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What Does Steel Framing Mean for Plumbing and Electrical?

For residential and light commercial projects, cold formed steel offers builders a faster, more cost-effective option for framing – and it’s starting to catch on throughout New Zealand. 

Before transitioning forward to steel solutions, however, most builders want to know what a steel frame will mean for their subcontractors. With all the details your plumbers and electricians will need, here’s what you can expect from MODNframe products when it comes to services access.  

Placement is considered at the design stage 

One of the key differences between traditional timber framing and steel framing innovation is how the engineering process works. While timber construction typically requires design adjustments and engineering fixes throughout the project, steel framing employs a design-led process for assured accuracy down the line. 

All the components involved with steel framing, including frames, trusses and joists, are manufactured precisely to size and delivered to the build site ready to assemble. That means that every detail is considered right from the beginning of a structure’s design – before the components are produced.  

The space and layout of service holes are incorporated at the onset of a project. When MODNframe manufactures the pieces, these holes are already accounted for and included according to the detailed design. 

Ultimately, this ends up saving time for both builders and subcontractors during the construction of the building, as everything is placed and ready to go right away. 

Pre-punched holes for easy access 

When MODNframe components arrive on site, they will already include pre-punched service holes. Designed to accommodate bridging members, electrical wires, plumbing pieces, and gas, these pre-punched holes are created with easy installation in mind. 

Plumbers and electricians simply use these holes to route electrical wires and plumbing elements. Some professionals find it helpful to snap isolators into place when planning their services layout. Even subcontractors who have never come across steel framing before report that the system is easier and faster to work with compared to timber. 

The manufactured punch-outs are designed to prevent notching and boring in the stud. If there are changes to the design during or after installation, more holes can be created by punching, drilling or cutting them with a hole saw.  

The MODNframe support team can help answer any questions that plumbers or electricians may have about this process, and advise the best way to make any needed alterations.  

What subcontractors often ask about steel framing 

What screws can be used for brackets and boxes? 

The size of the required screw will depend on the thickness of the cold formed steel framing. Builders can offer information about the material thickness to help plumbers and electricians decide on their screw type, which may include a hex head screw, a self-drilling screw point, a self-piercing screw point, or a pan head screw. 

What is the best route to choose when working with steel framing? 

Typically, plumbing pipes should be routed through interior walls to better protect them and offer more room towards the exterior for insulation. Overall, this will lead to better energy efficiency for the building. 

What type of supply pipe can be used? 

Cold formed steel framing works with any kind of pipe material, including copper, PVC and other plastics, and metal gas lines. There is no difference between timber and cold formed steel when it comes to choosing pipes. 

 Is it harder or easier to work with steel framing compared to timber? 

Plumbers and electricians typically say that the process as a whole is faster in steel-framed structures, especially after trying it at least once. The pre-punched holes mean less time spent drilling, making the planning stage easy and efficient. Plus, because cold formed steel is manufactured and installed to 0.1mm accuracy, every component – from the wall studs and joists to the trusses – are perfectly aligned. This makes space for direct, straight access throughout the building. 


As New Zealand’s first nationwide distributor for residential and light commercial steel framing, MODNframe is offering builders across the country a simpler, more cost-efficient option for their projects. From streamlined engineering to faster production to quicker construction and services installation, MODNframe products are designed to help achieve quality framing with less effort and lower costs. 

Learn more about the full installation process for steel framing here – or have a chat with one of our construction experts to learn how MODNframe could help your team work more efficiently.