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  1. #1
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    Default Fabric building

    I wonder if any of the folks out there in tractor land have a fabric (tarp) building as a workshop or equipment shed? I'm not talking about a ShelterLogic garage, I mean a building like the riding arenas and tennis courts (MegaDome, Calhoun, Coverall, etc.).
    I can get one fully-installed for about the cost of a similar-sized (ie about 2400 sqft) steel building, in pieces on pallets.
    My question is how satisfactory these are for equipment storage?
    Or, maybe I should ask more generically...what is the best type of building to get if you aren't in a position to do much, if any, of the work yourself?
    Thanks,
    BOB

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Fabric building

    Quote Originally Posted by rd_macgregor View Post
    I can get one fully-installed for about the cost of a similar-sized (ie about 2400 sqft) steel building, in pieces on pallets.
    But will you have to replace it every 5 years or after a heavy snowstorm?

    Don't look at only the initial cost. Spread the cost over 40 years or so.

    Bruce

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Fabric building

    These are engineered structures with steel arched trusses. Their shape makes them handle snow really well (though some make a frightening noise when the snow slides off!). I'm not likely to be out in a blizzard sweeping the snow of the roof of whatever building I end up with, so I need something able to handle the load. I'm not talking about a heated shop, and might not even have electricity there; the fabric buildings are very light inside during the day and ventilate well (the two biggest advantages for me). Most of these buildings' covers are guaranteed for 15 yrs, and covers with expected lifespans of up to 30 yrs are availble (for a price!). In fifteen years or so, I'll be approaching an age where I don't expect to care a lot about my equipment shed anymore.
    As for durability/safety... it appears that the CoverAll folks made some very serious engineering/manufacturing mistakes that led to collapse of several of their buildings...though, from what I can find, in nearly all of these cases the fabric covers didn't fail, it was the steel supports. Between the lawsuits and bad publicity, Coverall went bankrupt in 2010. I haven't found similar adverse news (eg structure failures) for other manufacturers, though they might exist.
    I still haven't gotten a price for a similar pole building, and I have a preference (bias?) for something with a hard roof & walls, but, except for Coverall's highly-publicized fiasco, there are hundred, perhaps thousands of these buildings in service as materials and equipment storages, dairy and horse barns and sports facilities, so they do have a track record.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Fabric building

    My neighbor has had coverall building for 3 years now, it's a 170'x75' indoor riding arena. Here's pros and cons that I've seen. It's very nice to work in because it's white, easy to see inside, even on moonlit night. He has two vents in roof, between that and doors it stays pretty cool in summer. Snow and ice is a big problem, it comes off in large sheets. He puts up temp electric wire in winter to keep horses far enough away so they don't get hurt. It would kill a man if it hit him. Rain water also a problem, it was running back under the wood sides when it rained hard. He tacked up heavy rubber on the sides that extends away from building to push the water away when it rains hard. If you had a lot of drainage slope and tight bottom it would probably be OK. Gutters are an option, you might think about it. We've had extreme winds including a tornado less than a mile away and the thing stood up to that just fine. One huge benefit of the building is it's not considered a taxable structure, so he pays no property taxes on it. If it were any other kind of building it would be thousands a year around here, not sure what your tax system is like. The fabric is replaceable and it's not all that expensive. I think he told me replacement fabric was $10K, not counting labor, and that's a huge building. So even if it fails after 10 or 20 years, it's no worse than having to put a roof on a building. The floor in his is a mixture of sand and ground up rubber. The rubber still smells even after all this time and I find it kind of unpleasant. I don't imagine you would use anything like that in a workshop, but just in case, forget it.

    He had all the work done by contractor, and I watched them put it up. I'd say for his size building it would be tough to do much of the work yourself unless you're a contractor and have experience with a crane and lift. But for the size you're talking about I think it's very doable. The steel elements won't be that big so you could raise them onto the tops of the posts if you have some kind of picker on your tractor, or a highlift. It's also not that hard to pull the fabric over the frame, but getting it tight in all the right places takes some monkey business. Just don't do it on a windy day. These guys ran around tensioning and loosening the thing to get it tight and get the ends on flat.

