Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Steel-Framed House Ideal for Do-It-Yourselfer

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Steel-Framed House Ideal for Do-It-Yourselfer

Article excerpt

Q: I recently saw some very attractive steel-framed houses. Are these houses energy-efficient? Are they inexpensive and easy for a do-it-yourselfer to build on a limited budget? - Y.F.

A: Steel-framed houses are extremely energy-efficient and are ideal for the do-it-yourself builder or helper. The steel members are predrilled and marked so they bolt together like a huge erector set. When completed, a steel-framed house looks just like a wood-framed or masonry house.

These houses are strong; they can withstand 170-mph hurricane winds and have a seismic zone 4 earthquake rating. The cost of having a steel-framed house built is typically less than a wood-framed house and even lower if you and friends do some of the work. Also, steel is not a termite's favorite snack.

Kits for steel-framed houses aren't for do-it-yourself "shacks." They range from about 1,200-square-foot ranches to over 6,000-sqare-foot traditional and contemporary mansions with such features as cathedral ceilings, fireplaces and lofts.

With good-quality lumber becoming more scarce and expensive, some forecasters predict that by the year 2000, about a fourth of all houses will be built with steel frames. Another advantage from an environmental standpoint is that a steel-framed house can have recycled steel from old junk cars instead of lumber from old-growth forests.

The strong steel-wall framing can be placed on 4-foot or 8-foot centers instead of 16-inch centers common with standard wood framing. This reduces the thermal bridges - gaps - in the wall insulation. The thick steel framing also provides room for 9 inches of wall insulation, for a higher than R-30 rating.

Another energy advantage of steel framing is that steel settles very little over time. Therefore, your house should remain very airtight over its life, and windows and doors should continue to fit and operate smoothly. …

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