Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  06 May 2009

BUILDING: Steel Buildings Are Taking Off


Recent Western Cape Business News

IN just a few years the light steel frame building (LSFB) industry has grown into a useful technology. This is largely due to the efforts of the Southern African Light Steel Frame Building Association (SASFA), a division of the Southern African Institute of Steel Construction (SAISC). “Such are the advantages of this construction technology it is increasingly becoming an accepted alternative for the local building industry,” says SASFA director John Barnard.

He says the ability of practitioners to learn quickly the gamut of skills required in LSF building, including understanding overall cost and energy savings available through this building method, have added to the success of this new industry.

Of course, with a burgeoning new construction technique one has to ensure that standards are maintained. Training is fundamental to this process,” says Barnard.

He says that while there will be several training initiatives in areas such as erection and cladding, courses for designers and builders, SASFA will concentrate initially on building inspectors - i.e. municipal and NHBRC inspectors and financial institution evaluators - to ensure they have the skills to monitor that the LSFB industry is complying with the standards set down in SASFA’s building code.

In the meantime, SASFA is in the process of rolling out an industry accreditation scheme, which will assess the four main stages of the LSFB process i.e. the LSFB system utilised e.g. Scottsdale, FrameMaster, Hayes, Howick, Mitec and Dezzo; design and manufacturing processes; steel frame erection and building completion. “We see an inextricable link between the SASFA Accreditation Scheme and our training initiative. They work hand-in-hand to ensure consistently good standards in our industry”, says Barnard.

SASFA is planning several key training programmes, which will be presented in the major centres across the country, as well as Namibia. “We are trying to provide training in all the facets to ensure that the potential of this building method is reached in Southern Africa.”

There are currently 29 South African profiling companies manufacturing light steel frames.

They have a combined annual manufacturing capacity (single shift basis) of 43 million linear metres of light steel sections, or 39 000 tons of galvanised steel per year. Some 36% of the capacity is dedicated light steel truss manufacturing facilities.

Conservatively, this means that light steel frames can be supplied for 1.5 million sq m of LSFB structures (wall frames and trusses) and trusses only for a further 1.8 million sq m per year of floor area of building

Barnard says that because the light steel frame building offers a wide range of benefits for fast track construction logistical cost advantages and thermal efficiency, offering cost savings of up to 20% or more compared to conventional building methods, the industry is growing rapidly.

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