Structural steel is increasingly playing an important role in residential housing construction. Offering versatility with impressive span capabilities providing large open plan living areas and creating the backbone for architectural features such as rolled and cantilevered roof lines.
Structural steel was once hidden away from view but in more recent times exposed structural steel members are becoming the main aesthetic feature in today’s modern designs.
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Benefits of Residential Structural Steel
Some of the more obvious advantages of incorporating structural steel into residential housing become achievable through the inherent strength of structural steel members that are readily available and competitively priced.
With steel beam depths typically half the depth of an equivalent timber beam, the increase in span enables fewer support posts and more useable space for living areas. Whether the structural steel is used internally or externally it will never rot, warp, shrink or be affected by termites.
If concealed steel is located close to a corrosive environment or if any steel is exposed to the weather then it is highly recommended that the entire member be hot dip galvanized after fabrication to prevent corrosion; this galvanizing process is readily available in all capital cities and major regional towns.
Residential Structural Steel Project Procedure
For close to 20 years Network Steel has been in the business of integrating structural steel into timber-framed homes as leading structural steel fabricators; the extent of the structural steel content can vary dramatically depending upon the complexity of the home design.
For example we work with the majority of South East Queensland’s most prominent home builders & renovators, some who focus on single storey dwellings that may only require a single steel SHS support post or a quantity of timber post support bracket and others who target the two-story homes, multi-density unit development blocks or large architecturally designed residences.
Each type of project requiring a different approach to fulfilling the structural steel requirements ranging from a hand sketch on the back of a piece of fibro through to projects requiring cad detail drawings and project management of the structural package.
Following is the procedure that we undertake when approached by a project home builder who has come to us with an architecturally designed project containing multiple interconnecting steel beams & posts:
- Firstly we require the builder to provide a full drawing package from the project engineer and architect.
- We then review the extent of the structural steel to ascertain if there is a sufficient quantity & complexity to warrant extensive cad detail drawings or if an onsite measure/meeting with the site supervisor will suffice.
- Following this appraisal we then proceed to estimate the structural steel package, itemizing the pricing structure as follows: Site measure and or Steel detailing drawings / fabricated steel members / protective coatings / cold formed purlins & joists / delivery & optional cranage & rigging.
- Following acceptance of our quote, we agree upon a lead time and lock in a date for either a site measure or commencement of steel detail drawings.
- Site measures are carried out under the guidance of the project supervisor to ensure that our steel integrates neatly with other building materials & contractors.
- CAD detailing is carried out by a draftsman who pieces together the requirements of both architect and engineer; conflicting information is dealt with by way of an RFI (request for information) these RFI’s are directed to the head contractor (builder) who liaises with architect & engineer to formulate responses to the RFI’s. Upon completion of the workshop drawings, the draftsman will submit a package of workshop drawings for engineers approval, following receipt of approval comments the draftsman finalizes for construction drawings. Note that the steel detail process can be time-consuming and so it is recommended that this process is underway before any construction on site is commenced.
- Procurement of materials and workshop fabrications can now commence; followed by protective coatings Eg. Buff & prime coat to internal steel, hot dip galvanizing to exposed steel. On larger projects, the delivery of structural steel can be staged to allow other contractors to progress Eg. Staged per level or staged per internal/external members.
- If our optional installation allowance is accepted then this will be carried out by qualified riggers & onsite welders, sometimes working in conjunction with the carpenters on those occasions where structural steel and timber framing is interconnecting.
- The structural steel package has now reached completion. Lead times for this process will vary due to the size & complexity of the project. As a rule site measures & hand sketches can be finalized within 1 week but larger projects requiring cad detail drawings can take up to 3 weeks pending answers to RFI’s & approval process; the procurement / fabrication & prime coat can usually be finalized within 2 weeks; galvanizing requirements can take up to 2 weeks and the optional installation process can generally be completed in less than 1 week.
Whether you have a requirement for a couple of steel beams, a handful of steel posts, or if you have a major project heavily laden with structural steel members we at Network Steel have the experience to fulfil your needs.