Periodically, Advanced Building looks at interviewing students, architects, roll formers and contractors. Today we take a closer look at an accredited Light Steel Frame contractor in Trevor Abrahams from AMC Land Developments. Trevor comes from good building industry stock and remembers at a young age climbing on building equipment when visiting sites with his Dad, “It’s in my blood” he says. It’s with this type of enthusiasm that one will notice Trevor’s passion in what he does. For the last 5 years, Trevor has dedicated his time and energy in bringing the benefits of LSF construction to the fore, specifically in the Western Cape.
AMC Land Developments:
“The company was developed in 2007. The main focus was on alternative building systems of which we decided to explore and get more involved in the Light Steel Frame side of alternative construction. One of the main reasons for this was that this system was quite advanced technologically and had reached success and good track record in first world countries. Another plus to this building system is the many inherent advantages to be had during and post construction. Light Steel Frame also compliments and integrates well with conventional construction.”
Advanced Building (AB) caught up with Trevor (TA) recently to get his thoughts and opinions on LSF construction in the Western Cape and South Africa in general.
AB: When did you get involved in the construction of light steel frame
TA: This was in 2006 when I was introduced to this form of construction by an associate and I wanted to be part of this amazing future trend.
AB: Did you have to go through training and how often do you need to stay up to date with new building codes?
TA: When light steel frame construction was just surfacing here in South Africa, most of the knowledge used to erect structures came from seminars and contractors who were literally the pioneers in LSF and who had used this method of construction previously. A body was then formed (www.sasfa.co.za) to basically formalise training of which every LSF erector has to (should) undergo. Contractors work hand in hand with architects and structural engineers and in so doing we are able to keep abreast with latest trends and norms.
AB: Previously you worked at Light Frame Homes in Cape Town, they were renowned for breaking new ground in lightweight construction and their factory was seen as a benchmark in the industry of LSF Construction. What are your own personal aspirations?
TA: Yes, I have been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to work with the best. I have been exposed to every aspect of construction, both conventional and alternative and this has given me much insight to what Light steel frame can become to the construction industry. As far as the setup of the Factory goes, I have not seen anything similar yet. Perhaps in my aspirations I would use a similar model.
AB: What are your thoughts about LSF in the South African building industry and where do you see it going?
TA: It has really been a long ‘walk’ for LSF since 2006. Right at the beginning, all we had was the knowledge that we could have been on the cusp of a building revolution. There was one issue that we, perhaps in our eagerness, did not fully comprehend and this was perception. It took the better part of two years to just link up with all the relevant building authorities, financial institutions and then to try and convince Joe Public that his method of construction is the new ‘world order’. We have come a long way since and the whole ECO-Drive by government and around the world has just brought more credibility to the building industry through light steel frame method of construction. I believe that light steel frame buildings will eventually even out alongside traditional methods of construction. I hopefully want to see that day soon.
AB: Apart from the LSF wall panels, LSF is also highly utilised as aroofing system. Do you think that LSF roof systems are under-utilised in South Africa?
TA: Yes of course, especially when architects and draughtsmen don’t know anything about LSF and the advantages thereof. I am positive that this will change in the near future, but cost will play an important factor in clients or designers seeking to deviate from the norm. I don’t think that we have even began to realize the benefits of LSF roofing systems. Mitek is probably, in my opinion, the most capable in designing complex and other LSF roofing and they will fabricate it for you as well. So, in a way, its good to have large companies punting new technologies, but buying power still rests with the masses.
AB: There are a few different steel manufacturers where one can obtain the steel coil from to roll-form. Who have you used in the past and would recommend?
TA: I would always try local first and this is what we did. Then we discovered that imported steel had some advantages over our own. Perhaps some would say that this is just preference, but the competition abroad is alive and well and given choices price also plays its part. Steel can be brought in from India, China, Australia (Bluescope Steel) and local Mittal steel.
AB: Where does you see himself in the next five years and on what projects would you want to be working on?
TA: I have a dream as Martin Luther King said, (he laughs)… I would like to see light steel frame construction in mass housing, schools, clinics and government infrastructure buildings. These are the worthwhile projects that will increase the exposure of LSF construction to the point of widely acceptable method of construction by most local building contractors.
Trevor has, at a relatively young age, been exposed to local building conditions, skills and understanding of the industry. He also finds value in LSF as a method of construction that is applicable from mass social housing through to up-market housing and comercial/industrial structures. My impression of Trevor is that he has an eye for identifying potential in structures, whether existing or still to be built and is always willing to chat and give of his time in assisting a professional or client. He is indeed a true asset to LSF construction and will no doubt be influential in the progress of this construction in South Africa.
Should you wish to contact Trevor, please leave your details here.