Q: Is this Red Iron or light gage construction?
Our main frames are 12 gage, 3-1/2" x 8", 10 and sometimes 12" Red Iron C-channels instead of light gage or smaller 2-1/2" C-channels. The Red Iron members are completely welded, with holes in place and each member is numbered, ready for quick, bolt together assembly at your job site. Excalibur's Red Iron system uses steel technology and steel members to frame the house instead of light gage systems which use wood technology with lighter steel members to do the framing.
Q: What comes in the package?
You may see a layout here. The package contains your red iron main frames, exterior studs, interior studs, purlins (for the roof sheathing), furrings (for the ceiling), sub-fascia cap, steel floor framing for second floors as required and all the necessary bolts and fasteners to put it together. Depending on the design it may include steel framing for first floor systems, dormers and stair framing. The standard material in our framing package is heaver than our competitor so be sure to see "The Excalibur Difference". A standard package does not include the sheathing for the exterior walls and roof, insulation or anchor bolts.
Q: Do you have any standard plans?
Yes, we have some new, updated models, and we still specialize in custom design and conversions from wood and masonry design to steel. If you have a plan you like or just sketch what you really want and send us the minimum information we need and we can go from there. The floor plan can be very flexible due to the clearspan framing so you only need a very rough idea of the layout you need. If the floor plan and roof design is fairly complicated a 1/4" scale set of plans may be required.
Q: What kind of designs can you do?
We can do hip and gable roofs; one and two story; split level; single and multi-family; slabs, basements and crawl spaces; and our clear span capabilities allow for larger open spaces, vaulted ceilings, high (9-12+ ft.) ceilings and more flexibility for custom floor plans. Our system also works well on some business and light commercial applications.
Q: Can you provide complete house plans?
A: We can do the Architectural drawings or we can work with your local Architect.
Q: Do I need any special training to put up an Excalibur home?
If you can read a set of blueprints and have framing skills (layout, cutting, etc.) our system is easy to learn. Experience with the erection of metal buildings or metal stud framing makes it even easier to learn. We provide you with information that will show you where each Red Iron beam belongs. If you are new to Red Iron systems we can help with technical support or in many areas we can put you in touch with framing contractors who can work with you. There are also several framing crews who can travel anywhere in the world to erect and dry-in the framing package.
Q: How are your homes safer than wood frame construction?
Due to our homes high strength they are very resistant to damage from high winds as seen during hurricanes and tornadoes and they can be designed for seismic zone 4 rating, the highest rating for residential earthquake resistance. Since steel won't burn, the framing in our homes is much more resistant to the starting and/or spread of a fire. Since a steel frame is electrically continuous with the ground it is less likely to be struck by lightning and if lightning should strike, the energy will be dissipated through the frame with little or no structural damage. For these reasons some insurance companies label steel framing as "Superior Construction" and offer discounts on homeowners and builders risk of up to 35 %.
Q: I would like to know how a steel home would stand up to a tornado in compared to a block home?
A: Not much will stand up to a direct hit from a big tornado but our red iron system is much stronger than conventional wood or block structures and would suffer less damage. The roof on conventional wood or block structures are still going be the weak spot and will be the first thing to go. Our red iron frames, which include the roof structure, are bolted to the foundation and all load transferring and uplift resistance is done by the frames.
Q: Are your homes energy efficient?
Because our homes have 8" exterior walls and hold more insulation (R-30), they require much less energy to heat and cool than conventional 3-1/2" or 5-1/2" thick (R-11 & R-19) wood framing. Air leakage from expansion cracks is less because steel doesn't warp or expand/contract as humidity changes. These advantages can help reduce heating and cooling costs by as much as 50%.
Q: Does your system have problems with thermal heat transfer and ghosting?
