Prefabricated steel used to construct shell of single-family home in three days!

When Tom Vert, Vice-President, Manufacturing learned Hamilton would be hosting Habitat for Humanity Canada’s national conference and annual general meeting, he wanted to do something special to represent the community.  His thoughts quickly turned to steel.

ArcelorMittal Dofasco steel is sold to construction customers throughout North America, including galvanized and Galvalume™ in steel framing and plain or pre-painted galvanized or Galvalume™ for cladding and pre-engineered buildings. Steel is more versatile, easier to work with and lasts longer than other materials.

“We thought it could be something to represent Hamilton. It also meant the house could be built during the conference so attendees could see it happening,” said Tom, who is also board chair of Habitat for Humanity Hamilton. “I have built houses around the world, so it is amazing to build one here. You are leaving a legacy, helping people to have a home and make a better life for themselves.”

Using Dofasco steel, Vaughn-based Interbuild Limited fabricated wall panels, floor panels and steel trusses to rigorous performance specifications. Twenty-foot flatbed tractor trailers brought 30 pre-engineered, insulated, closed member steel wall panels, 14 floor panels and 35 steel trusses to the build site on Wilson Street. A crane lifted them on the site, where a small crew from Interbuild constructed the shell of the home in just three days.

Using land owned by the Hamilton Community Land Trust and originally donated by the City of Hamilton, the Habitat for Humanity home is a pilot project featuring the effectiveness of steel and prefabrication for fast and affordable home construction.

“This is a very unique and innovative build for us. It’s the first time we’ve ever partnered with the Hamilton Community Land Trust and it’s also the first time we’ve undertaken a prefabricated steel-intensive home,” said Sean Ferris, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity Hamilton. “We’re always interested in exploring new ways to build effectively and efficiently and we’re looking forward to the benefits prefabricated steel home construction will provide, especially with made-in-Hamilton steel. It’s such an organic progression for us, particularly with such strong support from our home title supporter, ArcelorMittal Dofasco.”

Mike Stiller (R&D) explains that using steel has not been as popular for single-family home because installers are not as experienced with steel framing as they are with wood and, depending on size of the house and the engineering required, steel can be more expensive than wood.

“Steel is more popular in institutional building, such as hospitals and schools for its non-combustibility,” Mike said. “It is also popular for office buildings, hotels and mid-rise residential, such as four to 12-storey condominiums, where it is competitive pricewise with concrete and wood and since wood is not allowed for buildings more than six storeys high due to building code restrictions.”

In addition, once installed, steel does not warp, twist or move. It remains dimensionally stable and true to its original form, eliminating the need for homebuilder and drywall installer call backs to perform repairs, which is often the case for wood construction.
“It doesn’t rust or rot. It is not affected by termites or rodents. It is resistant to mold, is also completely recyclable and lasts a lot longer due to its strength and corrosion resistance,” Mike said.

Habitat for Humanity selected the Amnual family as the owners of this new home. The family of four completed its mandatory 500 hours of volunteer time, supporting the Hamilton ReStore, in lieu of a traditional down payment. They received a geared-to-income and interest free mortgage.
In addition to Interbuild, partners on this project included Bailey Metal Products (light steel framing), Agway Metals (steel roof and siding), E.S. Fox (HVAC, electrical and plumbing), Marini and Sons Construction (sewer and water line installation) and the JNE Group of Companies (foundations).

“Our motto is Our product is steel, Our strength is people,” said Tom. “The way we built this, using our steel and our partnership with the family, Habitat for Humanity and our industry partners is a fantastic culmination of all of those things.”