Ultimate Guide to Designing Your Metal Building

Posted by Ben Sparhawk on Apr 22, 2019 8:50:30 PM

Tips for Creating a Custom Pre-Engineered Steel Building Kit

Although the name pre-engineered metal building “kit” may sound like a cookie-cutter, assembly-line product, there are endless ways to design a Metal Building.

Metal building kits provide the quick construction and cost-savings you would expect in a “kit,” but come with unlimited possibilities for customization.

[Check out How Do Metal Building Systems Work]

To ensure you get a metal building that is best suited to your needs, our guide will help you consider design potential for the following:

  1. Size 
  2. Quality
  3. Height
  4. Windows
  5. Doors
  6. Floors
  7. Climate
  8. Color
  9. Roof
  10. Cost

Metal buildings can be custom designed based on a wide range of functions and purposes.

Each building can be custom-designed with unique advantages that serve your industry-specific purposes.

Let's take a look at why the 10 factors above are things to consider when creating your custom-designed, pre-engineered steel building kit.


We highly recommend taking the time to properly analyze your size needs for your steel building. First-time metal building buyers frequently say they wish they had gone with additional square footage.

To determine how much square footage your need, take time to measure your equipment, machines, and office space to ensure everything fits spaciously.

There are no “standard” sizes for metal buildings.

Every steel building is designed to your preferences and to local codes.

If the metal building supplier you are working with only offers set sizes, you may want to consider partnering with a company with more flexibility and options for customization.

Keep these information tidbits in mind to determine the right size for your steel building:

  1. People rarely purchase metal structures smaller than 30x30.
  2. One of the most common metal building sizes is 40x60.
  3. The maximum clear span for most metal buildings is 300 feet.


get-your-industrial-metal-building-quoteKeep in mind that, unlike houses, steel buildings, base square footage on the exterior dimensions of the steel building. This means that your architectural plan for the exterior will show a slightly larger square footage on the steel package than on the interior.


Many competitors in the steel building industry are focused on one thing: reducing cost.

While it is important to price compare to ensure you are getting a fair market value, choosing the cheapest metal building manufacturer is not always good business.

Many companies focus on making their product the cheapest without maintaining standards of quality that are necessary for a durable, high-performance building. Sacrificing quality, durable steel for a cheap and unreliable substitute will not pay off in the end.

Any dollar amount you save will eventually be eaten up by extra costs related to lower-quality.

If you go with the cheapest metal building kit manufacturer on the market, you will likely:

  1. Pay extra in labor for unexpected welding and construction costs. Cheap building pieces often do not fit together properly.
  2. Miss construction deadlines because you have to wait on parts you never received.
  3. Become frustrated with a failing customer service team that won’t provide the answers or equipment necessary to complete the project.
  4. Spend more than you expected on repairs and maintenance because your building wasn’t constructed with high-quality, low maintenance steel.
  5. Deal with more frequent building damage after inclement weather. Cheap metal buildings are more susceptible to damage from high winds, flooding, and fires. These weather-related events may lead to significant building repairs.

If you are erecting a small shed or garage, quality may not be as important to you; but for a large building that will withstand the tests of time and heavy labor, invest in a quality steel structure erected by a reliable metal building kit supplier.

Metal Building Height

In general, metal buildings are “low-rise,” one or two-story buildings.

The majority of which are 12-20 feet in height; be mindful that the height of a steel building measures from the floor to the top of the eave, not to the peak.

While the most popular range for metal building height is 12-20 feet, the standard range for height goes up to 40’. Buildings with higher clearances are available, but may require additional planning.

The best way to determine your height needs for your building is to consider a few “what ifs” related to your business:

For example, if you own a construction company, you may want to consider: “What if I need to slightly raise my excavator arm inside for a mechanical repair?”

If you run an agriculture enterprise, you may want to ask, “What if I decide to expand my business to include hay storage or a grain elevator?”

As you determine the right height for your building, consider both how you will use the building immediately and how you can leverage your space to expand your business in the future.

Windows and Lighting

Adequate lighting is essential to the function of your metal building.

Be sure to include an appropriate number of windows, light fixtures, and skylights to ensure you can easily see to perform the tasks your building was intended for.

Your building may require more or less lighting depending on your intentions for it.

Installing skylights on both sides of your building’s roof peak is an excellent way to augment your lighting and decrease energy costs from light bulbs.Metal Building Window Design

Properly insulated windows can also reduce your utility costs while providing ventilation and natural light. Insulated or uninsulated windows can be installed anywhere in a metal building. 


Including a sufficient number of doors in convenient locations optimize your building for functionality.

Consider if and where your building is best suited for:

Overhead Doors

Mechanized overhead doors can be custom designed to suit your clearance needs for equipment, machinery, inventory delivery, and more. These doors can be installed in any location on the sides, front, or back of your building.

Entrances and Exits

Self-framed walk-through doors can be installed anywhere in your building to provide convenient entry and exit from any direction.

Emergency Evacuation Routes and Fire Code Compliance

Typically, a workplace must have a minimum of two exit routes to allow for rapid evacuation of building occupants in an emergency.

Make sure your building is up to code by including the appropriate number of doors based on your building size, number of occupants, and layout. 


Create a visually appealing and functional floor space using one of these three tried-and-true flooring options for steel buildings.

