steel buildings. 
  • Never pick a random contractor, ask for multiple project bids. 
  • Always ask for references. 
  • Hire a company that is licensed & insured. 
  • Make sure they are knowledgeable about the local building code and proper permits.  
  • Get everything in writing and document everything.

Contact Pacific Building Systems (PBS) at 503-981-9581 to find out how we will help make the steel building construction a seamless process. 

About Pacific Building Systems (PBS)

PBS is the premier metal building component manufacturer in the Pacific Northwest. Whether you’re starting from scratch with a metal building structure or adding metal roofing or metal siding to an existing structure, we can help. For over 50 years, we’ve provided high-quality, affordable steel building components for a wide variety of industries, including the industrial, commercial, agricultural, aviation, government, and community sectors. You’ll notice right away what makes us different: our team. We’re a family-run, full-service provider with unparalleled experience and innovation.

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