Rob Smith: Exploring building alternatives in Northern Nevada (Voices)

Rob Smith is owner of Reno-based Montane Building Group.

Rob Smith is owner of Reno-based Montane Building Group.

With Nevada's economy and steady job growth attracting a record number of residents and businesses, construction companies are facing higher costs, delayed or extended timelines and increased material costs.

Developers, builders and business owners are finding it necessary to consider alternate methods in order to complete construction projects on time and on budget.

A pre-engineered metal building, PEMB, is a structure that is built using a structural steel framing system specifically engineered to fit project requirements. The predetermined components of the structure are fabricated off-site under precise factory conditions and per the design specifications. The complete package is delivered to the project site where they are assembled by a contractor.

Once primarily used for industrial warehouse, storage, and manufacturing, today, PEMB account for an array of industrial and commercial structures including retail stores, office buildings and even schools, churches, and government facilities.

These custom designs can be created to meet specific dimensions, structural needs and building codes. Below are some advantages of PEMBs:

Time savings

A study published in the Journal of Construction Engineering and Management revealed that up to 50 percent of time on the jobsite is devoted to wasteful activities, including late deliveries, poor coordination of materials and trades, and correcting field mistakes.

Among the significant benefits associated with a metal building system, the most appealing is the time savings that is represented when compared to conventional methods. Because of their systematic nature, the metal building process provides a consistent design experience and subcontractors are able to perform faster and in a more consistent manner.

Building erection time and costs are more predictable, since all parts are manufactured and shipped to the site; typically, within 6 to 8 weeks from the time an order is submitted. Erecting steel framing is simple and logical, generally cutting construction time by 33% over other building methods.

Cost efficiency

The use of PEMB allows construction time and material costs to be more predictable. Because PEMB components are manufactured and shipped from a controlled site, there is less labor and human error costs to factor in.

Design flexibility

The size of PEMB can vary tremendously, from small office or retail centers of 5,000–10,000 square feet, up to massive facilities, some well over a million square feet.

Generally, the time that the design flexibility process takes in a conventional project can be significantly reduced because these structures are created using standardized components that work together to allow greater flexibility.

Structural strength and low maintenance

Specialty coating applied to components allow for the resistance of corrosion and dirt along with providing the ability to last for a long period of time. The longevity and sustainability of a PEMB will save time and money during the lifespan of the building. One of the great advantages of steel building construction is the low maintenance required.

The roofing has the same advantage, eliminating the need to replace shingles, plywood decking or other roofing repairs. The commercial and residential building industry has seen an increased popularity of steel roofing, in part because of the reduced maintenance requirements. This translates into less operating costs for a metal building. In most cases PEMBs come with a 25-30-year warranty.

Easily expandable

Businesses often outgrow their current facility and find an expansion necessary. PEMBs allow for easy expansion. Expanding a metal building typically involves the removal of an end or side wall, the erection of additional structural frames, and matching the existing wall and roof coverings to the addition.

Manufacturers routinely perform assessments to add on to a metal building system, including structural and roof drainage analyses. An expansion or remodel is made much simpler due to standardized design and efficient assembly processes.

With lower costs and speedier construction times, one would assume all PEMB's look like uninspired squares. On the contrary, this option offers customization to create framing, wall, roof, and other specialized design options.

With choices in color, texture, and shapes, the options for these components and how they work together enables designers to create something unique.

There are many options in regard to architectural detail or finish materials that enable an aesthetically pleasing appearance, consistent with that of conventional construction, all without compromising on speed and cost-efficiency.

Rob Smith is owner of Reno-based Montane Building Group. Go to to learn more.


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