Home Owners BrochureDownload
How well does steel framing stand up to earthquakes or high winds?
Steel framing can be engineered to meet the highest seismic and wind loads prescribed by the NZ Building Code. Steel has the highest strength to weight ratio of any framing materials and a lighter structure with stronger connections results in lower damage from earthquakes. Steel framed houses in Christchurch suffered only superficial but no structural damage. The stronger screwed connections can withstand greater winds including cyclones.
Do homes with steel framing look different?
Yes, they look better. Walls, ceilings and roofs do not have ripples or bumps in them and there are no “nail pops” in the plasterboard linings. Roofs of steel-framed homes do not sag over time, so the finished job keeps looking good. In fact because of the steel’s strength you can design your home with larger open spaces whilst the exterior looks like any normal home.
What about electrical and plumbing service holes?
Our frames are manufactured with pre-punched 34mm holes for running pipes and electrical wiring, reducing preparation time for other trades. Additional service holes are easily drilled or can be punched and we supply plastic grommets to protect wiring and plumbing.
Is steel slower or faster to build with?
Frames and trusses are usually supplied pre-assembled and ready to stand on site. Steel frames are approximately 1/3 the weight of timber making them light and easy to carry, and easier for the builder to erect. They are generally simpler to erect than wood systems, require less bracing and erecting steel is not so weather dependent. Once experienced with steel framing, labour time and costs can be reduced compared to wood framing.
Do steel frames meet the New Zealand building codes?
Yes. All our frames and trusses are designed and engineered to New Zealand conditions and meet all the building codes. They are all supplied with a 50-year durability statement from New Zealand Steel and PS1 documentation from our engineers.
Why does steel needs a thermal break, while timber does not?
The reason steel needs a thermal break is because of its high heat conductivity. This high thermal conductivity is often portrayed as being a weakness with steel but is in fact one of its greatest strengths. With a thermal break all the steelwork on the inside of the thermal break remains above the temperature at which condensation from moisture in the wall cavity will occur. With timber studs, the outside of the stud will attract condensation during winter, which will result in an increase in moisture content. The increased moisture can create movement that damages wall linings and increase the risk of mold and fungus.
Is steel framing a new idea?
Globally steel framing has been used successfully in housing since the early 1950sIn South Australia 30% of new homes are steel and all over Australia the percentage is 15%. In Hawaii it is 40% and Japan builds 150,000 steel homes every year. Today’s framing represents the results of years of research, testing and product improvement and is a thoroughly engineered product.
Does steel framing cost more than timber framing?
Depending on the design of the house the cost of steel framing is similar to timber. If the design of the house has large open plan living and is pushing the boundaries for timber framing then steel can work out more cost effective. There are other advantages when using steel like having a very structurally strong house, there are none of the chemicals used in timber and steel frames are a lot faster to erect. The final constructed cost will be the same or less for a house of comparable size and quality but have the extra benefits of steel at no extra cost.Steel framing is very competitive on price, particularly when you consider its quality.
Can I convert my plans from timber to steel?
If house plans are already drawn for timber-framing, it’s relatively easy to make the switch to steel. Most steel frames are made to the same dimensions as standard timber dimensions and therefore there is no problem in converting your plans 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.
Can I use brick veneer with steel framing?
Yes you can. Steel framing has been seismically tested at Swinburne University in Melbourne to many more times the seismic forces than we have ever had in New Zealand. There was no damage to the structural frames and only minor dislodgement of bricks. This was due to the great flexibility and strength of the steel framing.
Will the steel framing be approved by councils?
Most Councils have had steel framed homes erected in their area and are now familiar with the procedure for consenting steel framed homes. We also provide PS1 documentation from our engineers to satisfy council requirements.
How much design flexibility do I have with steel?
Freedom of floor plan and architectural style is practically unlimited. Further-more, it is possible to produce designs in steel that are difficult with other materials. By taking advantage of this feature you can often build with less expense than by using more conventional materials.
How do I hang a picture on the wall of a steel frame house?
You can hang a picture onto plasterboard using self-adhesive picture hooks or a toggle bolt, which are readily available from hardware stores. For heavier objects such as a mirror or a flat screen TV, they must be fixed through to the metal studs with a self-drilling screw. The studs can easily be found with a magnet or by tapping and will normally be at 600mm centres.
