Steel custom shed

Local Materials: The Superior Option for Custom Sheds, Greenhouses, and Shelters

In comparing custom built sheds made from local building materials to those produced overseas, price is often the main issue that gets brought up. It’s often true that building materials such as steel and polyvinyl are cheaper when purchased from offshore manufacturers, but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.

At Slip Tube, we occasionally utilize offshore steel for non-structural components of our shelters, since it keeps our costs low, and it doesn’t affect the strength of our buildings. However, for our covers and all structural steel, we exclusively use domestic materials, for the following reasons:

Custom Sheds Made from Local Materials Are Higher Quality

We build our structures with durability and longevity in mind. In our shop, we bend and cut steel to the right dimensions using all sorts of tools and machines that crush and punch holes through the metal. When working with offshore steel, we often find that it cracks and shows faults where domestic steel wouldn’t.

We also do a lot of work repairing or altering existing structures or competitor structures. We often see cracks and damage in these prefab shed structures that we would never see in our own in-house products. We’ve even seen rust on supposedly “galvanized” steel structures, which indicates quality issues in the galvanizing process and the steel itself. With offshore materials, the quality and workability of the steel, and by extension the durability and quality of the structure, suffers.

Domestic Shipping Costs are Lower

Despite the lower material cost, having materials shipped from overseas manufacturers to North America is often prohibitively expensive, especially in the wake of COVID-19’s effect on the shipping industry at large. Packages must go through more rigorous border inspections, all of which add to the total shipping cost.

This goes hand-in-hand with the fact that there is little, if any, installation and maintenance support from offshore manufacturers. If a part breaks, it can be difficult to get it replaced locally, and getting a replacement shipped from China is, again, expensive, and time-consuming. In many cases growers will wait two or more months to receive a replacement part from overseas. This can impact their own production and operating costs.

Many local specialists and installers don’t want to work on offshore structures, as they may not have access to the correct replacement fittings, as well as simply not wanting to put their name on a structure that will degrade faster due to material quality. So getting necessary repairs on an offshore prefab shed or structure can prove to be quite difficult and expensive. At Slip Tube we keep extensive files on all of our projects, so someone who ordered from us even 15 years ago can call us up, and we’ll be able to look up exactly what we built for them and fabricate a replacement part very quickly and easily.

Offshore Materials Don’t Meet Permit Requirements for Custom Sheds

If you’re ordering an offshore structure, it’s likely prefabricated prior to the order coming in. So clients requiring specialized dimensions or features may find it difficult or impossible to order these structures overseas.

In addition, overseas manufacturers selling pre-built structures can’t react to regional or industrial requirements for things like snow-loading and other weather conditions. In many cases, our clients require special permits to erect sheds, shelters and greenhouses on their properties, and these permits take site-specific engineering requirements into account. Offshore building materials will often say on the shipping box that they may not meet the permit requirements for a specific region. For this reason it’s very hard to customize these items, and they’re limited in their application. A prefab shed ordered from overseas might work for a small hobby greenhouse, but for a commercial operation in North America, it’s not going to cut it.

Sometimes we get requests for things like new greenhouse covers or light deprivation systems on offshore-built structures where the original roof failed after just a couple years. These offshore covers may look and feel the same, but they break down much faster than ones we manufacture with domestic materials and UV inhibitors. Not to mention that domestic steel is stronger and allows for heavier tensioning, so we can securely attach an exterior light deprivation system without any concern for the structure of the shelter.

While offshore building materials can be a budget-friendly option for small, short-term shelters, we don’t recommend them for commercial or industrial structures, or for any kind of long-term use. Ordering a high-quality custom shed or shelter from Slip Tube will absolutely save you money in the long run.