Determining what kind of material(s) will best meet the needs of your new building requirement is the first step every business owner, project manager, procurement specialist, operations manager, architecture and engineering firm, or EPCM (Engineering, Procurement, Construction Management) contractor must decide on.
When it comes to investing in a new building system, there are many options to choose from. Will you construct a building using wood, buy a pre-fabricated metal or steel building, invest in a brick and block structure, concrete tilt-up or tilt-slab construction, or decide a tension engineered fabric building is the best option?
Wood as a Building Material
- Shrinkage and swelling in climates with variable weather creates an unsafe structure that is susceptible to high winds and heavy snow loads.
- Deterioration by mold fungi, bacteria, insects, sun, wind, water, chemical and fire are common and requires on-going maintenance to prevent.
- Slow build times.
- Cannot be easily taken down and used many times before failing.
- Limited availability of wood materials in remote locations can result in expensive logistics costs.
Brick and Block Buildings
- Bricks and blocks are susceptible to chipping, pitting, ice damage, and degrade over time.
- Stronger foundations are needed to support the weight of the bricks.
- Brick and block buildings are extremely sensitive to shifts or “settling” of foundations, and not recommended for areas with seismic activity.
- Inability to repair or replace a damaged brick or block individually. Requires removing and rebuilding the entire section or wall.
- In humid climates, porous bricks and blocks invite mold.
- Cannot be constructed in rain or cold weather without decreasing the effectiveness of the mortar.
- Brick and block buildings are built by hand, one brick at a time - drastically rising the price and time for construction.
- A permanent building option.
- Requires a builder familiar with steel building construction and knowledge of the latest steel building standards.
- Requires special tools and heavy equipment to manage.
- Steel is an excellent conductor of heat. This means greater heat loss in cold climates and greater heat absorption in hot climates, requiring insulation with a higher R-Value (and cost) to maintain a comfortable interior.
- Steel is heavy - increasing transportation costs.
- Though faster than wooden, brick and block, and tilt-slab construction, build times of steel buildings are slower than engineered fabric buildings.
- Steel buildings are not designed for repeated setups and take downs, or relocation.
- Steel buildings require on-going maintenance to prevent oxidation and rust.
- Depending on the steel building design and engineering requirement, some metal buildings will require interior support columns, potentially limiting usable space.
Concrete Tilt-Up or Tilt-Slab Buildings
- Requires a concrete foundation be poured, capable of withstanding the weight of the building.
- A large concrete casting area near the building footprint is required. This is not feasible in crowded locations.
- A complicated process to reinforce wall sections, combined with extensive formwork and labor, as well as proprietary products needed prior to casting can escalate quickly to be a major portion of the total building cost.
- Once concrete is poured into the casting, it needs to cure and dry before being moved to avoid comprising the safety by creating cracks and imperfections.
- Rain, excessive heat, and dirt can affect the curing properties of the concrete when casting.
- Specialized heavy equipment is needed to lift the concrete panels into place.
- Lifting and bracing tilt-up panels to each other, to the floor, and to the roof requires engineers to ensure quality control and safety measures are stringently adhered to.
- Poor performance in earthquake-prone areas requires significant and costly reinforcing.
- If one wall section fails, tilt-up construction has the potential to create a domino effect.
- Not suitable for small, one-off building projects.
- Any amendments to the building requires approval of an engineer.
Engineered Fabric Buildings
An engineered tension fabric structure offers many benefits compared to conventional or other modular building systems. Below are the highest rated and most important factors for choosing an engineered fabric building, as noted by previous Alaska Structures’ customers:
- Shorter construction times than all building methods described above.
- Virtually maintenance free.
- Portable or permanent designs allow installations to be setup and left in-place or quickly taken down and relocated without experiencing mechanical failures.
- Minimal tools needed for installation.
- Minimal foundation requirement reduces environmental impact and saves time and money for site preparation.
- Adheres to local and international building codes for safety.
- Easily expanded or reconfigured to meet changing business requirements.
- Free-span interior maximizes interior space.
- Energy efficient design and supplemental systems provide a drastic cost savings while maintaining a comfortable interior.
- Low cube and weight reduces the costs of shipments.
- High quality products that offer an unmatched level of durability and longevity.
- Low life-cycle cost.
If you would like to discuss using an engineered fabric building for your building project, please call us at +1-907-344-1565, email firstname.lastname@example.org, chat with one our building specialists via the chat box, or contact us online.