Questions and Answers ?
Working with steel-framing is relatively straightforward. But like anything new, you may have questions about how a steel-frame construction, and what it might mean for you or your sub-trades. The following questions cover off some of the more practical aspects of erecting a steel-frame home.
Can a house plan be converted from timber to steel?
If your construction plans are already drawn for timber-framing, it’s relatively easy to make the switch to steel. You may be surprised just how competitive it can be, and the additional benefits of steel make it an even more attractive option.
Do I (or my sub-trades) have to erect the frames ourselves?
Steel-frame fabrication provided be Pod Shelter can include advice and support for your builders and some offer a service to supply and stand frames, depending on where you’re building.
Will there be any issues getting a building consent?
Building Consent Authorities are becoming increasingly familiar with consenting plans for steel-framed homes. Your fabricator will supply fully engineered detail drawings for your consent application. What’s more, the National Association of Steel-Framed Housing (NASH) also provides support and training for building officials
How are cladding and linings fixed?
Steel-framing enables you to apply exactly the same interior and exterior finishes as timber-framed homes. Gypsum board linings are glued and screwed to the frame. Thermal breaks are fixed to the exterior face of frames before building wrap is applied and cladding fixed.
If Steel is cut or drilled, will it rust?
Steel framing is made from galvanised steel. The zinc coating protects cut edges and penetrations from corrosion through sacrificial protection. New Zealand Steel provides a 50-year Durability Statement to meet the requirements of NZBC Clause B2-Durability for houses built within specification.
How easy is it for me to erect the frames myself?
It’s very straightforward. Pod Shelter can deliver the frames pre-assembled and clearly marked for assembly with the type, positioning and number of all fixings also identified.
When the weather changes, does steel contract and expand like timber?
Steel is relatively stable with a coefficient of linear expansion of 11.7 x 10-6 per degree Celsius, which equates to just 0.012mm per lineal metre of expansion for every degree Celsius change in temperature. Steel does not absorb moisture and therefore no dimensional change occurs as a result of variations in moisture levels.
Is steel slower or faster to work with?
Altogether working with steel can be faster. Frames and trusses are usually supplied pre-assembled and ready to erect, and some fabricators provide a supply and install service. Steel-frames are light and easy to move (approximately 1/3 the weight of timber) and erecting steel is not so weather dependent. Steel-framing causes less maintenance problems so builders report less downtime from call-backs.
Will it be difficult to create service holes for pipes, wires and other services?
Pod Shelter steel framing is sub-trade friendly. Complete with service-holes which are pre-punched and have plastic grommets to protect cable sheathing. Additional service holes are easily drilled or can be cleanly made (no swarf) with a stud punch.
How should I fix interior linings?
Wall linings are screw-fixed in accordance with manufacturer’s specifications. The NASH Technical Bulletin
ND-07 provides guidelines on fixing wall and ceiling linings (see www.nashnz.org.nz). Pod Shelter steel framing has a similar expansion coefficient to gypsum plasterboard, minimising the incidence of cracking. It’s already common practice to fix ceiling linings to steel ceiling battens.
Is it electrically safe?
Yes! Standard practice is to earth steel-frames, so if they are exposed to a live-wire the earthing creates a short and trips the residual current safety switch to reduce the chance of electrocution. In fact, steel-framing offers better protection from lightning strikes, where any electrical charge will be redirected to the ground, reducing the likelihood of fire or injury.
What tools do I need?
Steel-framing requires few specialist tools. There is no need for any welding equipment. To make it easy to work with steel-framing you’ll need a good quality pair of aviation snips (left cut – red handle, right cut – green handle), a cordless impact driver with a selection of bits including 150mm bits for screwing into deep corners and a hole saw (34mm) to make any additional service holes. Alternatively, a 34mm stud punch can be used to cleanly create service holes without sharp edges or any swarf.
Steel-framed construction is now popular in many countries across the globe. In New Zealand, the popularity of steel-framing is growing year-by year. The steel Pod Shelter uses in steel-framing follows overseas standards
in that it is galvanised, as the preferred corrosion protection method for steel-framing in the UK and the USA.
Australia’s climate, termites and the threat of bush-fires have contributed to the increased popularity of steel-framing for residential and light commercial construction. Around, 15% of all house-frames across Australia are now made with steel and in South Australia; up to 30% of all homes are now being built with steel-framing.
The Japanese are known for their efficient and quality methods of construction. It is not surprising then, that steel-framing is so popular in this country with
over 150,000 steel-framed homes are built in Japan each year.
Steel-framing is common in homes across the United States – and it has been a popular method of construction for many years. The highest prevalence of steel-framing is found in warmer states such as in Hawaii (approximately 40% of all homes), California and Florida.
New Zealand is an international leader in the roll forming technology behind steel-framing with companies like Pod Shelter. As steel-framing’s market share has grown so has the membership of the National Association of Steel-Framed Housing (NASH) which was established to represent the industry.
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