How can you compare bids from different companies?

When inquiring for a quote on a steel or metal building, it is important that you are comparing your quotes accurately to make sure you are both getting what it is that you want and need, and that you aren’t setting yourself up for hidden charges by missing key components in the early stages of your bidding process.

From our experience here are ten points you will want to compare to get an accurate side by side comparison.

1. Check the building DIMENSIONS. Width, Length and Eave Height (eave height is the exterior wall height on the sides, not the peak of the building.)

2. Check the ROOF PITCH. It is usually indicated 1:12, 2:12, 3:12 etc. The larger the roof pitch, the more costly the building.

3. Check the BAY SPACING. This is how far apart the support columns are down the length of the building.

4. Check the BUILDING CODES. The most common code now is IBC 2009 or 2012. Some states have their own code, for example, Ohio’s code is Ohio State Building Code (OSBC ) Just make sure the code is the same on all bids for fair comparison.

5. Check the LOADS (roof snow load, ground snow load, wind speed in mph and wind exposure). Most of the United States is 90 mph winds but as you get in higher altitudes or close to coastal areas it can go as high as 160 mph. The higher the snow loads or wind load, the more costly the building will be. A GROUND snow load is not the same as a ROOF snow load. If you get a quote that says 30# GROUND snow load then you take 30 x .7 and that is equal to 21# ROOF snow load. If your area requires a ROOF snow load of 30# a GROUND snow load of 30# is too low. Wind exposure C (more costly) has a higher wind resistance than exposure B.

6. Check the COLORS for the roof, walls and trims. If you see a call out of GALVALUME on the roof or walls or trims that means the building does not have color on it. Most companies will quote you a GALVALUME non-color roof with color walls and trims. Galvalume still has a 20 yr finish on the coating against rust but it is not a color. Make sure the areas on the contracts that call out the color or the finish say something like Color TBD (to be determined) or standard color. If it just says GALVALUME then you ARE NOT getting a color choice. Color is more costly than non-color Galvalume.

7. Check the ACCESSORIES. Walk in doors, windows, sky lights can be insulated (more costly) and non-insulated. Vents may or may not be priced with dampers to open and close them and dampers are more costly. Sectional garage doors go up then back on a 90 degree angle on a track like you see in a home garage. Roll Up doors roll up into themselves at the top of the door so there is no track hanging out into the building. The doors can be insulated (more costly) and non-insulated as well.

8. When you see a place on the contract in the accessories area that states FRAMED OPENINGS, this means it is only an opening for a door or window etc. It does not mean there is a door or window included, so check it carefully. Some order forms will say for example: “10’x10’ framed opening for a roll up door”. This does not mean the roll up door is included, this means there is an opening for that door, but you need to make sure the door itself is included. It will read the same for walk in doors or window openings.

9. Check the INSULATION THICKNESS AND TYPE.

  • 2” fiberglass insulation is an uncertified R value of 6 or 7
  • 3” fiberglass insulation has a certified R value of 10
  • 5” fiberglass insulation has a certified R value of 11
  • 4” fiberglass insulation has a certified R value of 13
  • 6” fiberglass insulation has a certified R value of 19
  • 8” fiberglass insulation has a certified R value of 24
  • Or you can do a combination of these for a higher R value. There is a product on the market other than fiberglass and it is called radiant insulation and the companies that provide this make claims that it has certified R values, but none of these products have been tested and certified by NAIMA (North American Insulation Manufacturing Association) to have any true R values, so don’t get ripped off by radiant insulations, they DO NOT WORK effectively.

10. Check for TAXES and FREIGHT. If it does not clearly show a freight rate or clearly say included then freight is NOT included. This is the same for taxes. Under the tax line it will usually say how much taxes are included, must be added, or may be applicable. Most sales people don’t know the tax rate for specific areas so just double check these items so there are no surprises.

These are some of the most common areas that can be mistaken. There are other items to check in custom buildings, so find a sales person you trust and ask them to assist in comparisons.