Australian Construction Focus - September Edition

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September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

While the worldwide economic downturn may not be over, there are definitely signs of recovery. They may be small, but they exist, and can be seen as Australia’s economy turns a tentative corner. Unlike many other nations, Australia has gone on for many years without suffering from a recession – an unprecedented 19 years, in fact. Although not immune from the effects of the financial crisis that escalated in 2008 with the collapse of institutions like Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and many others ,Australia was not hit as hard as other developed countries around the world. It was recently reported that in the most recent quarter, the Australian economy has grown at its fastest pace in three years, with gross domestic product (GDP) expanding 1.2 per cent in the April-June quarter, compared to 0.7 per cent in the first quarter. Some naysayers will undoubtedly downplay this increases, growth fuelled primarily by an overwhelming demand for Australian ore and other minerals from our friends in China, along with a 1.6 per cent increase in household expenditures. Still, many of the country’s economists – not always the most excitable bunch – called the new GDP figure “fantastic,” and were surprised by the growth in household consumption, a sign of growing consumer confidence. Although Australia has borne the worldwide economic crisis better than many other nations, it still required a $42 billion stimulus package. It is obvious that the package is working, and unlikely that there will be cuts to the interest rate. For the nation’s construction sector, affected by a drop in housing approvals in parts of the country, the news of the first significant economic growth in the three years could not have come at a better time. The worldwide financial downturn is far from over, but at least signs of recovery are on the horizon. Robert Hoshowsky

Managing Editor

Editor’s Pick

In this issue of Australian Construction Focus, we take a closer look at an association created after the Second World War to represent the growing needs of the nation’s builders, and reveal the fascinating history behind a newly restored church in Perth. For over 60 years, Australia’s Housing Industry Association (HIA) has been the voice of the nation’s construction industry. As the country’s largest residential building organization, HIA represents over 40,000 men and women working in the construction sector. With 21 offices in cities and major regional centres across the country, HIA helps to ensure the creation of affordable housing, and lobby on behalf of their many members. In Perth, the newly restored St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, closed for a three-year-long restoration, recently reopening its doors to the devout. Dating back to 1863, the church now features seating for over 1,000 parishioners, a state of the art sound system, and increased accessibility for the disabled.

Australian Construction Focus | September 2010


Robert Hoshowsky Managing Editor Kulvir Singh Creative Art Director Robert Chambers Director of Business Dev. Lorne Moffat Head of Research Rob Lenehan Research Manager Christian Cooper Director of IT Jen Hamilton Office Manager Contributing Writers Lynn Hamilton Jamie McKee Jeff Hocken Publisher 8th Floor, 55 Hunter St Sydney NSW 2000 GPO Box 4836, Sydney NSW 2001 Phone: 02 8412 8119

14 Gay Constructions Building A Strong Support System

26 HIA

Over 60 Years of Service

34 Classic Resources Traditional Values, Modern Techniques

42 Meridien

Turning Dreams into Reality

50 BDH Constructions Satisfaction in a Job Well Done

58 Cosmopolitan

Housing Innovations for Changing Lifestyles

64 Brisland

Brisland’s Team Rises to The Top


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

70 History St. Mary’s Cathedral

78 Carr Civil Working Smarter


Innovative Civil Construction Solutions

96 Green

Living Large in Small Spaces

102 VDM Group Providing Solutions

112 Centrals

Facing Challenges Head-On

122 Macalister

Schools, Sports Centres and Quality Homes Australian Construction Focus | September 2010



September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

Australian Construction Focus | September 2010


The 9th National Infrastructure Summit September 14-15 at the Rendezvous Hotel in Melbourne

Beginning with 2 pre-conference workshops on risk mitigation and project management of large infrastructure projects, this year’s agenda will cover a broad range of topics regarding the nation’s infrastructure needs. Presentations focus on infrastructure as it relates to an increasing population, access to skilled workers, finance and the GFC, taxation, sustainability, and more. Speakers include high level executives, academics, and officials from all levels of government including The Hon. Tim Pallas MP, Minister for Roads and Ports, Minister for Major Projects, Victoria State Government. For more information visit:

Mega Project Management 2010 September 15-16 at the Holiday Inn in Brisbane

With recent increases in infrastructure investment from the government and private sector, organisations across the country are gearing up for an increase in available mega projects. This conference provides an opportunity for project managers to better their skills and strategies to effectively manage more complex projects. Along with a number of presentations from industry leaders, there are several panel discussions and 3 half day workshops to teach participants about every aspect of mega project management. For more information visit:


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

Achieving the Green Dream – Tomorrow’s Technology Today September 16-17 at the Telstra Conference Centre in Melbourne

In its second year, the AIRAH hosted conference aims to provide practical information about new building technologies. For building services industry suppliers, designers, installers, and maintainers this event offers information on a long list of methods to deliver energy efficient buildings: seawater cooling, biomass energy, phase change material, greywater reuse, geothermal, solar and many others. Keynote speakers include David Hood, Chairman of the Australian Green Infrastructure Council and Trevor Moore, Head of Environmental Sustainability at National Australia Bank (NAB). For more information visit:

Coasts, Marine Structures & Breakwaters 2010 WA September 27-29 at the Novotel Langley City Centre Perth

The harsh marine environment presents a unique challenge to those involved in coastal and deep sea construction. This conference offers a forum for marine, geotechnical, and structural engineers, project managers, planning managers, and so on, to discuss best practice methods, sustainability, and management of these unique projects. Some of the specific topics discussed will be the Port Botany Expansion, concrete remediation, securing funding, overcoming challenges in open sea conditions and the viability of using dredging. For more information visit:

Australian Construction Focus | September 2010


“Pub Crawl” takes on a whole new meaning


ver the years, construction crews worldwide have reinforced, secured, hoisted and transported countless heritage buildings and other structures from one location to another. Thanks to the hard work and ingenuity of New Zealand construction workers and engineers, an old pub in Auckland is getting renewed life not far from its original home. When it opened 124 years ago, it is unlikely the original owners of the Birdcage Tavern could have imagined that, over a century later, major motorway expansion would require their beloved pub to be moved 40 metres up a hill to accommodate a road tunnel. Faced with the prospect of demolition of the heritagelisted establishment, its owners – the New


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

Zealand Transport Authority – decided instead to pick up and move the three-storey building until tunnel construction is completed. The age of the building, combined with the structure being made of bricks and mortar, required “massive reinforcement” prior to the move, including steel rods and strong carbon fibre strips. After careful planning and plenty of Teflon and liquid silicon, the venerated old building was raised onto concrete rails, and slowly pushed uphill with hydraulic rams. Once the excavation of the Victoria Park tunnel is completed in about six months, and the move is finished – at an estimated cost of $2.4 million – the Birdcage Tavern will be moved back again.

World’s biggest gasification plant gets green light


n Western Australia’s South West, the Federal Government has given environmental approval for what will become the world’s biggest coal gasification and storage facility. At a price of $3.5 billion, Perdaman Chemicals and Fertilisers will create the Collie Urea project, a potentially lucrative business proposition. Expected to generate $850 million per year in export revenue, the urea plant will process two and four million tonnes of coal a year. Once processed, the Collie coal will be turned into urea (fertilizer), and exported to India and other countries. In addition to being the world’s largest, the project will also be Australia’s first gasification plant, and is expected to create 500 hundred jobs during construction with 200 permanent workers.

Queensland Economy on the rise Business investment in construction, new machinery and equipment is on the rise, says Queensland Treasurer Andrew Fraser. Showing the state’s strongest quarterly economic growth in two years, Queensland’s domestic economic activity grew by 0.6 per cent in the three months to June, according to new figures published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. While comeback levels are not on par to what they were before the worldwide global economic downturn, there are indications that the area’s economy is improving. According to Fraser, business investment in machinery and equipment rose 4.5 per cent in the quarter, and construction of new dwellings by the private sector rose 2.2 per cent, leading to the best quarterly growth for the area since June of 2008. Although he has some detractors, Treasurer Fraser says the data is a clear indication of renewed confidence in the Queensland economy. “As the private sector continues its comeback, that will mean stronger economic growth and more jobs for Queenslanders.”

Australian Construction Focus | September 2010


Construction growth up 2.9 per cent, mining experiences gains


he latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) report a 2.9 per cent growth in the total amount of construction work done in the June quarter of 2010. The figures are good news to Australia’s construction industry, and a sign of an improving economy. In other sectors, the country experienced the largest quarterly surge in consumer spending in three years. According to the ABS, this fueled a 1.2 percent gain in gross domestic product last quarter, the greatest rise since 2007.


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

In addition to construction, much of the economic growth is coming from the nation’s mining and services, which saw an increased output of 1.3 per cent in the last quarter. One of the reasons for the increase comes from Australian mines feeding the demand in China for iron and coal products.

State of the art school in WA


enders for the $30 million construction of a new, state of the art school with a media suite and computer lab are expected to be called early next month. Along with new computer areas, upgrades to the Dongara District High School will see the construction of new school buildings, a new administration block, and the refurbishment of the existing administration block into a student services area. An additional $2.5 million will see the construction of a kindergarten, pre-primary, and year one block of five classrooms. Calling the changes “mind blowing,” the school’s principal Janine Calver says more families are also expected to move into the region, and that the new state of the art upgrades will accommodate those new residents by the time the project is completed in mid-2012.

Mining boost for Northern Tasmania in the works Working with a Canadian company, the mayor of George Town in Northern Tasmania says there are hopes for a proposed $110 million mining project. For the past 18 months, George Town Mayor Doug Burt says the council has been working with Delta Minerals. Together, they have been investigating a rock mining and crushing plant near Bell Bay. If the project proceeds, it could mean considerable employment for the area, initially in the construction stage, then as ongoing employment as the mining site goes into operation.

Much of George Town’s economy relies upon the heavy industrial zone and deep-water port of Bell Bay, which is home to an aluminum smelter, ferroalloy processing plant, fibreboard plant, seafood processing factory, and other industries. There are also plans to increase tourism to the area. Australian Construction Focus | September 2010



September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

By Tim Hocken and Jaime McKee

Australian Construction Focus | September 2010


In any enduring company, a strong network of relationships is critical. Satisfied clients and repeat customers form the backbone of success, while strong industry partnerships can also play a crucial role in enabling companies to meet their objectives. While many construction firms recognize the significant role played by the former, Gay Constructions Pty Ltd takes a unique approach in its acknowledgment of the latter; buoyed by a solid network of partners across the industry, Gay has the capacity to take on challenging and complex projects and the expertise to see them through. Combining this approach with cutting-edge technology and true customer service has made Gay Constructions a leader in its field for over fifty years.


