Construction World

In celebration of the 10th anniversary of light steel frame building in South Africa, Crown Publications is publishing a supplement to illustrate how this building technology has gained support, acceptance and has had many successes over the last 10 years.

2017 APRIL SASFA COVERS lowJohn Barnard, Director SASFA, in his introduction, says: “It feels like yesterday when Dr Hennie de Clercq, then CEO of the South African Institute of Steel Construction (SAISC), and myself returned from a fact finding visit to Australia on Light Steel Frame Building. We were absolutely convinced that this building technology had to be introduced to Southern Africa.

Two years later, in 2006, meetings were arranged with interested parties from industry, and it was decided that an association needed to be established to coordinate the development of this industry, to set industry standards and to facilitate acceptance of this new building method by local building authorities and the banks.

We started out by formulating mission and vision statements and preparing marketing and business plans, to enable us to approach the major material suppliers to this industry – steel (ArcelorMittal), fibre-cement board (Everite), gypsum board (Saint-Gobain and Lafarge) and insulation (Saint-Gobain) – for basic funding. SASFA was established as a division of the South African Institute of Steel Construction to limit administration costs. SASFA invited applications for different categories of membership, in order to form a coherent industry, and during the next few years membership numbers grew to exceed 80 companies.

SASFA reports to an Exco, consisting of elected light steel frame industry executives, and arranges regular meetings of the Technical and Training Committees, consisting of industry specialists.

Codes and standards

A draft building code was compiled, making use of the SANS timber frame standard, and the acceptance and support of the NHBRC was obtained for light steel frame building. Work was immediately started on a comprehensive building standard, referred to as the SASFA Building Code. We decided not to reinvent the wheel, and got support from NASH, the National Association of Steel Housing in Australia, and the Steel Framing Alliance from the USA. The SASFA Code was published in November 2007, and handed over to the SABS to turn it into an official national standard. SANS 517 was published two years later.

In the meantime, meetings were held with the banks to get support for bond applications – ABSA was the first on board, followed by the other major banks.
The next important hurdle to clear was the lack of competent builders in South Africa. We contracted an Australian specialist to put together a training programme and to present it to a group of trainers. We subsequently expanded the course to cater for the needs of the local market, and have since presented it on 24 occasions. A training course was developed for building inspectors, and another to cover all the facets of the SANS 517 building standard aimed at all interested parties, including the professions, developers and property owners. Most courses are presented in the major centres in RSA, and we attract attendees from the RSA and abroad.

Awareness

We also arranged awareness raising seminars, aimed at the professions, authorities, builders and property owners. Overseas speakers were involved. These seminars were held in the major centres in South Africa, and were very well attended. In order to keep the market informed about developments, an ongoing series of project articles is published in the media. It reflects the growth in scope of LSF projects – from a modest 2 bedroom holiday cottage on the Cape coast, to upmarket houses, blocks of flats, office buildings and most recently the façade wall of the Mall of Africa.

SASFA also arranges annual industry feedback meetings in the major centres.

As the building volumes grew, we attracted the attentions of the masonry industry who started publishing denigrating media articles on this threat to the status quo in the building industry – when we asked our Australian colleagues whether they ever experienced such reactions, their response was “you must be doing something right!”

Its own category in the Steel Awards

A category for LSFB was established in the SAISC’s annual Steel Awards, and a growing number of high quality entries are received. To the credit of South African designers – they have taken the basic philosophy and are moulding it into a new style of energy efficient buildings, in combination with heavy structural steel, reinforced concrete or masonry building, or on its own.

We have had energy efficiency research carried out by the CSIR on residential buildings, who found that one would need less than half the electricity to heat and cool well insulated LSF houses to comfort levels, compared with masonry buildings.

New products

New products are being developed to serve this growing industry. ArcelorMittal SA has developed thicker gauge (1,0 and 1,2 mm) high strength galvanised steel sheet for higher LSF buildings, and Saint-Gobain and Marley Building Systems have expanded their ranges of cladding and lining materials. The design freedom offered by the ETICS external cladding system from Saint-Gobain is being used by leading architects to create exciting curved façades and gravity defying inclined curtain walls for commercial and office buildings. Design engineers are pushing the envelope to make these buildings structurally viable.

Developments have also extended into the use of LSF for shorter and long span light steel roof structures – up to 35 m spans. In the process LSF competes with both timber and heavy steel trusses.

LSFB has been established in the Southern African building and construction industries, and has been proven as a viable alternative building method for the 21st century. Watch this space.”

*The supplement will be mailed with the May issue of Construction World.

Click here to read the supplement.

Contact Construction World

Title: Editor
Name: Wilhelm du Plessis
Email: constr@crown.co.za
Phone: +27 11 622-4770
Fax: +27 11 615-6108

Title: Advertising Manager
Name: Erna Oosthuizen
Email: ernao@crown.co.za
Phone: +27 11 622-4770
Fax: +27 11 615-6108

 
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