Finished Concrete

An all-purpose, versatile surface that can be stained, dyed, glazed, or etched to create any look or style you like. Finished concrete can mimic many different materials, making it an excellent, long-lasting option for mixed-use spaces.

Be sure to use an experienced contractor and high-quality concrete for the best results.

Poured Resin

Poured Resin is a favorite for its low upkeep costs and seamless appearance.

Poured Resin is highly durable and can withstand high traffic without showing signs of wear.

Resin has a low cost of upkeep and, like concrete, can be dyed or designed with patterns, artwork, and logos to create a custom look for your use.

Waterproof Vinyl

An inexpensive alternative to wood or tile.

If you are looking for a realistic wood or tile appearance, perhaps for an office or lobby, waterproof vinyl provides a fantastic high-end look that is far superior to the linoleum floors of the past.

This flooring is designed to withstand exposure to water and will not expand or contract with humidity.

The planks can be lifted if water gets down below the floor.

Climate Requirements

Consider climate conditions in your steel building design.

If you live in an area with unusual weather patterns or have a heightened risk of natural disasters, your building design must accommodate for these challenges.

Climatic conditions that must be considered:

Heavy Rainfall: Consider adding an extra layer of coating for weatherproofing.
Hurricanes and Earthquakes: Design the structure accordingly.
Wildfires: Provide fire exits and meet safety regulations.
Wetlands: Move dirt to build a more stable foundation.
Elevation Change: Level the ground and install proper drainage.

Color Options

This is the design category you can get creative with. Choosing your building color may be a no-brainer or it may take some deliberation. Many businesses use a pre-selected color based on their brand color and logo.

Other businesses simply need to match their new building to other existing buildings on their property.

If you are constructing your first building, or if you have flexibility with the color you choose, consider the following:

Type of business

Depending on your business type, you may want your Metal Building to stand out, or you may not want to stand out with your color scheme.

Consider what is appropriate for other businesses in your field before choosing your color.

You can take advantage of Google Maps to search for other businesses like yours to get a better idea of what colors are popular today.

Customer Demographics

You want your building color to appeal to your customers, not ward them off.

If you work with older or more conservative customers, use a subtle color scheme to appeal to them.

However, if you cater to a younger or edgier crowd, or if your building is for personal use, feel free to pick a louder, less typical color of your choice.


Consider what is appropriate to your geographical location before selecting a building color.

If you are building in an up-and-coming or modern neighborhood, you can be riskier with your color selection than you would be in in a city center or rural area.

Color Trends

Your building is a long-term investment, so be sure you don’t choose a color that may go out of style quickly.

Choose colors that reflect your business and withstand the test of time.


Roof Design and Pitch

One of the best ways to add personality to your Metal Building is to customize your roofline.

For a more upscale building appearance that will attract customers and match well with neighboring businesses, consider implementing one of the following roof styles into your design plans.Metal Building Roof Design

Gable Roof

The most common type of roof for Steel Buildings. Gable-style roofs have two sloping sides that join together in a ridge at the top.

These sloping sides create end walls with a triangular shape at the top known as a gable.

Hip Roof

More expensive than a gable roof, all sides of the hip roof slope down toward the walls in a fairly gentle slope.

Single Slope Roof

An inexpensive roof that is best suited for additions made to existing metal buildings. The single slope roof slopes in only one direction. It is sometimes known as a shed or pent-style roof.

Roof Pitch

Consider customizing your roof pitch to make your building more attractive.

In general, the roof pitch of a metal building will fall in the 1:12 to 4:12 range. Steeper pitches may be constructed based on your design preferences and annual snowfall demands.

Keep in mind that the lower you design the pitch of your roof, the more economical your steel building package will be.


One of the most sought-after benefits of pre-engineered steel building systems is the substantial cost savings over traditional construction methods. With a metal building kit, buyers can save up to 40% or more on building costs.

Cost savings are mostly the result of decreased labor costs.

While the steel components in a metal building may be expensive, the pre-engineered nature of the steel ensures little to no materials are wasted on-site and fewer laborers are required.

Metal buildings also offer buyers the security of no hidden fees or construction delays.

Plan Out your Metal Building Design, then Get Started with A Professional

It may seem overwhelming to plan out every detail of your metal building from size and height to floors and lighting, but if you break it down into small steps, you’ll be surprised how quickly you can make decisions.

Once you begin thinking through each element of your metal building, you may find that many of the decisions you need to make are already made for you based on your business needs and personal preferences.

Once you have a handle on what you want in and from your metal building, talk with an experienced professional who can make your plans a reality.

Planning for your metal building ahead of time will ensure you are satisfied with the look and function of your final design.

If you are looking for a trustworthy, experienced company to supply your metal building kit, contact CDMG today.

Our team of professionals will work with you on every step of your construction project from the design phase all the way through complete construction.

We offer full-service engineering, design, and project management solutions. Call CDMG today at (724) 873-4700 for a Pre-Engineered Metal Building Kit Quote.


Check out our other Metal Building Articles:

What Are The Tax Benefits to Steel Building Construction?
Is it Easy to Expand a Steel Building?
Complete List of Steel Building FAQ

Original blog content written here.

Topics: Steel building construction

About The Author

ben-sparhawkI'm Ben Sparhawk, the Content Writer and Marketing Account Manager for CDMG. I write to showcase the work that CDMG does and everything related to the pre-engineered metal building industry as well as their engineering capabilities. When I'm not working on content, you can find me spending time with my wife and children. 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.