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Steel Searching

Builder Magazine - AUGUST 1997
Rich Schwolsky

Brookfield Homes and Nicholas Lane Contractors are testing new steel-framing tools on production homes.

Brookfield Homes is taking steel framing to a higher level of production. The company expects to close 400 steel-framed homes within the next 18 months in Edgemont, a new community in West Covina, California.

"The trick hasn't been the technology," says company president Jeffrey Prostor, "it's been the trades." Prostor has committed his company to training its trades, laying out a high volume of work for them to see, and getting tool manufacturers to develop new tools for easier assembly. Even at this stage, Prostor says his 2,500 square-foot steel homes cost $800 to $1,000 less than wood.

Production framer Scott Shaddix of Nicholas Lane Contractors is framing Edgemont. "Jeffrey has opened the door for us," Shaddix says, "giving us a real opportunity to see what we can do with steel." That includes testing brand-new tools and prototype techniques.

Shaddix is currently testing pneumatic tools that shoot screws like a nailer. The tools, produced by Japanese manufacturer Max, work for steel-to-steel, wood-to-steel, or drywall-to-steel connections. Prostor and Shaddix also are testing a new Swiss tool from Attexor that makes clinch connecfions, eliminating screws altogether.