Cassone is a certified Women-owned Business Enterprise (WBE) that specializes permanent and temporary modular buildings. Family-operated since 1976, the company offers a full range of storage containers, office trailers, storage…
If you need a temporary structure or simply a building that you can move easily from site to site, a portable metal building can be the affordable, flexible, rugged solution that you are looking for.
In this guide, we will go over the different types of portable metal buildings on the market, discuss some common uses, and review basic information on pricing. But we will get started with the basic definition of a portable building.
What is a Portable Building?
At first glance, it may seem unnecessary to define what a portable building is. But it is worth mentioning that this is a broad category rather than one particular type of structure.
It is common for people to refer to portable buildings interchangeably with temporary buildings, for example. But portable buildings can be temporary or permanent in nature. What makes them portable is simply the fact that you can move them from place to place.
It is also common to refer specifically to modular buildings when talking about portable structures. But that is just one type of portable building. We will discuss a variety of options later in this article.
Common Uses For Portable Buildings
The commercial and residential applications of portable buildings are pretty much unlimited. Following are some common ways that people make use of portable structures.
- Temporary classrooms: Most students reflecting on their elementary, high school or even college years can remember a time when they had one or more classes in portable buildings—typically office trailers.Schools will often expand to these structures until they have the resources and time to erect permanent new classrooms.
- Portable office buildings: Like temporary classrooms, portable office buildings may serve as temporary extensions until more permanent office space can be constructed.Portable office buildings also can be useful for remote or temporary worksites. Finally, some businesses are mobile in nature, and can make use of portable office buildings full-time.
- Storage sheds: One of the most common uses of portable buildings is as storage sheds, whether residentially or commercially.In fact, this use is so common that if you look up portable buildings online, many websites will simply bring up their selection of storage shed products.
- Backyard offices/retreats: Portable sheds can be used for anything, not just storage!Consider a portable structure in your backyard to serve as a home office or just a quiet, relaxing place to retreat to when you need some time to yourself. If you have seen the popular ‘She Shed’ commercial you understand why these are so popular for home use.
- Disaster response: During hurricanes, floods, and other disasters, many people are displaced and require temporary housing.Portable buildings can be transported to disaster zones and set up quickly to house these individuals and families.Relief teams also can make use of portable buildings as offices, supply sheds, and so forth.
- Portable homes: A portable metal home can be a wonderful choice if you are looking for a structure which you can transport with you if you move to another location in the future.
Why Choose Metal for Your Portable Building?
While many portable buildings today are made of metal, some are made out of other materials such as wood. Why should you think about metal as a building material for your portable structure?
- Durability. A portable building that is going to be transported from site to site on a regular basis will need to be durable enough to stand up to all of that jostling.Many people underestimate just how rough on a building—even one designed to be mobile—transportation is.If your portable structure is made out of steel, you have picked one of the most rugged materials around. That will help to minimize the damage caused by relocation.
- Maintenance. Metal buildings are not as susceptible to damage from flooding, fire, pests, or even the slow decay of time. As a result, they are far less intensive to maintain. This is one reason why steel is an excellent choice for a permanent or temporary structure, portable or otherwise.
- Speed, ease and convenience. Building a metal structure can be surprisingly fast and easy with a steel building kit or a prefab structure delivered to your site. It is hard to beat the convenience.
- Longevity. Because steel is sturdy and non-organic, a well-constructed metal building can hold up for a lot longer than one constructed out of wood. In fact, there is a very good chance that your metal building will still be standing long after your lifetime.
- Cost. The cost to construct a steel building is affordable upfront, and even more so over the long run when you consider how low-maintenance a steel structure is.
Types of Portable Buildings
Now that we’ve gone over some of the benefits of choosing metal for a portable building, let’s talk in more detail about some of the different types of portable structures.
Prefab Portable Buildings 101
Let’s start out by discussing the word “prefab.” Many portable metal buildings are prefabricated.
But there is quite a bit of confusion over the term “prefab,” with many people thinking it refers to one specific method of construction.
In actuality, there are a number of construction methods which fall under the “prefab” umbrella.
A building is prefabricated if all or part of it was manufactured in a factory before being shipped to you.
Prefab structures may be permanently installed on a site or they may be portable.
- Modular units
One of the most popular types of prefab buildings is modular structures. If you have seen buildings which have been constructed out of preassembled modules that look a bit like building blocks all stacked together (i.e. shipping containers), that is modular design.
