Originally posted by Sarah Buckley at ArchitectureandDesign.com

How long have steel framed houses been in use?
When it comes to homes in Australia, many people think Steel Framed Homes are a relatively new concept in modern housing.  However, what many people don’t realise is that steel has been used as a building material for homes in Australia for over 50 years.

Looking back even further steel has been used as a construction material all over the world since before the 20th century. One of the first major uses of steel for construction was on train stations.  After this, the use of steel expanded to include things like churches and other buildings. After World War II, shortages in building materials such as timber led to the development of a steel wall framing system in Australia called Econosteel.

Econosteel was used in the construction of 300 houses in the ACT. The 1960’s saw a real boom in steel frame housing construction in Australia, during which time, an American builder on the Gold Coast constructed 50 steel framed homes. In 1968, the first ‘new era’ of steel framed homes were built using 1.2m think galvanised steel in Sydney.

If you take a look back in history, you can see that steel has reigned in construction for over a century.  Today, steel is used all over the world for nearly every building application possible.  Computer technology has made cutting and prefabrication of steel frames for kit homes more cost-effective and versatile.   Steel frame and truss manufacturing technology for kit homes have now caught up with timber frame technology. Joining systems, screws and nail fasteners for kit homes have made the manufacture of steel frames easier, cheaper and more reliable.

How have they progressed/changed over time?

In recent years, steel framed homes have experienced a boom due to the many advantages it offers to homeowners and builders.  Some of the advantages of steel framed homes include:

• Steel is creative and versatile.  Steel framed homes are limited only by your imagination.  Steel framing allows for creative and flexible designs that are not possible with timber frames.

• Steel is cyclone strong. At Homefab, our homes meet compliance with cyclonic wind loadings across Northern Australia.

• Steel is environmentally friendly. Steel is 100% recyclable and causes minimal site impact. It is chemical-free as there is no need to treat it with pesticides and other chemicals.

• Steel framed homes are energy efficient.  Compared to homes built from timber or brick, steel framed homes are more energy efficient in terms of thermal regulation.  So they are cooler in summer and warmer in winter. This means you will need to spend less money on heating and cooling a steel framed home.

• Steel is maintenance free. Unlike timber, steel doesn’t require pest or mould treatment.  All products used by Homefab are maintenance free which is an essential part of the overall Homefab design technique.

Steel vs timber frames, how do they compare? 
The frame of a building is its backbone, so it’s important that it is both safe and secure. Both steel and wood frames have their advantages and disadvantages, and considerations when choosing between them should include cost, longevity, sustainability and flexibility during the construction process.

Also known as ‘metal frame homes’, steel frame houses tend to allow less movement as steel frames don’t twist, warp, shrink or buckle, while timber frames are more malleable to their environment.
We’ve broken down the advantages and disadvantages of each material for your house frame to help you when making a decision as to which material is right for your home building needs.

Pro’s and Cons of a steel framed house
Advantages

Your steel-framed home is lighter, more durable, and more cost-effective to assemble than building with timber. Steel frames are more resistant against flexing and warping, meaning your home stays looking like your home with straighter lines and finishes on your roof, ceilings, and walls.

Termites can’t eat steel
Termites, white ants, home-wrecking pests. Whatever you call them, they can be an absolute menace to many homes. Many timber-framed Victorian homes suffer termite damage that isn’t covered by insurance and repairs can cost well into the thousands. Just let these tiny troublemakers try and eat steel.

Fire Resistance
Steel is non-combustible and retains its shape at much higher temperatures than timber can. Cap your home with a Colorbond roof, which is standard with all JG King homes, and the risk of fire drops dramatically.

Solid Foundations
Steel can boast the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any current residential building material. This means your home and its foundations can stand up to stronger winds, fiercer storms, and even the occasional lightning strike.

50 Year Structural Warranty
A steel frame home is in it for the long haul. Building a steel frame home is an investment for the future. Some suppliers back it up with a 50 year structural warranty* that your home stands the test of time.

100% Recyclable
Some steel frame homes are made from 100% recyclable BlueScope steel, surpassing best environmental practices. Some timber frames are treated against pests and hazards with toxic chemicals–steel needs none of that.

Originally posted by Sarah Buckley at ArchitectureandDesign.com