Top reasons to use steel in residential construction
There are multiple reasons why steel makes an attractive building material. Steel is a versatile building material, which has led to its inclusion in nearly every stage of the construction process from framing, floor joists, and roofing materials. Here are some of the main benefits that make structural steel such a reliable choice.
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Fast, efficient, resourceful
Steel can be assembled quickly and efficiently in all seasons. Components are pre-manufactured off site with minimal on-site labour. A whole frame can be erected in a matter of days rather than weeks, with a corresponding 20% to 40% reduction in construction time relative to on-site construction, depending on a project’s scale. Structural steel’s lighter weight relative to other framing materials such as concrete enables a smaller, simpler foundation. For single dwellings, on more challenging sites, steel often allows less points of contact with the earth, reducing the amount of excavation required.
Less columns, more open space
Steel sections provide an elegant, cost-effective method of spanning long distances. Steel-built buildings are often more adaptable, with greater potential for alterations to be made over time, extending the lifetime of the structure. Extended steel spans can create large, open plan, column free internal spaces, with many clients now demanding column grid spacing over 15 metres. In single storey buildings, rolled beams provide clear spans of over 50 metres. Trussed or lattice construction can extend this to 150 metres. Minimizing the number of columns makes it easier to subdivide and customize spaces.
Adaptable and accessible
These days, a building’s function can change dramatically and rapidly. A tenant may want to make changes that increase floor loads significantly. Walls may need to be repositioned to create new interior layouts based on different needs and space usage. Steel framing and floor systems also allow easy access and alterations to existing electrical wiring, computer networking cables and communication systems. Steel-built structures can cater for such changes. Non-composite steel beams can be made composite with the existing floor slab, cover plates added to the beams for increased strength, beams and girders easily reinforced and supplemented with additional framing or even relocated to support changed loads.
Strength, beauty, design freedom
Steel offers architects more design freedom in colour, texture and shape. Its combination of strength, durability, beauty, precision and malleability gives architects broader parameters to explore ideas and develop fresh solutions. Steel’s long spanning ability gives rise to large open spaces, free of intermediate columns or load bearing walls. Its capacity to bend to a certain radius, creating segmented curves or free-form combinations for facades, arches or domes sets it apart. Factory-finished to the most exacting specifications under highly controlled conditions, steel’s final outcome is more predictable and repeatable, eliminating the risk of on-site variability.