Straight and true
Lightweight and easy to install
Design efficiencies
Time savings
Peace of mind
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A hybrid framing solution delivers affordable housing with up to 8% more floorspace in each bedroom.

Project Goal:

  • To deliver 11 zero-lot detached townhouses with maximised floorplans in a 12-month construction timeline.

Key Benefits Delivered:

The key parties involved in stage one of this development, Smartsteel Frames, Straight Edge Steel Frame Homes and Billingham Construction, highlighted the following benefits in utilising light gauge steel (LGS) framing made from TRUECORE® steel:

  • Straight and True:
    • The use of precision engineered framing made from TRUECORE® steel, means that the frames will not shrink, twist, or warp over time.
  • Lightweight and Easy to Install:
    • The lightweight yet strong nature of LGS framing made from TRUECORE® steel meant that less trades were needed onsite to install the first-floor framing, flooring joists and roof trusses.
  • Design Efficiencies:
    • The use of LGS frames for the external walling on the upper level in place of the brick cavity walls that were used on the ground floor, meant that approximately 130mm of floor space was gained around the entire perimeter of the upper level. This resulted in more than 8% more space in each of the two bedrooms, and 7% more space in the Master bedroom.
  • Time Savings:
    • By substituting the first-floor concrete slab with LGS flooring joists, time was saved on the completion of each dwelling due to the elimination of the 21 days curing time that is needed for concrete flooring.
  • Peace of Mind:
    • Billingham Constructions appreciates the added protection that frames made from TRUECORE® steel provide against termites and borers, and the warranty protection that is offered by BlueScope.


After meeting a contact from Ocean Key Holdings and learning of their plans for an affordable housing development, Scott Elsley of Straight Edge Steel Frame Homes, wasted no time in pitching the idea of a hybrid framing model to them, in place of the brick and timber construction they had been considering.
Mr Elsley invited Ocean Key Holdings to a presentation with his preferred steel fabricator, Smartsteel Frames, to learn more about the benefits of building with LGS frames. The collaborative presentation which also included members from the BlueScope team, resulted in Ocean Keys selecting a brick and LGS framing solution to save both time and money on the build.

Following this decision, Billingham Construction, a long-time partner of both Straight Edge Steel Frame Homes and Smartsteel Frames, was awarded the building contract for the first 11 townhomes in the development. Excited for another collaboration, all parties involved had the same goals – to provide affordable living for homebuyers by maximising the use of each block of land, implementing smart building design principles, and using materials that maximise the speed of construction.

Each of the phase one townhomes is a two-storey build with living, dining, and kitchen on the ground level, and three bedrooms and two bathrooms upstairs. All are ‘zero-lot’ homes - meaning that there is only a 30-millimetre clearance between the adjoining walls of each neighbouring property. Double-cavity brick was used for the ground floor construction, and LGS made from TRUECORE® steel was used for the upper-level internal and external walls, flooring joists, and roofing trusses. “Steel is strong, durable and lightweight,” explained Lee Billingham, Owner of Billingham Construction. “It doesn't twist, shrink, rot or warp over time, and termites can't eat it! It's quick to install, it won't catch fire and it has versatility within its design. TRUECORE® steel has a high strength-to-weight ratio and is precision engineered, thus ensuring walls are straight and true. Floor space gains can be achieved by using steel, combined with external cladding construction which resulted in each of the three bedrooms being 7-8% larger in size. Framing made from TRUECORE® steel also arrives onsite prefabricated, and we saved valuable time with the quick installation”, he continued.

For Smartsteel Frames, the upfront planning with Straight Edge Steel Frame Homes, meant that the project went smoothly for their team and the biggest challenge they faced was ensuring that the frames they detailed and fabricated allowed for the variances in tolerance that brickwork naturally has. Said Dene Figliomeni, Managing Director at Smartsteel Frames, “We use the ENDUROFRAME® system which is a CNC system so everything is specified to the millimetre in the design. Our frames have tolerances of 1-2mm, whereas with brick you must rely on manual human labour which can vary. Therefore, we allow for a minor tolerance for this to ensure that no adjustment to the frames is needed onsite.”

Smartsteel Frames were also appreciative of the support that they received from BlueScope which helped to bring this project over the line. Explained Mr Figliomeni, “BlueScope helped to speed things along everywhere they could, provided us the documentation we needed and ensured that there was plenty of steel available. It all worked out really well.”

The Clarkson Townhouse development is still under construction and phase one is due to be completed by the end of 2021.


  • Lee Billingham, Owner, Billingham Construction
  • Scott Elsley, Owner, Straight Edge Steel Frame Homes
  • Dene Figliomeni, Managing Director, Smartsteel Frames

Project Details:

  • Sector: Multi-residential
  • Project: Clarkson Townhouses
  • Location: Clarkson, WA
  • Client: Ocean Key Holdings
  • Architect: Straight Edge Homes
  • Builder: Billingham Construction
  • Steel Fabricator: Smartsteel Frames
  • Principal Steel Products: Approximately 14,300 linear metres of TRUECORE® steel was used in the build for the first-floor flooring, first-floor internal and external wall frames, and all roof trusses – including the garage.

The content of this case study is based on statements made by the sources 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.

Notes on the calculation of the floorplan savings on the upper level – note that every bedroom is a corner room:

Master Bedroom:

  • Without dresser nook but including robe is: 4760x4460 = 21.23m2
  • Using brick external walls = 4630x4330 = 20.05m2
  • Dresser nook is: 1140x1000 = 1.14m2
  • Dresser nook would have been with brick external walls: 1,010x870 = 0.88m2
    Total including dresser nook is: 22.37m2
    Vs. what this would have been without TC framing on external walls: 20.93m2
    Difference is 1.44m2
    Approx. 7.18% more space in the room as a result of using framing made from TRUECORE® steel for the external walls.

Bedroom 2 & 3:

  • Are each: 3550 x 2950 = 10.47m2
  • Using brick external walls = 3420x2820 = 9.64m2
  • Difference is 0.83m2
  • Approx. 8.61% more space in the room as a result of using framing made from TRUECORE® steel for the external walls.