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

Specialising in the steel fabrication, engineering and construction industry, Gay Constructions Pty Ltd was established in 1955 by founder Patrick Gay. A mechanical and electrical engineer, Mr. Gay was successful in assembling a small, dedicated team into what became, by the end of the 1960s, one of the state’s major players in steel fabrication. With staff numbering over 100, Gay Constructions was able to take on large-scale tasks, including shopping centers and major mining industry projects. Exemplifying the motto “Undertake and Perform”, Gay Constructions espoused a “can do” philosophy; once committing itself to a project – often for some of Australia’s and the world’s largest and most successful companies – Gay Constructions could be counted on to see its commitment through. Australian Construction Focus | September 2010


The company quickly established itself as a firm which could live up to its promise. This philosophy continues to underpin Gay’s operations to this day. Open to even the most challenging projects, Gay Constructions combines a strong customer focus with technological innovation to produce topquality results. Brett Mathieson, Gay Constructions’ General Manager, describes the company as “at the forefront of adopting new technology, new products and new opportunities”; such innovations range from leading-edge software, to sensitive environmental initiatives, to a progressive quality management system. This drive to constantly improve itself has kept Gay at the


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

This multidisciplinary project involves the design and construction of a rail loop and materials handling conveyor system to transport coal from the Airly mine opening to the train loading. When complete, the system will facilitate the transportation of 1,800 tonnes of coal per hour, providing Centennial Coal with efficiency by moving coal at speed. Gay Constructions undertook for the builder Laing O’Rourke. • Conveyer Ground Modules {46te} • Loadout Bin & Structure {117te} • Head & Tail End Chutes and Support Steelwork for CV01, CV02 & CV03 {40te} • CV02 Travelling Tripper {14te} Gay Constructions has for many years been associated and developed a solid reputation with all mine work. Their dedication to safety and on time delivery is rarely beaten.

top of its game and opened the company up to opportunities from a broad spectrum of markets. Working largely with private sector clients in areas ranging from commercial, to architectural, to mining, to infrastructure development, Gay Constructions itself carries much of the risk associated with projects; rather than shying away from this challenge, the company embraces complex tasks and fully backs its work. One such significant project was the Hamilton Island Yacht Club. Described by Queensland Premier Anna Bligh as the “Opera House of North Queensland”, Gay’s work on the project has been shortlisted in several categories of the ASI Queensland Steel Awards this year.

Australian Construction Focus | September 2010


Dubbed an “architectural masterpiece where architecture and engineering collide”, the yacht club features a distinctive copper roof, cantilevered terraces, and a truly Australian style. Mr. Mathieson recalls how gratifying it was to work with celebrated architect Walter Barda and the engineering team to realize Mr. Barda’s vision and translate it into a practical and workable structure. In the coming years, the yacht club is sure to become a distinctive feature of the Queensland landscape. Another challenging yet exciting project in the works for Gay is the commercial high rise under construction at Brisbane’s 111 Eagle Street. Working with Cox Rayner Architects, head contractors Leighton Contractors Pty Limited, and developer General Property


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

Trust, Mr. Mathieson describes the building as “iconic” and says that the work is coming together very well. Plans for the building are not only architecturally stunning, but are aiming for a 6 star Green Star rating, with significant energy and water savings provided through a number of green innovations. Construction on the high rise is expected to be completed in mid-2011. Of course, no description of Gay Constructions’ work would be complete without highlighting the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, a 2007 Structural Engineering Steel Design Award Winner; and the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre located in Broadbeach. Gay has also made key contributions to Australia’s mining sector, as evidenced by the company’s Australian Construction Focus | September 2010


work on the Airly Coal Development Project. Please see sidebar for more details on these high-profile projects. Part of what gives Gay Constructions the fortitude to bid and deliver on these demanding assignments is its strong network of industry partners, affiliated companies, and qualified sub-contractors. These affiliations allow for consistent, timesensitive, quality production and enable Gay to draw from a wide range of skill sets and expertise. The company seeks to build strong relationships with members along its entire supply chain; Mr. Mathieson describes this policy as critical to Gay’s success, as it provides the company with a very high quality and professional pool of suppliers. Mr. Mathieson


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

speaks equally highly of Gay Constructions’ core workforce. The company continues to directly employ about 100 individuals, and during the global financial crisis it has made it a priority to retain as many of these workers as possible, weathering the storm better than many of its contemporaries. Such a strong and reliable workforce has enabled Gay Constructions to consistently deliver quality work on time and on budget, and these achievements have been repeatedly recognized in the industry. In 2006, the Rolleston Coal Stacker project picked up the ASI Queensland Structural Engineering Steel Design Award. A joint effort with Connell Hatch and Monadelphous in which Gay provided its expertise in steel Australian Construction Focus | September 2010



September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

sustainability, Gay has truly established itself as the modern go-to company for steel fabrication services.

fabrication, the project has been described as innovative and efficient, highlighting both value and a high level of technical skill. Gay has also received High Commendations and recognitions of its safety practices from industry partners on several occasions.

If strong relationships indeed form the backbone of success, then watch for Gay Constructions Pty Ltd to endure for many years to come. Its long-standing history and proven track record of quality and safety have given the company a true competitive advantage in the market. Gay’s strong network of partners and in-house professionals has the capacity to consistently produce the entire package. It is for this reason that time and time again, its clients continue to turn to Gay Constructions to meet their most challenging and complex construction needs.

Not content to rest on its laurels, Gay Constructions constantly seeks out new ways to bring modern innovations into its work. The company not only embraces new technology and software, but aims to be an industry leader in bringing Green Star environmental initiatives to new constructions. At every opportunity, Gay seeks both to utilise recycled steel and to use fewer overall tonnes, reducing both cost and environmental impact. The company also coordinates with designers to incorporate solar technology into new buildings. With an eye toward ecological Australian Construction Focus | September 2010



September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus


s the country’s largest residential building organization, the Housing Industry Association represents thousands of dedicated men and women working in Australia’s construction industry. From builders to bathroom specialists, design professionals to trade contractors, and manufacturers to suppliers, the Housing Industry Association – HIA for short – has been the voice for the country’s home building industry for over 60 years.

“The association operates essentially on two fronts,” says Shane Goodwin, Managing Director for HIA. “We provide a range of services to members, including anything from contractual advice to industrial relations assistance, economic advice, forecasting and trends, training, housing awards, and major industry events. Our second role – a particularly important role the association plays – is we develop industry policy, and we lobby all levels of government, national,

Australian Construction Focus | September 2010



September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

state and local government, as well as their agencies.” Joining HIA in 1996, Goodwin has held a number of roles in the association, including National Chief Executive – Operations, and later, Deputy Managing Director. By the time he assumed the role of HIA’s Managing Director in 2009, Goodwin brought over a quarter of a century of experience in industry policy and service delivery to the organization, having chaired and served on a wide range of industry and government advisory boards and committees. Operating as a not for profit, HIA remains a unique organisation. It is Australia’s only national industry association for all building professionals, and serves to represent the needs and interests of the country’s entire housing industry.

The History of HIA

As a proud Australian national organisation, HIA has grown and evolved over the years. Today, the association represents 40,000 members across the country, with 21 offices in cities and major regional centres. The origins of the Housing Industry Association can be traced back to the end of the second World War. Back in 1945, in the Melbourne suburb of Ormond in 1945, two local builders – Bill Hunt and Perce Newton – met by chance outside a real estate agent’s office. Both had just purchased blocks with

the intention of building ‘spec’ houses, and both men bemoaned the lack of building materials available to them. They soon realised the need for an organisation to represent builders, and decided to get other builders and contractors on board. A meeting was held, followed by another, and with 45 people present, the decision was made to establish the Builders and Allied Trades Association (BATA) in January of 1946. Soon, public broadcaster Jack Atkinson was brought in as the first President, where he “worked unceasingly in the case of the private enterprise building industry” until 1958. Other key positions were created, meetings in many Melbourne suburbs were held, and support came in from many trades connected to the building industry. Membership grew quickly, and BATA incorporated. Since price fixing and a severe shortage of materials continued, the membership concluded that their concerns would resonate more if the organisation extended across the entire country, and after three years of canvassing the idea, the Housing Industry Association was born in June of 1965. Today, HIA remains an association dedicated to serving the needs and interests of their thousands of members across the country, which range across the entire industry from small and medium-sized enterprises all the way to major national builders and manufacturers. “We cover the whole spectrum,” says Goodwin. “We’re an industry Australian Construction Focus | September 2010


association, so any business involved in our industry is eligible to join the association, and our aim to secure a profitable, economic environment in which our members can operate.” By speaking with one united voice for all of their members, HIA is able to better represent their needs, address their concerns, and help answer any questions they may have on construction-related issues affecting them and their industry. Drawing strength from its rich regional diversity, HIA offers their members a wide range of services, a platform to learn about policies affecting their industry, and adherence to high standards of self-regulated commercial conduct.

The Benefits of Membership

As members of the Housing Industry Association already know, the benefits that come with joining the organisation are practically limitless. Membership in the HIA is widely recognised, and the HIA logo is a badge of professionalism in the industry. In Australia, HIA members are responsible for over 85 per cent of new homes and renovations, and displaying the association’s logo on contracts, stationary, vehicles, clothing, and advertising promotes not only the industry, but serves as an assurance to clients that you are part of a membership organisation that values quality and integrity. “Membership is not based on turnover or size,” says Goodwin, “it is based on your


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

pedigree in the industry, whether you’re a builder, manufacturer, supplier, or a professional business.” In addition to numerous print publications, the Housing Industry Association has an extremely comprehensive website (http:// Also, outlining the many benefits available to HIA members, the site features the latest news, there are sections for trade contractors, builders, kitchens and bathrooms, business partners, manufacturers and suppliers, consumers, and apprentices. There is, literally, ready information on practically any subject you can think of regarding the industry, from workplace services to business and financial advice, market trends to creating safer workplaces, and available training courses to how HIA members can protect their business interests. All members receive HIA’s Members’ Edge, a practical business support package that is updated quarterly, and provides small-tomedium businesses with relevant, up to date information and tips on starting, operating, and growing their businesses. From checklists to marketing tools, the package also includes information on consumer trends, new materials and products, and valuable advice on how to refinance business loans, improve cash flow, and creating effective marketing strategies. A member’s only section on the website offers a wealth of knowledge on HIA, and there is material available on industry Australian Construction Focus | September 2010


association events and awards. For a firm to receive an award from HIA is a great honour, and the association is behind a number. Along with these benefits, HIA members receive technical information and support on areas that matter to them most, like the ever-changing state and local government building requirements. Members are kept up to date through regular HIA communications, and publications like Building News, eNEWS, bpn news, and HOUSING. Membership brings with it help finding apprentices, the business partner network, and the HIA shop, where members can find easy to understand contracts and stationary to help them manage their businesses more easily and efficiently.