For peace of mind and extra insulation you can use Low-E or a similar material as a thermal break. It's a quick solution and is a great house wrap also.... The thing is, red iron structures are designed to have fewer heat transfer paths and thicker 8" exterior walls. For example, a red iron house doesn't have a ceiling joist every 16" (typical in stick built wood or steel homes, which provides a path for heat transfer every 16") but by using structural frames and furring strips on 16" centers on the BOTTOM of the structural frames it only has one main ceiling beam every 8 to 10 FEET. This is a reduction in heat transfer paths of 600 to 800 per cent. The furring strips are only attached at two points which further reduces the transfer path. The 8" exterior wall studs on red iron homes are 24" o.c verses 16" o.c. for stick built homes which reduces the load paths through the walls by 33 per cent. The 8" walls also move the warm/cold equilibrium point back away from the interior face of the stud verses a 3 5/8" stud in a stick built home. It's hard to see all the energy saving features of a red iron home without looking at it first hand (and thinking heat transfer paths) but it all relates to efficient design using the advantages of steel verses simply replacing wood studs, joists, ect. with steel members in the same place and size. None of the locally built red iron houses have a thermal break on the exterior (other than the OSB sheathing) and none have had any problems with ghosting. One thing they are all having is greatly reduced heating and cooling costs resulting from a high effective SYSTEM R value due to efficient design.
Q: How are the sound transmission characteristics of steel frame homes vs wood ?
A: Our homes are much quieter than wood framed homes because of the R-30 insulation in our 8" thick exterior walls.
Q: Do building codes allow steel framing in homes?
A: In the past few years there have been many code changes that address steel framed residential construction. The latest editions of the major national codes (SBC, BOCA, UBC, ABC.) all have new sections and revisions that address residential steel framing. Excalibur has never had a house where local building officials would not approve our design.
Q: Do you provide the necessary seals for our state?
We have the ability to provide engineering seals for 47 states and have other sources for the other three states. We can also provide a computerized calculation package for a local engineer to review and seal.
Q: Are there problems with the steel rusting?
A: The steel "red iron" main frames have a red oxide coating which is where the "red iron" nickname comes from. Excalibur's standard G-60 galvanized coating protects the rest of the framing components. The framing of the house is contained within the envelope of the house and not directly exposed to the outside environment. Termites and rot are a much bigger danger to wood framing than rust is to steel framing.
Q: What is the weight of red iron main frames?
A: Depends on design but usually 500-800 lbs each.
Q: What about exterior wall coverings, do you supply them?
A: No, you can buy those locally at normal building supply stores.
Q: Can steel be utilized in A-Frame construction?
A: Our system works well on A-frame designs. Send your plans or sketches to us and we can give you an estimate. Be sure to include the minimum information required.
Q: If I am looking to design a steel house rather than convert a wood design what considerations would I make to optimize my costs?
A: Steel framing is most cost effective for lower pitched gable roofs. Choose a frame spacing, 8, 9, or 10 feet, and use it through out your home. A 30 ft to 40 ft wide span is more economical than narrower or wider frames for standard type gable frames. Two story framing packages are usually less expensive PSF than a similar size single level package. If you wanted to give us your idea of what you are looking for we would be happy to guide you in the right direction. We can still do a semi-custom design using some of our pre-design frames and we have also done some wood to steel conversions that, with a little design leeway from the owners, resulted in a custom design for about what other companies standard models are selling for.
Q: I'm in the process of hiring an architect to design a home, can you design from scratch or do you need a plan for conversion?
A: Actually about 1/3 of the homes we do involve custom designs in which Excalibur does the architectural design also. If you have some sketches of what you are looking for we may have done something similar or we can do it from scratch using your ideas and needs to provide a complete design. Usually when we do the complete design the framing package is less expensive because most architects don't understand how our system works and don't take advantage of steel's strength, they design with wood in mind. If you chose to work with a local architect we can help provide suggestions for efficient design in our system.
Q: A carpenter friend of ours said that the cost and time benefits of erecting a steel structure are negated by the increased labor cost of finish work on steel rather than wood. Of course, he wants to build the house in wood. Can you comment on that?
A: Finish time and cost should be fairly close. You need to realize that even if the wood house costs less you still have a wood house. Comparing the two is like comparing a Yugo with a Caddy. If they were close in cost everybody would pay a little more to have a Caddy.
