You are on page 1of 26

KNS 3333Construction Technology

IBS Industrialised Building System


Refer to Nation Roadmap via CIDB Malaysia
Other slides
Cold Formed Steel
The construction industry of the world has entered a new century and we should look
forward for the future structures. The material of construction is one of the important
aspects that we should consider in order to fulfill the quality, utility, economy and beauty.

Steel, a modern human creation is a basic ingredient in construction along the way
in the evolution chain. As early as the fourth century B.C, the cast iron has been invented
in China.
The usage of cold-formed steel in construction has been quite common in some of the
countries such as United State of America, Australia and Japan. According to Yu (1997),
cold-formed steel members are widely used in building construction, bridge construction,
storage racks, highway products, drainage facilities, grain bins, transmission towers and
various types of equipment. According to PATH (2002), steel framing had been used interior
non-load bearing and curtain walls in commercial buildings for many years. However, coldformed steel is only recently attracting the attention for use in load bearing wall, floor and
roof framing in residential construction. More and more architects and engineers prefer to
design the structures with cold-formed steel as the main material. It is because cold formed
steel provides a stable framework for a structure.
According to Wagner (2003), Melbournes Colonial Stadium in Australia is one of the
great steel structures. For this stadium, the most challenging feature in engineering

Notes by SNTING

KNS 3333Construction Technology


perspective is the roof. The main arch of the roof span is nearly 300m. The design of the
long span roof structure made extensive use of cold formed tabular members which
undergone thorough experimental testing and research. The main arch of the roof has a
structural steel weight of only 85kg/m2. This represents an extremely efficient use of coldformed steel for such a span.
Currently, steel framing is more commonly used in geographic locations that more
frequently experience weather related damage or natural disasters such as hurricanes and
earthquakes. Steel framed homes are common on the West Coast (because of concerns
about earthquakes) and in Hawaii. Steel is used in such locations because it has higher
tensile and greater bending strength than lumber thus it can better resist the destructive
forces exerted upon residential structures during such occurrences.
According to Yu (1997), compared with other materials such as timber and concrete,
cold-formed steel members can offer the following advantages: lightness, high strength and
stiffness, ease of prefabrication and mass production, fast and easy erection and
installation, and economy in transportation and handling, just to name a few.
Besides the availability of cold-formed steel framing, there are still other barriers
that which limit its usage in construction. The primary barrier is the cost. The industry will
start to use the new building method only if they exhibit very clear cost and quality
advantages. The second barrier is how the thermal conductivity of cold-formed steel affects
energy use in homes.

Notes by SNTING

KNS 3333Construction Technology


In Malaysia, cold-formed steel is still at the very beginning stage. It can hardly see
many cold formed steel framed buildings. Usually steel truss is the most common element
that is used in construction.

1.2 WHAT IS COLD-FORMED STEEL?


For the building constructions, there are mainly two types of structural steel: hot-rolled
steel and cold-formed steel. According to Sunway Homes Steel Structures (2005), the hotrolled steel shapes are formed at the elevated temperature. For the cold-formed steel, the
shapes are formed at the room temperature. The cold-formed steel structural members
shapes are usually manufactured from steel plate, sheet and strip material. According to
Chen (NA), the manufacturing process involves forming the material by either pressbraking or cold roll forming to achieve the desired shape. Examples of the cold-formed steel
are corrugated steel roof and floor decks, steel wall panels, storage racks and steel wall
studs.
Press-braking method is often used to produce the small quantity of simple shapes.
Cold rolling-forming method is the most widely used method in producing the roof, floor and
wall panels. It is also used for the production of structural components such as Cees, Zees,
and hat sections. Sections can usually be made from sheet up to 60 inches (1.5m) wide and
from coils more than 3,000 feet (1,000m) long.
During cold roll forming, sheet stock is fed longitudinally through a series of rolls,
each of which works the sheet progressively until it reaches the desired shape. A simple
section may require as few as six pairs of roll, but a complex shape can require as many as

Notes by SNTING

KNS 3333Construction Technology


24 to 30. The thickness of material that can be formed generally ranges between 0.004
(0.10mm) up to 0.312 inches (0.79mm). Heavy duty cold forming mills can handle steel up
to of an inch (19mm) thick.

