Why go for steel?
The environmental angle
Steel framed construction is undergoing a major boom, for a multitude of reasons, not least in the context of what is now finally being recognised as a climate emergency, for its environmental benefits, which are many. Steel is almost 100% recyclable. At the end of a steel framed building’s natural life its parts can be removed (even those below ground) to be repurposed in new construction projects. In the UK there are a number of government subsidised programs allowing for steel construction by-products to be collected for free. In addition to the recyclability of the material is the fact that steel buildings are excellent for keeping warm in winter and cool in summer with minimal energy use – further reducing their carbon footprint when compared to other more traditional buildings.
Tied to the environmental benefits are cost-saving advantages of steel buildings. As it takes little energy to regulate temperature, energy bills can be reduced. Also steel buildings are very resilient to multiple weather types as well as from pests and fire. Of course there are steps that need to be taken (more on this later), but on the whole steel buildings are easy and inexpensive to maintain. Steel buildings also save downtime as they are erected so quickly. The construction period creates minimal disturbance as the parts are precision engineered off-site, which also avoids costly and timewasting errors. Adding a mezzanine floor to a steel building is also a cost saving option should you need to expand the office or warehouse area.
Maintenance and security tips
Fire protection of steel buildings
You’d think that a building made of steel (at least in terms of the frame) would be pretty much immune from structural damage resulting from fire. Not so. When you get temperatures up to nearly 600 degrees Celsius steel can lose up to 50% of its weight-bearing capacity, leaving the building open to catastrophic damage. Therefore proper fire protection is key. The best way to protect steel framed buildings is via spray-on coatings and proper fire-resistant insulation. Consult an expert as even if your building is already constructed there are ways to future protect it. In addition, safety features such as sprinklers and alarms, clear escape routes and fire resistant doors, opening in the direction of travel, along with drills and training should be explored.
Bi-annual inspections are important
Maintenance checks are vital and when performed on a twice a year basis you will be able to make sure nothing untoward is going on and if it is, you’ll ensure that it is spotted before it becomes too costly to repair. Keep organised and detailed notes on the checks and photographic records of repair work carried out.
Protect the building from rain
Especially in the UK where it has a tendency to be a little wet, it is important to understand that build-ups of precipitation around the building can damage the structure if left standing too long. Slanted roofs are good at avoiding problems as are arched buildings. Otherwise adding gutters and downspouts could be advised. If there is water pooling around the building an element of landscaping could resolve the issue.