FIS in partnership with the Steel Construction Institute (SCI) has launched a Specifiers’ Guide to Light Gauge Steel Framing Systems (SFS) External Wall Systems to help specifiers understand the granular details involved in the design process and production of a specification.

The Specifiers’ Guide was produced by the FIS SFS working group made up of manufacturers and installers of SFS external wall systems in conjunction with the Steel Construction Institute (SCI), which provide an independent source of information and engineering expertise in steel construction. It is intended to guide architects, engineers, designers and installers through the stages in designing, selecting and specifying steel framed systems to form the external envelope for steel and concrete framed buildings.

FIS Chief Executive Iain McIlwee said: “This is the second specialist guide that FIS has produced in partnership with the Steel Construction Institute and demonstrates the strength in collaboration, producing guidance to ensure that accurate and detailed specifications can be written so that external walling systems can be procured and installed to meet the required specification.

Commenting on the guide, Colin Kennedy, Chair of the FIS SFS working group and Managing Director of FIS member Veitchi Interiors said: “Specifying SFS external wall systems requires considerable thought and design, even before a specification can be written. This is because the specification should be developed alongside the engineering design rather than a simple output from a list of attributes and parameters, to cover the three light steel external wall systems and the six current variants of SFS.”

Andrew Way, Associate Director at the Steel Construction Institute, added: “In order to achieve the correct specification, a considerable amount of information is required about the intended use of the product and the desired performance characteristics. This was the learning curve for me and the key lesson that this new guide addresses, in that the SFS should be fully engineered specifically for the building. Most importantly its location, proximity to other buildings and how that building is designed to accommodate movement is essential before it can be specified.”

Colin Kennedy continued by saying: “The construction industry is rightly under the microscope to ensure that the lessons from the terrible tragedy three years ago at Grenfell Tower are learned and that this starts with ensuring that the specification is clear, compliant and written by those who are competent and subsequently installed by those who can demonstrate they have the Skills, Knowledge, Experience and Behaviour (SKEB) to be considered competent.”

The guide includes 23 questions relating to ‘critical building information’, a further 15 questions to check that they are all addressed, a list of 10 questions on risk and how to avoid them and a further 10 questions on writing a smart specification to ensure a safe, compliant and complete specification can be written. All of which is crucial to ensure that the specification is not open to misinterpretation, and that any alternatives can be assessed and checked as equal, before approving them.

The guide sits alongside other FIS best practice guides that relate to SFS:

Design and Installation of Light Steel External Wall Systems

Recommendations for the Safe Ingress of Plasterboard

FIS Health and safety handbook

These guides work well when they are included in proposals and project plans to demonstrate how to best approach a project and are an excellent introduction to new members of the team and any trainees and apprentices.

You can download the Specifiers’ Guide to SFS External Wall Systems here