How do aluminium prefabricated buildings compare to steel?

14th August 2013

When choosing an industrial prefabricated building you will probably be considering a steel structure, but may come across aluminium buildings in your research and planning phrase. So what’s the difference, which is better for your project? How do you decide? To help we’ve put together some pointers based on what your actual needs are.

When you’re considering a new industrial prefabricated building, this is a good question to ask and seek the answer to. There are pros and cons to each type of structure and the overall business requirements and objectives usually dictate the outcome.

To shed some light on the subject however we have put together some pointers based on what your actual needs are.

How long do you need a prefabricated building for?

If you are looking at a permanent long term investment you might be considering a steel building. Known for its strength and durability steel is often used for industrial structures and warehouses and can be relied upon to stand the test of time.

Don’t rule out aluminium buildings though as they do meet the required structural standards for maximum UK snow and wind loadings and can therefore be legitimately used as an alternative to a more permanent steel structure. Aluminium does gain strength in other areas as well including its non-corrosive qualities and ability to flex against loads and impact.

How quickly do you need the prefabricated building?

If your project is dependent on getting extra space fast, then you need to look at aluminium prefabricated buildings. Simply because unlike steel buildings they don’t need any ground preparation. This means a potential turnaround time of 2 weeks from enquiry to order, with the actual installation process taking around 4 days.

And, if you need a fast response for a long-term usage, you can still purchase the aluminium building and use it long-term. Or, hire the aluminium building as an interim measure before firming up longer-term plans.

How much flexibility to do you need?

Basically how firm are you plans? If you’re unsure – which many companies are at the moment given the turbulent climate – then investing long-term in a permanent steel structure may turn into an Achilles heel. Space could end up standing empty, draining capex and operational budgets with no return.

The ability to hire aluminium prefabricated buildings for as long as required or until plans are firmed up will create flexibility and remove the risk factor. Additional flexibility comes with the ability to modify or relocate buildings for similar or new uses on other sites.

What’s your budget?

Should be top of the list really, but its wise not to let cost rule every decision. When comparing the actual structures the prices don’t vary enormously. However, steel prefabricated building costs will rise sharply once ground preparation is taken into account with additional design, equipment, labour, materials and of course time.

Aluminium buildings have a very fast and easy installation process that doesn’t need any ground preparation. Because of this materials, equipment, labour and time are kept to an absolute minimum. And, disruption to daily operations is also minimal avoiding any in-direct losses through disrupted activity or even downtime.

Why do you need the building?

Do you need interim temporary space, a permanent expansion or something in-between. The former calls for an aluminium prefabricated building as you can hire it. A permanent expansion could benefit from the longer term investment of a steel building adding value to your property and security for long term plans.

Something in-between might be a temporary need that could turn into something permanent. The ‘could’ being the obvious key word here and something that might sway you to the additional flexibility and lower risk of an aluminium building.

What do you need the prefabricated building for?

Anything other than an application that needs heating on a long-term permanent basis can be accommodated in an aluminium prefabricated building. A public facility that needs around the clock heating for example and is going to be used ten years plus would need a steel or more permanent solution. So, apart from this your choice would be more down to the points raised above.

Time to decide

As you can see the decision is very much down to your business circumstances and often own preference. There is a place for both types of structures and having the choice gives businesses a solution for pretty much any need and criteria. As we plough our way out of recession, this is something that can only benefit and help promote growth and success.

Please leave any comments about your experience of steel or aluminium prefabricated buildings below.

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