Light steel frame construction techniques to create structurally sound dwellings in South Africa is one of the most exciting developments to hit our shores in recent times even though this method of building has been used in the UK, US, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand for decades.
It offers quality, cost efficiency and speed of erection for low-rise residential and non-residential buildings.
The key to the success and rapid growth of light steel frame construction worldwide lies in a seamless interface between computer-based design and computer-controlled manufacturing. Sophisticated design programs have been developed to carry out the structural design of each element required for a building and to electronically convey the dimensional specifications to the roll-forming facility.
There are several advantages of light steel frame construction compared with conventional building in terms of quality, cost, durability and speed.
Light steel-frame building consists of structural wall frames and roofing systems manufactured from cold-formed galvanized or ZincAlum structural steel sections ranging from .55 mm to 1.2 mm.
Various interior and exterior cladding options ensure that almost any style of building can be achieved.
Electrical and plumbing considerations are essentially encompassed within the framework of the cladding.
Light steel frame building offers a wide range of benefits when compared with conventional building or other framing materials, in terms of quality, cost, durability and speed.
Reduced wastage, lower logistical costs and reduced time of construction could offer cost savings of 15% or more, compared with conventional building.
Steel framing has many advantages over conventional brick and timber structures. A completed house using an internal steel frame, typically clad with exposed face brick or painted plastered finishes, is virtually indistinguishable from homes built using conventional South African techniques.
It is also estimated that steel framing saves substantially on building costs, mainly owing to reducing construction duration and eliminating a large portion of inefficient site labour. The client saves owing to reduced damage clean-up cost, holding charges and ongoing mortgage costs.
Quality is another aspect that differentiates steel framing from conventional building methods. Steel frames are produced only from computer-aided design (Cad) software, which ensures that all elements of the home conform to the designer’s plans and also allows optimum design freedom.
Steel does not sag or rot over time and represents a significant improvement in quality over existing timber roof-framing systems. In addition, steel framing also has some environmental benefits.
Steel is a reusable resource and steel frames can be erected in environmentally sensitive areas with minimal impact. It is interesting to point out that lightweight steel-framing systems offer similar environmental performance over the life of the product to that of conventional double-brick construction techniques.