What Are The Cost Differences Between Fabric Buildings And Steel Buildings?

The cost differences between fabric buildings and steel buildings vary depending on several factors, such as the size of the structure, design complexity, location, and specific requirements. However, here are some general considerations when comparing the costs:

  1. Fabrication Cost: Steel buildings typically have higher fabrication costs compared to fabric buildings. Steel structures require more materials, including structural steel frames, beams, columns, and various other components. Fabric buildings, on the other hand, utilize a tensioned fabric membrane stretched over a steel truss, which can be less expensive to manufacture and install.
  2. Foundation: Steel buildings often require a more substantial foundation due to their heavier weight. This can increase the overall cost, especially if site conditions require additional excavation or reinforcement. Fabric buildings are generally lighter and may require less extensive foundations, resulting in cost savings. Fabric buildings can be installed on temporary foundations like concrete blocks, a massive benefit for remote sites where a poured foundation isn’t viable.
  3. Labor and Installation: Steel buildings generally involve more labor-intensive installation processes. Erecting steel frames, welding, and assembly can be more time-consuming and require specialized expertise. Fabric buildings often use modular systems, which can be quicker and easier to install, reducing labor costs.
  4. Maintenance and Repairs: Steel buildings generally have lower maintenance costs over time. Steel is durable and requires minimal maintenance, and any repairs needed are usually localized. Fabric buildings may require periodic maintenance and replacement of the fabric membrane due to wear and tear, exposure to the elements, or accidental damage.
  5. Energy Efficiency: Both fabric and steel buildings can be insulated to reduce heating and cooling costs. The HDPE and PVC membranes covering fabric buildings are translucent, allowing filtered daylight into the buildings and reducing the need for overhead lighting during the day.

It’s important to note that these are general considerations, and specific project requirements can significantly influence the cost differences between fabric and steel buildings.

GNB Learn

GNB Learn is an information resource for general contractors, developers, engineers, architects, and individuals interested in tension fabric buildings. Learn articles are written by our installation, engineering, and project management staff based on lessons they’ve learned from working in the field.