The Industry’s Voice

As the voice for Australia’s home building industry for six decades, HIA believes the future of the housing industry lies with government lobbying, and makes a point of making sure their members are heard at all levels of government. This remains just as important today as it did in the past. “When HIA was founded in the fifties, it was to ensure that all Australians had access to affordable housing,” says Goodwin, “and good builders’ contracts and suppliers came to ensure that they had adequate supplies of materials first of all, and they had access to serviceable land. They came together to ensure that the industry had a voice,


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

and that hasn’t changed over the last 60 years. We are still very much a voice of the industry in ensuring that we have affordable land, and we have affordable housing, and we try to ensure that we have adequate housing supply. A big issue in Australia is that demand exceeds supply.” One of the greatest acknowledgements a builder can receive is an award from HIA. It serves to acknowledge not only high quality work, but is a form of commendation from an association to its members for a job well done. Held annually, the HIA-CSR Australian Housing Awards have many categories, including Custom Built Home, Project Home, Townhouse/Villa Development, Kitchen Project, Most Innovative Use of Steel, for the best professional builders, and many others. In addition to events for members and the public, there are also the HIA GreenSmart Awards, which set the standard for progressive building techniques and products aimed at environmental home design and construction, resource management, and sustainable community developments. “HIA is very much an industry association,” says Managing Director Goodwin. “Anyone who derives their business from the industry is encouraged to participate in the life of the association. Together we can ensure our vision of affordable housing for all Australians.” Australian Construction Focus | September 2010



September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

By Keith Roffey, Managing Director of Classic Resources Pty Ltd


he Retail Interior Fit-out Industry, or Shopfitting as it is more commonly known, is probably one of the most under estimated and least understood industries. It contributes in excess of $1.5 billion annually to the Australian economy, is highly specialised, vastly diverse within itself and encompasses all trades and specialised finishes. To the average consumer shopfitters are categorised as the builders, with respect to builders we accept that we are part of the Construction Industry but we don’t build shops, we fit them out. Retail fit-outs are very costly compared to construction in general. Australia is a very small retail market but we still want our shops to be “world class” and why shouldn’t we? However, onerous lease requirements forcing retailers to re-fit regularly and the requirement to make a quick return on their

Australian Construction Focus | September 2010


investment in a small market puts great stress on shopfitters to perform at a very cost effective, yet high and efficient level. Time constraints and reduced fit-out periods, adherence to OHS&E regulations and the requirement to work after store trading hours has added considerable costs and, as we have experienced recently, a reluctance of financial institutions to finance retail fitouts. The industry is experiencing a time of uncertainty and many companies do not have the expertise or resources to manage this. Regrettably, margins have dropped by supply and demand.


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

The majority of shopfitting companies in this country are considered small, their turnovers average between $4 - $7 million, some less and some more but there are not many with turnovers in excess of $10 million and even fewer in excess of $20 million. We are seeing groups of shoppfitting companies amalgamating and creating large enterprises, an interesting concept and certainly worth watching however, the jury is still out on this and whether they can survive in the long term in this country remains to be seen. It will depend on their attitude and culture, their client base and the future economy.

The industry still relies to a large degree on the relationship between the retailer and the shopfitter, it can be said it is a very personal industry. The traditional shopfitter probably is a thing of the past; we are seeing the effects of off shore manufacture on many traditional companies and have done so for several years. Australian companies are setting up or becoming involved in enterprises throughout Asia, reducing or closing their Australian manufacturing plants and importing instead. Some retailers are now managing and importing their fittings direct, creating further specialised groups, we now have purely installation companies and more

Project Management companies within the industry. Does this imply the shopfitting industry in Australia is on the decline? On the contrary, I believe we are poised to see an expansion and exciting times ahead, but it will be a very different industry to what my generation are used to. The traditional skill set is lost, but are the future generations concerned about this? Of course not, the young people in our companies are rising to the challenge and can’t wait to get involved in the latest technology. My generation would lovingly admire a polished timber and veneer counter,

Australian Construction Focus | September 2010


our apprentices today are excited about how quickly the flat bed point to point machine details the counter and how effortlessly they can assemble the pre-finished components, they realise the product has only a five year life span. A shopfitter’s job is to manufacture a product secondary to the merchandise, in reality a shop is a stage setting and theatre; it should create ambience and atmosphere so that the customer feels comfortable and enjoys the shopping experience, regardless of whether it is a supermarket or an upmarket boutique. It also needs to be durable and withstand the ravages of the customers. During the forty eight years of my career I have seen and experienced enormous changes


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

to the way we manufacture, the materials we use and the way we run our companies. We have gone from highly detailed and complicated fittings, using exotic timbers, glass, mirrors and various metal finishes to the minimalist approach. The shop fixtures and fittings we manufacture today do not have a long life span, it has halved and in most cases three to five years sees it passed it’s use by date. I salute these changes and am glad to be a part of them. Classic Resources Pty Limited is typical of many shopfitters but one of the larger groups. We don’t necessarily consider ourselves traditional however we maintain many of the traditional values. A family owned company celebrating 25 years in operation, the head office and manufacturing plant is in Sydney with a smaller plant in Melbourne, employing an average staff of 60 personnel. Our people include Design, Project Managers, Contract Administrators and Estimators, Detailers and Set-out staff and in house fixing and manufacturing teams including apprentices. We are National and carry out works throughout Australasia and the immediate Pacific area. Our core business is retail, ranging from small boutiques to large department store fitouts, cosmetics and hospitality. In addition to this, we are well known for our cultural works, building temporary and permanent displays in Museums and exhibition centres. Although we have in-house manufacturing Australian Construction Focus | September 2010



September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

facilities in both states, part of business is off shore procurement, importing the fixtures and fittings with installation locally. An average fashion boutique fit-out can range from $200,000 to the larger multi million dollar contracts. We have a diverse range of clients from all areas of the retail sector. I have a great passion for shopfitting and am excited about the way the industry is changing but, I would like to see greater respect for the industries contribution to the economy. Many shopfitting companies need to take this on board also, and look at themselves; there is still plenty of room for greater professionalism and ethics in the way shopfitters conduct their businesses.

Positive Energy Half Page Classic Resources Advert.indd 1

The client is important, contracts must be completed on time, to budget, built to a cost sustainable to the requirements and, importantly, any defects or rectification works must be identified immediately and managed well to ensure completion. On the other hand, developers, shopping centre managers and retailers need to give consideration to the complexity and cost of the industry. We are highly specialised and unique; all of us need to work much closer together. Perhaps this is too idealistic but it is something to strive for regardless. Combined, the retail sector, including merchandise and consumables, retailers, shopfitters and shopping centre managers are an integral and very important part of our economy.

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Australian Construction Focus | September 2010



September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus


boatie’s paradise, Port of Airlie will become the new gateway to the Great Barrier Reef - a world class destination with a luxury international resort, residential apartments, oceanfront homes, public boardwalk, park and beach, retail and commercial centre, ferry and cruise terminal and a world class marina. The Port of Airlie development in Airlie Beach, North Queensland is well underway and is significant for a number of reasons. It was first conceived more than 20 years ago and it’s the first tourism development in Queensland to be approved under Australia’s Environmental Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC) 1999.

Australian Construction Focus | September 2010


Marina harbour/public (Artist illustration on completion)

The Boathouse Apartments (Artist illustration on completion)


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

Location of Port of Airlie in the Whitsundays

Port of Airlie’s design and facilities will make it an international destination unequalled on the Australian coast. Meridien, one of the country’s leading property developers, has managed to bring one of Australia’s most unique coastal destinations a soon to be paradise for the 5 star travelling types. Founded in 1997, Meridien is a privately owned property development company that delivers projects to the market that are unique, innovative, and in many cases, quite extraordinary, like Port of Airlie. Meridien’s areas of expertise include Property Development, Retirement Living, Marinas, Student Accommodation

and Funds Management. The Port of Airlie vision is being realised thanks to a cohesive partnership between a prominent environmentalist, a leading architect and an award-winning developer. Port of Airlie Development Director, John Warlow says the project has been twelve years in the planning and delivery and now the exhaustive environmental research and hard work is finally coming to fruition. “No major development has ever come through such scrutiny. Port of Airlie has passed two dozen approval processes in all three tiers of government and has the overwhelming support of the Airlie Beach community. “None of that was easy, it all had to be earned. We’ve had an independent Australian Construction Focus | September 2010


environmental auditing process in place, which was part of the approval conditions, and we were given a scorecard of 95 per cent plus. That’s exceptional considering we’re working within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and adjacent to a National Park.”

shutters and screens and light hardwood flooring with caulking in between the boards making the floor like the laid deck of a luxury yacht. Stainless steel detailing completes the finish of the apartments. These apartments will look out across the marina to spectacular views of the Coral Sea.

Port of Airlie construction is on schedule with the marina harbour complete and fully formed and berth construction well underway. The Port of Airlie Marina will incorporate and a world class marina ranging in size from 12m-50m with an array of stateof-the-art facilities and services available. The completion of the first marina stage will coincide with the opening of the entry channel and The Boathouse Apartments at the end of this year.

“There could be no better choice than Gary Hunt of Hunt Design Group as the architect for Port of Airlie as he has worked and lived in the tropics for over 30 years and is a strong believer in traditional Queensland architecture being best suited to the climate. This project will be the most significant on any tropical coast anywhere in Australia. The classic colonial design will make this complex work with the natural local environment making the destination somewhere special – not just in Airlie Beach, not just in Queensland, not just in Australia, but anywhere in the world,” Mr Warlow said.

The Boathouse Apartments building is nearing completion and has used materials to exude the style of a luxury yacht. There are wide openings with the use of louvres,


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

Waterfront retail spaces positioned on the

ground level of The Boathouse Apartments and alongside the boardwalk are now being filled with significant demand for this unique location.

engineering feat enabled Meridien to build on good quality residual material above the high water mark. Part of these sheet piles have now been removed in order to open the marina harbour up to the Coral Sea.

“This has been the strongest retail enquiry received in the Airlie Beach market in two and half years. National groups are not only showing strong expressions of interest but can see the retail market turning the corner in the next 12 months�, Mr Warlow said. The unparalleled engineering design of Port of Airlie is that it is totally manmade. The whole development was formed on reclaimed land from below the high water mark. Meridien had to import 1.9km of marine grade sheet piles from Belgium to help isolate the site from the ocean and allow excavation of mud and solid material. This process resulted in the turnover of 1 million cubic metres of material and therefore allowed Meridien to excavate 21 metres below sea level, storing surplus mud below the flooded marina harbour. This incredible Australian Construction Focus | September 2010


Another engineering feat is Port of Airlie’s man-made 240 metre long ‘Boathaven beach’, which is comprised of 60,000 cubic metres of white sand imported from Ten Mile Creek in Queensland. Boathaven Beach underwent significant wave analysis and was built a certain way so as to protect the residential homes that front the beach as well as the marina. “It’s a very unique addition to the project and will be enjoyed by both the local community and Port of Airlie residents alike.” Mr Warlow said. Fifteen of the best beachfront homes in Australia will be positioned on Boathaven Beach forming a sanctuary of unique waterfront residences. These homes will have absolute beach frontage on one side and a 30m private marina berth on the other side. Mr. Warlow believes Port of Airlie will change Airlie Beach forever, it will cease from being a stopping off point for the Whitsundays to making it a destination in its own right.


