REVEALED: 3 Mistakes To Avoid When Buying A Semi-Permanent Structure

Is a semi-permanent structure right for your event?

Most structures will require some level of site development or possibly the laying of a completely new foundation.  This process alone can take months to design, permit, and construct.  


However, there are solutions for structures as large as 160' wide that require little to no foundation work as long as the surface is relatively flat.


There are tremendous savings opportunities in utilizing semi-permanent systems that don't require foundation work. πŸ’΅πŸ’°πŸ’°πŸ’°πŸ’΅

No-Foundation-Required systems do exist.  Know when it's safe to use one.

It is advised that you consider this option only if you are working with a structure manufacturer that has engineered their product specifically for foundationless support.  

There are other design requirements that are quite specifically altered in order for this to be safe and reliable. 


Is your system designed specifically for foundationless installations?

If you or your company will be attempting to erect your structure you will need to be familiar with the building process for the structure that you are deploying.

In most cases, it is better to contract with the manufacturer of the structure or one of the contractors that they suggest as being familiar with the installation of their product.  πŸ‘

Keep in mind that many structures require special tools, heavy equipment, and specific processes in order to be safely and properly erected.  

If you are aware of these requirements and plan accordingly, the process can be seamless and without hazard.  However, be aware that as with most construction projects, this is rarely the case. πŸ‘€

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One of the benefits of a semi-permanent structure is the ability to relocate, repurpose, reconfigure, and reinvent.  

Yet, some semi-permanent structures marketed today derive their less than permanent status only from their use of fabric sections and not their ability to be repurposed and used in many different configurations, locations, and sizes over the course of time.

Know the 5 R's:

Make sure to choose a structure that can be Removed, Repurposed, Relocated, Reassembled, and Reinvented.

When evaluating the merits of one semi-permanent structure over another, it is important to give ample consideration to what it will cost to remove, store, and relocate the structure.  

Many structures are difficult to remove, often being damaged in the process, and require not only expensive remediation efforts for site repair but also, costly component replacement in order to redeploy, making them no different than permanent construction in terms of demolition, cleanup, and reusability. πŸ‘Ž

Engineered modularity is the key to ease of installation, removal, storage, and redeployment.

One of the key features or utilities that is often taken for granted and undervalued in the evaluation of these structures is the structure's ability to be removed, stored, relocated, altered, and redeployed either in a different location, for a different purpose, in any reconfiguration, or in any combination of these shapeable form-factors.  πŸ‘πŸ‘

Deconstruction, cleanup, storage, and redeployment should be reasonably manageable, comprehensively provided for in the design and planning, and cost-effective. 

If the structure that you are investing in does not afford the flexibilities of ease and economy in deconstruction, storage, and relocation with minimal time and expense, it is lacking a significant bundle of qualities that should be expected of any semi-permanent structure. 

 Semi-permanent should not mean disposable.

Once the structure is disassembled, it should be re-deployable without the need to replace components unless there is a significant site change or specific use change that requires augmentation of the existing structure.


What are the costs involved in making changes to your structure?

Your building solution should be as dynamic and responsive as the challenges and opportunities that prompted you to consider semi-permanent construction in the first place.  

In traditional, permanent construction it is often challenging in terms of cost, time, and effort to add square footage, doors, climate control, or electrical systems.  It is notoriously difficult and expensive to make significant changes or upgrades. ❌⚠️

These factors make purchasing a semi-permanent structure a good choice.  

So, if this flexibility is not a demonstrable component of the system that you are purchasing, you would be well served to reconsider and find a product that provides these features as standards.  

If it is possible that your structural functionality and utility might change in the future, check with your manufacturer to make sure that your structure is pre-engineered for quick and easy augmentation.  πŸ‘πŸ‘

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Daniel Fontius

June 24, 2020,  08:03 AM

β–· Don't Buy An Inadequately Engineered Structure.

