Jason Greene, Greene Building
and Construction Company
Small Custom/Spec Builder
A 1,700-square-foot, single-story spec home in Northport, Alabama.
"We broke ground on a spec home at Northwood Gardens, a development we share with two other builders, at the end of May," says Greene. "The entire home was framed with steel. Eight weeks later, everything was done, including the landscaping. We finished well ahead of the wood framer who started his house--a similar size house in the same development--two months before he did. It only took us six days to frame the entire home."
Greene says the framing process starts before you get to the job site and evolves much differently than traditional wood framing.
"It takes some planning and preparation. You aren't going to go down to your local hardware store and buy steel studs, so it requires a bit more office time to get your materials and put together everything you need on the jobsite," Greene says. "Essentially, you build the project in the office before you ever get to the site."
"On a wood house, you get a set of house plans, you hand it to the framer, and he figures out what he needs. With steel, you give the plans to someone in the office who can efficiently get all the materials the framers need."
"When a home goes up in just six days, you have to give a lot of credit to the framers in the field," Greene says. "Mind you, it is not difficult to train steel framers, but they have to get used to different tools and techniques. For example, you're using a screw gun, rather than a nail gun. But if you are a good framer with wood, you are going to be a good framer with steel as long as you have an open mind and want to learn."
"The more difficult adjustment with steel framing is finding reasonably priced subcontractors. Steel isn't a new product, but it's relatively new to the residential market. That means you end up hiring people with commercial construction backgrounds, and those subs sometimes want more for a job because they are used to the commercial pay scale. Sometimes it can be a hard sell to get subcontractors that are new to steel or new to residential homebuilding to work within your budget."
"We've been fortunate to work with the same subcontractors over several years. We got them up to speed on steel techniques and what products to use to make their work most cost-effective."
Jason Greene, owner of Greene Building and Construction Company, has been in the homebuilding business since 1995. After graduating with a degree in civil engineering, Greene went to work for a traditional stick-frame builder, before meeting a homebuilder using steel framing techniques normally seen in commercial construction. Impressed by the quality and the advantages to the builder, Greene started his own steel framing residential construction business. He now builds about 20 homes a year.
Why he uses steel framing:
"The strength of steel allows you to build designs with much larger open spaces and larger spans. Throw in the fire resistance, the reduced waste, and how easy it goes up, and you end up with a home that is far superior to wood."