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

“Airlie Beach has always been the gateway to the Whitsundays but Port of Airlie will make it a destination in its own right,” Mr. Warlow said. Port of Airlie is also expected to drive hundreds of millions of dollars into Airlie Beach and the North Queensland economy during and after construction. In addition to tourism dollars, Port of Airlie will create hundreds of full-time positions in its marina, hotel, apartments and shops. Furthermore, the $7 million redevelopment of the Whitsunday Coast Airport due to commence this financial year will significantly help to meet the expected increase of passenger arrivals in the Whitsunday region. Planning for the project has also deliberately included some facilities to be enjoyed by the Airlie Beach community, which has generously embraced Meridien’s vision for the future. “That vision includes local amenities such as public parks, picnic areas, a boardwalk, car parking, a Town Square, boat ramps and beaches,” Mr. Warlow said. “There is also a new Fantasea Adventure Cruising

integrated ferry, cruise and bus terminal included in the 30 hectares of development and that has been very important in terms of cementing the worth of this project to the local community. “We’ve focused on bringing to life an international destination in tropical North Queensland. We chose a design and construction team with the best skills and know-how and we’ve worked hard to ensure, and in fact, we have achieved, the very best environmental practice.” “The community had to have the confidence that what we were proposing was right for the area and that it would be done the right way.” Such has been the confidence in Port of Airlie that all released apartments in Stage One of the landmark destination were sold well before the project launched to the public. All released apartments available in the first stage were sold to buyers who had registered interest over the last few years. “We promised our future residents that they would have the option to buy prerelease. And the majority of them exercised

their option,” Mr. Warlow said. Mr. Warlow believes when complete, Port of Airlie will boost the local tourism and employment economy. “This will be a sizeable and dynamic destination. Meridien has invested in this community for the long-term and we will continue to have input into Port of Airlie. This will ensure the original vision and goals we set are maintained into the future.” Airlie Beach is located on the doorstep of the beautiful Whitsunday Islands, North Queensland with the closest airport (Proserpine/Whitsunday Coast) located only 35 minutes away. Be a part of Port of Airlie’s exciting future as it continues to evolve into becoming a world-class, fully integrated residential resort marina destination. Apartments are now selling. Display Apartment now open, for more information regarding Port of Airlie or to visit the display apartment please call +61 7 4948 0643 or email: Australian Construction Focus | September 2010



September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

“What attracted me to this business was the satisfaction of being able to build things,” says Mr. Henry Bongers, one of four Directors of BDH Constructions Pty Ltd. These words speak volumes about the philosophy behind his company; BDH builds because it’s what they love to do, and it shows in the results they achieve for their clients. “Committed management is vital,” reads BDH’s website, and the company has this in spades. Its commitment to quality and consistency is evident in every job it does; its directors are invested, not merely financially, but emotionally. Clearly, BDH Constructions represents something just a little bit different in Australia’s construction industry. Founded in 2002, BDH Constructions Pty Ltd was forged out of two growing branches of a smaller company. As the two branches continued to expand, it became prudent that they come together as BDH, bringing more than 20 years combined experience together. The present company employs approximately 80 Staff under four Directors, and has grown to be a true leader in the residential and commercial building sectors, servicing Colac, Warrnambool, Geelong, and surrounding districts. Applying its expertise to projects ranging from custom residential builds to commercial and retail operations to municipal offices, services, and administration buildings, BDH is able to utilize its highly trained workforce to operate more than 50 active work sites at any given time, all the while focusing on quality, safety, and timeliness.

By Tim Hocken Australian Construction Focus | September 2010


Taking a Risk

Far from playing it safe with established designs or pre-fabricated structures, BDH instead chooses to focus its work on one-of-a-kind custom builds. As Mr. Bongers says, “we never build the same thing twice,” and it is these unique projects which help to keep BDH at the top of its game. “Every one of the houses we’ve built has some very unique qualities, and they’ve all been exciting to work on... it’s always a challenge, but it’s also very satisfying and rewarding”. This satisfaction, for Mr. Bongers, goes far beyond simply delivering a quality product. “One of the greatest satisfactions,” he says, “is in the relationships that you build with people


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

– customers, suppliers, consultants, architects, sub-contractors. When you build someone a house... you’re dealing with people’s emotions. It is one of the most significant investments they’ll ever make, and the satisfaction you get from that is a fantastic feeling. When you can make something happen for people it’s very rewarding”.

Seeing it Through

Describing itself as a “turn-key operation”, BDH takes a start-to-finish approach to its work. The company offers its clients the full range of construction services; advising from the earliest stages, securing permits and consultation, providing full construction processes and professional cleanup, and even following through to landscaping and furnishings if

Australian Construction Focus | September 2010


desired by the client. BDH aims to provide unique environments that are also serviceable and liveable, and leaves each site in move-in condition. Part of what gives BDH Constructions the capacity to operate so comprehensively is its commitment to providing in-house expertise. BDH acts as principal contractor, training apprentices on an annual basis and directly employing its own specialist carpenters, the company itself can see any project through from beginning to end, “while maintaining staff levels sufficient to take on large tasks”. Combining this technical expertise with true pride in workmanship enables BDH to consistently meet and exceed its clients’ expectations.


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

It is this focus on the finished product which has truly set BDH apart in its field. While Mr. Bongers recognizes the importance of remaining competitive, he is quick to emphasize that quality, above all else, is what the client will remember. Delivering a quality finished product on time, every time, is one of BDH’s primary goals, and it is this commitment which has kept many clients coming back to the company with repeat business – for renovations, extensions, and upgrades.

The Challenge of Growth

In only eight short years, business at BDH Constructions has quite assuredly boomed. Growing from a staff of about 20 to one of 80, one challenge has been in maintaining the company’s own high standards for quality,

In 2003, BDH Constructions Pty Ltd completed work on The Otway Fly. A 600 metre long, 25 metre high elevated tree top walk, the Otway Fly ascends through the rainforest, providing views and thrills for local adventurers and visitors. A 45 metre high lookout is reached via a spiral stairway which ascends through the rainforest understorey, while a springboard cantilever bounces high over Young’s Creek. Located in a rainforest adjacent to the Otway’s premier waterfall destination Triplet Falls, The Otway Fly Tree Top Walk has been described by one observer as an “amazing structure. A lot of work has gone into it to give us a fantastic experience of the Aussie Bush” (J&P Lang, New Zealand, 2010). Henry Bongers of BDH has described the project as one of his most enjoyable, a truly remarkable and rewarding construction experience in the rainforest.

Australian Construction Focus | September 2010


safety, and training. With 34 school buildings presently under construction in addition to all its other projects, the company is in the midst of a growth spurt, enabling it to increase levels of employment even during the global financial crisis. Mr. Bongers stresses the importance of controlling this growth; safety remains of primary importance, and to this end each and every project has a project manager and site supervisor, while the company employs a fulltime safety officer to oversee its operations. Training apprentices and supporting employees’ career paths through ongoing education are also among BDH’s top priorities. This eye toward careful but consistent growth has enabled BDH Constructions to take on a wide variety of projects throughout the


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

laments certain aspects of his directorial role at BDH Constructions Pty Ltd. He misses, for example, getting out on the tools and getting his hands dirty on a work site. He speaks with true reverence about projects he’s had a hand in, describing fondly the experience of revisiting houses built 20 years ago and seeing them still standing, still iconic, still monuments to the successes of his company and the roots from which it grew.

region. In addition to its unique offerings in the residential housing market, the company has tackled projects as diverse as health and aged care facilities, retail shops, fire and ambulance stations, schools, and sports stadiums. BDH has also undertaken some truly novel recreational and tourist facilities, such as the Otway Fly project located approximately 40 minutes drive from Colac and 50 minutes from Apollo Bay, in a rainforest adjacent to Triplet Falls. BDH’s work on the project was completed in 2003, and Mr. Bongers has described it as being a “very enjoyable and rewarding project”; working in the rainforest in particular offered the company a truly singular and fun experience. Please see sidebar for additional details on this exciting project.

As BDH Constructions Pty Ltd looks toward the future, it is clear that the company has truly found its niche in Australia’s construction industry. Not merely an expert in inimitable custom homes, BDH’s true expertise lies in its commitment to its clients and its pride in a job well done.

It is very telling that, while Mr. Bongers clearly takes pride in his work, in some ways he actually Australian Construction Focus | September 2010



September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus


fter over 8,000 successfully completed projects, almost 50 years in business, thousands of satisfied customers, and winning countless awards, Cosmopolitan Living Pty Ltd have proven themselves time and again to be one of Australia’s finest and most innovative new home builders. As one of the country’s most respected and established companies, Cosmopolitan is known for their successful home building, property development, and commercial construction works. When the company was founded by Andy Condoleon back in 1963, Cosmopolitan received Licence Number 116, making them one of Sydney’s first licensed builders. Over 200,000 more licences have been issued in Sydney over the following 47 years, but Cosmopolitan remains one of the most acclaimed builders of dream homes in the nation and was Sydney’s most decorated home builder in 2006 and 2007. Australian Construction Focus | September 2010


There are many reasons for Cosmopolitan’s success as a builder and site developer throughout New South Wales and Queensland. Along with offering a wide variety of unique home styles and innovative products to reflect the changing lifestyles of all Australians, they maintain their commitment to delivering homes that are exquisitely designed, solidly constructed, and are of exceptional value. Many satisfied customers refer to the company’s ability to create homes that are masterpieces of design and quality when asked why they selected Cosmopolitan as their builder of choice. By listening to ever-changing client needs and keeping up to date with the latest trends and technologies, Cosmopolitan has crafted homes that are tasteful, contemporary, functional, and excellent value for the money. At present, the company has 12 architecturally-designed homes on display, another dozen about to open, and over 50 homes online to suit the needs of their clients. If a client’s lifestyle choice requires something a little different, Cosmopolitan and their team of talented designers are more than able to plan and create custombuilt homes to suit any taste.

From design to completion

Over the years, house designs and materials have changed but Cosmopolitan has kept their client-focused philosophy the same.


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

Cosmopolitan handles all the necessary documentation. Steps such as development approvals and landscaping plans are handled on the client’s behalf and specialist appointments are made with suppliers for tile and electrical selections. Once selections are made and all the applicable documents are in order, Cosmopolitan’s talented team prepares the final construction drawings and a Construction Certificate is soon issued. Within 20 working days of the necessary approvals, construction on the new home begins and usually lasts 32 to 34 weeks depending on the design and size of the home. During this time, clients are kept up Homes, after all, are a reflection of who we are and they represent our tastes, lifestyles, and unique personalities; Cosmopolitan retains these values and uses this to exceed the expectations of their clients. The company’s mission is to see their buyers “live with inspiration” while keeping an eye on functionality. An example of this is Cosmopolitan’s process that streamlines a new purchase from design to construction, ensuring clients have the customizability they need while not having to sacrifice build times. Once clients have accepted their new home quote and paid the planning fees, an appointment is made to review the new home plans. Skilled consultants are brought in to guide buyers through internal and external colour selection while Australian Construction Focus | September 2010


to date on construction progress until the final steps; receiving the keys and moving into a brand new Cosmopolitan home. From design to completion, Cosmopolitan’s team of professionals work closely with their clients every step of the way. Before making any decisions on internal materials, clients are encouraged to create moods that identify their personal choices and vision for their future home. Style examples from the client’s life often help in the design process such as fabrics from a favourite chair or a colours from photograph. From there, clients are able to make final design decisions on all the other areas of their house including external finishes such as roof tiles, bricks, and windows. Internal


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

finishes such as kitchen taps, tiles, and other paint colours are also customizable. New home buyers are offered a choice of three inclusion levels: Opal (entry level), Sapphire (mid-level, with upgrades to many standard internal finishes), and Diamond (the premium level, which offers the latest in contemporary finishes and features). No matter the level, the company’s commitment to quality is consistent and their goal remains the same: to help their customers create a dream home that highlights their own unique taste and style.

