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Integrating Cold-Formed Steel Framing Into Your Next Multi-Family Construction Project

Are you missing opportunities for efficiency and better ROI in your multi-family construction project? How to integrate cold-formed steel framing.

Multifamily construction — everything from affordable apartment complexes and military housing to luxury condominiums — is a segment made for CFS framing. The repetitive nature of such projects — floor after floor of more or less the same framing assemblies and layouts — makes CFS the perfect choice to build cost effectively.

While cold-formed steel framing has been around for decades, many builders, architects, and developers may not realize all of the opportunities and benefits it affords, especially where multi-family projects are concerned.

Providing safe and efficient structural solutions for the developer looking to have a superior return on investment in a shorter time cycle than most other construction options, cold-formed steel’s flexibility in design and consistent material quality lends itself well to any project.

One example is Park Terrace and Grant Park at Croton Heights, a mixed-income, multi-building housing development in Yonkers, NY. It’s a great demonstration of CFS attributes. Find more of the details in this Metal Home Digest article about Park Terrace and Grant Park at Croton Heights.

Explore these resources to learn more about how CFS can impact your next multi-family project:

1. Download the latest CFS code compliance documents

Start with Standards for Design and Construction, available for free through the American Iron and Steel Institute.

2. Download the latest CFS steel technical guides covering fire and acoustics, thermal,  and durability

3. Specify steel

Steel has many advantages:

  • CFS studs and trusses won’t sustain damage due to the elements while exposed on a job site
  • Steel does not warp, shrink, or crack and remains straight and true throughout the life of the structure
  • Steel is 100% noncombustible

4. Value engineer the walls

CFS walls can be adjusted with each floor of the structure. Walls on lower levels, for example, can use CFS studs with greater thicknesses than those on higher levels. Such value engineering enables the steel thicknesses to be reduced as each floor is added and reduces the overall project cost. This was done at the Croton Heights project in Yonkers, NY.

5. Use the best floor system for your particular project

CFS floors come in all different shapes and sizes.  There are standard CFS floor joists, proprietary joist products that are manufactured with large punchouts to accommodate standard-size plumbing and HVAC ductwork. The Croton Heights project incorporated the JoistRite Floor joist system, which was manufactured to allow for efficient installation of the plumbing runs.

6. Coordinate with the trades

Upfront planning with all involved with a project is always recommended, and the right kind of planning can avoid clashes, speed up workflow, and trim man-hours required to complete projects. Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing (MEP) contractors and the framing contractor can discuss the location of toilet traps, mechanical returns and main trunk locations and, thus, verify and align the knockout diameters they need within floor joists.

If available on a project, Building Information Modeling especially helps to resolve problems before they occur.

7. Order studs cut to length … or panelize

Last, but certainly not least, encourage your framing contractor to order CFS studs cut to length. This is generally easy to do and works for the wall studs and the floor joists.

The walls at the Croton Heights project, for example, were all stick built on-site. Stick building using pre-cut CFS studs gave the framing contractor control of its workmanship and helped to avoid unnecessary delays.

Another effective and efficient solution, depending on project size, is to consider panelizing (meaning the components of the structure — walls, floors, and roofs — are assembled in a controlled manufacturing environment).

Build lasting structures

The lucky residents of multi-family structures built with CFS will get to enjoy their energy-efficient units for many years to come.

For more information about how to utilize CFS framing and increase a project’s return-on-investment in multi-family, load-bearing applications, reach out for project assistance.

Steel Framing Alliance

The Steel Framing Alliance (SFA), based in Washington, D.C., aims to encourage the widespread use and preference for cold-formed steel (CFS) framing. SFA members contribute valuable insight and expertise to the marketplace, which is channeled into the development of resources for the industry. The Steel Framing Alliance focuses on the growth potential of CFS framing in the mid-rise sector for offices, hotels, condos, apartments and other multi-family housing, university housing and similar buildings.

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