Figure 1.1: Roll Forming Machine

Figure 1.2: Cold-Roll Forming


(Source: Chen, NA. An Overview of Cold-Formed Steel Structures)

Cold-formed steel is in many respects an ideal structural material, which exhibits a


number of useful structural characteristics. It is a strong and reliable material that can be
produced to meet specifications and it can be fabricated accurately. It can carry both
tension and compression. The yield strength in tension is approximately equal to the
crushing strength in compression. Its deformation, which is directly proportional to applied
loads, and is fully recovered on removal of the loading. It also will remain stable under long
term loading at normal temperature.

Notes by SNTING

KNS 3333Construction Technology

1.2.1 Common shapes of sections


According to Corus (2003), cold-formed steel sections are used in many industries and are
specially shaped to suit the particular application. In building purpose, the most common
sections are the C and the Z shapes. There are a whole range of variants of these basic
shapes, including those with edge lips, internal stiffeners and bends in the webs.
Other section shapes are the "top-hat" section and the modified I section. The
sections can also be joined together to form compound members.
The reason for the additional lips and stiffeners is because unstiffened wide thin
plates are not able to resist significant compression and consequently the use of steel in the
section becomes inefficient. However, a highly stiffened section is not easy to form and is
often not practicable from the point of view of its connections. Therefore, a compromise
between section efficiency and practicability is often necessary.

Figure 1.3: Basic Shapes of Cold-Formed Steel


(Source: NAHB, NA. Designing Homes Using Cold-Formed Steel)

Notes by SNTING

KNS 3333Construction Technology

Figure 1.4: Common Shapes of Cold-Formed Steel Sections


(Source: Chen, NA. An Overview of Cold-Formed Steel Structures)

Figure 1.5: Cold-Formed Sections Used in Structural Framing

Notes by SNTING

KNS 3333Construction Technology

Figure 1.6: Decks, Panels and Corrugated Sheets

1.1

1.2.2 Connections

According to Yu (1997), welds, bolts, screws, rivets, and other special devices such as metal
stitching and adhesives are generally used for cold-formed steel connections. The AISI
Specification contains only the design provisions for welded connections, bolted connections,
and screw connections.

1.1.1.1.1 1.2.3 Common Applications


1.1.1.1.2 According to Corus Construction Centre (2003) and Chen (NA), the structural
uses of cold-formed sections, which utilize these features, are as follows:
1. Roof and wall members

Notes by SNTING

KNS 3333Construction Technology


Traditionally, a major use of cold-formed steel has been as purlins and side rails to
support the cladding in industrial type buildings. These are generally based on the Z
section (and its variants), which facilitates incorporation of sleeves and overlaps to improve
the efficiency of the members in multi-span applications. Special shapes are made for eaves
members etc.

Wall Framing

Whole House Framing


(Source: AISI, NA. Cold-Formed Steel Design Gallery)

Notes by SNTING

KNS 3333Construction Technology

Application of C-purlin on a Roof Truss.


(BlueScope Steel Asia, 2006)

2. Steel framing
An increasing market for cold-formed steel sections is in site-assembled frames and
panels for walls and roofs, and stand-alone buildings. This approach has been used in light
industrial and commercial buildings and in mezzanine floors of existing buildings.
According to Gaylord (1990), cold-formed steel is also used in residential steel framing
system to replace the use of lumber in the individual beams, joists, studs, column framing
members and other structural components.
3. Wall partitions
A special application is for very light sections used in conjunction with plaster board
panels in stud wall partitioning to form a thin robust wall.

Notes by SNTING

KNS 3333Construction Technology


4. Large panels for housing
Storey-high panels can be factory-built and assembled into housing units on site.
This is an extension of the approach used for timber framing.
5. Lintels
A significant market for specially formed cold-formed sections is as lintels over doors
and windows in low rise masonry walls. These products are often powder coated for extra
corrosion protection.
6. Floor joist
Cold-formed sections may be used as an alternative to timber joists in floors of
modest span in domestic and small commercial buildings.
7. Modular frames for commercial buildings
A prefabricated modular framing system panel system using cold-formed channels
and lattice joists has been developed for use in buildings up to 4-storied height. Although
primarily developed for commercial building this modular system has broad application in
such as educational and apartment buildings.
8. Trusses
9. Space frames
10. Curtain walling

