While steel framing has been available in New Zealand for over 50 years, the use of this construction material internationally had started far earlier.
There are a few speculative claims about who constructed the first building using Cold-Formed Steel (CFS). However, it’s known that use of CFS for construction of buildings started in both the United States and England in the 1850s. Use at this time was largely experimental and limited to a few basic structures.
During the 1849 California Gold Rush, New York roofer Peter Naylor advertised “portable iron houses for California”, with iron that was grooved so all parts could slide together. According to the ad, “20’ x 15’ homes could be built in less than a day, were cheaper than wood, fireproof, and more comfortable than a tent.”
Mr. Naylor used metal roofing in his practice in New York, so undoubtedly many of the components of these ‘iron houses’ were cold-formed steel. In the 1920s and 30s, acceptance of cold-formed steel as a construction material was limited. There was not an adequate design standard, and no information on the use of the material in the building codes.
That changed in 1933 when cold-formed steel made its official premiere at the World’s Fair in Chicago, where it was featured as a “home of the future”. Three houses were constructed in this exhibit area, and they all made significant use of cold-formed shapers or were entirely framed in steel.