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.