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Steel Homes, Metal Homes

History of light steel framing in steel homes and metal homes

Throughout the world more and more builders are switching to steel frame construction, both in low-level and multi-story residential buildings. This internationally established and well-proven structural technique is now entering the European market. The steel frame housing favored in the UK is similar to that proven in successful office building systems. Steel homes or metal homes framed with cold rolled profiles can be assembled on the full range of conventional foundations.

United States of America
Low-level steel homes constructed using a steel frame now account for approximately 20% of new build in the US. Not only does steel frame construction have a low level of wastage at the construction stage and low on-going maintenance costs but, in addition, between 25% and 100% of the structural steel is recycled; and is 100% recyclable. The market development for steel in steel homes in the USA has been explosive. In 1992 about 500 houses were built with a steel frame, the year after 15,000 houses, last year 100,000 steel houses were built, and the market looks set to continue to grow for metal homes

Steel frame construction in residential projects is already widespread in Australia with the large builders of steel homes often acting as project managers; sub-contracting tradesmen to supply and install the major components, such as the plumbing, electricity, kitchens, roofing and external walls. The designs are re-used from project to project in order to maintain economies of scale.

In Japan the use of steel frame in family houses has been common since the 1950's. After World War II the house shortage was so acute that more than 4 million new houses had to be built urgently. Before 1940 most of the buildings were built of wood and were destroyed by fires during the war. To replace all those houses in wood would have required 150 year's production of timber. To protect the forestry resources and promote non-flammable construction, the use of wood in load-bearing construction was restricted. Taking advantage of these restrictions, the Japanese steel industry began to manufacture light-gauge steel shapes as a substitute for wooden structural products to frame steel homes. As a consequence of this, a great deal of knowledge has been gained in this field and many efficient steel frame systems have been developed. Since then, the market share for constructional steel in housing has been relatively constant. Today there are a great number of standardized drawings available for residential steel homes using a frame of light-gauge steel profiles.

Mainland Europe
In Europe, the main market outside the United Kingdom has been Scandinavia and Denmark, where a number of low-level and apartment developments have been built using steel frame construction over the past few years. These steel homes are assembled using a minimum number of construction materials; usually steel, gypsum board and mineral wool.

The UK
Several of the UK Top 20 house builders are now using steel frame for flats and two-story homes. Some companies are now specifying steel in production quantities, while others are involved in pilot projects to compare light steel frame with other innovative construction techniques. Faced with a shortage of skilled labour and increased demands for quality from customers, the industry has recognized that it must move towards shorter construction times, more efficient design and increased industrial production of steel homes or metal homes. Steel is one of the most effective ways to meet these objectives.