Two projects, a Latter-day Saints church in Australia and a retirement community in Canada, show how prefabricated cold-formed steel (CFS) wall and roof truss systems help ensure straight and accurate construction and improved construction schedules versus wood framing and concrete framing alternatives.

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Photo Credit: SBS Group

In order to meet the continued worker shortage, the construction industry is in need of new building solutions that require less labor. According to new research from the Associated Builders and Contractors of America (ABC), the U.S. construction industry will need to add 430,000 new workers to keep up with the increased demand for construction services in 2021.

One option is to use prefabricated products.

CFS Prefabrication Improves Construction Quality of Church

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Werribee, Victoria, Australia, needed a new meeting house. The architectural firm DWP specified prefabricated wood building components in the design. Wood framing, however, could not meet the specific needs of the project.

prefabricated steel framing Latter Day Saints Meeting House Werribee

A prefabricated CFS wall and roof truss framing system was used to construct the Latter-day Saints church. Photo Credit: SBS Group

According to Architecture & Design, the use of wood wall and roof truss framing would have required extra planning of the panel designs and packaging of them on delivery trucks in such a way to ensure they remained straight and accurate once installed. In contrast, cold-formed steel (CFS) does not rot, twist or shrink. CFS framing could be “prefabricated square, true and uniform in size, allowing for simple installation,” Architecture & Design says.

Therefore, CFS wall and roof truss framing was selected for the project, rather than a wood framing system.

SBS Group design prefabricated steel panels

SBS Group designed and manufactured a prefabricated CFS system with strong load bearing characteristics. Photo Credit: SBS Group

SBS Group designed and manufactured a prefabricated CFS wall and roof truss framing system for the Latter-day Saints church. With strong load bearing characteristics, the unique light-weight engineered alternative accommodated the long-span trusses required for the project.

prefabricated truss panels shipping

Prefabricated CFS wall and truss panels were manufactured off-site and shipped to the project location. Photo Credit: SBS Group

SBS Group also designed and shop detailed specific window and door systems for the meeting house, making allowances for other trades to streamline installation.

Prefabrication with CFS

Prefabrication can help meet construction demand by reducing the construction timeline while ensuring quality control. Cold-formed steel (CFS) framing is the ideal framing choice because it is non-combustible, lightweight and can be cut to precise specifications.

Panelized CFS Walls Cut Construction Time for Retirement Residence

Load-bearing CFS panels can be built offsite to achieve tighter tolerances and greater assembly precision. This was the chosen method to construct the 126,000 sq. ft. Seasons Retirement Community in Cambridge, Ontario, according to Construction Canada.

The building came to structural engineers Atkins + Van Groll Consulting Engineers originally specified as an all-concrete structure. At the client’s request, the firm redesigned the building with load-bearing CFS framing to provide a more cost-effective structure.

Seasons Retirement Community

Load-bearing CFS panels were used to construct the 126,000 sq. ft. Seasons Retirement Community in Cambridge, Ontario.

Shane Mitchell of Glos Associates, the project architect, says CFS systems would help speed up construction.

“[CFS] contributes to erecting a building quickly, in part because it allows panelizing walls in a plant before they are delivered to the site,” says Mitchell.

The load-bearing CFS wall panels were pre-built offsite, shipped to the Seasons Cambridge location and erected there on a 14,000 sq.ft. floorplate, says Construction Canada. Even the window openings were prefabricated as part of the pre-assembled panels, making it easy to install the windows as each story is completed.

On the upper levels of the structure, the construction contractor used platform-type construction — each floor acted as a working “platform” for the next story — to compress the construction schedule and improve quality.

The pre-assembled CFS construction allowed a single construction contractor to perform multiple functions at Seasons Cambridge. The same company erected the interior load-bearing steel-framed walls, installed exetrior pre-assembled CFS wall panels and installed the composite steel-and-concrete floor decks, Construction Canada says.