A More Cost-Effective Building Envelope for Pre-Engineered Metal Buildings


Architects and contractors that are designing and constructing commercial buildings today are faced with many challenges that put a strain on project budgets and timelines. As a result, they are always looking for less expensive and faster ways to get the job done. Historically, one of the simpler and more economical building systems has been the pre-engineered metal building (PEMB).

While used predominantly for industrial applications, PEMB has also found a niche in office and retail buildings where budgets are constrained and owner requirements are not as stringent. However, new energy codes and architectural requirements adopted by municipalities have made it much more difficult and expensive to build with PEMB. In particular, the insulation, exterior finish and aesthetic requirements that are now required make the design of the building envelope more complex and cost prohibitive.

These issues became an immediate challenge for Charles Downing, the owner of the general contracting firm Texas Custom Solutions, LLC, when he began planning an office and light manufacturing building project for clients in San Marcos, Texas. The new building was being constructed in an industrial park and the majority of the 12,000 square foot building was designed to be a light manufacturing shop area. The natural choice of building systems for this project was PEMB. However, the city’s 100% masonry veneer requirement put a wrinkle in the plans that caused the project team to start looking for alternatives.

Working with architect Frank Gomillion of GZK, Inc, Mr. Downing ruled out the more common ways for adding masonry veneers to metal buildings based purely on cost and the number of different steps and trades that would be required to build that type of assembly. That’s when Mr. Downing began looking at the Bautex Block Wall System, which was being manufactured literally down the street.

The decision ultimately came down to the simplicity and cost effectiveness of the Bautex solution, even though replacing the envelope on metal buildings is not a common use for the wall system. The architect was able to meet the city’s masonry requirements while also replacing a complex wall assembly with a single integrated wall system. The contractor was able to shorten his construction schedule and simplify the job site by keeping the wall build to a single trade. And, ultimately, the owner saved money on the construction of their new building and will benefit from a significantly more robust, comfortable and efficient building for many years.