October 7, 2009
Steel Framing Leads the Way to Hurricane Recovery with High Performance Affordable Homes

Rebuilding efforts after the hurricanes of 2005 have been slow and often frustrating. However, one of the largest efforts in Texas to rebuild thousands of homes is now underway – and steel framing is playing a major role in the effort.

Ravaged by Hurricane Rita in September of 2005, eastern Texas Gulf communities are rising from the devastation with the strength of cold-formed steel coupled with energy savings never before seen in the area. To date more than 76 high performance, affordable homes have been delivered to families devastated by Rita. Hundreds more are planned by the manufacturer, S5 Construction LLC.

Cliff Singleton, President of S5 Construction and point man overseeing the operations commented, “We believe in our system and have committed to building a superior product to withstand what Mother Nature throws at the region. We have designed and are building homes with continued low maintenance cost and affordability of the homes for the occupants through their energy bills”.

S5 Construction is able to deliver the homes at an affordable price by employing panelized construction as a key part of the delivery system. Working in partnership with NexGen Framing Systems of Texas, LLC, the team set up a manufacturing facility in Vidor, Texas equipped with automated framing systems developed by NUCONSTEEL. The resulting homes not only go up fast, but they are designed to resist hurricane forces and are energy efficient while using a sustainable material. According to Singleton, “Steel has a great track record for environmental responsibility with its recycled content and durability”.

Features of the Homes

The homes range in size from 800 square feet two bedroom to a 1350 square feet 4 bedroom unit. The structural elements of the homes are made of cold-formed high strength steel framing members including walls and roofs. They are built on slab foundations. The homes were framed in two days. The homes are further protected with a steel roof.

Energy efficient features include double pane insulated windows, a 17 SEER air-conditioning unit with a multi-speed air handler and a dual compressor condenser, and tankless water heaters. All appliances are Energy Star compliant. To finish the homes the concrete slab floors are ground and polished, producing an attractive and highly durable finish. Energy monitoring of the first occupied homes is being conducted to confirm the performance of the structures. Going forward S5 Construction is offering an energy use guarantee of no more than $35.00 per month for heating and cooling costs to their affordable housing program.

According to Maribeth Rizzuto of the Steel Framing Alliance, “These homes are living examples of the message SFA has been spreading. We have been working with codes and standards organizations to show that homes can be built to be energy efficient if we focus on equipment efficiency and other relatively low cost improvements with short payback periods rather than the same often expensive and low return approaches like adding excessive amounts of insulation. “

Benefits to the Builder

Steel framing also provides benefits to the builder through the course of construction discounts helping to keep the cost of the construction affordable. Builders risk insurance originally quoted for more than $600.00 per home was discounted to $160.00 after the insurer learned that the homes were being constructed of steel.

The use of the systems approach allows for the speed of construction with little or no wasted product. Panelization reduces the amount of material sent to the job site eliminating the need for landfilling. Any miscellaneous product left over is returned to the manufacturer for reuse. The overall savings by not paying tipping fees further contributes to the environmental stewardship and affordability of the project.

For additional information about this project contact Cliff Singleton at or Maribeth Rizzuto at

This is the first in a series of periodic articles we will be running in Framework Online. Future articles will highlight the advantages of steel framing in various types of buildings emphasizing insurance savings, cycle time savings, construction cost savings, durability, sustainability, and other related issues.

Source: Steel Framing Alliance

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Steel Framing Alliance
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Suite 320
Washington, D.C. 20005
Phone 202.785.2022
Fax 202.785.3856

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Brought to you by the Steel Framing Alliance (SFA) on the first Wednesday of each month, Framework Online arms you with the latest news and commentary on the steel framing and construction industries. In addition to industry headlines, trends and project profiles, Framework Online provides information and ideas that will better enable members to increase their participation in the residential and commercial construction markets.