Buildings costs

The Ruminant

Livestock Farmer
In terms of steel costs, is it cheaper to have a narrow and longer building or a shorter and wider building to cover the same total area?

In other words the narrower building will (I presume) get away with thinner steels compared to one with a wider span but it will have more steels in total.

i suppose what Im asking is, is there an optimum building size to cover a specified area?


Generally speaking, your standard kit sizes offered by the majority of manufacturers will deliver the most economical way of covering an area, having been worked out for best use of stock steel lengths, purlins and roofing materials etc.

Once you stray off the path you're looking at a specific design and the only way to gauge this is by getting some quotes. I wouldn't have through there would be a great deal in it cost wise though. Plus consider your follow on costs for items such as gates, feed barriers etc.- and making off the shelf standard sizes to fit with your steel frame set out.


Livestock Farmer
Go as wide as you can afford, it’s easy enough to extend it in the future. But impossible to if you want a big clear span building.
If your building a grain store or something similar then the actual steel frame isn't going to more than 20% of the project cost.

If you are going for a wide span shed then getting a specific design done by an experienced engineer who does a lot of structural work is essential. We recently did a relatively small project that had the steel sizes given by the original generic consultant engineers they were structural engineers but covered everything from block walls to floor slabs and glulam beams etc, we suggested a re-design and sourced it for the client at a cost of £1400. The new design came in with a 6 tonne saving in the main steel frame, that's about £10k saved.

A lot of the large warehouses going up are designed to the very limit. It is quite common to see some steel elements at 98-99% capacity in the calculations. To the extent that the roof pitch is usually kicked up half a degree in manufacturing to allow for the sagging that will occur in the rafters once erected. This is one reason why a lot of industrial building don't have and never will have PV panels. There just isn't any spare capacity in the steel frame to take them if they were not specified in the original build document. Its quite common that we have to change the rafter sizes midway through the drawing process as the end user (not usually the building owner) states they need them to meet some green criteria in their industry etc.


Mixed Farmer
It's usually wind uplift and deflection that controls the design of sheds. Considering just weight you could put solar panels on but it's more effort than it's worth retrofitting when there are new sheds going up every week.


When I put up my 120' by 180' cow cubicle building in 2005 the shed cost was reduced by 10%(10k) by having 2 rows of support steels for the roof down the lines of head to head cubicles. This allowed lighter steel to be used due to the extra support from the additional legs.

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HSENI names new farm safety champions

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Written by William Kellett from Agriland

The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) alongside the Farm Safety Partnership (FSP), has named new farm safety champions and commended the outstanding work on farm safety that has been carried out in the farming community in the last 20 years.

Two of these champions are Malcom Downey, retired principal inspector for the Agri/Food team in HSENI and Harry Sinclair, current chair of the Farm Safety Partnership and former president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU).

Improving farm safety is the key aim of HSENI’s and the FSP’s work and...