Living green with Cosmopolitan

Along with creating unique homes that

cavity brick walls and solid brick internal walls are used and windows are strategically placed for cross-ventilation. Houses such as the Northcliff design are planned in such a way to improve the use of natural light by about 300 per cent. All these design features not only enable home owners to save costs but reduce their carbon footprint and live in style. At Cosmopolitan, the company’s website allows prospective home buyers to view designs and download Cosmopolitan Lifestyle, a digital magazine showcasing some of the company’s finest work. Before planning your new home purchase, come to Cosmopolitan and let their professional design experts make your dream come true. serve as a reflection of their clients’ taste, Cosmopolitan has embraced an environmentally-friendly methodology and is committed to creating sustainable living environments. Some of the environmentally friendly features include more efficient water and energy options than typically found in conventional home designs. Outdoor taps and toilets are connected to recycled water connections while systems are in place to harvest rainwater for garden irrigation. Energy efficient lighting saves homeowners almost $400 per year on their energy bills while other features such as solar gas boosted hot water, single phase air conditioning, and indoor clothes lines greatly reduce energy use and lower the amount of greenhouse gas emissions. To regulate temperatures inside the home,

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Australian Construction Focus | September 2010



September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

-By Tim Hocken and Jaime McKee


he construction industry, perhaps more than any other, depends upon teamwork. Without valuing and utilizing the diverse skills of many individuals, bridges would not be built, heritage sites would not be restored, and buildings would not be constructed. Perhaps most plainly, without teamwork, companies would not endure. Brisland Pty Ltd recognized this when it was founded in 1989 and continues to do so to this day. In 2009, Brisland Pty Ltd became part of the Kell & Rigby Group and together forged an alliance of about 220 individuals with over 120 years experience among them. Both groups have distinctive records in the industry, and together they have the skills and knowledge base to tackle just about any task. Brisland’s staff numbers approximately 50 and the company serves as an autonomous entity within the group, handling government projects ranging from large-scale civil works, Australian Construction Focus | September 2010


Paddington Reservoir Gardens Located on the Corner of Oxford Street and Oatley Road, across from Paddington Town Hall, the gardens have been described as a “hidden beautiful secret”. The site once served as a functioning water reservoir in the 19th Century, but sat vacant and derelict for decades due to ongoing structural collapse. Together with the Council of the City of Sydney, Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects came up with a parkland design that would incorporate the existing heritage structure and it was Brisland’s task to make the project come to life safely and beautifully. Brisland’s first priority was to make the site safe for public use. Works included the careful removal of neglected infrastructure, site remediation, and restoration of various original elements. Added to the site were new columns, a sunken garden, a reflecting pool, a pedestrian boardwalk, and provisions for disabled access, all integrated into the Walter Read Reserve and the John Thompson Reserve. The nature of the existing reservoir and its unstable roof structure made the project a challenging one, but Brisland’s Occupational Health and Safety policy ensured that safe work practices were strictly adhered to. The Paddington Reservoir Gardens revitalization has since gone on to win numerous awards, including 2009’s Australia Award for Urban Design and the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects New South Wales award for Excellence in Landscape Architecture.


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

heritage site restoration to new building construction. The objective of Brisland’s founders was to create a dynamic and progressive organisation that would grow by combining quality work with honesty and openness. The company’s goal was to function as a true team; to Brisland this meant valuing and rewarding employees, seeking feedback from staff at all levels, and creating a supportive environment for both democratic decision-making and career advancement. These priorities have endured through the company’s many years of growth as Brisland takes pride not only in its work, but also in its people.

work as one. The value Brisland places on its team members is immediately evident upon visiting the company’s comprehensive website and is emphasized further by Mr. Brisland. Indeed, it is woven into the very fabric of the company’s policies and procedures. Mr. Brisland describes the firm as a “family company”, one which focuses on communication, training, and staff retention. Brisland frequently takes on staff members as cadets while they are still attending university and helps them grow, ultimately, into Project Managers. The company also trains apprentices and has been the recipient of the Master Builders Association “Apprentice of the Year” Award on several occasions. Brisland also prides

Brisland’s keen focus on openness and communication with its staff is also extended to its relationships with clients. The company surveyed and sought feedback from those best qualified to give it; previous, existing, and potential customers. What it found was that clients value open communication, trust, and feeling as though they are part of a team. Brisland responded by developing a cooperative approach; the company is entirely upfront with its clients, inviting them to the table and, safety permitting, onto worksites throughout the entire process. Says Mr. Richard Brisland, the company’s Business Manager, “we like to build [our clients] a good project that they feel excited about”, and he feels this is best achieved when the client and the contractor Australian Construction Focus | September 2010


State Library of New South Wales Based in Sydney, the state library represented an exciting challenge for Brisland. A heritage building which was soon to celebrate its 100th anniversary, the library required a significant upgrade to its air conditioning systems and the construction of a new plant room, flooring, walkways, copper roofing, stairs and handrails – all without disturbing the celebration or public access to the building. Due to the unique building structure and the many heritage elements therein, Brisland had to work from the top down – literally. The company lifted everything from above by crane, being careful not to disturb the fabric of the building in the process. Mr. Richard Brisland described the work as “very tricky, as well as extremely rewarding”.

itself on its high-level management practices and these too represent an example of strong employee agency. Not content to simply go to a consulting firm and adopt a onesize-fits-all Quality Management System, Brisland instead wanted Quality Assurance to be woven into how it does business to have all company processes governed by comprehensive procedures. To this end, the company consulted with staff members to gain internal feedback an inclusive process which generated significant buy-in from employees at all levels. As Mr. Brisland says, “the employees themselves run it… they feel ownership of the whole [quality] system”. As of 2001, the result was one of the highest levels of accreditation available to Australian construction companies. Brisland Pty Ltd


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

became an accredited Best Practice Contractor for the New South Wales government. Its Environmental System has also been accredited by the NSW Government and its Occupational Health and Safety System by both the NSW Government and also by the Commonwealths Government new Australian Building and Construction OHS Accreditation Scheme. The company is in fact one of only 30 contractors in the region who have such top-level accreditations,and as such is able to take on high-profile government projects not otherwise available. Brisland applies this same level of quality to its unique heritage projects. The company trains every member of its construction staff on heritage and environmentally sensitive protocols and retains several experienced

William Street Upgrade In 2005-2006, Brisland carried out a significant upgrade William Street as part of the Sydney Cross City Tunnel Project. The upgrade included streetscaping and beautification from Elizabeth Street to Kings Cross in the heart of Sydney, and was, in the words of Mr. Richard Brisland, a “reconfiguration of the entire street”. The project required considerable planning and consultation with stakeholders, as local businesses and traffic would be impacted by any work in the area. Brisland altered existing roads and footpaths, increasing pedestrian access and adding granite paving, parking spaces, smart lighting, landscaping, an upgraded stormwater system, and bus stops. The resulting streetscape is more userfriendly with greater safety and a charming “promenade” feel. Neighbourhood shops and cafés have seen increased business with European-style “sidewalk cafés” joining the scenery. A truly beautiful and expansive project, Brisland considers it a very satisfying achievement.

heritage tradesmen on its staff. Brisland has also built strong relationships with Heritage Architects, enabling the company to do justice to such projects as the Paddington Reservoir Gardens, the Speers Point Coal Services Relocation, and the restoration of the Newcastle Maritime Museum, for which Brisland worked from original, century-old architectural drawings. Please see sidebar for further detail on the Paddington Reservoir Gardens. Other notable projects of Brisland’s in recent years include the Maitland Regional Art Gallery a modern extension on an historic site. The project has been heralded by City Council officials and took home an MBA Excellence in Construction Award for a “refurbishment, renovation or extension

of up to $5 million”. The New South Wales State Library project represents another recent success of Brisland’s on a heritage structure, while the Sydney-based William Street Upgrade provides a stunning example of Brisland’s work on civil infrastructure and streetscaping. Please see sidebars for further detail on these impressive works. These masterfully executed projects are testaments to the excellence of the Brisland team. Its highly organized approach ensures that work is done safely and to the highest standards of quality. Brisland’s openness and upfront communication speak to how strongly the company values both its clients and its own staff members and are certain to ensure that Brisland Pty Ltd remains at the top of its field for many years to come. Australian Construction Focus | September 2010



September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

-By Lynn Hamilton Every issue, Australian Construction Focus profiles a structure of unique historical, cultural, or environmental significance. This month, we take a closer look at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral in Perth. This past December the citizens of Perth saw a procession of more than 300 Bishops and Priests from across the nation enter the newly restored and finally completed St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral after a 3 year closure. In a beautiful ceremony, Archbishop Barry Hickey officially rededicated the church, which took 4 building phases and over 140 years to at last be called complete.

Australian Construction Focus | September 2010



September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

Laying the First Stone It all began with an appeal for the perfect site. The high ground in the centre of Victoria Square was seen by the administrator of the Perth diocese, Bishop Serra, as an ideal place to build a church for the Perth Catholic community. As such, he requested that the Governor grant the site to the Catholic Church, on February 8, 1863, Bishop Salvado had the honour of laying the foundation stone in Victoria Square. Construction was then directed by Brother Ascione, a master mason, but progress was slow due to a continual lack of funds and was actually halted for a time in 1864. The final product, completed in January 1865 at a cost of ÂŁ4,000, was a simple, Norman Gothic style, 2 storey clay structure with a tower on the southern side. On January 29, 1865, the church was opened and blessed by Fr. Griver and Fr. Gibney as the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

Additions and Alterations

The second building phase occurred during the first few years of the twentieth century. During this time, under Bishop Matthew Gibney, a small temple housing a statue of the Virgin, 2 lancet shaped windows, and a porch were added to the west end. Also, Australian Construction Focus | September 2010


to emphasize the gothic style, gargoyles and a slate clad steeple were added to the bell tower. Rendered details were also added around all windows, making the cathedral slightly more ornate in appearance.

A Greater Vision

In 1924, Bishop Clune began raising funds to build a larger, more elaborate cathedral at the site and appointed Architect Michael Cavanagh to the task. His Academic Gothic style design was to be carried out beginning on April 25 1926 when the foundation was laid but, shortly after, a lack of money again created a barrier. This meant that instead of building an entirely new cathedral, a new transept and sanctuary were constructed


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

and the original cathedral was left in place as the nave, to be completed when more funding became available. Externally, this new addition was constructed using limestone. The roofs of both buildings were covered in clay tiles. The many windows were separated by ornately decorated flying buttresses. Greatly decorated chapels were built on either side of the sanctuary and extending around the top of the walls is a moulded battlement. Internally, each room was furnished with a high degree of craftsmanship; the vaulted ceilings were ribbed and embossed and a great east window was divided into lights

which depict the crucifixion. The floor of the sanctuary is an impressive mosaic based on the Book of Kells. Each chapel was decorated with high quality, imported marble finishes and the marble high alter, built by Brother Ascione in 1865, was moved from the original structure to the new sanctuary.

funding efforts. With money from the National Trust and Federal and State Governments and countless donations from parishioners, schools, and the surrounding community, the cathedral was able to begin a $32.9 million refurbishment in August of 2006.

Bishop Clune formally blessed the new cathedral on May 4, 1930.

Before work could even begin, Architect Peter Quinn had to make architectural drawings of the entire cathedral, as none previously existed. Once drawings were complete, he drafted an ambitious plan which involved demolishing the middle of the old church, and building a new addition to blend the styles of old and new into one complete cathedral.