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β–·Be sure that the design is as flexible as your idea.

β–·Be aware of hidden installation costs

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"Fourteen dead and 50 injured after worshippers were electrocuted when giant tent collapsed during religious festival in India" PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

This is what global headlines read on June 24, 2019, when a religious ceremony ended in tragedy due to a semi-permanent structure, erected with the sole purpose of providing safe, cost-effective shelter for over 300 worshippers, crumbled beneath the drubbing of high winds.  

The story was heartbreaking for millions of people around the world and should be a sobering caution for purchasers of high-tension fabric, structures.  πŸ’”

When properly engineered, semi-permanent tent structures offer amazing flexibility, safety, comfort, and rapid deployment.  πŸ˜ƒ

That's why Tesla, the US Military,  New York Fire Dept., Los Angeles County Fire & Rescue, and hundreds of other high-level companies and government agencies alike, utilize these innovative structures.  πŸ‘πŸ˜ƒ

However, all structures are not created equal.  πŸ˜ž

It is only when the highest levels of engineering meet aesthetic appeal and utility that these structures become remarkable alternatives to permanent construction.  

Unfortunately, some manufacturers place a higher value on cost savings than on the structural competence of their designs.  

Quite often, these structures are exempt from more stringent building codes that govern the erection of typical, permanent-construction buildings.  

Coupled with this and reliance upon meeting the bare minimum guidelines for materials and structural configurations, these inferior products find themselves hovering over billions of dollars worth of merchandise and property while placing lives in jeopardy.  

No amount of R&D savings is worth the risk of losing one life to building component failure, yet there are impressive looking products on the market that do not meet the International Building Code, 2012 Edition, and the standards of the American Society Of Civil Engineers, ASCE 7-10.

When contemplating the purchase of a semi-permanent structure, it is important to ascertain the building codes and engineering standards that the unit will be required to meet, as well as to what extent your structure will exceed these guidelines and codes.  πŸ€”

Ask your manufacturer what methods will be utilized throughout the installation process to ensure adherence to standard installation procedures in a manner compliant with both, building codes and engineering specifications. 


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More often than not, a semi-permanent building will be in use much longer than what was initially anticipated.  

It will most likely endure heavier than expected weather and more aggressive use.  

For these reasons, it is imperative that the structure is rigorously engineered and certified for greater than expected elemental conditions and exceedingly higher rates of physical use.  

Design ingenuity, cutting edge materials, and modularity are among the signs of well-engineered structures, but there is more to it than that.  Ask questions.

For instance:

Based on beam design, span, eave height, and frame configuration, your structure will meet certain engineering characteristics such as Live Load and Utility Load; you should expect a minimum wind resistance for wind speeds to 90 mph, with 115 mph gusts, and a 10 psf utility load.  πŸ“πŸŒ§πŸ—❄️πŸŒͺ

Your situation may require a structure that can resist wind speeds of up to 60 MPH.  

Your structure should still be engineered to withstand winds up to 90 MPH or even 120 MPH.  πŸŒͺπŸ‹πŸΎβ€β™‚οΈ

If the manufacturer cannot demonstrate that your proposed structure exceeds these minimums to any degree, you may be purchasing a structure that barely meets not only the building codes but your minimum needs, as well. 

Ask These 5 Questions: 

1.  Is it engineered to meet the wind, and utility/snow load requirements for your location?

2.  Do the fabric and supporting structures comply with all fire rating codes in your area?

3.  What quality control certifications and warranties are offered by the builder or manufacturer?

4.  Where do they source their materials from?

5.  Where are they manufactured?  πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ

Look for a manufacturer that demonstrates that they have not been aversed to spending the extra capital to moderately over-engineer.   

A manufacturer that is not only creative and cutting edge but also firmly grounded in exacting engineering standards and demonstrates an unyielding dedication to safety, should be your top choice.

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β–·Bonus Tip:  Make sure that modifications are easy to make.

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