Benefits Of Steel Frame Homes
We touched on steel frame homes in a previous article and wanted to go a little deeper into the topic.
We caught up with Freddy from Stroud Homes Sydney South West to talk about the benefits of steel frame homes, how they differ from timber frames, and how he came to prefer them over other materials.
While Freddy is an experienced builder, he has also worked as a building and pest inspector, giving him some insight into what happens to a home after the build is finished.
“During my pest inspection days I saw way too many timber, even treated timber, homes affected by termites,” he says.
“While treated timber is a good alternative to regular pine, it’s just not 100 percent, so if there’s a better product there to use, why not use it?”
That’s why, among other reasons, Freddy prefers to build homes in Sydney with steel frames.
“A house with a steel frame will still have timber components that can get eaten by termites, so there’s still the risk of your doors and skirtings getting affected, but if a metal framed house is attacked by termites you might have a few hundred dollars’ worth of damage, whereas a full timber frame has the potential for thousands and thousands of dollars’ worth of damage.”
As well as termite prevention, which is an important consideration for Sydney homes, steel frames can also prevent other structural problems in the build process.
“The material doesn’t warp – during the drying process timber does tend to bow, twist and warp,” Freddy says.
“There’s a specialised carpenter who goes through your house and his job is to straighten timber frames during the construction, and sometimes it can be really hard even to see that it’s bowed.
“It’s just a bit tricky in that respect, and you can get walls that are out of whack, but you just don’t get that with metal.
“Steel comes straight, it comes true, if there is any sort of movement in it, or if a member is not straight you can tell because the section will kink and you’ll know to change it.”
Often building a home with a steel frame can speed up the build process, as those who are experienced in the process find it very quick and efficient to work with.
“With timber frame carpenters, it’s often hard to pick a quality carpenter out from a dud until you use them, but because steel is a bit of a niche product still, the guys who do install it has got to be really on the money and know their stuff.
“Because it comes pre-punched for all your services, our trades can get it in there a bit quicker.”
“We only use those two companies because their product is fully Australian sourced, whereas a lot of these metal truss manufacturers, to keep their costs down will get Chinese steel.
“We’re trying to stick with Australian made products.”
While steel frames do cost more than a timber frame, that expense is more so for the qualified trades building the frame, as the steel can come very close to timber prices these days.
“It probably cost us about an extra 5 grand when you’re looking at a single storey, but we’re just including that now for singles, we’re taking on that cost ourselves and giving it as an upgrade.”
When it comes to double storey homes, a steel frame will increase the price as the flooring system has to be factored in for the second level.
“Because they can’t use beams, what they’re actually doing is a web system like mini trusses.
“It’s not that the materials are expensive, it’s just labour intensive because somebody’s got to make all the sections, which then have to be double screwed into the floor joints.”
While the added cost can scare some people off, Freddy still believes steel frames are worth the peace of mind and the quality finish.
“In my opinion it is, and even with the double storey it’s probably worth the upgrade, so even if something did happen, it’s better to know that it’s not going to send you broke to fix the damage.”