Notes by SNTING

KNS 3333Construction Technology


A modern application is in cladding framing to multi-storied mullions and transoms
in standard glazing systems, steel buildings, and as mullions and transoms in standard
glazing systems.
11. Prefabricated buildings
The transportable prefabricated building unit (such as the ubiquitous site hut) is a
common application of the use of cold-formed steel. Other applications are as prefabricated
"toilet pod" units in multi-storied buildings.
12. Frameless steel buildings
Steel folded plates, barrel vaults and truncated pyramid roofs are examples of
systems that have been developed as so-called frameless buildings (i.e. those without beams
and which rely partly on a stressed skin" action).
13. Storage racking
Storage racking systems for use in warehouses and industrial buildings are made
from cold-formed steel sections. Most have special clip attachments, or bolted joints for easy
assembly.

Storage Racking

Notes by SNTING

KNS 3333Construction Technology


(Source: Chen, NA. An Overview of Cold-Formed Steel Structures)

1.1.2

1.2.4 Code/Regulatory

Steel framing is recognized by all major building codes. Council of American Building
Officials (CABO) has adopted a set of prescriptive methods for residential steel framing.
There are the CABO One and Two Family Dwelling Code, and International
Residential Code (IRC 2000).
According to Yu (1997), design standards and recommendations are now available in
Australia, Austria, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Finland, France, Germany, India, Japan, The
Netherlands, New Zealand, The Peoples Republic of China, The Republic of South Africa,
Sweden, Romania, U.K., U.S., USSR, and elsewhere. In 1989, Eurocode 3 provided design
information for cold-formed steel.
According to Ng (2004), there are no specified codes and standard for reference in
the design of cold-formed steel structures in Malaysia. Some of the available codes and
standards from overseas include the American Iron and Steel Institute Standard
(AISI/COS/ NASPEC 2001), the Australian/New Zealand Standard (AS/NZ 4600: 1996) and
the British Standard (BS5950: Part 5: 1998). All these three standards use the limit states
design as the design basis and among the three, the Australian/New Zealand Standard is
preferred.

1.2.5 Properties of Cold-Formed Steel


According to Chen (NA), generally, the grades of carbon steel and high strength low alloy
steel used for cold-formed steel products are characterized by two main properties: the yield

Notes by SNTING

KNS 3333Construction Technology


point and the tensile strength. Other important properties are ductility, hardness and
weldability.
The yield point of the steels commonly used for cold-forming ranges from 33 to 55 ksi
(230 to 380 MPa), and may be higher. Tensile strength and ductility are important because
of the way they relate to formability, and because of the local deformation demands of
bolted and other types of connection. In members that include bolted connection or that,
because of special design, may be subject to high stress concentrations, the tensile strength
often must be taken into account. The ratio of tensile strength to yield strength for coldformed steels commonly ranges from 1.2 to 1.8. However, steels with a lower ratio can be
used for specific applications.

1.2.6 Installation
According to NAHB Research Center (NA), site-built or conventional steel framing is
typically a one-for-one substitution for wood framing members used for both non-loadbearing and load-bearing applications. The steel studs, joists and rafters fit into a top and
bottom track. Steel framing members can be cut with a chop saw, aviation snips or electric
shears. The primary fastener used in steel framing is the self-drilling screw, which can be
labor intensive when compared to pneumatic framing nailers used in wood framing.
However, there are new fastening systems that utilize crimping, welding, and pneumatics
that promise to speed up the construction process.

Notes by SNTING

KNS 3333Construction Technology


Typically, the top track is not capable of transferring vertical loads. Therefore, studs
joists and rafters must be aligned vertically to transfer vertical loads. This framing
technique is called in-line framing.

1.2.7 Fire Protection


According to Corus (2003), fire protection to light sections in planar floors or walls is
usually provided by gypsum plaster-boards placed in one or two layers to form the finished
surface. Fire resistance periods of 30 or 60 minutes can be achieved by this simple method.
Members can also be boxed-out using standard board protection.

