Steel consumption by the light steel frame building (LSFB) industry has grown to 25 000 t/y, mostly in the form of high-strength galvanised steel sheets. This growth was spurred by double-digit annual growth rates over the past five years, says Southern African Light Steel Frame Building Association (Sasfa) director John Barnard.
He notes that LSFB grew most in multi- storey office and commercial buildings, where it is replacing heavy masonry curtain walls.
He adds that 19 LSFB entries were received at the recent Southern African Institute of Steel Construction Steel Awards 2014 which took place on September 18, amounting to a third of the total number of entries.
“There is no doubt that LSFB has come of age in South Africa. In the last eight years, it has become a viable alternative building method for a range of low- to medium-rise buildings fully accepted by engineers, architects, quantity surveyors, builders and the financial institutions.”
Barnard says that one of the central reasons for the success of the LSFB method has been ongoing training initiatives, undertaken by Sasfa with the help of industry to enhance the quality of LSFBs.
Sasfa hosted a six-day LSFB training course for builders in Alberton, Midrand, Durban and Windhoek, in Namibia. The course focused on designers, building contractors and building inspectors, with 245 people having successfully completed the course to date.
The course in Namibia was the first outside South Africa, with students attending from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia and Namibia, says Barnard.
The University of Pretoria’s final-year building science students also had the opportunity to attend a lecture on this building method, “which was delivered to a full lecture room of 110 students”.
This year also saw a lecture delivered in Sandton to building assessors employed at South African banks, with some 80 assessors attending.
Codes and Standards
Barnard says one of the most important tasks of Sasfa is to develop codes and standards for the LSFB industry, adding that work has started on a comprehensive revision of training codes and standards. The process includes representation by Sasfa on the SANS 10400L (Roofs) committee of the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) to ensure that LSFB is correctly covered in the code revisions.
The process also includes representation by Sasfa on the SABS committee that is responsible for all standards dealing with steel or aluminium in building and construction, as well as the working group tasked with the revision of the National Home Builders Registration Council safety handbooks, says Barnard.
Accreditation and Quality Control
Another important milestone for the LSFB industry this year was the assessment by Stellenbosch University of the LSFB systems in use in South Africa, which were accredited as suitable for use in the country.
“This is a significant step forward for the industry and, to keep the momentum going, final preparations are under way to roll out the certification of LSF builders throughout the country,” Barnard says.
In terms of quality control, Sasfa is playing an increasingly important role in ensuring the highest possible standards in the industry. “For example, Sasfa was recently approached by three clients who were not satisfied with their LSFBs. The technical aspects of the projects were investigated by Sasfa and remedial measures agreed with the builders.”
He adds that the industry is starting to recognise Sasfa as capable of policing adherence to standards and that “we will act swiftly and efficiently to bring into line any substandard service providers”.
Barnard says Sasfa is receiving a growing number of membership enquiries from neighbouring countries. “We have signed up members in Namibia and Zambia, and we are also in contact with several other countries in the Southern African Development Community region.”
He adds that, in South Africa, the number of members is also growing, “proving that the strategy formulated to expand membership is having the desired effect”.
Overall, the LSFB market is growing significantly and indications are that this trend will continue well into the future, he says.