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FIS and the Steel Construction Institute (SCI) launched the much-awaited Technical Report ED017 – Design and Installation of Light Steel External Wall Systems guide with a consortium of industry partners on Thursday 16 May.

SFS is the lightweight steel frame used to create the inner leaf of an external wall, it’s been around for over 20 years but its benefits are just being realised, which is why so many projects are using it, but there are problems being created because of a lack of planning and knowledge. It’s the first thing you see, but often the last thing that’s designed in a building, and that’s the issue.

SFS is seen as non-load bearing, not holding the structure up but it is supporting cladding, internal linings, insulation and perhaps even services. There are significant implications should it fail, which could lead to the external cladding falling off.

Who is the guide aimed at and why should they use it?

  • The guide is for anyone who designs and installs SFS infill walls
  • Anyone checking that the products are being correctly installed, such as a ‘Clerk of Works’.
  • It will help to raise standards
  • Show clients what SFS is and how it works
  • It will get people thinking about what is expected of them, the design and the final installation
  • It will give installers the confidence to question designs and provide guidance to ensure the installation is as good as it can be
  • The document includes checklists as well as guidance that makes people stop and check that all the information that should be provided, is provided.

As the landscape post-Grenfell develops, we envisage that it will be very different from the way in which buildings are being designed and constructed now, this guide will become the go to reference for all involved.

Magnesium oxide boards

FIS and SCI have become aware of insurance companies providing guidance on the use of Magnesium Oxide boards (MgO) This is following reports from Denmark and other countries of defects in walls built using MgO building boards, typically as either sheathing or as a backing board to render. In response to this, we have created an information sheet detailing the current conditions.