Business: SASFA Continues with Positive Growth
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At its latest industry feedback meeting held in March 2009, the Southern African Light Steel Frame Building Association (SASFA) reported a growth in membership of 35% for 2008. This is on the back of a 65% growth in membership in 2007. A total of 74 companies are currently members of SASFA.
“SASFA is still experiencing significant growth in membership, which is most encouraging,” says SASFA director John Barnard. “It not only affirms that the Light Steel Frame Building (LSFB) technology has come of age in Southern Africa, it also indicates that SASFA is on the right track in terms of what it is doing for the industry.”
Barnard reminded industry players that with the imminent roll-out of the LSFB Accreditation Scheme, only members will have the privilege of being assessed. “If this were the only reason for becoming a member of SASFA, it would be sufficient,” he said. ““We are doing our utmost to ensure that the quality levels of the industry remain world class and we will be focusing heavily this year on accrediting as many companies as possible.”
Barnard reported that, in the meantime, excellent progress has been made with the Scheme, which will include scrutiny of the four central processes of LSFB – the LSFB systems being utilised e.g. Scottsdale, FrameMaster, Hayes, Howick, Mitek and Dezzo; design and manufacturing process; steel frame erection and building completion.
Barnard explained that it is the assessment and monitoring of these elements and their ultimate accreditation that will ensure the ongoing professionalism of the industry as a whole.
Institutional Acceptance of LSFB
With respect to the growing acceptance of LSFB technologies in South Africa by the various institutions and authorities, Barnard reported that he has not come across an instance where any local authority has stopped a LSFB project. “There is however still work to be done in this regard and one of SASFA’s priorities for 2009 will be the improved alignment of the local authorities to the industry through the association’s Inspectors’ Training Course.
On the finance front Barnard said that the majority of financial institutions are responding favourably to LSFB. “Three of the large banks, and in particular one of the largest banks in the country, continue to grant bonds on LSFB showing that the financial institutions accept the technology as a viable building method,” Barnard said. “But they have a complex set of criteria that has to be satisfied and no institution will guarantee a bond for any project before they have thoroughly analyzed all the facets”.
Training – The Life-Blood of the Industry
Barnard said that SASFA was aware that training was the life-blood of the industry and that the association was planning several key training programmes, which will be presented in the major centres across the country, as well as Namibia. “We are trying to provide training in all the facets of the LSFB experience to ensure that the enormous potential of this building method is reached in Southern Africa.”
Some of the training initiatives include: erection and cladding, courses for designers and builders in the use of the building code, and the training of building inspectors - i.e. municipal and NHBRC inspectors, and financial institution evaluators - to ensure they have the skills to monitor that the LSFB industry is complying with the standards set down in SASFA’s building code. The Inspector’s course will also be useful for builders, to supplement their experience when supervising subcontractors.
The code, which has been submitted to the SABS to serve as input for the National Standard SANS 517, serves to set minimum acceptable standards for light steel frame building in South Africa, and to serve as basis for rational design as the route to comply with the National Building Regulations.
Barnard added that the SASFA code uses, inter alia, the insulation specification contained in the newly published energy efficiency standard, SANS 204. “This is most beneficial for LSFB as it already complies fully with SANS 204, while additional insulation measures will have to be taken in the case of conventional building methods.
Barnard concluded saying that 2009 is an important year for SASFA and LSFB generally. “This will be a challenging period and we will be going full-out to show the long term benefits, both financial and environmental, of building with light steel frame building methods,” he concluded.
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