Q: Other steel home companies no longer design for California, do you?
A: We have designed homes for California but due to the massive amounts of paperwork and time consuming correspondence that is required we no longer do homes there
|Cost / Estimates
What is the average cost of a steel framed home package?
A: The design of the home is the main determining factor in the cost of a package. Other important factors are design conditions, distance from our plant (shipping cost), local labor costs and engineering/design services you and/or your building inspection department may require. Initial package cost has to also be compared with short term and long term savings gained by using our system (energy savings of up to 50%, homeowners and builder risk insurance discounts of up to 35%, termite protection requirements eliminated or reduced, etc.. etc..). Our packages have run from a low of $9.50 Per Sq Ft to $18/SF or more. These are the extremes with average package cost, less freight, running $10.50 to $13.50/SF. Cost of floor systems (for crawlspace, basement, and pier construction) and engineering also vary according to to the design and the other factors listed above. Comparing our system to wood framing is like comparing a Yugo to a Caddy, sure the Yugo is cheaper but you are getting what you pay for. And our "Caddy" framing package doesn't carry a "Caddy" price. If you look at only initial, short term framing costs, conventional wood framing can be cheaper but if you factor everything into your evaluation, our system will be less in the long run. If a wood framed house was built to match the benefits and features that one of our framing packages has (like 8" exterior walls; straight, non-warping, termite proof material, etc) it would cost at least twice, maybe three or four times what our framing costs are, and it would still not be as good.
What is the average cost of erecting a steel framed home?
A: The cost of erection varies with the design of the home and the local labor costs. Normal homes should be about $7 - $9/SF.
What is the average cost of shipping?
A: The cost of shipping varies with the time of order placement and carrier selected. But, generally you can figure around $2.50 a mile per trailer load. Most homes go out on one trailer, but more complex and larger homes may go out on 2 or more. This can be more easily determined once we see your designs. Normally, homes are manufactured and shipped from Chattanooga, Tennessee although it may be possible for it to be shipped from Texas if this is closer to your building site. This option usually depends on the home complexity and work load.
Q: Do you have Distributorship fees?
No, we do not have Distributorship fees. We would rather you spend your money on buying a house from us, rather than give us your money just so you can buy a house.
Q: If I send you a floor plan and a drawing of the exterior, will that be enough for you to determine the feasibility of constructing with your system? Or do you need a more detailed drawing?
A: It should be enough unless it is a complicated design. We can work with rough sketches as long as the major dimensions are shown and the general design of the roof is shown. Better drawings and/or sketches enable us to get closer with our estimate. We do need you to send us the minimum information we need.
Q: How do you estimate the cost of the steel framing package?
A: It is varies with the design. We estimate the amount of material required for a particular design and use that for our cost basis. On some designs that are common or that we have done before and have a cost history we estimate on a square foot basis.
Q: When materials are delivered, what is my responsibility?
A: You provide the manpower and a forklift or crane to unload the truck and then you must check the material against the Parts Usage List to insure that any shipping damage or loss is discovered.
Q:Do you have to do any welding to the red iron at the job site?
A: No, except for very unusual designs, everything is welded, the holes are punched and ready to assemble at your job-site. It is just like putting together a giant erector set.
Q: Are pieces color coded or labeled?
A: The red iron is labeled and some parts are color coded.
Q: How many men does it take to raise the red-iron frame of your homes.
A: 3 to 4 minimum on most designs. Normal crews have 4 to 6.
Q: What do you recommend for insulation for steel-framed homes?
A: R-30 batt fiberglass is the most common and least expensive but the newer sprayed or blown in foams or fiberglass will seal cracks and voids better.
Q: How are wood and drywall fastened to the steel?
A: Drywall screws work great for attaching drywall. For exterior wall and roof sheathing corrosion resistant screws should be used. The common sharp tip screws work on the standard 20 gage studs. 18 gage and heaver gage material will require the use of drill point screws.