Advantages of cold formed steel framing:

1. Light weight
- two third lighter than other materials
- imposes less of a load on the foundation
- reduces the chance of damage cause by the foundation settlement
- easier in transporting the members, lower transportation cost

2. Flexible can be manufactured in any size or shape

3. Consistent material quality


- production in strict accordance with national standard

Notes by SNTING

KNS 3333Construction Technology

4. High Strength to weight ratio

5. Little waste, more environmentally friendly


- steel can be roll-formed in the plant and/or ordered to specific length, less scrap and
waste produced

6. Recyclable
- 100% recyclable
- steel framing materials content average 67% recycled steel
- 60 million tons of steel scrap are recycled annually, more than paper, aluminum,
glass and plastic combined
- it takes 25 old growth trees to build a 2,500 square foot house, compared with 7
automobiles for the same steel-framed house

Notes by SNTING

KNS 3333Construction Technology

Malaysian Usage of Cold-Formed Steel in Residential


Construction: A Cost Management Perspective
Ting Sim Nee,
Faculty of Engineering, University Malaysia Sarawak
(email: snting@feng.unimas.my)
Hu Wei Kiet,
Faculty of Engineering, University Malaysia Sarawak
(email: october_popo@yahoo.com)

ABSTRACT

Cold-formed steel is a relatively new material in the local building industry. It has been used
mainly in roof systems and factory buildings. Besides that, it has also been used as wall panels,
fencing and ceiling. Recently, Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) and Jabatan
Kerja Raya (JKR) promote the use of cold-formed steel in its projects. Many have realised that it
can be another option as roof truss besides timber truss. However, the usage is still very limited
and most industry players are not aware of this material. Besides indicating the awareness of
cold formed steel usage, the market preference of construction method, and the suitability of
cold formed steel in the Malaysian construction industry, this paper also shows the research
work carried out on the costs of cold formed steel construction based on the principles and
guidelines of project cost management. In this research, two local residential housing models
were used. It is hoped that through research as such, the cost factor of cold-formed steel
construction can be better understood.
Keywords: Cold-formed steel, usage, cost, cost management

Notes by SNTING

KNS 3333Construction Technology


2

BACKGROUND

1.1 GENERAL

In Malaysia, the construction industry is one of the major contributors to the economic
development of the country. And because of this, this industry is required to be effective and
efficient. There are consistent needs to adapt material, techniques and methods, which are
able to improve the productivity of works carried out.
However, at this moment, most of the construction techniques that are used in Malaysia,
especially in the Sarawak construction industry comprise of the traditional ones such as the
reinforced concrete method. These methods tend to be slow and very labour intensive. And in
recent years, labour has become a big problem to the construction industry. Malaysia is lacking
of labour. According to Ibrahim (2003), CIDBs record shows that there are 318,000 foreign
labour employed in constructions. Dependency on foreign labour, especially those without skill
is not sustainable long-term solution, besides it is an impediment to the introduction of new
and more efficient delivery mechanism. Inevitably as Malaysia develops, labour cost will
unavoidably increase, which then translates into high construction costs. And this is more so
with methods and techniques that are very time and labour consuming.
It is important to adopt better, faster and less labour-intensive construction techniques and
alternatives. In many developed countries such as USA and Australia, modular construction
such as precast concrete panels and lightweight steel systems are common and widely used.
According to Yu (1997), cold-formed steel members are widely used in the building industry and
construction of bridges, storage racks, highway products, drainage facilities, grain bins,
transmission towers and various types of equipment. According to PATH (2002), steel framing

Notes by SNTING

KNS 3333Construction Technology


has been used as interior non-load bearing and curtain walls in commercial buildings for many
years. In Malaysia, even though, precasts are gaining popularity, cold-formed steel or light
gauge steel remains new to some builders. Even though, this material had existed amidst the
construction industry for many years, the usage of cold-formed steel in construction is still very
limited. It is only recently attracting the attention for use in load bearing wall, and floor and
roof framing in residential construction. In fact, it is only still gaining attention and awareness in
the industry.

Cold-formed steel

For building industry, there are mainly two types of structural steel: hot-rolled steel and coldformed steel. The hot-rolled steel shapes are formed at the elevated temperature. Cold-formed
steel, also called light-gauge steel, is made by a cold-forming process where sheets of steel are
passed through a series of roll forming dies to create the desired shape. Steel framing material
has a strength-to-weight ratio that is very favourable when compared to other materials,
particularly wood. Lightweight steel is more than ten times lighter than the traditional steel
system. Cold-formed steels differ from hot-formed structural beams; the process does not require
heat to form the shape, thus the name cold-formed steel. Cold-formed steel products are
usually thinner, faster to produce, and lesser in cost than their hot-formed counter-parts.
There are two major types of cold-formed steel products: structural shapes and panels. Of the
former, there are a variety of shapes produced. They include opened sections, closed sections,
and built-up sections such as cee sections (also called lipped channels), zee sections, double
channel I beams with stiffened flanges, hat sections with and without intermediate stiffeners, box
sections, U sections and others. These are used in buildings for such structural functions as eave
struts, purlins, girts, as well as joists, studs and other components.

