Durban SASFA course for builders July 2011 – review

Jan 18, 2012 3 Comments by

By all accounts, the recent LSF builders course from SASFA held at the LBS premises in Durban was a successful insight into this construction type. It was attended by builders and represented by Everite and Saint Gobain together with John Barnard from SASFA. The builders, some of whom have experience in LSF construction, were put through their paces in understanding the characteristics of the steel frame structure together with the building materials commonly fixed to these structures.

What was very apparent was the interaction between the builders as well as the course facilitator’s and how beneficial it was for lessons experienced on site to be discussed and dissected in class, so as to illustrate how best to handle such a situation in the future.

When discussing the various materials and their application on the LSF structure, again it brought in feedback from experiences on building sites – notably, jointing between fibre cement sheets, what type of insulation is best for walls and best for ceilings, what weight can the LSF roof handle regarding different types of roofing material, fixing spacings, how to negotiate windy areas (such as the coast), amongst many other questions. This was good interaction not only between the various course facilitator’s but also between the builders who were able to exchange what their experiences were and how they looked at solving site related issues.

A LSF structure was built during the week with a practical assessment on the weekend. A typical wall panel consisted of the following materials. Externally Nutec fibre cement handy planks (building planks) were used to form the external facade. A combination of two types of semi-permeable membrane were used, Tyvek and Vario membranes were used as the barrier for any external moisture penetration whilst allowing the structure to breath if condensation build up internally was experienced. An OSB (Oriented Strand Board) was used for a few reasons. It helps to form an additional barrier creating extra rigidity whilst also bracing the structure prior to the external facade being fixed to it. It also works as a thermal break between the steel frame and the external facade, preventing an increase or decrease in temperature transferring through the frame. The insulation used between the void spaces of the frame came in the form of Isover “Cavity-Batt”. The glass wool insulation is held in place with a “stiffened back” preventing any sagging over time and possible thermal transfer (gain/loss). Gyproc, gypsum board formed the internal lining of the wall. This was suitably skimmed by the builders to provide a flush finish at the joints. This typical wall section meets the requirements set out by SASFA and SANS 517. It also meets advanced thermal and insulation requirements exceeding current performance ratings of conventional construction.

Perhaps what was most notable was the acceptance and recommendation of LSF construction amongst those present and the obvious question that arose, “how do we bridge the gap between those that understand the benefits of this type of construction and those who don’t..?” Building course’s held nationally take for granted what is accepted as the “norm” in our industry and regurgitate past experience and influence. Perhaps more focus should be placed on efforts to grow and expand the understanding of the builder, so as to become more rounded in construction, rather than on a few techniques that are commonly found in our industry. An injection of this nature would cultivate creativity and interest if nothing else, together with a building code to regulate best practice, it would almost certainly attract a “new” breed of builder who before may have ignored such opportunities in the building industry.

Currently, development of this nature is with the professionals who, besides designing to their intent, are able to understand the engineering behind the structure. This would enable for far more functional design taking place, accommodating the building materials and structure with the design layout, site position and influence on its surroundings.

The highlighting of such structures world-wide and the translation of how other building industries around the world were able to accept and understand this forward thinking technology is imperative to how we in South Africa are able to “model” this technology for our surroundings and environment. Apart from common mis-interpretations and understandings which influence those who do not understand the benefits of an engineered structure, the onus should be on how these structures can be designed to meet our current requirements and in some aspects, exceed them.

Getting back to the course, the discussions were most informative and up to date with current feedback in the various regions. Material suppliers such as Everite and Saint Gobain amongst some of the others benefit from such courses as it helps to keep their focus in line with their markets demands and requests on how to simplify and resolve potential hic-cups on site. SASFA utilise their website as a platform for registered contractors, designers, engineers and material suppliers to network in advancing LSF construction going forward. Contact details are available and technical assistance is at hand for all those wishing to further their interest and possible involvement with this method of construction.

The next SAFSA building course will take place towards the end of February and beginning of March in Centurion. Refer to the SASFA website for more details and be sure to register early to avoid disappointment.

Lightweight Construction

About the author

Brendan Lowen is a qualified Senior Architectural Technologist and Head of Business Development for a nationally renown building materials manufacturer and supplier. Local and Global materials are constantly scrutinised for their fit-for-purpose offering in South Africa, whilst undergoing a route-to-market analysis. He often acts as an intermediary when engaging with the professional, manufacturing and retail sectors and most notably, when a disconnect becomes present within this chain. He contributes media content to the architectural community, through established industry platforms as well as the Advanced-Building website as its Thought Leader.

3 Responses to “Durban SASFA course for builders July 2011 – review”

  1. Light Steel Frame course for Builders says:

    […] For further information, send us your details and we will forward relevant contact information pertaining to this course. Numbers are limited and it generally fills up quite quickly. For a preview of what one can look to expect, read up on the review from the course held in Durban last year 2011 here […]

  2. Deon Deetlefs says:

    Are you still presenting the course or is it redundant?

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