Seeing the light with light steel frame

by Darren
Seeing the light

The new Delta Motors branch in Cradock has had a state-of-the-art 1 800m² facility built in less than six months, which is approximately three months faster than conventional building methods – a saving on construction time of more than 30%!


Delta Motors has added its name to the growing list of companies that support the light steel frame building (LSFB) method. This time it’s C.A.T. Motors, a Delta (General Motors) dealership in Cradock. The project began in January 2013 and was completed on 30 June 2013.

The Silverline Group, well known for its high-profile LSFB projects, including the recent McDonald’s restaurant in Goodwood, Cape Town, was contracted to do the construction, including all the civil work, boundary walls, driveways, paving and all finishes.

John Barnard, director of the Southern African Light Steel Frame Building Association (SASFA) explains that the building comprises a light steel frame steel structure clad with fibre-cement boards with external walls filled with a polystyrene concrete mix. The internal walls are cavity walls with Isover insulation.

The building had a requirement for a walk-in document safe, which was also constructed using the solid wall concept for the walls and roof, giving it a fire rating of no less than two hours. The roof, also built with light steel frame trusses, has a free span of 24,5 metres, which is a significant span, even for heavy structural steel work.

The light steel frame was delivered in Cradock “flat-packed”, and after assembly was erected within seven days. “With strong winds, often 65km per hour in the Eastern Cape, the structure was designed with additional bracing, which was well worth it,” says Charl van Zyl, CEO of the Silverline Group.

He adds that with Cradock having extreme temperatures in both summer and winter, it was imperative to give the client an energy-efficient building with limited need for air-conditioning or heat pumps. “Constructing an energy-efficient building saves the client the initial capital cost of purchasing air-conditioners and in the long term, a saving of about 10% on the running costs and maintenance of these items.”

The owner of C.A.T. Motors, Jacques Jordaan, says he is satisfied that the new building has achieved at least a 10ºC difference in comfort between the outside temperature and inside, without the use of air-conditioners. “We moved into the building in the middle of winter in the very cold Eastern Cape, and not once did we have to switch on a heater. The comfort levels are fantastic,” he says.

Barnard says LSFB is definitely more energy-efficient than more traditional construction methods – both with regard to “embodied energy” of the materials and components, as well as “operational energy” relating to heating and cooling of the building over its design life.

“A recent research project carried out by the CSIR indicated that a properly insulated  light steel frame (LSF) building will require less than half of the energy needed to heat and cool a masonry residential building to comfortable internal temperatures,” Barnard says.

Turning to the floor, Van Zyl says 15% of a building’s energy is lost through the floor. In this case they built the floor using a Geoplast flooring module, which consists of recycled plastic modules that raise the slab off the ground and creates a ventilation “space”, which can also be used for services. “This method is very useful, not only in reducing energy loss but it also adds to the ‘green factor’ in construction that the Silverline Group is known for,” Van Zyl says.

Jordaan says he is delighted that he decided to work with the Silverline Group. “I still cannot believe the speed with which the building was completed, the quality of workmanship and the fact that everything came in on budget. I believe LSFB is the future of construction in South Africa,” he says.

At the launch of the new dealership facility, Malcolm Gauld, vice-president of GMSA South Africa for vehicle sales service and marketing (VSSM), commented on how impressed he was with the new facility. “This is a world-class structure and, given the time in which it was completed and all the obvious advantages and quality, it is a remarkable achievement,” he said.

John Barnard
E-Mail:  john.barnard@saol.com
Tel: 083 468 1410

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