SPEEDFRAME has introduced a lightweight steel-frame house building system.
It is the third such system after five-year-old Metframe, which is largely used for commercial building, and British Steel's Surebuild, which is used by Taywood Homes.
Sir Kit McMahon, Speedframe chairman, said that steel frame construction could improve profit margins by an average of £300,000 per site. He said: 'Using our system, volume house builders can have the frame up within four days, and the complete unit built in less than six weeks.'
Although Sir Kit is also deputy chairman of Taylor Woodrow, a Speedframe spokesman confirmed that this did not jeopardise Taywood Home's existing relationship with Surebuild.
The spokesman claimed that the firm was preparing pilot projects for six out of the 10 top volume house builders and is confident that the first major steel framed housing development could start next year.
Cheltenham-based Speedframe, which was set up last year, predicts that some 14,000 steel frame homes will be constructed each year in the UK by 2003.
However, the figure is based on the US market, where steel frame now has a 7.6 per cent market share, six years after its introduction.
Ward Building Components produces the Speedframe system at its factory at Sherburn, Yorkshire. Speedframe uses cold-rolled steel sections bolted together
allowing the steel to provide continuous spans of up to 6 m without further support.
Because purlins are not required, the system also opens up the roof space for habitation.
Around 100,000 steel-frame homes were built in this country between the wars but then the method fell into disuse until the new generation of lightweight frames appeared.