The Pieces Come Together

By 2005, the slowly deteriorating Cathedral was in need of repair and renovation. At that time the National Trust was approached by the Roman Catholic Diocese to start a heritage conservation appeal to support

Australian Construction Focus | September 2010


In addition to making the two cathedrals into one, Quinn built a new tower and spire, added new space underground, new gray columns and stonework, and expanded seating to accommodate 1000+ parishioners. The new pews were built using recycled timber from the old pews. The additional space consisted of a new car park, meeting areas, a choir practice space, toilets, a kitchen, and storage areas. Large windows were installed in the nave, allowing more light to enter and highlight the stunning internal architectural features. He also took on extensive conservation work: cleaning, work to paintings, repair of the beautiful


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

mosaic floor of the old sanctuary, repair of structural weaknesses and rising damp. Further to repairs, and architectural works, St Mary’s Cathedral benefited from several technological advancements. In-floor airconditioning and a state of the art sound system have been installed. Accessibility has increased with the installation of a lift for the disabled. An electronic pulpit can be raised or lowered with the push of a button and a modern, glass backscreen has been put in place behind the stage area; its colour can be changed based on the liturgical seasons. All of which provide a more comfortable

interactive experience for parishioners. The complex nature of the construction, and increases in construction costs meant occasional delays, but one delay stood out more than any others. In 2006, a hidden vault was discovered beneath the floorboards of the old cathedral. This vault contained the remains of Bishop Martin Griver and Bishop Matthew Gibney. Their tombs had to be carefully removed and the remains transferred to a funeral home for preparation for their re-interment. In a solemn ceremony on December 5, 2009 they were laid to rest with 3 other previous

archbishops in the new octagonal shaped marble and stone crypt. The crypt will be strictly reserved for Perth’s archbishops, assistant bishops and, if ever declared, its saints. Although there were some unexpected findings and delays, St. Mary’s Cathedral officially opened, complete, on December 9, 2009. After more than 5 years of planning, 3 years of construction, 6000 tonnes of concrete, 470sqm of glass, and 22,000 clay tiles in its fourth building phase, parishioners can once again pray, worship, and find peace and joy at this monumental cathedral. Australian Construction Focus | September 2010



September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus


n life, as in business, there is an old expression that says “it is better to work smarter, not harder”. When it comes to the many areas involved in civil contracting – such as bulk earthworks, mining, rehabilitation, and road-building – working smarter not only saves companies and their clients time and money, it often makes projects run much more safely, efficiently and on schedule. Few firms realise this more than Carr Civil Contracting Pty Ltd. An award-winning firm, Carr Civil Contracting was established in 2002. In just a few years the Karratha-based company has built a solid reputation as one of the finest operations servicing the Murchison, Gascoyne, Pilbara, and Kimberley regions. Established following

the purchase of Colin Carr Earthmoving and Plant Hire – which had been operating in the Pilbara region since 1986 – the company continues to expand its staff and services to this day, yet maintains close, personal contact with their many long-time repeat customers. “There were five full-time employees when the company was purchased and a limited customer base” says Michael Librizzi, General Manager- Business Development for Carr Civil Contracting (who in 2008 was the winner of the Telstra Western Australian Panasonic Australia Medium Business Award). “Since then, we’ve managed to grow the business, and now employ 120 plus people and service a diverse customer base across the mining, oil and gas, public and private sectors”. Australian Construction Focus | September 2010


As one of the largest locally-based companies in Karratha, the privatelyowned Carr Civil Contracting provides an Integrated Civil Solution which aids in the firm’s growth and ability to provide safe, high-quality work. The company is able to offer their clients a wide range of professional contracting solutions from a locally based network of offices and depots, including bulk earthworks, subdivisions and roads, specialised haulage (MRWA accreditation), transportation of controlled waste, civil construction, demolition work, mining, project management and much more. All services are efficiently managed, streamlined and work in unison for the benefit of their clients. “Internally, we have haulage, specialised concrete and


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

earthworks divisions but we all work closely together” says Librizzi. “We’re not separate as such, we all operate from the same office, are constantly in contact with each other and all divisions promote the in house capabilities of our three core services: haulage, concrete and earthworks.” With a solid reputation for safe and effective production techniques, Carr Civil Contracting strives to offer their clients in mining, the private sector, local authorities and federal and state government agencies smart, low-cost solutions for their civil contracting needs. With an experienced workforce of civil engineers, construction managers and project supervisors backed by profes-

Australian Construction Focus | September 2010


sional administrative, maintenance and safety teams, Carr has adopted a relatively “flat” structure as its preferred method of operation. This enables them to provide professional, efficient services to their clients while keeping costs to a minimum. “One of our many strengths comes from the integrated nature of the services that we provide,” says Librizzi. “From our Managing Director downwards, our key staff are all living in Karratha and therefore we have the ability to be fluid in our decision-making. We offer our clients a 24/7 service. The mines, the rails and ports operate around the clock and we are there to support them in the event that something does fail. With our people, we’ve got a lot of experienced


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

personnel living locally, and can provide a solution to our clients very quickly.”

Addressing Needs Quickly and Efficiently By being close to their clients, Carr Civil Contracting is able to quickly and efficiently provide them with solution to their civil contracting concerns. In addition to serving clients in Karratha, the company has undertaken jobs in numerous locations across the state including Port Hedland, Barrow Island, Derby, Perth, Wiluna, Onslow, Paraburdoo and Newman. No matter the area, Carr Civil has the expertise and the equipment to tackle a

Australian Construction Focus | September 2010


wide range of civil contracting works, with specific expertise in the manufacture of road and heavy vehicle pavements, cartage of bulk materials, and integrated civil solutions such as concrete, cutting and coring services. As a result, the company is able to provide comprehensive civil and mining packages to their clients. For their many clients who own and operate mines, Carr Civil Contracting has developed solutions that are not only practical to the mining industry, but are cost-effective, safe and environmentally focused. “We elect to work in that industry. The environment is not only a priority focus of the mining industry but the entire community as a whole” says Librizzi. “Our quality, safety and environmental systems are all thirdparty accredited. The way we work and the way we educate our people complies to our client’s requirements. This is driven from the top down by our Managing Director. It is an ongoing process of continual improvement. We have to constantly upgrade our skills, update our knowledge on statutory requirements and be innovative in the way that we provide a safe and environmentallyfocused workplace.” Some of the many site works undertaken in the mining sector by Carr Civil Contracting include overburden stripping and removal, specialised material haulage, rehabilitation of mining areas, environmental clean ups, road and tailings dam construction. In addition, the company


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

is able to undertake many other types of work within their other civil divisions including the installation of culverts, water mains, drainage systems, concrete construction, levee bank construction and sea walls/breakwater construction. Carr Civil has not only the skilled staff, but also the machinery necessary to take on large projects. Some of the company’s many successful projects over the years include the EDL Gas Facility at Maitland Estate, the 7 Mile Power Station (Karratha) and the rebuilding of Dampier Salt sea walls, levees and intakes in Karratha and Port Hedland. Able to work in remote areas of the Pilbara, Carr has undertaken works on a number of green field and brown field projects inclusive of Brockman 4 Expansion, RTIO Dampier Port Upgrade 1 & 2, Cape Lambert Upgrades and work associated with the construction of the Cape Preston Iron Ore Mine and Devils Creek Gas Plant.

Hiring Local

“Working in the Pilbara can be difficult because of the accommodation shortages, the access to skilled staff, the remoteness and the logistics involved in coordinating projects,” says Librizzi. The majority of the projects the company completes range from three to six months in duration, although some larger projects have taken in excess of 12 months to complete. As part of their local commitment Carr

offers indigenous traineeships and apprenticeship opportunities and displays a commitment to local indigenous business by engaging their services to support Carr project sites. “We do a lot of work in the community that is recognized by some of our key clients,” says Librizzi. “We are a community-focused company and provide business and employment opportunities to Indigenous and non Indigenous companies as well as supporting local sporting teams, community events and school based programs” Placing a great value on all their employees from apprentices to longterm employees working in the field to those in administration at the company’s office, Carr emphasises a safe, enjoyable and stable work environment. By fostering youth training and encouraging employees to better themselves, Carr Civil Contracting is ideally placed to be able to provide quality, streamlined and efficient service to their clients. “We are a company that is growing and we’ve faced a lot of challenges during that growth period,” says Librizzi. “We remain committed to the local community and local employment opportunities. We provide a 24/7 service to our clients of an integrated nature and are focused on safety, quality and the environment” Australian Construction Focus | September 2010



September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus


n the growing field of civil construction, it is crucial for companies to offer a diverse range of services and products to fit the needs of their clients. Few companies realize this more than CECK Pty Ltd, a one-stop shop for civil contracting needs since 1987. Like their many clients, CECK has grown

and evolved since the late 1980s. “Back then, the company was actually Civil and Earthmoving Contractors of Kwinana,” says the company’s General Manager for Construction, Will Grobler. “Over the years, the abbreviation CECK became well-known, and as a result of that, the company CECK Pty Ltd was then registered in 2000.”

Australian Construction Focus | September 2010



September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

When the company’s four founders – all involved in the civil construction industry at the time – banded together to form CECK, it was to create an opportunity to deliver specific services to the maintenance sector at the time. One of the original founding members, Vince Princi, is still with the company and serving as Managing Director. As time went on, CECK grew, offering more and more services, and growing the company itself especially from the mid2000s.

Engineering, CECK expanded even further when they embarked on a strategic alliance with Probuild , and WBHO Construction. “They offer great support to CECK both financially in the form of performance guarantees, and also as far as access to critical resources, when the need arises,” says Grobler. “It also allows us to extend our services to a larger market sector.”

In 2005, CECK built upon their successful “one stop shop” philosophy when they acquired Plastech Engineering which enabled them to offer extensive HDPE pipe welding and installation, enabling them to weld large pipes up to 800 mm in diameter.

Furthering the company’s growth, CECK divided its operations into the maintenance and construction divisions in 2007 and, in the same year, implemented their five-yeargrowth plan. At present, CECK is on track with their plan, and despite the worldwide economic downturn, has seen solid growth in both the company’s

Just a year after acquiring Plastech

Ongoing Growth in Maintenance and Construction

Australian Construction Focus | September 2010


maintenance and construction divisions. The company, says Grobler, has developed core competencies that enable CECK to better suit the needs of their clients, which fulfills their “one stop shop” philosophy. In addition to their existing services, CECK has adopted “a more aggressive approach toward the construction side,” according to Grobler. With a staff of about 200, the privately-owned company counts local government, utilities, and a substantial number of private companies among their clients. Able to handle jobs large and small, CECK enjoys a considerable amount of repeat business, and continues to expand. “We’re a mid-size company at the moment,” says Grobler. “We are growing, and we’ve actually grown quite substantially over the last few years.”


