Fast and efficient installation
Lightweight and easy to move around
100% termite and borer proof
Design versatility
Read their story

Fortitude Frames & Cardillo Constructions | Prefabricated Steel Frame Case Study

When two families were planning the construction of their joint-holiday house, the type of framing material to be used was carefully considered, due to the many challenges the location presented and the house-design the families had selected. The home site is surrounded by bushland (in a BAL 29 bushfire area) and sits on the banks of the Murray River, making it flood prone, so the house needed to be elevated 3m from the ground. The design of the home was created to provide two separate wings on either side of a central common space where the living and kitchen are located – giving each family their own space, but also a natural shared area to come together. The design also includes a stunning cathedral ceiling, and a large rear balcony with a hot tub. 

The homeowners initially had a bias towards timber framing, but after much consideration and talking to various building experts, they decided on a light gauge steel (LGS) solution with structural steel instead. “We researched the pro’s and con’s and spoke to many other consumers who have built with steel to get a real feel for the benefits” said the homeowners. As owner builders, they reached out to Fortitude Frames directly to discuss the frame design and fabrication while still considering their options. “Fortitude Frames played a major role in our decision-making process” said the homeowners. “With their experience, knowledge, attention to detail and outstanding customer service it made the final decision quite simple.” 

To maximise the distance between the 3m high support (so that multiple vehicles could be parked there), and to accommodate the different loads, structural steel posts were used to elevate the home. Using the ENDUROFRAME® system, Fortitude Frames then utilised as much light-gauge steel as possible for the house – designing and fabricating the flooring cassettes, wall frames and roof trusses from TRUECORE® steel. A couple of structural steel beams also provided added support for the cathedral ceiling.

Wanting to use all local trades, the homeowners then hired Cardillo Constructions on the recommendation of Fortitude Frames, to install the framing and complete the carpentry work. 


  • Homeowners (HO)
  • Jeremy Cardillo, Owner, Cardillo Constructions (JC)
  • Dennis Sutton, Managing Director, Fortitude Frames (DS)

Project Goal:

  • To build a multi-wing residential home with cathedral ceilings and varying loads, that is elevated 3m above the ground. 

Key Benefits Delivered: 

  • Fast and efficient installation: 
    • Originally the builder had estimated a framing installation time of at least three weeks, but they completed the job in a little over two weeks. (JC)
    • The lightweight nature of frames made from TRUECORE® steel meant that only two people were needed to install the frames. (JC)
    • Due to the lightweight nature of TRUECORE® steel, the need for a crane to lift the frames and trusses up to the 3m high starting level was eliminated. Instead the frames were light enough to be brought up through the scaffolding. (JC)
  • Lightweight yet strong:
    • The weight being supported by the 3m tall structural steel posts was an important consideration. Cardillo Constructions estimated that, from their past experiences using timber framing would have been at least two times heavier on the structure than the framing made from TRUECORE® steel. 
    • Due to the high strength-to-weight ratio of TRUECORE® steel, Fortitude Frames was able to design a floor joist system with 6.5-7m wide spans. This meant that the plumbing and other services could be concealed from exterior elements by running them through the webs and trusses. (JC)
    • Long and very high spans (one ceiling apex is 5.5m high from the first floor) were easily achieved with the high strength-to-weight ratio of framing made from TRUECORE® steel. 
  • Straight and true:
    • The prefabricated frames made from TRUECORE® steel meant that the frames were dimensionally accurate and there was no need to straighten any walls. (HO)
  • Design versatility: 
    • Multiple external cladding materials including wall cladding made from COLORBOND® steel, and stacked stone cladding were possible with the frames made from TRUECORE® steel. 
  • Benefits for follow-on trades: 
    • Follow-on trades had positive feedback about the frames made from TRUECORE® steel:
      • The plasterers loved that the walls were perfectly straight, and there was no need to adjust edges;
      • The plumbers and electricians loved how Fortitude Frames included so many pre-punched service lines in the frames – allowing them to just drop in their grommets and run their lines. (JC)
  • 100% termite and borer proof: 
    • With the presence of termites on the property already, knowing that frames made from TRUECORE® steel are termite and borer proof was an important factor for the homeowners. (HO)
  • Won’t catch fire:
    • The property is located in a BAL 29 bushfire area, so knowing that frames made from TRUECORE® steel won’t ignite or contribute to the spread of fire was reassuring to the homeowners. (HO) 

Using the ENDUROFRAME® system, Fortitude Frames completed 3D modelling that also included the structural steel components which helped Cardillo Constructions considerably in the speed of the installation. “When I initially got the plans from Fortitude Frames, I thought this will take me about a month to put together because there’s so many pieces. But then once we started it all just fell together – everything dropped into place millimetre perfect and we flew through it”, said Jeremy Cardillo, owner of Cardillo Constructions. He continued, “The detailing in this job was a work of art in itself. The difference between Fortitude Frames and other places is that the core team are all builders, so they understand how things are meant to work. They’re amazing.”

Mr Cardillo is a strong supporter of lightweight steel framing and uses it exclusively for his builds. “The spans that can be achieved without structural steel are amazing and the workability of the product is great - jobs that used to take us four people with timber can be done with just two.” He continued, “Being termite and borer proof is also a huge benefit and selling point in my area as it is known to be prolific with white ants. Plus, setting saddle trusses and hips up is a breeze, and there’s no straightening of walls so my plasterers love working with the steel frames. Finally, if you have a specific cladding that you want to use, the detailers can add in extra noggins and studs to accommodate these which saves time on site. It is, in my experience, without doubt a superior product in many ways.”

Dennis Sutton, Managing Director of Fortitude Frames enjoyed working on such a unique project, and acknowledged the importance of the partnership his business has with BlueScope on customer faith in the frames he designs and builds. “The partnership between BlueScope, TRUECORE® steel and our business is part of our strength and allows our customers to have trust in our product. It gives builders and homeowners the assurance that we’re using the best available product” said Mr Sutton. 

Project Details:

  • Project: Residential Home – ‘Bushlands House’
  • Location: Murray River Region, NSW
  • Principal Steel Products:
    • 9,260m of framing made from TRUECORE® steel
    • Exterior cladding: COLORBOND® steel in the colour Monument® Matt
  • Builder: Cardillo Constructions 
  • Steel Fabricator: Fortitude Frames 


Disclaimer – The content of this case study is based on statements made by the source listed above and is a reflection of their views and experience. Same/similar results are not guaranteed for each user and outcomes may vary across projects.