LiteSteel Teams with Habitat for Humanity

by WOHe

Bob Kaiser directed three young women to help him lift the 27-foot
LiteSteel beam (LSB)
and carry it over to the home’s foundation for installation.
Less than 10 minutes later, the beam was placed into position by hand,
providing the main support for the home by spanning the entire length
of the basement with no columns.

But that’s not the only support this two-story home received
on this day. Kaiser and the three women were joined by about 25 other
neighborhood volunteers to build the home as part of Milwaukee Habitat
for Humanity. The home is one of about 20 being built in this
north-side Milwaukee neighborhood in the next two years by Milwaukee
Habitat, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide simple,
decent and affordable housing for local families in need. Since 1984,
Habitat has built more than 400 new homes in the city, and renovated
hundreds more.

Seeing the value and service Milwaukee Habitat provides to the city,
LiteSteel Technologies stepped forward and donated the basement beam to
its latest new home build, a 1,400 square-foot, two-story home at 2850
N. 21st St. in Milwaukee.

“We’re very pleased to make a donation to Milwaukee
Habitat for Humanity,” said Jeff Hoffman, vice president
business development for Troutville, Va.-based LiteSteel Technologies.
“This organization serves the greater good for the community,
and we’re happy to be a part of that.”

LSB is a patented, cold-formed, light weight steel structural beam that
combines the strength of steel with the installation workability
normally associated with wood products. Unlike hot-rolled steel W beams
or LVLs, LSB can be hand-lifted by framers on a job site, eliminating
the need of a crane for installation.

On average, LSB is about 40 to 50 percent lighter than hot-rolled steel
or engineered wood alternatives; cost is generally comparable or less
than engineered wood products. LSB is heavier gauge than typical stud
products. The beams are produced from G-60 rated hot dipped galvanized
steel. Additionally, LSB is compliant with IBC 2006 and 2009, Florida
2007. The full code compliance research report is listed on its website

LSB can be cut, drilled and fastened right on the job site in a matter
of seconds, which is what Bob Kaiser did prepping the beam for

The beam arrived with the lumber package the night before from Bliffert
Lumber, the pro-dealer Milwaukee Habitat regularly uses for its homes.
Kaiser, whose unofficial title on this day was house leader since he
has some experience in home building, used a circular saw with a
steel-cutting blade to cut the beam in just a few seconds to a precise
measurement of 27 feet to run across the length of the home’s
basement. Kaiser said most of the homes he helps build for Milwaukee
Habitat uses LVLs for the structural support, but found working with
LSB had its advantages.

“Working with LSB was fairly easy,” he said.
“I think it’s a lot better than LVLs in that we
don’t have to nail them together. It did save us time, and
for someone like me, the weight of the product enters into the
equation. This beam is lighter than LVLs and it’s just easier
to work with.”

Its light weight is an attractive feature, especially when building
with volunteers who aren’t familiar with the home-building
process, said Kim Chick, construction supervisor, Milwaukee Habitat.

“I’ve never worked with LSB before, but the
installation was fast and easy,” she said. “It
didn’t seem as heavy as LVLs and it certainly reduced the
prep work. With LVLs you have to nail the two beams together, which
makes them heavier and wider. It’s just more work involved
for the volunteers.”

“We found that LSB is really simple to use and caters to the
carpenter who likes to adjust things onsite,” added Adam
Helt-Baldwin, construction manager, Milwaukee Habitat. “I
think the fact that we have volunteers here working and handling LSB
says a lot about its user-friendliness. It is saving us a lot of time
on nailing and hauling it around.”

The four bedroom, two-bath home is expected to be finished and ready
for its new occupants in early summer 2011.

The strength of LSB gives architects the ability to design homes with
longer spans and fewer, or in many cases, no support columns at all.
LSB is available in lengths between 24’ and 40’to
better accommodate basement, garage, floor beam and long-span header

“It’s nice to eliminate posts in the basement,
especially in these smaller homes where we can give the homeowner as
much usable basement space as possible,” Helt-Baldwin said.
“Everyone these days is on a shoe-string budget, but
we’re trying to build affordable homes for the long term with
quality products. And certainly this beam fits into our mission of
using quality products.”

“Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity is thrilled to partner with
LiteSteel Technologies to provide state-of-the-art materials for our
homes that will ultimately benefit our partner families,”
said Melissa Herguth, development director, Milwaukee Habitat.
“Donated materials help us keep our costs low so we can help
build more homes in partnership with low-income families.”

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