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

“Over the last two years, CECK has developed a specialist competency with regard to the construction of landfill, tailings dams, and other containment areas that are under environmentally-sensitive conditions.” -Will Grobler, General Manager, CECK Pty Ltd

Three Main Divisions: Commercial, Maintenance, and Construction

Presently, the company is structured into three divisions. The first is the Commercial Division, headed by Tim Creighton, who has been actively involved in construction projects across Western Australia since 1991. The second is the Maintenance Division, led by Mike Juffermans, who has worked in the industry in both projects and maintenance since 1983. The third

sector, the Construction Division, is headed by Will Grobler, who has a degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Pretoria, South Africa, and considerable experience in the civil construction industry since 1991.

footings, safely remove contaminated

Along with highly-trained staff and state of the art equipment, CECK is able to provide a wide range of services in building works, civil works, industrial concrete works, mass and detailed earthworks, dam/dyke construction, dust suppression, environmental management, HDPE polypropelene and plastics, horticulture/landscape management, road works, and underground services. These many services enable CECK to perform building construction, create industrial Australian Construction Focus | September 2010


soil and dangerous goods, build roads, install underground water and drainage pipes, and more. While many projects are completed in less than a year, CECK has a number of long-term maintenance contracts with their clients extending over several years, which are renegotiated. One of the company’s recent Dams/ Earthworks projects was the Redhill Farm Stage 1 Landfill and Leachate Pond Construction, completed in March of this year. Built for the Eastern Metropolitan Regional Council of Perth(EMRC), the project – valued just over $3 million – required the construction of a new Farm Stage 1 landfill cell, Class III Leachate


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

Ponds and a Stormwater Retention Pond at the facility. The scope of the project was large, involving clearing of vegetation, approximately 170,000 m3 of earthworks, including excavation, construction of embankments, building a clay liner, building two Leachate ponds with collection pipework, constructing a stormwater drainage diversion system, and installing a massive (45,000 m2) HDPE liner and a sophisticated leak detection system. “Over the last two years, CECK has developed a specialist competency with regard to the construction of landfill cells, tailings dams, and other containment areas that are under

environmentally-sensitive conditions,” says Grobler. “Redhill Farm Stage 1 was completed ahead of schedule, where CECK was rewarded with an early completion bonus from our client.” A unique part of the Redhill Farm project was the installation of an electronic leak detection system, a new and innovative technology which CECK was part of introducing to WA through the services of a specialist subcontractor from Slovakia. Installed with wiring below the landfill cell liner, the electronic leak detection system will not only notify workers of leaks, but pinpoint their precise location, no small feat for such a large area.

A number of CECK’s projects are being constructed in areas which are environmentally-sensitive, like Redhill Farm and Tamala Park, a job the company completed in May. Created for the Mindarie Regional Council, the $3,000,000 job required the construction of Stage 2 – Phase 3 Liner Works, requiring bulk excavation, crushing, and removal of materials, the construction of embankment benches, installation of liners, and a complicated drainage system. It is imperative that these liners do not leak, and that waste materials are removed in a manner that is safe for workers and the environment. “We are familiar with working in environmentally-

Boral Concrete Proud suppliers to CECK Pty Ltd As one of Australia’s largest and most experienced concrete suppliers, Boral Concrete is committed to health, safety and environmental excellence and providing customers with quality concrete products and reliable service. Boral Concrete has high calibre personnel, plant and equipment well suited to a wide range of project locations, concrete volumes and time frames. Recent projects include Mining and Resources, Engineering and Construction, Power Generation and Civil Infrastructure. Boral Concrete is proud to be quality certified by NCS International and to utilise our own NATA endorsed testing facilities. To discuss your concrete supply requirements or to learn more about Boral’s Mobile Concrete Project capabilities please contact our Customer Service Centre on 13 2675

Australian Construction Focus | September 2010


sensitive areas,” says Grobler. “We do a lot of process, transport, and disposal of contaminated materials within the context of our continuous maintenance structures or services. We’ve done a few secondary-containment installations around pipes, with leak detection and pressure relief systems. We also use remote control equipment sometimes in confined space areas, as a safety aspect, taking the person or persons away from hazardous areas.” A great believer in workplace safety, CECK has fostered a culture of safety over the years, which is seen in all aspects of the project planning and implementation. They operate with


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

a health and safety management system accredited to AS/NZS 4801:2001, and focus on the goal of creating an incidentfree workplace; in fact, CECK has not sustained a lost time injury since 2004. Complimenting the safety accreditation, CECK Pty Ltd also has certified systems in quality management accredited to AS/ NZ ISO 9001:2000 and environmental management accredited to AS/NZ ISO 14001:2004. “We constantly promote innovative improvements to the work practice through our recognition and rewards

program,” says Grobler. The company gives out a safety award once a month to an employee who is recognized by other employees for his or her safety initiatives. Another CECK employee recently devised a practical, inexpensive casing to protect expensive chemical containers used by workers in the field. It is just one way that CECK Pty Ltd acknowledges the people who work for them, and satisfies the needs of the clients who retain their services. “We always try to provide the lowestcost solutions to our clients,” says Grobler. “Our relationship with our

clients is valuable to us. We have an innovative and best practice approach with project delivery, where very often superior solutions are provided at the equivalent or reduced costs. We have offered in the past cost savings of up to, and in some instances, in excess of 25 per cent. With every project that we do, we see the opportunity to create a long-term relationship with that specific client. We’re not there just for that specific project; we would like to build that relationship, and get repeat business from the same client, and in many cases, we have achieved exactly that.” Australian Construction Focus | September 2010



September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus


ustralians, like many in the Western World, have reached a unique point in our history. Our family sizes, by and large, are getting smaller; our cities are growing ever more jam-packed. Owning a home is considered an achievement, a goal worth striding for, yet for many of us the option remains out of reach, unattainable either in economic or ecological terms. The average Australian household has two and a half people living within its walls, yet a glance at the New Homes section of the newspaper reveals an odd assortment to serve such a population. There is an array of options typically citing four spacious bedrooms, a home theatre, a study, perhaps even a pool house. Neighbourhood and block sizes, spurred by a shift in urban design thinking, are getting smaller, yet houses, on average, are getting bigger. Yards are shrinking, often leaving little space for a garden, while Aussies spend more and more time cleaning and maintaining our abundant square footage rather than enjoying it. All of this begs the question: how much space do we really need? There are a number of advantages that come with downsizing our living space; lower initial building costs, reduced property taxes, less time sunk into cleaning and maintenance, and perhaps most significantly, a reduced carbon footprint. Smaller homes typically use less energy than larger ones, and innovative modern designs may even be more efficient per square foot than their more standard brethren. While it is certainly easy to appreciate the space – and privacy – that goes along with a larger

-By Jaime Mckee

Australian Construction Focus | September 2010


home, many Australians are making the shift to significantly smaller spaces, often taking on the construction themselves or looking to clever, integrated designs to help them make the most of their new mini-digs. The switch to a smaller home may take any number of forms. Certainly, apartment- and condo-dwellers have long recognised the advantages of smaller and denser housing, and high-rise construction has provided cities with an efficient method of combating urban sprawl. But for those of us seeking to snag our own little plot of land, perhaps in a remote area, while still enjoying the benefits of a downsized life, a great many options are now coming to the forefront. Pre-fabricated homes or out-of-the-box “kits” (think IKEA for houses) are one option that has proven popular in the United States and is starting to make inroads into Australia. Often small and light enough to be towed by a family vehicle and lowered into place onsite, this option allows for quick purchase and installation, the ability to view plans and examples in advance, and the opportunity to customize or upgrade as required. Jay Shafer’s California-based Tumbleweed Tiny Homes has become a leader in this approach, with available offerings ranging from comprehensive plans to “how-tobuild” workshops to full installation of the company’s various models, several of which meet International Building Codes. Refurbished shipping containers are another


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

option, a niche market that is expanding into the mainstream. Australian architectural firm Fulton and Salomon has produced a range of “Small is Smart” houses out of recycled shipping containers, intended to prove that “living in a shipping container can be stylish, luxurious and green”. Like Tumbleweed, Fulton and Salomon offers a series of models ranging from a $30,000 “First Pack” to a $100,000 “Max Pack” option. The company’s designs are created to work off-grid with solar panels, composting toilets and hydroponic “green walls”, and are highly customisable; multiple containers can be joined or even stacked together as modules, or combined with existing structures to increase available living space. In terms of design, shipping container homes needn’t look out of place amongst other modern-industrial designs; their clean lines and metallic surfaces are well suited to a contemporary aesthetic and can blend well into nearly any landscape. Custom design and construction, of course, is another option for those looking to downsize. Many people choose to create their own one-of-a-kind mini-home from scratch, while others look to pioneering designers such as Casey Brown Architecture, who designed a unique 3 x 3m house in Mudgee for a client looking for a peaceful retreat. The twostorey building is sheathed in copper, with panels which can entirely enclose the house in case of a brushfire or heavy rains. The structure employs a rainwater collection system, a recycled ironbark interior, and a Australian Construction Focus | September 2010


wood-fired slow combustion stove, and is heavily insulated to protect from both cold winds and soaring temperatures. It would be easy to believe that those who move into such tiny homes would be sacrificing amenities and conveniences, as well as space; in fact, it needn’t always be so. New mini-structures invariably utilise clever innovations to maximise comfort and utility, such as loft beds, floor-to-ceiling shelving and other built-in storage, hideaway dining tables and work desks, modular, multipurpose furniture, and abundant outdoor living space, including porches, verandahs, outdoor sleeping hammocks and solar showers. Some owners maintain a separate storage shed or garage; many choose to use their mini-home as a vacation property, guest cottage, rental or in-law suite, or interim home during construction, and so familiarise themselves with the concept without necessarily living in it full-time. One of the primary advantages to mini-home dwelling, of course, is its cost; Australian mini-home owner David Bell cites his tiny house as an exercise in both creativity and frugality, costing him about $20,000 – including the land – to build from the ground up. (This when a parcel of land alone in an urban centre costs closer to $100,000.) But another less obvious advantage to the mini-home concept is its use as emergency response or disaster relief housing. In 2009,


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

View pics at http://www.bigboom

Melbourne-based 1:1 Architects began working with Ecotec Building Solutions on a prototype for temporary replacements for the homes destroyed in the February fires. The designers were after a strong prefabricated concrete structure, one which could be quickly assembled and which would be fully equipped with a bathroom, kitchen, living and sleeping space. Their solution was The Pod, a modular mini-home which could be produced, transported and installed in a very quick turnaround time. While intended as temporary relief housing, The Pod could easily serve as a permanent tiny home, or provide the starting point for a full-size dwelling. As an emergency relief concept, The Pod’s design could be exported and applied virtually anywhere, providing victims of fire, flood, or hurricane a starting point from which to get back on their feet. Few concepts in housing design are quite as versatile as a much-smaller-than-average home. While they may take many forms, all make efficient use of space and materials; some are even portable, yet sturdy and beautiful at the same time, while others can be added to or altered at a moment’s notice. Moving beyond the trailer park or apartment into a whole new concept of small home ownership, mini-homes allow us, at comparatively little cost to either the environment or our pocketbooks, to have our own little piece of something permanent. Australian Construction Focus | September 2010



September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus


o take an established consulting and construction company that had been in private hands for 20 years and turn it into a publically-traded entity takes a lot of courage. Making it succeed in today’s uncertain financial world takes much more – it requires vision that comes from decades of hard work, determination, and hands-on experience. Back in 2005, after a great deal of deliberation, executives at Van Der Meer Consulting decided to take their company public, and listed it as VDM Group Ltd on the Australian Stock Exchange in February of 2006. Named after the first letters of his surname, VDM Group was formed in 1986 by Jim

and his identical twin brother, Andrew. Both brothers attended the venerated University of Western Australia, and worked as engineers for different companies over the years until they decided to form VDM, initially as a consulting company. “A lot of our consulting was to the construction industry, so we had empathy with construction,” says van der Meer. “We understood construction more than most consultants; I’d actually been in construction myself for 10 years as a design engineer for a very large construction company.” For VDM to grow, it was decided that the company expand its services, and offer more than consulting to their clients. VDM acquired several consulting businesses located on the east coast of Australia, which gave them Australian Construction Focus | September 2010



