Most people don’t think of metal studs when building a house but BONE Structure Systems of Laval in Quebec wants to change all that by alerting architects and designers to the benefits of steel buildings and metal barns.
Steel houses have been around for decades but they’ve never really taken off. Marc Bovet, the brains behind BONE says the home building industry is tied to convention and convention says you build with wood. A big believer in precise engineering, Bovet says traditional home building is inefficient and expensive so he’s stamping out beams and columns in 11 gauge galvanized steel (about a quarter of an inch thick) – each one engineered exactly to the millimeter – and assembling them on site with no muss, no fuss and no waste.
Perforated with holes to accommodate plumbing and electrical, these engineered beams slide into pre-drilled columns and are locked into place with bolts and screws. Steel beams underpin the roof and the floor. “It’s not that we don’t like wood,” he says, “it’s just that we want to use it for finishings, not structure.”
Because everything is pre-cut and pre-drilled, four men can erect a 3,600 square foot house in five days with nothing more than a couple of power drills. When fully framed a BONE house “looks more like a sculpture than a structure,” says Bovet. Or maybe a toy construction set.
A steel framed house won’t rot, is insect free and is always plumb. The perimeter walls alone can carry the load. This allows for huge open spaces unencumbered by cantilevers or load bearing interior walls. Yet the system is flexible. The homeowner can choose to create more rooms or punch out a wall at will without affecting the system’s integrity.
In addition, the pros at Infinity Home Improvement have this to say: “A steel roof features many attractive benefits because the material is recyclable and is known for its ability to withstand damage from inclement weather.”
Because steel is a thermal conductor Bovet has made doubly sure the insulation will keep the house warm in winter and cool in summer. Polystyrene boards are attached to the exterior frame and sprayed with foam resulting in an R value of 28 point five. Steel strapping is applied on top of the foam and covered with the homeowner’s choice of cladding, wood, stone or vinyl.
The firm offers a selection of pre-designed styles and sizes, from bungalows to mansions or it can create a home from scratch. “You can buy off the rack or have a suit made to order,” says Bovet, referring to existing BONE Structure homes in his native Quebec.
Bovet believes the time is right for steel structure homes because boomers want value for money and his patented process makes steel affordable. He can deliver a steel house for $200 per square foot, excluding land costs, making steel competitive with wood, not to mention its structural integrity and ease of construction.