Hotels, resorts, offices can be built with prefab steel structures that provide scope for versatility in design and are easy to install. A look by M.A. Siraj

Going by the shrinking span of relationship between men and things, civil structures that last for over 75 years may not be very popular in future. Pursuit of materials that can put in place structures that have lesser lifespan and yield recyclable material has been continuing for some time. More so for establishments such as industries and businesses that are looking for short-term premises.

Prefab steel modules are emerging as one possible solution for people looking for such structures. Using high tensile steel and light gauge frames, these structures can be raised in less than one-third of time consumed by civil masonry buildings.

While even houses could be built this way, it finds preference for mainly commercial and industrial premises or even schools and shelter homes run by NGOs. Being dry constructions, these are more energy efficient and entail less cost of labour. Having less thick walls, these allow larger carpet area within and are amenable to any kind of finish for interiors as well as exterior.

Whether hexagonal designs for cottages at the hill resorts or two-storey (ground floor+one) houses in a seismic zone, these structures could have flexibility of design.

Short tenure

What however stands out amidst all these advantages, is the short tenure required for construction. M. Girish, Assistant Manager, Everest Industries, which takes up such smart steel constructions, says his company has built a 60,000 sq. ft school building for Ansal API Institute near Lucknow in recent years in only 90 days. According to him, their structures use high tensile steel of 550 MPa and galvanisation of 275 gsm and can safely last for 50 years, although the company provides assurance of only 25 years.

He says steel being recyclable, any dismantled structure can always promise a return of a minimum of one-third of the cost.

The structures are however raised on a concrete foundation and steel modules are embedded and screwed into the masonry at plinth level. The structures have a total wall thickness of 120 mm and are lighter and weigh not more than one-third of the masonry works of the similar dimensions.

For hotels and resorts

Loom Crafts, another company specialising in prefab structures, mainly high-end luxury premises, provides a 50-year warranty for its structures. Site engineer Rajkumar Pushkar says the prefab steel structures are an ideal option for hotels and resorts as it makes them mobile assets. He says the steel modules provide scope for versatility in design and are adaptable for any region. The company has constructed a luxury resort at Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra. According to Pushkar, a 500 sq. ft premises can be raised in just around 45 days and costs Rs. 1,800 to Rs. 2,500 per sq. ft.

Loom Crafts has been building even four-storey (ground + three floor) structures. The walls are made of cement fibre sheets with glass wood for insulation in between the two sheets.

Flooring is done with 20 mm cement panel boards. The steel structures provide for plumbing, electrical wiring and sanitary pipes to pass through.

No corrosion

The structures are corrosion-free and can withstand rains and considerable wind loads and are even fireproof and moisture-retardants. Loom Crafts even undertakes cladding with power-coated aluminium wall cladding.

According to Girish, exterior finish could have even brick or granite veneers and can employ stone as well as paint for aesthetic look. The Everest Smart Steel’s manufacturing unit at Bhagwanpur in Roorkee (Haryana) is entirely built with the company’s prefabricated steel modules and serves as a showcase for the clients.

Among the Everest’s clientele are Delhi Tourism, Indian Oil, Jindal Steel & Power, Tata, Procter & Gamble and Thriveni Earthmovers. The companies aver that the structures are totally maintenance free. The speedy construction also promises to avert cost escalation.

Combining speed, functionality, and durability, the prefab steel structure seems to be the solution for commercial and industrial buildings in years ahead.