    I talked to a company that puts these things up at a trade show and asked about coverall and their bankruptcy problems. He said the structural problem was under the condition of asymmetric snow loading: when part of the building had snow on it but other parts didn't, it could lead to structural failure. If the roof was uniformly loaded there was no problem. Anyway they faced going back and retro engineering all the units that were in snow country and that broke the piggy bank, so they had to declare bankruptcy. Take that for whatever it's worth. You're correct, I don't think other companies had that problem. If they did, they sure don't now. I would not hesitate to buy one if I needed such a thing, I've been really impressed with how well it held up.
    Kubota B2710, John Deere X728 snowblower, Toro Zmaster ZTR, Ford 908 bush hog, New Idea manure spreader, Swisher trail mower

  5. #5
    Super Star Member EddieWalker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fabric building

    While not knowing any of the details, I've always wondered why fabric roofs always seem to fail, but it's never their fault. I've seen them all tore up in fields, and I had a client have one istalled that was very pricey that didn't last five years because a buckle of some kind came loose during a stonge storm. Do you really save enough to justify the short lifespan? What do you do if it fails? Do you have to prove why it failed and can they decline a warrantee if they decide it failed because of the structure, fasteners, weather too strong of lack of maintenance?

    Eddie

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Fabric building

    Have you checkked out farmtek, they have some fabric buildings on sale.

  7. #7
    Elite Member MotorSeven's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fabric building

    I would go with a Quonset. If you search around there are some fantastic deals on the real big buildings(50x100). You can build them yourself and it will last a long long time.

    This one is almost the cost of your replacement fabric. Put it on a 6 or 8' knee wall, pour a slab, close the ends and it could be finished for under $30K.
    Duro SPAN Steel 50x100x17 Metal Building Factory DiRECT Prefab Airplane Hanger | eBay
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Fabric building

    I spent 3 yrs putting up the CoverAll brand -- I was sub-contracted for the installations, nothing to do with sales or warranty. They were bought by Norse Structures ( I think) and are marketed under the name Bright Span.

    If it weren't for the fact that my wife thinks they are ugly, I wouldn't hesitate to use one as a storage shed. There are good and bad with all the major brands of them, no different than truck shopping. Pick the features you want most and accept the ones you have to. If I could, I'd mix the features of CoverAll/BrighSpan and Calhoun. Yes, some people complain about replacing the tarp in 15 yrs but I'm sure those same people have shingle roofs on their house not steel. Anyone thinking about putting one of them up them self, you are right, it's not that hard. Renting a scissor lift or better yet an articulating lift is worth every penny.

    Unless you insulate a Quonset, (or similar) they can be defining in the rain. Also, once the galvanizing starts to wear off, they quickly lose the shiny new appearance.

  9. #9
    Veteran Member sparc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fabric building

    On a project i worked a few years ago we had a need to store some large pieces of equipment out of the wx for close to two years before they would be installed. We had two RUBB Buildings erected, Aircraft Hangars, Tension Membrane Structures | Efficient Fabric Buildings , and they held up great through two winters and a couple severe storms with high winds. Each building was about 75 x 200 and 40 feet high at the peak. I don't have any photos but there are probably some on their website, follow the link above.

  10. #10
    Elite Member WilliamBos's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fabric building

    Those type of buildings are used up here for hay storage, manure storage, arenas (hockey and horse.) Buy one that is engineered to your area and weather.

    Norseman bought the assets of Coverall, so no worries there.
    http://www.norsemanstructures.com/



    Also look at these steel buildings. They always have discount sales.

    http://futuresteel.com/mobile.html
    Last edited by WilliamBos; 10-07-2012 at 08:43 PM.
    Thanks,

    Will


    I do not care if someone's net nanny is watching!! You need to stop...

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