USAGE OF COLD-FORMED STEEL IN SARAWAK

2.1 Awareness of Cold-Formed Steel as an Alternative Material


Extensive interviews with over 25 construction related companies had been conducted in
Kuching, Sarawak in order to find out the level of usage of cold-formed steel. Opinions and
suggestions on the usage were gathered from the consultant and contractor engineers,
developers and architects.
As per the results shown, most of the respondents have come across cold-formed steel in design or
construction. The bar chart below shows the usage of cold-formed steel in the industry.

Notes by SNTING

KNS 3333Construction Technology

The Usage of Cold-Formed Steel in the


Industry

Percentage (%)

100
80
60

Never Use

40

Use Before

20
0
consultant

contractor
and
developer

architect

Chart 1: The Usage of Cold-Formed Steel in the Industry

According to this quantitative research, cold-formed steels are mostly used in roofing as in roof trusses in
Sarawak. However, even as roof trusses, it is still rather an uncommon item in Sarawak. It is only in the
last couple of years that cold-formed steel has been used as another option for roofing to timber trusses.
Good and evenness in qualities of the steel members, and the accurate size and specifications have
become the main reasons why people choose to use cold-formed steel in roofing. It is free from termite
related problems and thus this helps to reduce the maintenance cost. Usage of cold-formed steel roof
trusses to replace timber is becoming more popular as it provides the solution with respect to quality of
timber being inconsistent and hard to control. Besides that, usage could come from the clients specific
requirement to use cold-formed steel for certain parts of the projects.
According to an experience consultant engineer, the cold-formed steel price for roofing is equivalent or
slightly more expensive than timber. However, some of the developers and contractors still prefer timber
for roofing because our local labour forces are more familiar with it and it is assumed to be cheaper than
cold-formed steel.
For framing purposes, the usage is very limited. The cold-formed steel framings for walls and floors are
limited to extension projects and renovations and some offices that require many glasses such as show
rooms. Cold-formed steels are also used as the non-load bearing partition or wall cladding and panel. A
house built entirely from cold-formed steel cannot be found in Sarawak.
The usage of cold-formed steel in the building industry is very much governed by the suitability to the
nature of the project. According to the architects and consultant engineers, study and consideration should
be done before the decision is made. The best and suitable designs will be recommended to the clients.
For buildings such as churches and indoor stadiums, which require wide open space, cold-formed steel is
suitable to use due to its lightness and allowance for long spans.

Notes by SNTING

KNS 3333Construction Technology


Usage also depends on the time factor. For urgent projects, cold-formed steel is adopted because this
construction method has proven to have shorter construction time.
For those who have never used cold-formed steel in building constructions, cost is the main contributing
factor. The material cost for cold-formed steel is higher than reinforced concrete. According to a
consultant engineer, the material cost is high as some are imported from overseas and local suppliers
could only produce limited size members. In addition, there are not many skilled labours available with
this material and method. So, the labour cost tends to be higher than the traditional methods, which the
labourers are more familiar. In business and economic perspective, the developers and contractors will
always choose lower investments with higher returns.
Besides that, the perception of the clients on the new technology is very low. Most interviewees are more
familiar and feel comfortable with the reinforced concrete structures. According to developers and
engineers interviewed, clients prefer solid feeling, which the cold-formed steel framed home cannot
give.

