Structural Systems Comparison Guide

Appraisal of System Solutions

Light Gauge Steel Framing

Pros 

  • Lightweight leading to reduced foundation costs
  • Very fast speed of erection and less susceptible to inclement weather build delays
  • Fewer site operatives building superstructure (HSE upside)
  • Follow on trades can begin sooner
  • Less waste leaving site
  • Improved MMC performance over traditional solutions
  • High level of recyclable material at end of building life

Cons

  • Structure requires fire protection
  • May require additional acoustic detailing
  • Unsupported spans only up to 5.1m (Sigmat)
  • Early engagement required in design solution to optimise efficiency of LGSF

Timber Frame

Pros

  • Lower cost/m2, but timber prices have increased
  • FSC – sustainable construction

Cons

  • High in-build fire protection costs
  • Structure requires fire protection
  • Settlement deflection up to 8mm per floor
  • Susceptible to moisture content variations

Reinforced Concrete

Pros

  • Very robust
  • Good acoustic properties
  • Inherent fire resistance
  • Allows clear spans with flat soffits

Cons

  • Heavy solution. Requires larger foundations.
  • Slow construction process
  • Can be more expensive than LGSF/Timber frame options
  • Large carbon footprint

Load Bearing Masonry

Pros

  • Trusted method of construction
  • Follow on trades know how to work with in

Cons

  • Only suitable for low rise
  • Labour intensive with higher associated HSE risks
  • Slow construction process

Steel Frame with Precast Concrete Floor

Pros

  • Quick to construct
  • Good robustness
  • Lighter than concrete option
  • Good acoustic properties
  • Capable on long spans

Cons

  • Steel frame requires fire protection
  • Early coordination required between subcontractors
  • Can be expensive
  • Down stand beams required
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