Among the buildings offered by Cover- All are the Arch Building Series, which are available in 18- to 72-foot widths, and the Titan Building Series, which are available in widths from 30 to 160 feet. The company, which sells its buildings through a North America-wide dealer network, recently installed a 120-by-360-foot dairy barn in Montana in 10 days.
Hog barns typically are the runts of the fabric-building litter; they range in size generally from 20-by-40 feet to 50- by-80 feet. Hawkeye Steel Products Inc., based in Houghton, Iowa, has sold hundreds of these modestly proportioned structures since it entered the fabric- building market in 1997. The company, which offers eight building widths and sells through a network of dealers, often concedes installation duties to do-it-yourselfers.
“Lots of times the farmers want to put them up themselves,” says Tom Wenstrand, president of Hawkeye Steel. “If you have light-construction skills and the proper tools, these buildings are relatively easy to erect.”
Once installed, farmers are left with a virtually “zero-energy” building, according to Owen. The structures heat and cool naturally and require, at most, minimal lighting. “If you look at it on paper, the dollar output, versus, the dollar return, nothing gets you in the black quicker than a cover building,” Owen says.
Better yet, today’s fabric buildings not only go up fast, they stay up long. Early fabric buildings featured 6-ounce woven- fabric covers and generally had seven- year life expectancies. These days, however, manufacturers*generally use 12-ounce woven fabrics, which are designed to naturally shed water and snow and stand up to the most formidable snow load requirements. According to Cover-All’s Elder, a 10-by- 10-foot section of the company’s Dura Weave fabric can support 17 tons. “It’s really strong stuff,” he says.
As a result, manufacturers routinely offer 15-year warranties for the fabric. Winkler Canvas covers its structures with Nova- Thene, a 12-ounce woven fabric that’s manufactured by Montreal-based Intertape Polymer Group. “We give our covers a 15- year pm-rated warranty,” Adrian says, “but we expect them to go 20 to 25 years.”
Plus, the fabric component accounts for only roughly a third of the overall cost of the building. And the cost of recovering a building is generally dwarfed by the cost of re-roofing or re-shingling a comparably sized traditional structure. “The replacement effort and cost is not a significant factor,” Wenstrand says. “In some cases, you can pull a tarp off and put another one on in about a day.”