2.2 Preferences of the Construction Material


From the quantitative information gathering, it is found that most of the consultant engineers and
architects have no preferences for design. The suitability of the elements and the requirements from the
clients are the most important factors that influence the decision made. Besides that, the cost, time and
quality factors will be also considered. On the other hand, there are some consultant engineers and
architects, who actually prefer reinforced concrete in design because they are more familiar with this
construction method. According to an architect, the cold-formed steel construction technology available
in Malaysia is very limited. Without clear and detailed design information, the usage of cold-formed steel
in construction and the achievement will always be limited.
For contractors and developers, almost all of them prefer reinforced concrete construction. According to a
developer, the materials and skilled labour are easily available for reinforced concrete projects and thus,
translating to lower material and labour costs. As most engineers put it; it is cost factor that dominates
decision making. Besides, the demand for solid concrete building is a lot higher than others. People
have little awareness for cold formed steel and hence, do prefer something they actually know. With
lower cost, higher demand and familiarity, it is no wonder that contractors and developers still prefer
reinforced concrete construction method. Any other methods are second choice in the view of reinforced
concrete. This is to say that local industry will always consider using reinforced concrete construction
first before any other methods.
The pie chart below shows the most important criteria that respondents consider when choosing
construction methods.

Notes by SNTING

5%

KNS 3333Construction Technology


Cost
Quality

43%

52%

Time

Chart 2: Criteria considered when choosing construction methods


2.3 Suitability of Cold Formed Steel in the Local Construction Industry
Suitability of Cold-Formed Steel in
Malaysian Construction Industry

24%
Suitable
Not Suitable

52%

Depend

24%

Chart 3: Suitability of Cold Formed Steel in Malaysian Construction Industry


More than half of the respondents in this research agree that cold-formed steel is suitable to be used in the
Malaysian building industry. Most of these respondents agree that cold-formed steels have specific
quality standards and are accurate in their sizes, which ensure better end products. During the interview,
one of the consultant engineers responded by saying that he believes in cold-formed steel quality and
performance because it is a material and method that has been well proven through many projects
overseas.
The cold-formed steel construction period is definitely shorter than other construction methods. All the
members can be rolled out in the factory and the progress will not be influenced by weather. Besides, the
members of cold-formed steel are much lighter than the reinforced concrete and hot-rolled steel members.
So it is easier in transportation and need not many machinery during construction. So it is suitable to use
for urgent projects and hence, cutting down on time-related labour costs. In light of the countrys
increasing labour costs, this construction method may actually help to save the cost and time.
On the other hand, a group of respondents feel that cold-formed steel is not suitable to be used in the
Malaysian construction industry. The main reason is the cost. In their opinion, cold-formed steel is not
cost effective and it will increase the material cost. Besides, the awareness of Malaysians to cold-formed
steel is very low. So, it is not an ideal choice for the developers to build cold-formed steel framed houses
or commercial buildings.

Notes by SNTING

KNS 3333Construction Technology

Fire resistant properties for cold-formed steel are also important issues that need to be considered. The
modulus of elasticity and strength of steel decrease as its temperature rises. According to the research
done by PATH, British Steel reports said that hot-rolled steel still can maintain its full strength before
reaching 750 0F (400 0C). But the loss strength of cold-formed steel at elevated temperatures exceeds that
of hot-rolled steel between 10 to 20 percent. So the cold-formed steel framed structure will collapse
earlier than hot-rolled steel framed and reinforced concrete structure during a fire. Extra fire blankets are
needed in order to get the same level of fire resistance as reinforced concrete structure. This will increase
the cost.
Some engineers were in question about the performance of cold-formed steel. As Malaysia is a hot and
wet country, the engineers worried about the corrosion resistance and the life span of cold-formed steel.

COST COMPARISON

This research project further looks into costing, which is one of the major aspects that hinder
the growth in the usage of cold formed steels. From the results of the interviews, it is assumed
that cold-formed steel is a more expensive alternative as compared with traditional
construction methods. But the question remains whether it is really a more pricey option. It is
believed that without proper research in the aspect of cost, this assumption cannot be
conclusive.
4.1

Method of Comparison

For the purpose of cost comparative study, a simple reinforced concrete double storey
residential detached house is picked as a case study. The purpose is to adopt the case studys
architectural design concept and convert it to cold-formed steel design. In other words,
comparisons were actually made for the same house designed with both the reinforced
concrete construction method and cold-formed steel construction method. This will prevent
any irregularities in the cost comparison made later.
For cost analysis of both the reinforced and cold-formed steel structure, the estimation of cost
for structural cold-formed steel will only include the components of material, labour, plant and
machinery costs. The project indirect costs such as corporate overheads cost, and risk and
opportunity cost are not being taken into account in this study.
The estimated rates for the labour, material, plant and machinery are found according to the
market price in Sarawak. Information is obtained from interviews with a manufacturing factory,
site supervisor, site engineer, and consultant engineer.
a) Material Cost
Both the reinforced and cold-formed steel structure cost considered in the case
study will only include the members, concrete, formwork, reinforcement steel bar
and reinforced concrete pile costs. Usually the unit cost of steel is measured in
pounds, hundred weight (cwt) or tons, which is based on the grade of the structural
steel used. For the cold-formed steel structures, sub-contractor cost was namely

