Mitigating Risks in Residential Buildings
Light steel structures fully comply with the requirements of the Building Regulations and leading warranty providers. Performance covers structural, fire, acoustics, thermal, airtightness, weathertightness, shrinkage, programme and accuracy. Here, our MD Steve Thompson considers reducing the fire load to mitigate risk.
As a proven and versatile technology, light steel frame construction offers numerous, cost, programme and safety benefits for residential developers. Light steel frame has a high strength to weight ratio, making systems the lightest material for a load-bearing frame whilst still maintaining a robust structure. The longevity light steel frame structures attain combined with the inherent value of an asset that can be recycled or reused at end of life – means that steel is not a cost, it is an investment.
Damage to a structure during construction through moisture or fire leads to potential delays to contract, losses and expensive remediation works or even complete loss of the structure. A key advantage of light steel frame when compared to timber frame structures is fire performance and protection from weather during the construction process.
Reducing the Fire Load
The amount of combustible material in a light steel framed building is much lower, therefore the fire risk during construction and when in use is vastly reduced. Steel is non-combustible and does not add to the fire load of a building – reducing the fuel for the fire and limiting risk of damage and injury. This risk is further decreased by replacing some combustible materials with a concrete or screed deck on a steel frame rather than a timber deck.
EOS as part of Etex are continually looking at ways to make the building process not only inherently safer but also to offer performance assurances to residential developers to ensure they can provide sufficient levels of protection to residents.
Improving levels of occupants’ safety, and increasing the quality of the build, is under the microscope. Risk, cost, time, quality and performance — need to be controlled and managed.
Our research and perspective interviews with sector experts have equipped us with a deep understanding of the challenges faced by housing specifiers. Lack of performance testing is a major concern.
Fire protection for light steel framing is typically provided by the use of non-combustible boards for internal linings and fire protection systems such as those manufactured by our Etex group partners – passive fire protection specialists, Promat and FSi who develop and manufacture a full range of built-in fire protection systems to protect infrastructure and assets. Fire resistance periods of up to 120 minutes are readily achievable.
Minimising Risks and Maximising Opportunities
Developed in collaboration with our Etex group companies, Siniat, a leading expert in plasterboard and drylining systems, together with fire protection specialists Promat and FSi – our Thrubuild® complete load-bearing walling and flooring systems combine the technical and manufacturing expertise of the group to provide a comprehensive range of tested and certified solutions for light steel frame construction – all from one supplier.
Our components and products are rigorously tested together to ensure compatibility and system performance, enabling us to warrant the technical performance of our Thrubuild® range of solutions. When walling and flooring systems are built entirely with Etex Building Performance components and materials in line with our latest standards — we award a Thrubuild® 30-year warranty.
This approach mitigates risk for housing developers because these integrated systems have been tested and assessed for compliance with the latest regulations and standards, to ensure robust and reliable performance. Design performance is achieved using combinations of boarding and insulation and only tested configurations are available for selection.
An absence of performance information presents a risk when specification decisions have to be made. The construction industry is often considered complex and defragmented due to working in a project-based format – with unique products and processes and there are times when decisions need to be made with insufficient information. Minimising risks and maximising opportunities ensure project success. Advanced light steel frame systems manufactured offsite in well managed factory environments not only mitigate risks but also enhance the speed and quality of the build process. Robust testing regimes backed by comprehensive warranties offer assurances to residential developers and no doubt help specifying teams sleep at night safe in the knowledge that they have safeguarded homeowners and tenants.
Partnerships are central to our business. We have a wealth of experience and our specialist teams strive to support our clients throughout the design and construction phase. EOS has the capability and capacity to meet the exacting demands of the residential construction industry and guarantees a very competitive price structure with no hidden costs for deflection heads or transport. We can even provide a lump sum total cost which will not alter, providing the specification remains unchanged.