LSFB method dramatic increase in South Africa, industry survey reaveals

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An industry survey by the Southern African Light Steel Frame Building Association (SASFA) has revealed a dramatic increase in the use of the light steel frame building (LSFB) method in South Africa.

SASFA director John Barnard says that, in the main, the survey showed that the mass of steel used in South Africa to profile LSF sections increased by 6% during 2013, compared with the previous year. However, exports declined by 30% largely due to the establishment of manufacturing capacities in the neighbouring countries, while the local market for LSFB grew by 21%, considerably more than the 7% growth recorded for the building industry (floor area of buildings completed) in South Africa.

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“As the volume of steel used purely for light steel roof structures remained fairly constant, all the growth came from steel used for complete LSF buildings, almost doubling the previous year’s figure for this sector!” Barnard says.

Building industry statistics (Statistics SA)

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Stats SA Floor area of buildings

The floor area of all buildings completed in South Africa during 2012/13, including additions and alterations, is reported to be 10million m² – showing a growth of 7% compared with the performance of the previous year. New residential buildings (including alterations) made up 68% of the area of all buildings completed, and showed a 3% growth on the previous year. The largest sector in the residential market was Dwellings of more than 80m², followed by Flats and Townhouses.

A significant 24% of all buildings (residential and non-residential) completed, consisted of “Additions and Alterations”.

Industrial buildings and warehousing formed the major sector in the non-residential market, with 40% of the floor area, followed by office buildings (32%). The latter sector showed massive growth during the past year, more than doubling the floor area completed during the previous year.

“Based on building plans approved, we can look forward to a 16% growth in building activity during the next 12 to 18 months, keeping in mind that there is a lag of some 9 months between plans approved and buildings completed,” says Barnard.

But LSFB does not only consist of steel. Based on average ratios of wall area to floor area, LSF has in 2013 resulted in a demand for

  • 0.6 million m² of external cladding (typically fibre cement board),
  • 0.9 million m² of bulk insulation (typically glasswool),
  • 1.3 million m² of internal lining or gypsum board, and
  • 0.6 million m² of vapour permeable membrane used in external walls.

Barnard says the total LSF market (local and export, trusses and complete buildings) is forecast to grow by 15% during 2014, compared with 2013. “The SASFA manufacturing members report good demand for middle and upper income housing, schools and classrooms, and roofing structures for low cost housing projects – including a large affordable housing project in the Cape, which is being built using LSF,” Barnard says.

He adds that LSFB is increasingly being used for external (and internal) walling of multi-storey office and commercial buildings while a growing volume of additions to existing buildings is also reported. In addition, a number of project enquiries from neighbouring countries have been received.

“The encouraging fact that the government recently announced that innovative building technologies, such as LSFB, will increasingly be preferred for new schools, clinics and student accommodation, will add additional growth potential,” says Barnard.

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