Builders see bright spots in exports and Web-based sales for steel-framed homes

Nov 01, 2009 | 05:31 AM |

The perils of living in a harsh climate remain the strongest motivation to make the switch to steel from traditional wood framing, according to home builders specializing in steel-framed construction, with more than one noting growing export opportunities.

"If the country had started out building steel-framed houses they would have never switched to wood," said Orie F. Wells, president of Wells Enterprise Designs, a Traverse City, Mich.-based home builder. "People are more concerned with granite counter tops, but steel is structurally engineered so it can handle storms and wind. You get a frame system that is going to outlast you, and you can put all the amenities in and make it as beautiful as you want." Wells, a former sheet metal worker, has been building with steel since the 1980s. When light-gauge framing was introduced in the mid-1980s it was mostly for commercial applications and there were no standards, which slowed the potential growth of the market, he said. ....

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