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Retirement home projects save time and money with lightweight steel

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After having lightweight steel framing (LSF) installed in three of its residences, the development arm of retirement home operator Diversicare Canada is convinced of its benefits as a cost-effective construction delivery system.
Lightweight steel framing can be installed on site or pre-assembled
Lightweight steel framing can be installed on site or pre-assembled

After having lightweight steel framing (LSF) installed in three of its residences, the development arm of retirement home operator Diversicare Canada is convinced of its benefits as a cost-effective construction delivery system.

“We saved about 30 days in construction time and maybe 10 per cent in costs,” says Domenic Gesualdi, president of DCMS Realty, referring to the recently completed seven-storey, 150-unit Roxborough Retirement Residence on Davis Drive in Newmarket, Ont.

Construction started in spring 2009 and by early December 2010, the first residents were moving in, says Gesualdi, who credits the fast timetable, in large part, to the light framing system.

The first two common floors were built of concrete slabs because of their different configurations and uses.

But as the five residential floors have an identical layout, they were built with cold-formed lightweight steel framing as the primary structural load-bearing wall and floor components. It took about two weeks to install each floor, he says.

“At the same time the building has the look and feel of concrete,” he said.

Vaughan-based Bailey Metal Products Limited was the detailer and supplier of the components that were than assembled and erected by Steelrite Construction. The two firms previously worked with Diversicare on retirement residences in Stouffville, Ont. and Thornhill, Ont. and are now working on another one under construction in Richmond Hill, Ont.

“Our system is versatile and can either be installed on site (stick built) or pre-assembled off site and shipped in panelized form as was the case for the Roxborough project,” says Bailey’s technical sales representative Aus Ahmad.

The company is the developer and manufacturer of the ComSlab composite floor system that allows efficient use of steel and concrete with long spans up to 11 metres and slim floors. Reinforced with rebar and mesh, the system typically uses 30 per cent less concrete than poured-in-place floor slabs, says Ahmad.

A major feature of the floor system is its ability to minimize the need for unsightly bulkheads.

That’s because the design profile and rib geometry of the steel decking facilitates the installation and distribution of plumbing, electrical, HVAC and other utility lines.

Another important benefit of the system is that Sound Transmission Classification rating of 58, which exceeds the Building Code requirement of STC 50, says Ahmad.

“Light steel framing offers designers, builders and end users an innovative, cost-effective, lightweight and schedule-saving option in the construction of mid-rise commercial and residential buildings,” says Bailey product development director Tony DiGiovanni.

Although the firm has a long-track record in servicing the hotel and commercial building sector, its endorsement by Diversicare is a new business opportunity, he suggests.

“We considered (LSF) after touring a hotel where it had been installed. But it has been a learning curve for us and some of our consultants,” says Diversicare’s Gesualdi.

Apart from the framing system, the Newmarket home has a number of environmental and energy features, including geothermal heating and cooling was designed and built to LEED compliance standards.

“We won’t be pursuing certification, but we know we’re at that level.”

by Dan O’reilly

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