Reducing construction costs: use of cold rolled steel

Being able to reduce the construction costs of new buildings has a number of benefits to end users and industry participants.

The construction industry as a whole is, therefore, always looking for ways to limit or reduce such costs, as well as create more sustainable buildings. That is, construct a property which has longevity, resulting in lower maintenance costs and fewer annual up-keep issues, enduring. buildings.

If the goals are cost reductions and extended life-spans, a key question is what sort of materials should be used to make a sustainable property last so long and make it cost-efficient?

 Perhaps, surprisingly, finding the answer is easier than you may think.

Steel. Or, more accurately, “cold rolled steel”.


Cold rolled steel

Cold rolled steel, sometimes known as light steel or cold formed steel, is a material which is used to make construction processes smoother and products stronger. It is not bulky like structural steel nor heavy like concrete.

The sustainability benefits, and hence cost reductions, are essentially due to the off-site nature of the construction process, plus the fact that the embodied carbon in the building fabric is reduced by up to 20% when cold rolled steel and modular construction is used.

Other key benefits of using cold rolled steel to achieve cost reductions include:


It’s a sustainable material and easily recyclable

Sustainable means using materials which are plentiful in supply or adopting methods which do not completely use up or destroy natural resources. As a result, the finished product is able to last for a very long time. A key tenet of sustainability, therefore, is to use material where the supply can be replenished and ensure that scarce resources last for future generations.

Steel is the most recycled material on the planet according to the Steel Recycling Institute, with an extremely high overall recycling rate of over 86%. The metallurgical properties of steel allow it to be recycled continually with no degradation in performance, no matter in what type of product it is used.

Steel is also recognised in all major green building standards and rating programmes, including the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED programme, which covers all types of buildings, the National Green Building Standard (ICC-700) for residential buildings, ASHRAE Standard 189.1 for commercial construction.

Low wastage rate

Using cold rolled steel significantly reduces wastage, allowing building owners and developers to control and reduce project costs, protect the environment, and boost their bottom lines. Site waste is virtually eliminated by the use of pre-fabricated light steel and modular components compared to the industry average wastage rate of some 10% in construction materials;

By streamlining the manufacturing and installation process, wastage is reduced.



With the correct coating and using appropriate construction techniques, it is estimated that the protective barrier over cold rolled steel will last nearly 700 years before the level of corrosion resistance deteriorates.

This means there will be long-term savings because projects built with cold rolled steel components will not require the frequent repairs and replacements which are common to wood components due to fire, rot, mould, warping, and infestations.

Steel is also dimensionally stable, meaning it won’t shrink, split, warp, or crack, again which helps avoid costly repairs and purchasing additional materials.


Panels, trusses and other steel parts of a building can be delivered to building sites ready to assemble, with little to no waste in materials and time. Components are fabricated offsite to precise specifications, which cuts down time on the project site and reduces delays from weather. It is estimated that pre-fabrication is some 50% faster owing to the enhanced efficiency of both the processes and flexibility of the product.

Additionally, as cold rolled steel panels are light and easy to ship and install, project teams and owners also save money through lower freight expenses, reduced onsite labour costs, and use of smaller project teams.

Generally, using pre-fabricated cold rolled steel panels means that productivity and speed of construction is increased by over 30%, which also reduces the impact of site works on the environment.



Using technology such as Building Information Modelling (“BIM”) in conjunction with cold rolled steel framing can also help minimise waste through precision modelling and pre-fabrication. Contractors can resolve problems before they occur — which can help speed up workflow, cut costs, and trim man-hours required to complete projects.

The high-tech fabrication of CFS also allows for a level of precision and dependability that is not possible with materials cut and built on site. Project teams can model the CFS framing assemblies, review the constructability of those assemblies, and make necessary changes early in the construction process to reduce waste.

In summary, by using cold rolled steel for framing and other parts of a building, contractors can create a durable, energy-efficient structure that’s likely to last for hundreds of years.

There is also a high level of quality control, accuracy and freedom from shrinkage, reducing call-backs for defects, as well as waste recycling in manufacture and reduction of on-site waste.

 In general, the more waste a project produces, the less profitable it will be, considering the price paid for unused materials, as well as the cost of waste handling, so anything which can reduce waste can only be good for the environment and the developer!

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