The Australian History of Steel in Residential Construction


Commonly found on residential building sites now, steel was not always part of the construction process. In fact, as you probably already know, the main material was steel’s arch nemesis, wood. Shocking, right?

Having said that, the use of steel in the building of residential homes is also not something that has just happened overnight. Not even in the last 30 years for that matter. Steel has been gradually rising in popularity since the end of World War Two.

In this month’s blog, Stronghold are giving you a rundown on the history of steel in Australian residential construction.

Post War

In the years direct after World War II, Canberra experienced massive growth in and around the city. This rapid growth created a housing shortage, which they were desperate to find alternative solutions. A lack of materials and labour created the stimulus for inventive thinking and innovation in design, construction and materials.

This lead to the importation of prefabricated housing, of which the first to be introduced to Canberra in 1947, was the Beaufort Steel House.

Built by the Beaufort aircraft factory, the home was brought to Canberra and erected in Cowper Street, Ainslie. The steel used was dubbed ‘Econo-steel’, which was essentially uncoated steel sections dipped in bituminous paint, and was used in the construction of 300 houses in the ACT. Unfortunately, despite its name, Econo-steel was six times more expensive to use than timber.

( )

1960’s – 1980’s

The 1960’s was when the first real boom in steel frame housing in Australia occurred. On reclaimed land on the Gold Coast, an American builder constructed 50 steel homes, using galvanised frames finished with stucco (cement rendering). Yet, it was in 1968 when the first of the ‘new era’ steel frame houses was built. This was also when the construction of steel frame homes using 1.2mm thick galvanised steel commenced in Thornleigh, Sydney. This development in steel home construction continued for another 20 years.

In the 1980’s, another evolution occurred with the availability of hi-tensile zinc-aluminium alloy coated steel, which became the driver behind the new framing systems of this time. Aside from being lightweight and strong, it also exhibited excellent corrosion-resistance. Steel enabled the freedom of design the 1980’s designers craved, bringing together open plan living and a desire for greater economic benefits from their investment.

Modern-day Steel Framing

Computer technology advancements have made steel cutting, prefabrication, and frame detailing a sustainable reality, making steel one of the most versatile and cost effective building materials around. Stronghold Fabrications even offers 3D Steel Drafting services, providing you with:

  • Detailed workshop drawings
  • 3D Modelling
  • Accurate and detailed material quantities
  • PDF, DXF & NC files for manufacturing automation

For further information on how Stronghold can help you with your steel fabrication and sales needs, please feel free to call us on 02 9791 1886, or obtain an obligation free quote using our online form here.

Steel and Sustainable Housing
What our Customers say

“Frantom Building has been in the custom building market in NSW for 15 years. We have worked with Scott and his team from Stronghold Fabrications in all aspects with steel, from design, shop drawings, and delivery. Their attention to detail has been proven in the perfection of the finish in their products and servicing ability. We look forward to moving into the future with Stronghold Fabrications.”

Ed Poulton Director Frantom Building Pty Ltd

“Just wanted to thank you for another awesome job. The steel you supplied for our home at Lilli Pilli went together perfectly and the 3D model was a great tool for us to use both during the install and for planning the final finishes on the project. Keep up the great work!”

Dave, Nitro Stainless Pty Ltd

“Thank you for another successful and efficient project completed by your team. Consistently well produced steel products from Stronghold Fabrications have ensured installation always goes smoothly on our projects. Your installers ability to work in with our teams onsite to ensure any site issues do not cause delays is a refreshing change. Thank you.”

Nicholas Klapsogiannis, General Manager, VantageCorp Pty Ltd