Light Gauge Steel (LGS) construction technology is finally here in Kenya! Several players have come into the market offering this product as a viable alternative to the traditional stone and timber construction we are used to.
Light Gauge Steel (LGS) is typically thin sheet (generally 0.5mm to 1.5mm thick) of high grade steel that is roll formed into various shapes and sizes for construction. Roll forming produces light but very high tensile steel studs and the steel surface is galvanized (Zinc coated) to seal it from the corrosive action of its environment. These factors result in a material that is solid, rigid, strong, durable and easier to build with; characteristics which are replicated in the building itself.
The studs can be joined together to form frames or webbed joists which are used as walls and floors. Thus, in addition to roof truss framing and other bracing components, a complete structure can be constructed using this technology although structurally, Light Gauge Steel (LGS) structures do tend to have a height restriction depending on the gauge and profile of steel used.
The uptake in Kenya is now fast growing with developers mainly testing it as a truss structure replacing traditional timber trusses. For complete structures, although conventional methods of construction have traditionally guided people’s opinions, the strength, speed, precision and durability of LGS construction is changing the mind set and revolutionizing construction in Africa.
One such company providing Light Gauge Steel (LGS) technology in Kenya is TechnoConstruct Kenya Ltd. We have visited several sites using their technology both in Kenya and the region. Their GM and Chief Structural Engineer, Mr. Ajay Chandarana took us through the process of construction using this modern technology.
“The foundation is similar to traditional construction. Our special design software called TechnoCAD translates any architectural design into a system of LGS frames of different shapes and sizes. The software calculates the loads of the structure and the output is then forwarded to the production team where the framing system is manufactured to precision. Frames are then transported to site ready to be fixed on the foundation. Each panel comes labeled and ready with pre-punched riveting holes and even includes provision for all electrical and mechanical services. These inclusions greatly increase our speed of assembly.”
BuilDesign has done extensive research in this area and we have found it important to note that not all Light Gauge Steel (LGS) is the same; there are variations among those who provide the technology in Kenya and Africa. Specifics such as the gauge of steel, the size and profile section, thickness, tensile strength, galvanized coating measure and the availability of pre-punched rivets are all good indicators of a quality material. Understanding these key differences can assist in your decision making and make life easier when it comes to execution and meeting project deliverables.
The cost of this technology is comparable to traditional construction however the time saving is a major cost benefit, as the speed of construction is extremely fast. For example, in the DRC, TechnoConstruct completed a 1,100m2 18-classroom school in 6 months while in traditional construction, the same school would have taken between 12-18 months to complete.
When considering overall project benefits including structural integrity, speed of construction, its resistance to fire, mold and termites, its sustainable eco-friendly advantage and the fact it is used in many parts of the world across varying climates, this is certainly a modern and innovative solution worth considering for your next project.