Advanced Building Technologies

Frequently Asked Questions

Why steel framing?

Very simply, a frame made of steel is a high quality product. It represents value for money and brings peace of mind. A steel frame is light and strong, environmentally friendly, it will not burn, it is termite, borer, and fungus-proof, and it will not shrink or warp.

Is steel framing expensive?

No. Steel framing is very competitive on price, particularly when you consider its quality! A steel frame gives value for money. It is a premium quality green product that sets the benchmark. It has many advantages over conventional green building techniques, including the best quality timber. The fact is that discerning environmentally conscience buyers are increasingly demanding steel frames. The proof is that steel framing suppliers continue in business.

Are there any long-term cost advantages?

Yes. There are ongoing savings for the householder. Because steel will not burn and is termite-proof, some insurers offer attractive discounts on their premiums for steel framed homes. Also, the expense of ongoing anti-termite chemical treatments is avoided, and you will never have to replace your frame or roof due to termite damage.

Have steel framed buildings been proven over time?

Yes. In Australia and NZ steel framing has been used successfully in housing since the early 1950’s. Today’s framing represents the results of years of research, testing and product improvement. It is a thoroughly engineered product. Don’t forget that steel frames have been used in commercial buildings for many years because of their superior attributes.

What underlies the quality of a steel frame?

The steel in the frames that is produced by SFD is quality-accredited to appropriate National Standard Specifications. The components are precision manufactured and assembled to very tight tolerances using advanced techniques. Computer-aided design, computer-controlled manufacture, and advanced engineering, ensure the customer gets the design he or she wants, and that installation is quick and easy. Strength and performance are engineered into the frames.

Can I add to a home at a later date?

Yes. Additions are relatively simple and pose no problems. Furthermore the existing steel structure will remain straight and true regardless of its age, making the job of lining up the extension easier than for conventional methods.

How much flexibility do I have with design?

Freedom of floor plan and architectural style is practically unlimited. SFD can produce almost any one or two storey home design seen in the Australian market today. Furthermore, it is possible to produce designs in steel that are difficult with other materials. By taking advantage of this feature the owner can often build with less expense than by using more conventional materials.

Will the house framing system I choose be approved by councils and lending authorities?

Yes. NHBRC approval with an engineer’s details to satisfy council requirements are provided as a matter of routine, and lending authorities see steel framing as an excellent long-term investment.

Can I have my home designed by a steel frame supplier?

Yes. Not all steel frame suppliers provide this service, but there are many who do. SFD have their own designs by in-house architects and will supply to fit the customer’s design.

Can I build on piers or a concrete slab?

Either! There are several steel floor systems available for pier-design. Direct fixing to concrete slabs is also very widely used. On sloping sites where limits have been imposed on the maximum depth of cut and fill, it can be far more economical and environmentally friendly to use raised steel flooring than a concrete slab.

Do homes with steel look different?

To the discerning eye, yes, they look better. Walls are straight and true, ceilings and roofs do not have ripples or bumps in them. There are no plaster imperfections in the walls and there are no shrinkage problems in intermediate floor joists. Roofs of steel-framed homes do not sag over time, even under concrete tiles, so the finished job keeps looking good.

I have heard that steel frames are made of thin steel. How do I know they will be strong enough?

The properties of steel are known and consistent, and conform to National standards or their equivalent. SFDs components are designed around those properties with an extra allowance included for safety. Our modern systems use high tensile steel components with appropriate jointing methods, and are engineered to pass strict performance tests.

Is steel framing suitable for cyclonic areas?

Yes. Steel is used extensively in cyclone prone areas because of its inherent strength. Many suppliers can adapt their framing systems for cyclonic conditions if required. It is recommended that you consult with SFD for details.

Will a steel frame perform in any climate?

Yes. Not surprisingly steel is the preferred framing material in the extreme climate of North West Western Australia, for example, where temperatures can vary more than 40 degrees Celsius in a single day.

Steel expands or contracts as the temperature changes. Is this a problem?

Whether a steel frame is mechanically jointed or welded, in a properly constructed and insulated home thermally induced movement is not an issue. Steel framing expands and contracts at rates not too dissimilar from the other materials used in building, which means it is unlikely that there will be noise or cornice cracking problems.

Why won't a steel frame rust?

Steel frames are made of steel protected against corrosion by a hot-dipped metallic coating of either a zinc-aluminium alloy, or almost pure zinc (galvanised). These coatings conform to the appropriate national standards or their equivalent. In external applications such as roofing these products are exposed to the elements and have excellent durability, so in less exposed applications such as inside the building envelope they weather more slowly. Where there are drill holes and cut edges the galvanic action, or sacrificial protection, of the coatings protects the exposed steel edge against corrosion. For more detailed information on this topic, please contact SASFA.

Does lightening-strike affect a steel-framed home more than any other?

No. Because steel creates a positive earth, the lightning has less effect. The energy is conducted straight to the ground, and is not released destructively within the frame as in conventional building or framing.

Is a steel frame safe when exposed to a live electric wire?

Yes. Steel frames are safe because they are earthed. It is a requirement that all new housing be fitted with circuit breaking safety devices, so there is little chance of you touching anything live. A broken or pierced wire in a conventional building can remain live and leaking current can cause troublesome faults and fire risk. For further information on this topic, please contact SASFA.

How does a steel frame perform in a fire?

When a fire breaks out in a building the safety of individuals is paramount, and in this respect frame performance is of secondary importance. A steel frame will not burn. It will not therefore contribute to the fire or its spreading, and will not release smoke and carbon dioxide. Electrical faults cause many fires in wall cavities. An electrical fault cannot ignite a steel frame. If fire gets into the ceiling and ignites timber trusses it can spread very rapidly to the rest of the house. In a bushfire the point of ignition is often the roof cavity when burning embers are blown in under the eaves or tiles. House fires have been known to break through ceilings into the roof cavity. A steel roof truss cannot be ignited in either of these ways.

I am a builder. Why should I build in steel?

Steel frames represent the future of house framing. Continual product improvements and consumer green awareness means that demand for steel-framed homes will keep increasing. People are more conscious than ever of the ever-increasing challenges like the lack of skilled labour, soaring building costs, time delay penalties and cement shortages. A steel-framed house is a quality product that delivers to the customer long-term peace of mind and cost savings. Callbacks are reduced and your reputation can be enhanced. Although steel frames require different techniques they are quick and easy to erect. Because steel has consistent strength and complies with strict standards and tight tolerances, every stud is a good stud. Steel frames are lightweight and easy to handle, time is not lost sorting to select suitable pieces, there is no need to straighten framework on site, and wastage of material is reduced to under 2%.

As a 'green' consumer I am very conscious of the environment. Will I be doing the right thing if I use a steel frame?

Yes. All industries have some impact on the environment but most are making concerted efforts to reduce those impacts. The steel industry, the timber industry, and other building materials industries are required to work within government green guidelines, which are influenced by international agreements. Attention is often drawn to the carbon dioxide produced when new steel is produced, overlooking the fact that steel is 100% recyclable, and that about 60% of all steel in use has been produced from recycled scrap. Little is also said about the negative impact on the environment of large plantations of introduced species of timber, and the attendant loss of habitat for native species. For more information on this topic, please contact SASFA

Does a steel frame interfere with radio or television reception?

No. Waves pass through the spaces between the studs, allowing the use of all household appliances without any interference.

Where can I get quotes on steel frames?

For the names of local supplier email info@steelfd.co.za