Modular metal buildings are great for portability.
Units are not only easy to move from one site to another, but they can be rearranged into new configurations on the fly. You can increase or decrease the size of a portable modular building just by adding or removing modules. If necessary, they can be sent to other sites. These are common for disaster response situations, classrooms and construction offices.
- Manufactured units
Another option for a prefab metal portable building is a manufactured home or office. Construction of the entire building takes place in a factory, and then it is transported on wheels to the location where it will sit. The wheels may or may not be a permanent feature, depending on your preference.
In most cases, the frame is steel, but there may be other building materials present as well.
- Office trailers
Manufactured units often take the form of office trailers in commercial settings.
You can get a single-wide, double-wide or even triple-wide trailer. While it is possible to purchase an office trailer, a lot of businesses simply lease them for temporary use. They can be built out of metal or other materials.
- Steel building kits
Yet another option for a portable metal building is one you construct yourself (or hire a contractor to build for you) at a site using a steel building kit.
If you go with a skid-mount building or you use piers for your structure, you do not need to place it permanently at the site. You can keep it mobile and relocate it at a later date if you wish.
How Much Do Portable Buildings Cost?
You now know some of your options for types of metal portable buildings. But what can you expect when it comes to portable building prices?
You will notice when you are checking metal building vendor websites that many of them do not include cost estimates directly on their site pages.
They prefer to give you an estimate, because there are a number of factors which can influence the cost of a portable metal building.
Some of these factors include:
- The price of steel (or other metals or materials you choose) at the time of your purchase.
- The configuration of the building (i.e. storage container vs mobile office).
- Whether you decide to get a modular building, manufactured structure, steel building kit, or so forth.
- The size of the building and the location where you will be placing it initially.
- The foundation you have chosen (even manufactured homes on wheels are often placed on a concrete foundation).
- Are there any custom requests like extra windows, HVAC units, etc…
- The interior and exterior finishes you are going with.
- Your choice of contractor (which could include yourself).
To give you a ballpark range for what you can expect, the following are some prices we have encountered for steel building kits for different sizes of structures:
- 1,200 square feet: $12,000
- 1,600 square feet: $13,500
- 2,000 square feet: $15,000
We have seen the following costs as general estimates for commercial steel buildings (the kit + the foundation, delivery and work):
- $16-$20 per square foot
And here are some additional cost estimates for different types of steel structures:
- $7 per square foot for rigid frame construction.
- $5 per square foot for a Quonset hut.
For modular buildings, we have seen this cost range:
- $35-$100 per square foot.
Finally, to provide one more set of estimates to give you a broad idea, another vendor has quoted the following price range:
- 12×21 portable metal buildings starting around $3,000 ranging up to 24×41 portable metal buildings costing around $7,700
When shopping for a portable metal building, you do not necessarily want to be aiming for the lowest possible price.
Instead, you want to get the highest quality structure for the most reasonable cost.
Following are some quick tips which can help you to keep the cost of a metal building as manageable as possible:
- Keep an eye on the price of steel or other metals you are interested in as construction materials. Be ready to make a move when you can purchase the materials at a low price. There are metal building vendors that will let you lock in a price for a certain amount of time.
- Go with a simple, basic design for your structure.
- Think in terms of value when it comes to square footage as well as cost. Even though a larger building will cost more than a smaller one, the cost per square foot generally drops as a building’s square footage rises.
- Compare prices and credentials for a variety of vendors and contractors, and think about doing some of the labor yourself if possible.
- Try and budget extra for insulation for your metal building. Doing so will reduce the amount of money you need to spend over the years ahead keeping your building climate-controlled.
Whether you are shopping for portable sheds, modular office buildings, or any other type of portable metal structure, comparison shopping and planning ahead can save you money while still allowing you to invest in a quality building that will stand the test of time.
Where to Buy Portable Buildings
Metal portable buildings offer numerous benefits at a low cost. They are convenient, versatile, and can be built swiftly and affordably. Once they stand, they resist damage from fire, water and pests. If you choose to relocate them, their sturdy steel can withstand the stresses of transportation.
How can you find the most competitive pricing on high-quality steel portable buildings? To save you time, we bring you quotes from our trusted vendors.
These are companies we have vetted according to our strict criteria in terms of licensing, building quality, and caliber of customer service.
To get your quotes now, just fill out the form below.
You’ll then be ready to compare costs for portable buildings and take the next steps in the process!
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