Notes by SNTING

KNS 3333Construction Technology


the fabricator charges which are already included in the cold-formed steel material
cost.
According to the information provided by a local manufacturer, a 20% wastage
needs to be considered in cold-formed steel material cost during the production
and fabrication at the workshop and the design cost will be included in the
fabrication cost.
The overall estimation of the budget also needs to take into account of the increase
in the material pricings and for emergency usage such as replacement of some
damaged materials. Once again, the calculation of material quantity is based on
work breakdown structure carried out. Cost estimations are carried out by
multiplying estimated quantity with estimated rates.
b) Labour Cost
Labour cost for this research study will be categorized into general worker and
experienced worker. The labour for this case study are fixed at (1) one site
supervisor, (1) one experienced worker, and (4) four general workers. Their duties
are mainly in site clearance and construction of the foundation until the roof panel
of the building.
The experienced site engineer and site supervisor provide the unit labour cost
information by taking into account the situation for the wages or salary payable to
the employee. The site workers wage is normally counted per day, with the rates
for the general workers and experienced worker being different.
c) Plant and Machinery Cost
All the machineries have a cost component variously expressed as cost per time unit
(hour, day, shift, week and so on) or lump sum project cost. The machineries
involved in the construction of the double storey detached house are (1) one lorry,
(1) one JVC (excavator), (1) one crane, and (1) one concrete pumping machine.
These machineries are fixed as constants throughout the project.
Besides enabling accurate estimation of duration, fixing the labour, plant and machinery
resources, there are added advantages of keeping optimum resources on site and having
minimal turnover of resources.
The construction market price rates is as per in Kuching, Sarawak obtained before 30th of
November 2004.
Other cost assumptions besides the material, labour, plant and machinery costs are as follows:
5% from the total RC material cost for the minor or temporary materials use for the RC
construction such as nails, form oil, form ties, form liners and so on.
5% from the total RC material cost is considered again for the wastage of material cost
on site.
No wastage cost will be considered for cold-formed steel construction as the wastage
has already been included in the design fee at the workshop.
5% from the total RC/cold-formed steel material cost is considered for the minor tools
used during the construction. Tools used for each type of construction are as follows:
Cold-formed steel: drywall screw guns, vise clamps, metal hole punchers, tape
measures, felt pencils, hammer, saw, concrete vibrator machine and so on.

Notes by SNTING

KNS 3333Construction Technology

Reinforced Concrete: hammers, saws, tape measures, concrete vibrator


machines, and so on.
2.5% of the total RC structure construction cost is considered as the design fee for RC
structure.

3.2 Cost Results


The total construction cost for cold-formed steel double storey detached house is RM
71,933.06. Meanwhile, the total construction cost for RC double storey detached house is RM
75,791.79, which is about RM 3,858.73 higher than cold-formed steel structure.
Table 3.1: Total Construction Cost for Cold-Formed Steel Structure and RC Structure
Item
Total Construction Cost
Cold-Formed Steel Construction
RM 71,933.06
RC Construction
RM 75,791.79
Variation in Construction Cost
RM 3,858.73
Breaking down the cost, cold-formed steel design indicates a higher material cost compared to
RC design as cold-formed steel itself is an expensive material. From the calculation of results,
cold-formed steel construction spends about RM 45,899.05 for the total material cost, which is
around 64% of the total construction cost. Meanwhile, reinforced concrete construction spent
approximately RM 33,679.25 for the total material cost, which is about 44% of the total
construction cost.
Table 3.2 Total Material Cost for Cold-Formed Steel Structure and RC Structure
Item
Total Material Cost
Cold-Formed Steel Structure
RM 45,899.05
RC Structure
RM 33,679.25
Variation in Material Cost
RM 12,219.80
However, even though cold-formed steel construction is a more expensive material, it
nevertheless enhance shorter construction period bringing about better cost saving in terms of
labour, plant and machinery cost. The labour cost for the cold-formed steel construction spent
was about RM 11,730.00. Meanwhile for RC construction, labour cost was about RM 18,570.00
from the total construction cost, which approximately 58% more than cold-formed steel
construction.
Table 3.3: Total Labour Cost for Cold-Formed Steel Structure and RC Structure
Item
Total Labour Cost
Cold-Formed Steel Structure
RM 11,730.00
RC Structure
RM 18,570.00
Variation in Labour Cost
RM 6,840.00
For machinery cost, cold-formed steel construction also gives better cost savings compared to
RC construction. Cold-formed steel construction spent about RM 14,304.01 for the plant and
machinery cost while RC construction spent about RM 21,693.96 for the plant and machinery
cost, which is about RM 7,389.95 more than cold-formed steel construction. Overall, plant and

