Steel is becoming the framing material of choice for Western Australian builders says Caitlin Harland of Kre8 Constructions, whose boutique Blinco Street development epitomises the material’s modern appeal.
Words by Georgia Jordan.
What informed the decision to use steel framing for 44 on Blinco?
CH: The brief was to design and build sustainable homes with a practical, modern design and luxurious finishes. Steel framing was the most flexible building method available that would help us achieve this in a short period of time. With all our steel-framed projects we have had an exceptional result, happy clients, and a much quicker construction time.
How long has steel framing been available in Australia?
Steel has been used as a building material in Australia for more than 50 years. After World War II, shortages in traditional building materials prompted the development of the first steel-framing systems. By the late 1960s, steel framing experienced its first boom in Australia. The 80s saw the birth of lightweight and strong, corrosion-resistant steel framing. The present-day evolution of steel, bolstered through the use of computer technology, has made steel the most cost- and time-efficient building material available.
Is steel framing becoming more popular in Western Australia particularly?
Yes, this is due to its unrivalled build times – which are up to 40 per cent quicker than traditional methods – as well as its low-to-no waste output; minimal impact on the surrounding environment; and superior strength and durability. It is pestand fire-resistant, and perfectly suited for the unpredictable and harsh Western Australian climate, from the cyclonic-prone north, to the cold-climate regions of the south, to bushland areas where fire is an ever-present threat.
What is the importance of a strong interior frame?
The foundation of your home, being the skeleton that supports, protects and holds your home together, is the most important part. With the overwhelming increase of termites and borer pests in Western Australia, ensuring integrity in the foundation of your home is more important than ever before.
How does steel framing compare to traditional timber?
Comparatively speaking, these days both steel and timber are on par in terms of immediate costs. However, as steel beams arrive prefabricated to exact specifications, with pre-punched holes to accommodate follow-on trades, they do not require rectifications on site and can thus be installed in half the time of timber. Steel is also more lightweight, and does not pose any risk of warping, rotting twisting or shrinking, so there is less chance of experiencing sticking windows, doors jamming, or wavy rooflines.
Is steel framing better suited to certain types of home projects over others?
Steel offers a design freedom that is unparalleled. From single-storey to double-storey designs, and from zero-lot-line to rural home builds or renovations, it provides a level of flexibility where the only limit is your imagination.
Is steel a viable framing option for those on a tight budget?
It is also perfect for those on a budget, especially as a complete steel build, as this approach requires significantly less trades on site, which means less waste, water and labour costs.
How easy is steel to build with?
A steel frame allows for absolute accuracy and precision, and easy integration with existing structures made with other materials. It is one of the simplest and most lightweight materials to build with, providing it is made to Australian standards and has been designed and prefabricated correctly.
Is there a particular manufacturer you would recommend?
We have chosen to use Smartsteel Frames due to the company’s ongoing support, fast turnaround times and efficient service.