Steel Fabrication / Structural steelwork specialists - what you need to know
What is a steelworker or steel fabricator?
Steelwork or steel fabrication might be something you’d associate with large-scale industrial projects. But if you’re looking to renovate your home, add a customised extension or a specialist feature like a mezzanine floor into an existing building, steelwork could be central to your project.
“Steels” (the jargon you’ll hear bandied about by tradespeople) will feature in nearly every home somewhere – usually in the form of lintels (an architectural support). But as our appetite for more creative extension and renovation projects expands, steelwork is now used to make any number of different structures possible. Think balconies, raised decking, modern extensions featuring large glazed panels, or simply specialist fencing or gating.
Sometimes bricks and mortar or even timber structures won’t be possible, due to space constraints, cost, or even particular load-bearing demands. This is where steelwork comes into its own – as it’s more versatile and therefore capable of bringing the grandest (or humblest) of projects to life. Steelworkers won’t just be able to install the structure though – most will also be able to produce (fabricate) the metal item too.
Cost of steelworking or steel fabrication services
There’s a huge variety of applications or services that steelworkers and steel fabricators can deliver. And that means there’s a huge variation in the cost for steelwork jobs too.
Typically, you’d expect to pay £55-£75 per metre for standard structural beams. For entire structures, the complexity will have a big impact on the cost. A simple galvanised steel-frame building could cost anywhere from £40-£200 per m2 depending on materials and the structural engineering requirements.
What are typical structural steelwork projects?
Structural steelwork involves creating all (or a load-bearing part) of a building. For home renovation or building projects, that means:
- Entire structures – prefabricated buildings that are basically a steel-framed shell.
- Roofing – a specific roof structure made from steel beams. Steel will be used where timber may not suitable, usually due to load-bearing demands or a specific design being required.
- Staircases – traditionally these are timber constructions, but in certain cases steel is more suitable, again either for design or structural reasons
What do steel fabricators make?
Steel fabricators will usually be able to turn their hand to any number of jobs, such as:
- Fencing – creating bespoke designs or sizes of fencing, tailored to precise requirements.
- Gates – crafting a specific style or size of gate, as well as installing it to ensure it opens and closes smoothly.
- Balconies – this overlaps with structural steelwork, as the balcony will need to be load bearing. In terms of the balcony design though, a steel fabricator can create custom styles or sizes according to your specifications.
- Staircases – again, this will require both fabrication and structural work, but your steelworking expert will be able to craft a specialist or custom staircase according to your requirements.
The qualifications your steelwork and steel fabrication expert needs
Steelworkers and fabricators don’t require any formal qualifications, but some will have completed an apprenticeship before progressing on to gain further experience. And that experience is crucial, especially when it comes to structural work, which needs to be soundly manufactured and able to carry heavy loads.
Planning permission for steelwork and steel fabrication jobs
Steel work itself won’t require planning permission, but the structure it is used to create may need formal approval. If you’re considering a steel structure for an extension, building a new garage or even something as relatively straightforward as installing a balcony, it’s worth consulting the planning portal website before you give the green light to proceed with any steelwork.
Insurance for steelwork and steel fabrication
Most reliable and professional tradespeople will hold public liability insurance, but don’t make assumptions. Be sure to ask for a copy of their insurance, so you’re satisfied that both you and they are protected against accidental damage.
Questions you should ask your steelwork or steel fabrication expert
- Can they provide a copy of their public liability insurance?
- How many years of experience do they have?
- For structural projects, do they provide a warranty on their work?
- For steelwork projects, do they have photos of items they have previously produced?