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.