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Metal Buildings- Don't compare apples & oranges, use this cheat sheet to get apples-to-apples quotes

Updated: Dec 24, 2020

***skip to the bottom of the page to get the print out***

This is how salesmen priced my building

"so, what are you looking for?"

"ooooh yeah ma'am, well that's a big building, that’ll be pretty expensive."

"do you know how you're going to put this building up, because we don't do that."

"what pitch are you going for, you know, like how high do you want the angle?"

"ooooh yeah that's going to be significantly more, we usually do 1:12"

"oh, so this is going to be a house? well yeah that's special so I'm going to have to send you over to this guy..."

From there it would be a week of going back and forth and by the end of it I'd have 3 quotes for 3 completely different buildings. It was horribly stressful and disappointing doing this dance, week in, and week out.

Getting accurate side by side quotes is difficult for a few reasons

1) Most companies have a certain thing they like to sell, so they will steer you in that direction every time you call, no matter what you tell them you're looking for.

2) You, the buyer, often don’t know exactly what you want, so you accept quotes from guys “in the business” who slide in items that they would want in their building.

3) You, the buyer, get jumbled up when asked questions about what to include… ordering metal buildings probably isn’t your life's work, so you answer with what sounds good at that moment.

4) There are a ton of options in metal buildings, so changing things here or there between quotes can seriously impact the bottom line.

5) Even if you’re extremely clear, you’re dealing with other human beings, and sometimes they don’t include or exclude the things you specifically talked about.

If you’re skeptical about how this could be so complicated, let me show you how it works.


It’s Monday, bright and early I start calling metal building people and asking for quotes on my building. I tell them “I’m looking to buy a 50x100 with 20 ft height at the eaves, 2 ft overhang around the long sides, with 3 garage roll-up doors provided by my contractor and 2 man-doors provided by my contractor”. The salesman gets to work asking me questions “What gauge of roof do you want? Color or galvalume? How about the exterior wall color? Red iron or I beam structure? Do you want clear span? What is this building going to be used for? How many windows are in your plan? Do you have a layout and sizes for the windows? Can you email that to me right now? How many inches from the ground are these windows? Do you want us to provide the framed openings only, or do you also want the trim? Do you want us to include gutters and downspouts? Who is putting this building up, you know we don’t do that part…” I answer as consistently as possible, but at the end of the week, when all the quotes are on the table this is what I end up with...

-company A is quoting me for 24-gauge color roof panels, 26-gauge color walls, tapered columns, two-man doors, and 3 roll up doors

-company B then quotes me for 26-gauge galvalume roof panels, 26-gauge color walls, tapered columns, one-man door, and 3 roll up doors

-company C gets back to me on Friday morning and wants to do the whole Q&A over again because “since this will be a residence we reassigned it to another guy”, they later quote me for all the same things as company A, but its 25% more and they say that’s because “so much more planning will have to go into this on our end to make sure its suitable as a home.”

So, there you go, that’s the metal building dance.

To save you from going through all of that, wasting your time and killing your enthusiasm for your barndominium, here’s a handy-dandy cheat sheet.

How to use the cheat sheet

1) Pull up pictures of what you want, inside and out. Study them, and decide what things need to be present in your building structure to get you that finished product. This would be a good time to familiarize yourself with metal building terminology, which I will cover in next week's article.

2) Go through every item on the sheet one at a time, and clearly indicate what it is that you want.

3) Talk with your contractor or whoever is putting up this building for you (if there is such a person), and run through your decisions with them.

4) Keep this sheet handy (or upload the filled-out version), and anytime you call a metal building guy, give them exactly what is on your sheet. If you can send it to them filled out, even better.

5) If you change your mind while talking with a building guy, make note of that, and be sure to change that item with the other quotes as well.

metal building cheat sheet
Download XLSX • 11KB

This article, and advice therein, is based off of my personal experience and is not intended to replace or discount the counsel of industry professionals.

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