Notes by SNTING

KNS 3333Construction Technology


machinery cost for cold-formed steel structure was indeed much cheaper than RC structure.
This was once again influenced by the construction duration.

Table 3.4: Total Plant and Machinery Cost for Cold-Formed Steel Structure and RC Structure
Item
Total Plant and Machinery Cost
Cold-Formed Steel Structure
RM 14,304.01
RC Structure
RM 21,693.96
Variation in Plant and Machinery Cost
RM 7,389.95
It is clearly seen that time savings in construction could bring about total cost savings in the
overall construction costs.
5

CONCLUSION

At this point in time, the usage of cold-formed steel for construction remains very low in Sarawak. One
way of improving such usage would be educating Malaysians about this technology and material. Only by
understanding the material more, people will put more trust in cold-formed steel and the usage can be
widen. Without the pool of design information, standards and standardization of the material, it could be
quite difficult to convince the locals to use this material and method.
A change in perception of solid means strong is also very important in enhancing the usage of this
material. Hence, good research in material technology in the aspects of performance, strength and
durability is highly recommended to enhance cold-formed steel data pool.
Cost perception is one of major obstacle as the industry assumed that it is a definitely a more expensive
form of construction material and method. This research shows that even though cold-formed steel
construction can give better cost savings in residential housing construction but in terms of material, it is
still more expensive. However, this research did not take into consideration of project indirect costs,
which if calculated, could end up balancing the material costs. On top of that, with the global increase in
all construction materials including those used in reinforced concrete construction, cold formed steel may
not necessary be a more expensive material due to its lightness. And undoubtedly, with time savings
achieved from speedier construction, there is substantial cost savings.

References

[1] AISI (American Iron and Steel Institute). (NA). Cold Formed Steel Design Gallery.
http://www.steel.org/construction/design/gallery.htm. 26 July 2004.

Notes by SNTING

KNS 3333Construction Technology


[2]
Archives.
What
Other
say-2002.
(November
25,
2002)
The
Edge.
http://www.ijm.com/arc_what_021125_ed_2.htm. 13 January 2005.
[3] Bateman, B.W. (1996). Light-Gauge Steel versus Conventional Wood Framing In Residential
Construction.Texas: Department of Construction Science Texas A&M University Collage Station.
[4] British Standard (1985): Structural use of concrete Part 1. Code of particle fro design and
construction. London. (BS 8110: Part 1)
[5] British Standard (1996):Code of Particle for Dead and Imposed Loads. London. (BS 6399: Part
1)
[6]
Chen,
H.
(NA).
An
Overview
of
Cold-Formed
Steel
Structures.
http://www.beijingnews.com/courses/s101/s101.htm, 8 July 2004.
[7] Don, S.W. and Yu, W.W. (2000). Cold-Formed Steel Construction. Merritt, F.S. & Ricketts,
J.T. Building Design And Construction Handbook Sixth Edition. New York: McGraw Hill; 8.1-8.59.
[8] PATH (2001). Steel vs. Wood Cost and Short Term Energy Comparison Valparaiso
Demonstration Homes. 1sted .MD 20774-8731: NAHB Research Center, Inc.
[9] PATH. (September 2002). Residential Steel Framing Fire and Acoustic Details.
http://www.huduser.org/Publications/pdf/residential_steel_framing.pdf#search='fire%20resist
ance%20for%20coldformed%20steel'. 17 January 2005.

Notes by SNTING