How Residential Metal Buildings are Manufactured and Constructed

There are many types of residential metal building packages on the market today. These range from metal arch buildings or Quonset buildings to light gauge metal stud framed homes and everything in between. We will concentrate this article on the panelized metal framed residential buildings.

The Plan

As with any home building project, you must start with a home design plan. In the case of a prefabricated metal stud home kit, this plan is used to determine size and space planning. The metal building manufacturer or panelizer will do the actual engineering of the building to suit your new home plan.

The Engineering

As I mentioned above, your new home plan will get engineered by the residential metal building panelizer. These modern and high-tech manufacturers have specialized design software.

The walls, door openings, window openings, built-up-beams and headers are all input into the design system. The software (with a little input by the technician) even marks the location of all of the individual studs. The size of each panel is shown on the main floor plan and each panel has its own drawing showing the stud locations and all accessories. The stud size and gauge are marked on these drawings as well.

Each wall panel has a specific mark or label attached to it. Beams, lintels and posts are marked as well so that the panelizers in the shop can quickly identify what accessories go into which panels.

In some cases the floor systems and roof systems are designed and panelized or fabricated by this manufacturer as well. If they are not, the panelizing manufacturer has to incorporate the loads and stresses of these systems n order to do an accurate structural design.

Once completed, these designs must be checked and verified by a registered professional engineer. When accepted, the software puts out a materials list for the plant to order from.

The Extrusions

The list of studs is sent to the extruders for fabrication. In some cases the panelizer will have an extruding machine in-house. This machine is fed with the proper gauge of flat metal material and is programmed to bend the metal to the proper size, cut the formed studs to the proper length and punch the holes where required for bridging and other accessories including electrical wiring work etc. which will be installed on site.

Stud gauges are marked (usually by color) so that the panelizing plant can quickly identify the proper studs for specific wall panels. The studs can even have the exact length marked to expedite the work in the plant.

Once the extrusions have been completed for a specific floor on a specific job they are shipped off the panelizing plant.

The Panelizing

The metal stud shipments are received by the panelizing plant and sorted into racks for each panel of each specific job. Most often the accessories are pre-assembled to be ready for the panels when they are being assembled. Window openings with the headers, posts, sills and sometimes the sill studs are all assembled here. Likewise, door openings and even larger open space posts and beams are pre-assembled. Generally speaking any opening in a wall that requires additional or special framing is done here. This speeds up the panel assembly considerably.

The main panelizing is done on a special table with moveable stops and clamps. The stops are set for the stud locations. The top and bottom tracks and the studs and accessories are place on the table. When all of the components of a wall panel are in the proper place a clamping system squeezes the top plate to the bottom plate with the studs in between.

Some panelizers have a welding machine that welds each connection automatically while some have screw machines that automatically drive screws into each connection point. When this work is completed the clamp is released and the wall panel is moved to the sheathing table.

The Sheathing

If wind bracing is required on a specific panel it is installed prior to the sheathing operation. Once completed, the exterior sheathing material can be applied. Products like Densglas Gold are commonly used for exterior sheathing on panelized metal structural walls to maintain the non-combustible aspect. The panels are placed on the wall framing and again a screw machine screws all of the panels properly to the framing. The openings are cut out and the panels removed from the table.

If there is bridging required in the walls it is placed into the wall panels at this point prior to shipping.

The Shipping

Each panel has a specific mark or tag number attached to it. These numbers correspond with the tag numbers on the floor plans we discussed earlier. The panels are loaded (sometimes special pallets are used) on to transport trucks.

The order of panels being loaded is critical to the installation process. When the panels are off-loaded, the first panel at the top of the pile must be the first panel required for installation. The subsequent panels attach to the previous panels. Again this is very critical to speed the erection process and to protect the panels from damage caused by repeatedly moving them around.

The Assembly

Once off-loaded at your construction site the panels are lifted one by one and put in place on the prepared foundations or floors. They are bolted or screwed in place and temporarily braced for safety. If floor systems are required they are placed next followed by the next floor’s framed panels. Finally the roof system is installed and your new residential metal building has taken shape.

This type of construction can be successfully used for residential metal buildings of all shapes and sizes. Many of the motel chains are using this construction method for their new facilities up to six or seven stories high.

Metal commercial building kits are being constructed using this method as well. The owners of these buildings demand high quality, strong, non-combustible facilities that can be quickly constructed. Panelized metal buildings meet all of these requirements. The panels can be engineered and fabricated while the foundation work is happening on the construction site. When the foundations and floors are ready, the panels will arrive on the construction site and can be quickly and efficiently erected.

The Downside?

The only downside to this kind of construction is that on-site changes can be expensive. But then again ask anyone who has constructed any type of building about the cost of their on-site changes…



What to Do Next

· Check out the other articles relating to metal stud panelized building kits and residential building packages on our Metal Building Kits Articles Map