Prefabricated metal building gets its steel tested by hurricane-force winds


In the wake of Category 4 Hurricane Ida, a commercial property owner in Louisiana filed a claim with the business’ insurance carrier. Two factors rendered this claim to be a bit more complex than your standard, everyday claim: 1) the structure is a prefabricated metal building, and 2) at over 10,000 square feet, it is relatively large. Considering these two factors, the insurance carrier knew it was best to rely on its construction and engineering forensic expert, Guardian Group. In addition to soliciting Guardian’s opinion on the cause and origin of the damages, the insurance carrier requested a repair scope and an estimate of repair costs, if required.


After obtaining site-specific weather data –the hurricane passed as close as 14 miles to the building and the maximum wind gust speed was estimated at 80 MPH– Guardian’s expert rapidly deployed to the site of the loss. There, he performed a thorough inspection of the structure’s interior, exterior, and surrounding perimeter. Some of the observed damages included:

  • Sections of the metal roof, roof coping, and metal siding were missing.
  • One of the overhead doors was missing.
  • There was a missing section of the demising/firewall.
  • There appeared to be a slight shift in the building structure, highlighted by the single, steel cable cross brace no longer in tension.
  • Fasteners in the metal cladding were not properly secured into framing elements.
  • Windows that were not flush appeared to be in “as installed” condition (based upon the sealant joints being intact.)
  • A column with mechanical damage (appeared to have been struck by a vehicle or other large object.)


As mentioned, during the storm event, the structure of the building was subjected to loads from winds estimated at 80 MPH. While these are certainly strong wind speeds, they are still well within the structure’s design parameters. Guardian’s expert opined that the building’s structure had sustained minor but repairable damage due to a slight shift in alignment of the steel columns and a loose cross bracing cable. Guardian did not observe any visible damage to the bolted connections contained within the metal framing members. While the insured expressed concern over a slight separation at either end of several connection plates, Guardian confirmed this separation was by design and that it did not affect the structural integrity of the bolted connection.

Repair recommendations included slightly loosening the building’s structural connections so as to re-align the columns to within the manufacturer’s tolerance, and then tightened so that the positions are maintained. All cross-brace cables could then be re-tensioned. Cost for structural repairs was estimated to be $28,000. Additional estimated repairs totaled $86,000 to include partial roof and siding replacement, overhead door repair, coping replacement, and demising wall reconstruction. It was further noted that the building’s manufacturer be contacted to verify plumb tolerance. The measured shift was minimal and likely within the installation tolerances of the manufacture.


For complex property claims, insurance carriers, TPAs, and adjusters can count on Guardian Group to help resolve them fairly and expeditiously. Providing rapid dispatch, clear communication and definitive cause & origin reporting, Guardian Group’s experts possess deep forensic experience with large-size claims, high-risk claims, and highly complex claims. When claims cross your desk that transcend the run-of-the-mill and the everyday, Guardian Group provides the construction and engineering investigations and reporting that helps both carriers and their insureds understand exactly what happened and why. Kindly call on Guardian Group today.

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