Steel frames: Cost-effective, durable, safe


There is more to a steel-framed home than meets the eye.


Good workmanship will always achieve a quality building. But all else being equal, National Association of Steel-Framed Housing (NASH) general manager Carl Davies says, a steel frame offers the builder and the home owner certain advantages unique to steel’s structural qualities.


“The frame typically represents about 10% of the completed building cost and, as it dictates the quality of final product, it’s important to get it right,” Mr Davies says.


“The most important advantage of a steel frame is it starts out true and it stays true — which has huge implications for the structure’s quality of life.


“In addition, it’s a proven option for future proofing a house and limiting its environmental footprint to a minimum,” he says.


NASH represents the interests of suppliers to, practitioners in, and customers of the light structural steel framing industry in New Zealand.


Mr Davies explains that modern steel frames consist of light, strong, cold-formed galvanised steel channel sections to make up the house’s structural form. The sections are designed and produced using computer-aided manufacturing techniques, and can be assembled to very tight tolerances.


Most framing panels are pre-assembled in the factory and then erected on site using self-drilling screws. Holes to allow for plumbing and electrical wiring are pre-punched at the factory and fitted with plastic grommets to prevent damage to pipes and wiring.


Davies says this means the frame is easy and fast to install, and cuts time, labour requirements and job site waste, and their associated costs, for the builder. Steel waste does not contribute to landfill, as steel is 100% recyclable.


The frame’s consistent quality also minimises nuisance defects. This saves the builder call back costs and lowers long-term maintenance costs for the home owner.


It is a safe and healthy building option. A steel frame resists earthquakes well. It conducts lightning energy straight to the ground rather than releasing it destructively within the frame. It resists fire as it does not burn.


Vermin or insects cannot damage it, it does not absorb moisture and will not rot or grow mould and mildew. Mr Davies says health experts consider the frame members non-allergenic, and steel frames have been used to achieve well-sealed allergen and dust-free interiors.


Steel frames comply with the New Zealand Building Code requirements, and frames made from AXXIS steel manufactured by New Zealand Steel have a 50-year durability statement when installed to specification.


In association with New Zealand Steel, NASH participated in the 2008 CMS Future Proof Building roadshows in main centres throughout New Zealand recently.


Mr Davies says the shows proved “extremely popular with builders, architects and regional authorities”.

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