Do I need a barrier between the steel frame and treated timber?
For H1 treated timber normal building paper will act as a separator and will suffice if the area is closed. If H3 timber is used then a more substantial separator should be used such as window tape.
Do copper pipes and lead flashings have to be isolated from the steel frame?
Yes. These metals must be isolated because in the presence of moisture they will develop bi-metallic corrosion that could damage the protective zinc coating of the steel frames. The recommended method of isolation is by underlay, plastic membrane or the use of plastic grommets.
Does steel framing conduct sound through inter-tenancy walls?
Sound vibrations are conducted through any wall with solid material. Steel framing is very slightly better at acoustic insulation than timber framing, due to the flange flexibility, but the differences are only 1 or 2 dB and not usually noticeable.
Can steel framing be fire rated?
Yes they can. Fire resistant linings are applied and can deliver whatever magnitude of fire resistance is required.
Steel framing has some significant advantages over timber framed construction. The first is that steel is non combustible, so when fire burns through the linings it will not spread within the framing cavity, whereas this is a major cause of hidden fire spread in timber framing. Electrical faults are the most common causes of fires in wall cavities but they cannot ignite a steel frame.
Given these advantages, it is not surprising that fire case histories show steel houses perform very well in house fires, with little or no damage to the framing structure.
How do I attach wall linings to the frame?
Plasterboard linings are screwed either horizontally or vertically into the steel frame using self-drilling screws and a suitable wallboard adhesive. It's already common practice to fix ceiling linings to steel ceiling battens so builders have no problem changing to steel frames.
Are steel framed homes dangerous when lightning strikes?
No. The steel frame offers better protection than other construction materials because it is a good conductor and provides many paths to earth directly to the ground. Steel creates a positive earth and the electrical energy of the lightning is conducted straight to the ground. All steel frames are required to be earthed so the lightning has less effect because it is not released destructively within the building as with other materials
Are steel frames safe when exposed to a live electric wire?
Steel frames are safe because they are earthed. If the frame is exposed to a live wire the earthing creates a short and trips the residual current safety switch and prevents the chance of electrocution so there is little chance of you touching anything live.
Does steel framing interfere with mobile phones or TV signals?
No. Electro magnetic waves pass through the spaces between studs, which allow the use of radios, phones, and TV’s in a steel frame home without interference.
Do steel frames have a warranty?
Yes. We use AXXIS® steel for framing which is produced by New Zealand Steel. New Zealand Steel provides a 50 year durability statement to meet the requirements of the NZ BC B2 Durability.
Will steel frames rust?
No, not in normal use if it is completely enclosed and protected from the weather. Steel frames are galvanised which protects themagainst corrosion. Asframing is used in what is termed a closed environment, it is not normally subject to severe corrosion from marine salts. Where there are cut edges or holes, the zinc coating adjacent to the edge or hole protects the cut area. Details are given in the durability statements from New Zealand Steel that supports the AXXIS® steel for framing.
How do you fix architraves and skirtings to steel frames?
Generally a combination of small self-drilling screws and adhesive is used, which unlike nails will never spring out.
Are more trade skills required to work with steel framing?
Building and finishing with steel frames and most trade skills are the same or very similar to timber. Builders that have worked with timber all their lives and changed to steel framing have been surprised how easy it is to work with steel. Steel framing is now an integral part of apprentice carpenter training so the next generation of carpenters will be trained from the start of their careers in both materials.
Can I alter a steel-framed home at a later date?
Yes. Additions are made in the same way as any other building system but the original steel structure will be straight and true regardless of its age, making the job of matching up the addition much easier.
Are there any benefits to the environment when using steel framing?
Yes. Steel is an environmentally friendly alternative to timber. There is little waste when using steel framing materials because all metal is engineered and cut to length in the factory.
Steel is 100% recyclable and can be used time again and again without losing its properties.
How are different external claddings fixed?
Generally screws are used instead of nails. Brick and stone veneers are very popular and use standard brick ties screwed to the metal framing, plaster systems can also be used as well as weatherboard and fiber cement.