Light steel frame (LSF) alternative building and construction solutions provider Silverline Group is undertaking 82 projects in the commercial and residential sectors, which are at various stages of completion, Silverline Group director Jonathan Pepler tells Engineering News.
He highlights that the company has been growing exponentially by outperforming its competitors.
“The steel construction industry is growing at 25% year-on-year and the conventional construction industry growing at about 12%, while we are growing at about 500%,” he enthuses.
The company uses steel cold-formed lightweight galvanised steel or zinc aluminium with a minimum coating of Z275 galvanised steel, which comes in coils and is processed into components using a computerised roll-forming machine.
In June, the company completed construction of a new 1 800 m2 store for vehicle dealership Cat Motors in Cradock, in the Eastern Cape.
The Cradock project started mid-January and was completed on June 30.
The six-month project was completed about three months faster than conventional building methods would allow, saving more than 30% on construction time, Pepler highlights.
Silverline Group was contracted to construct the building, which included all the civil works, boundary walls, driveways, paving and finishes.
All the building’s walls are made of LSF. The solid external walls comprise LSF structures clad with fibre cement and filled with a polystyrene concrete mix, while the internal cavity walls include insulation from thermal and acoustic insulation manufacturer Saint-Gobain Isover South Africa.
“The building also required a walk-in document safe. This was constructed using the solid wall concept, which was also used for the roof, making the safe fire resistant for no less than two hours,” he adds.
The LSF trusses of the building have a free span of 24.5 m, which is one of the longest free span trusses not using heavy steel, Pepler points out.
Moreover, the LSF was delivered flat packed and, after assembly, the structure was erected in seven days, he notes, and included additional bracing to withstand the Eastern Cape’s heavy winds, which can often reach up to 65 km/h.
“The building’s ventilated concrete floor has an R-value of 0.5% as opposed to a normal slab with no R-value. Under normal circumstances, 15% of a building’s energy is lost through the floor as a result of not having an R-value or thermal resistance capabilities,” says Pepler, who adds that Silverline Group uses a geoplast flooring module.
Geoplast flooring comprises recycled plastic modules that raise the slabs off the ground and create a ventilation passage, which can also be used for maintenance services.
Also, he notes that with Cradock having extreme temperatures in winter and summer, it was imperative to provide the client with an energy efficient building with limited need for air conditioners or heat pumps.
“Constructing an energy efficient building saves the client initially on the cost of buying air conditioners and in the long term saves about 10% on the running and maintenance cost of these items,” he emphasises.
Cat Motors owner Jacques Jordaan commented that in measuring the temperature of the new building he is satisfied that the new building achieved at least a 10 ºC difference between the outside temperature and inside without the use of air conditioners.
“We moved into the building in the middle of winter, which is a cold time in the Eastern Cape and not once did we have to switch on the heater. The comfort levels are fantastic,” highlights Jordaan.
Meanwhile, Pepler notes that in the first half of this year, Silverline Group formed a marketing division, which sources national projects on behalf of its franchisees and has also introduced an engineering division.
“An exciting development in Gauteng for our operations is the penthouses that we are building on top of a number of high-rise buildings. Our building methodology allows for ease of extension without compromising the current building structure. This means that we can actually work on a site without disturbing the normal day-to-day lives of the tenants/occupants,” explains Pepler.
Additionally, Silverline Group introduced a new cladding concept called Silver Façade, which enables it do more than 600 m2 of walling a day. This product is ideally suited for the external cladding of commercial buildings.
“In June 2012, we also started manufacturing lightweight containers, which can be used as retail outlets, banks, bakeries, hairdressing shops or storage units. These units are popular in the informal sector and replace the need for shipping containers,” he states, adding that the lightweight containers are cost-effective, and finishes can be customised to meet client specifications.
Moreover, Pepler enthuses that the company’s trusses division is expanding rapidly as consumers are starting to realise the benefits of LSF compared with heavy steel and wooden trusses.
“It just makes sense to use LSF trusses as they are light, strong, durable, highly cost- effective and can be flat packed, which means the LSF trusses do not take up so much transport space, reducing transport costs,” he says.
Pepler says the poor state of the global eco- nomy has benefited the company tremendously, as clients have less funds to spend and expect more value for their money, which is exactly where Silverline Group has positioned itself.
“Our building methodology delivers more value for our clients, particularly in the commercial environment. We build faster, more economically and with better insulation, which offers the client many long-term benefits,” he states.
Pepler says the greatest challenge that the company faces relates to high-performance alternative building solutions being relatively new in South Africa. This means that many in the building industry are not yet well acquainted with these systems, making them somewhat more difficult to market.
These high-performance alternative building methodologies have been in existence in various formats for many years in Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, the US and Canada, but South Africa still has a strong tradition of using brick, mortar and concrete, he adds.
“We believe that the public needs to be educated about LSF building when it comes to residential buildings, but it is easier when we deal with commercial devel- opments as the companies involved tend to be more professional, educated and environmentally responsible. They also understand the concepts and the benefits that can be derived by using this construction method,” Pepler says.
Further, he highlights that the construction industry has had to evolve over the years by employing technology that enables it to build faster, better and cleaner, with the result of more economical structures and greener outcomes, which significantly reduce the industry’s carbon footprint, he adds.
“When we market our building methodologies, we do not focus solely on price but rather on the benefits of our solutions. Our solutions still average savings of about 10% on costs and up to 30% on time compared with traditional building methodologies,” Pepler concludes.