Steel Framed Homes – Are They Any Good?

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It is now widely known that New Zealand has a shortage of timber, and many people like yourself are wondering about alternative options, the obvious being steel framed homes

Carter Holt Harvey recently announcing that they’ll restrict supply to other building suppliers like ITM and Mitre10 has certainly made the issue hit the news.

In turn, designers are getting many questions around steel framed homes, and whether these are a good alternative. 

Our Background

Alan Simpkin, the design director of Arcline Architecture spent several years in his own design & build company Prosteel, building steel framed homes. Back then the walls were steel and everything above and below was timber. Then came kiln dried timber which was a far better substitute and so he moved to using that.
 
44 homes later, we believe that steel framed homes have their place, however there are a number of items to consider.44 7s

Why Not Steel Framed Homes?

Comparatively, there is a very small number of steel framed homes being built in NZ compared to timber. Therefore builders are more skilled and comfortable with timber construction. When they price a steel framed home, many builders will load the price somewhat to cover the extra time taken to understand steel framed construction. 

 

As designers we have to somewhat run with the majority, because it is an even playing field for builders to price on, giving the client the best value project. 

 

There are also stories of steel framed homes creaking as they expand and contract with hot and cold weather.e. 

-steel-timber-framing-arcline-building

Are there any benefits? 

Of course. Out of the many 10’s of homes we built a few years back we have not had one client return with any problems. No doors needed trimming, the studs are straight, true and strong.

 
Regarding speed – it depends which builder you speak to. Someone who is competent in steel framing will be as quick as a competent timber frame builder. It really depends on who is doing the carpentry.  

Anything Else To Consider With Steel Framed Homes?

If you’re thinking of building a steel framed home, make sure you speak to local builders in your area to ensure they’re competent with the construction method.  Ensure they won’t just add extra fees due to not having done many steel framed homes. 

 

They also need a thermal break between the steel and the cladding, to stop the transfer of hot and cold temperatures into the house. This is just another consideration for the builder. 

 

Maybe consider a hybrid option of steel frames and timber trusses, but talk to steel frame advisors about this.

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Where’s The Timber Gone?

Not only do we have a building boom, as you can see by visiting the Statistics NZ website, but we export a lot of timber. Boat loads of timber leaves the country weekly. It’s fairly obvious that we could slow this down if our country is running short on timber. 

Other Alternative Building Methods 

If you’re one to research alternative building methods, take a look at Durapanel. Durapanel is a triboard wall system which comes prefinished so you don’t require any GIB and your home is closed in super fast. 

 

Or take a look at Formance. Formance is a SIPS panel with high insulation values, and can be used for walls and ceilings.


We trust this post has been helpful and if you’re thinking of designing your new home, the Arcline team are here to help.
Contact us today.

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