Q:What kind of finish materials can be used?
Steel framed homes can be finished with the same materials (interior and exterior) used to finish wood homes. You can't tell by looking that it's steel framed, except over time. Conventional wood headers and roof ridges sag, Excalibur's all steel framing stays straight and rigid.
Q: What kind of sheathing is used on the outside of the house?
7/16" OSB and plywood are most commonly used. DensGlass Gold and other similar concrete/fiberglass structural panels can often be used when a stucco finish is to be applied. If you want to put a metal roof directly on the roof purlins, without sheathing, a 26 Gage structural panel will usually meet the requirements.
Q: Any problems with brick exterior for 2-story home?
A: No, just use standard brick ties fastened to the steel studs with self tapping screws.
Q: Do you have to put any kind of a barrier between the steel and the concrete slab?
A: No, but a good caulk seal under the track is required to seals any cracks. Some builders also put a strip of 30 Lb. felt under the track and floor joists.
Q: How do you attach the sub-facia to the ends of the rafters?
A: Self drilling screws attach the sub-facia to the rafter tails
Q: What gauge of steel should be used for load bearing walls?
A: Excalibur's system doesn't have load bearing walls. Our exterior and exterior walls are a minimum of 20 gage.
Q: How do you attach finish mouldings?
A: Wrapping the door (interior and exterior) and window openings with wood 2x's works well. Regular finishing nails can then be used. On base and chair rail you can either use trim screws (which work O.K. for painting, but I don't care for them on stained), wood blocking between studs every so often or with Excalibur's heaver than standard 20 Gage studs you can use construction glue and your nail gun. The heavier studs still allow the finish nails to go in but they are heavy enough to actually hold the finish nails in place. Best results is obtained by shooting the nails in at angles. The construction glue adds a little extra holding power. Door and window trim can also be done this way. Crown molding can be installed by ripping scrap 2x's at the correct angle and installing them in the corner between the ceiling and wall with screws and then using your nail gun to shoot the trim up or you can install a strip of plywood in place of the drywall under the molding for a nailing base. You can also combine this with shooting directly into the studs and furring. Just remember with the lighter 25 gage studs and 22 gage furring found in some other packages and on most commercial work, nailing into the stud/furring will not work well. Screws don't even hold very well in the 25 gage studs. Also, a company called Senco has made a finish nail specifically for wood trim to steel stud application. Some crews sware this is all thats needed (ie. trim application is no different than a wood home), so its worth a look.
Q: What is the normal spacing for studs, rafters, floor joists, etc.?
A: Typically interior/exterior studs are 24" o.c., ceiling furring 16" o.c., floor joists 16" o.c., roof purlins 24" o.c.
Q: What size are the joists in my 1st and 2nd floor flooring system (8", 10", 12")?
A: On typical first floor systems the joists are usually 8" or 10" but they can be 12" or 14" if required.On typical 2nd floor systems they are 8". The gage of floor joists are to be determined during design based on spans and loads. Remember, the structural frames handle the load transfer so the structure is quite different than a stick built house.
Q: Does my electrical wiring have to be run in electrical conduit?
A: There are code approved plastic grommets that allow romex (regular wire) to be used. No conduit is required by the electrical code. Your electrician or the local building inspector should be able to find it in the later editions of the NEC (National Electric Code).
Q: Is there equipment which makes it easier to apply decking and sheathing?
A: There are code approved nails/nail guns that can be used to nail the sheathing to the steel studs. There are also several brands of autofeed screwguns that really speed up the process.
Q: How long does it take to finish a custom frame kit?
A: Depends on the size and design of the house, size and experience of the crew and complexity of the design. Other factors such as weather, subcontractors, etc will also affect the building time.
Q: What is the onsite building of the red iron frames like?
A: Not too bad. A simple 2000 SF house should have the frames assembled and erected in a day (day and 1/2 to 2 days with an inexperienced crew). Experienced crews can easily have it up and all the roof purlins on, ready for roof sheathing, in two days. Complicated and/or large designs require more skill and time.