September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

the financial leverage they needed. The cap value, remembers van der Meer, was $55 million, so they issued 55 million shares at $1 each. “From day one, they opened up a $1.50,” he said proudly. Today, VDM Group has three divisions: Consulting, Construction, and Contracting. With a staff that varies from 1,200 to 1,500 – depending on the activity level of the company – VDM turned over more than $500 million this year alone. Able to deliver products and services all the way from preliminary planning to completion, VDM deliver better solutions that not only benefit their clients, but staff

and shareholders. “We are a very different company” says van der Meer. “The combination of construction and consulting can be hard to understand. We use our consulting smarts to improve the efficiency of our construction businesses and in turn deliver projects that are cost and time effective for our clients.” Among their three key divisions, the VDM Group has specialised businesses, offering a comprehensive range of services. At present, the company’s Consulting Division operates 11 business units from 16 locations in five Australian states, plus Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates. The divisions

Australian Construction Focus | September 2010



September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

services are diverse, and include master planning, environmental services, civil engineering, structural engineering and project management to the mining, marine, infrastructure and urban development sectors. VDM’s Construction and Contracting Divisions, stationed primarily in Western Australia and Queensland takes on projects across the country servicing the mining, marine, infrastructure and urban development sectors, including construction of major highways, mining camps, nonprocess buildings, breakwaters, water sewerage treatment plants through to resorts, office buildings, schools, and aircraft

runways. “A major part of our future is to continue servicing the mining boom,” says van der Meer. An interesting VDM project combining many skills, is the unique modular gold plant created, that can, literally, be used anywhere in the world. It is being used where there are a number of gold deposits, but they are unable to set up large facilities to process raw materials and extract precious gold. “Our modular gold plant can be taken in to mine the resource, and then at the end of the day we just take it away again as modules, just like containers,” says van der Meer. “It’s quite small in size in terms of footprint. It

Australian Construction Focus | September 2010


has a really low environmental impact, and it is certainly starting to gain favour with a number of the smaller mine sites. It’s the whole processing train. It’s the crushing, the screening… a whole mini-size plant to convert ore into gold.” The modular units, can, with regular maintenance, be used indefinitely. VDM provides the necessary training, and will remove the unit when the work is completed, refurbish it, and use it again on other gold mine sites. Closer to home, VDM recently embarked on a large project at Cape Preston, an iron ore project which will grow into the largest


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

mine in Western Australia. “The mills,” says van der Meer, “are the largest in the world, weighing a staggering 1,400 tonnes.” “The mill arrives from China, fully assembled,” he says. “We have to lift it off large, multi-wheeled trailers about 18 to 20 metres in the air, where they are then loaded onto a concrete base and installed in place.” Using their expertise in consulting and construction, VDM was able to take the client’s original estimate of installing the mills into place – approximately two and a half to three weeks – and reduce it to a mere four hours. The reason, says van der Meer? A proper design, high-quality equipment from Europe, and safe, proven technology. The

Australian Construction Focus | September 2010



September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

Across 2 stages VDM Construction built 14 kilometres of Bundaberg Highway QLD, including a two span overpass over the north coast railway line, multiple box culverts and a major intersection to connect the Isis Highway. first set of lifts were performed in February 2010 with outstanding success. In all aspects of construction, VDM Group is focused on safety for their workers and clients; in fact, every monthly board meeting opens with a discussion about safety, and any issues that should be taken care of to ensure the most secure working environment for their employees. “The actual responsibility for safety goes right back to the Board of Directors, right to the top.”

group, of innovation, honesty and openness, along with a good reputation.”

As the son of a hard-working carpenter who moved his family to Australia from Holland back in 1953, Jim van der Meer is a believer in solving problems head on. If there’s a technical problem, they address it immediately. “VDM is a diverse company, says van der Meer. “We take on challenging projects and produce solutions for our clients. We’ve got a good culture within the Australian Construction Focus | September 2010



September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus


hroughout their careers many business owners have had more than their share of challenges. Some become frustrated, eventually abandoning their dreams, while others face difficulties head-on like the Patterson family, founders of Centrals Civil, Earthmoving & Mining Contractors. Based in Geraldton since 1985, Centrals provides a wide range of civil earthmoving services and solutions to clients throughout Western Australia. Although today they are a successful company of about 100 employees and providing total earthwork solutions, the company’s formative years were not so easy for Jim and Elaine Patterson. The couple were farmers in a Midwest town that was struck with drought. To make ends meet, Jim had an old D7 E Cat dozer and a float, and started using the machinery as a side job to support his family. Small contracts soon grew into bigger jobs, Central Earthmoving was born and, soon after, the company moved to Geraldton. In 1997 the family-owned business was successfully taken on by Jim and Elaine’s son, Craig Patterson, and his wife Lindy.

Australian Construction Focus | September 2010


Over the years Central Earthmoving became so well-known in Western Australia that people simply began referring to it as “Centrals.” The name became so immediately recognisable that the company is now in the process of rebranding themselves as Centrals Civil, Earthmoving & Mining Contractors. No matter the name, the company’s reputation for high-quality work, an exceptionally strong safety record, and respect for their employees and the environment have made them a contractor of choice for countless residential, industrial, mining, government, and commercial-sector clients. “We’re a private family company, and we operate that way,” says Shane Richards, Business


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

Development Manager for Centrals. “We hand-pick the people that we believe will be an asset to our company. Being a Midwest-based company, we believe the knowledge that we have within our company puts us above and beyond any other company within our area, and any other company coming into our area.” At Centrals, the company’s motto – “Total earthwork solutions” – encompasses not only the many areas of their expertise, but their ability to take on projects both large and small. Whether the project is in mining, land development, or construction, Centrals’ skilled operators take pride in their work every day using quality late-model equipment to ensure

jobs are done professionally and on-time. In addition, they have a fully-maintained office and workshop facility, and exercise world class environmental practices in line with MMG’s requirements.

Safety a Top Priority

Whether constructing a road or preparing sites for mining companies, Centrals Civil, Earthmoving & Mining Contractors recognises the potential hazards of their industry, and take every precaution imaginable to ensure a safe and successful work environment for their employees, clients, subcontractors and visitors. Safety Officers for the company are Australian Construction Focus | September 2010



September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

Australian Construction Focus | September 2010



September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

well-trained and keep up to date with any changes in legislation. In addition to above-average written and oral communication skills, they must hold a current Senior First Aid Certificate. Many possess detailed knowledge of civil work, mining experience and a host of other qualifications and skills to ensure safe operations are conducted on all of Centrals’ work sites. The company’s full-time Safety Manager is on top of all safety requirements and implements new legislation as necessary helping Centrals to maintain a safety record that is second to none. Along with their ongoing commitment to fulfilling all site safety responsibilities – client specific, legislative, or specific acts for the industry – Centrals has an Integrated Management System that is certified by BVQI as meeting the requirements of ISO 9001: for Quality Management Systems, AS 4801 for Safety Management Systems and ISO 14001 for Environmental Systems. It is a key component of their business process and runs all the way from the first consultation with a client to the completion of the project. Every morning, the company holds a “Toolbox Meeting” where any safety issues or concerns are addressed. In addition, all machinery undergoes a pre-

start check before the working day begins to ensure it is in safe working condition. Along with these regular requirements, Centrals creates a monthly safety report and has inspectors visit job sites on a regular basis. “We also have a full-time safety officer, and a trainer as well” says Richards. “He continually visits sites and prepares reports on every site we do. He’s very much involved when we do a tender.” Regardless of the distance, Centrals takes safety very seriously even if the work is far away; “The furthest site away is probably 450 kilometres from home, and he’s still there once a week” says Richards. In addition to safety initiatives, Centrals Earthmoving is a great believer in hiring Indigenous persons and bringing young trainees to the fold. A founding member of the Bayalgu training program in conjunction with MMG, Centrals is committed to enabling Indigenous men and women to be involved in long term employment programs. “We run between 11 and 13 per cent full-time Indigenous employment, which is quite high,” says Richards. “We are a Geraldton-based company, and we pride ourselves on trying to employ as many local people as we possibly can.” Australian Construction Focus | September 2010


Centrals principal owner and Managing Director, Craig Patterson, is a great believer in youth employment and is heavily involved in a training program set up through a local football academy. “He was one of the inaugural people involved in setting this training program up and it’s something that we’ve been involved in since day one.” By recruiting young people as labourers and training them as they progress, Centrals Earthmoving benefits not only the present local economy, but also the future. The company currently has a number of supervisors responsible for overseeing projects worth millions of dollars who they themselves started from the ground up.

A Vast Range of Services

All of the company’s hard work and training has paid off. In their many years of operation, Centrals stellar safety record has enabled them to maintain a perfect record with no employee time lost due to injury. This is practically


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

unheard of considering the nature of their work. Trained and equipped to handle earthmoving projects of all sizes, Centrals Earthmoving regularly works in the fields of mining, land development, road development and other areas of civil construction. Their first-hand knowledge of the industry has enabled Centrals to successfully complete numerous projects related to mining, often in remote locations. By working closely with mining companies they are able to ensure safe and efficient working conditions both above and below ground. For companies like Karara Mining Limited, Vanadium Australia, Titan Resources, Equigold, and many others, they have completed numerous projects involving topsoil removal, grid line clearing, tailing dam construction, site drainage, haul road construction and maintenance, and rehabilitation. In recent years, safety for the environment

– from proper containment of materials removed from mine sites to preservation of vegetation and wildlife – has become a concern, one that Centrals addresses head-on for their clients. “We have to be aware of all environmental issues; it is a huge part of it now” says Richards. At one recent site, the company worked with environmentalists while clearing the scrub indicating which vegetation could be removed, and others that had to stay. In the field of land development, Centrals Earthmoving has played a key role in helping to establish some of the most sought after subdivisions in the Midwest making areas as attractive as possible to help developers. In addition, the company is involved with LandCorp, who is responsible for delivering land and infrastructure projects throughout Western Australia to help achieve economic and social prosperity for the state. “We have the highest open rating with LandCorp,

so we do a lot of subdivisions” says Richards. “With that rating, we can go for the larger subdivisions that LandCorp can release. We do the whole package, from the starting point of clearing the subdivision. In most subdivisions, we do the sewer, water, power, gas, roads, the land development itself, and often the retaining walls.” When it comes to civil and road construction, Centrals have always maintained high standards of work for their clients including public utilities, local authorities, and private enterprises. Their many services include clearing, rock and topsoil removal, road construction and maintenance, waste removal, demolition, road repairs and much more. Whether it be earthmoving, mining, infrastructure or land development, we can expect Centrals to be facing difficult and complex challenges head on for many years to come. Australian Construction Focus | September 2010



September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus


over 100, earning the company numerous awards along the way.

In 1999, Macalister Prestige Homes was established to fulfill the needs of clients by creating well-built homes that seamlessly combined attractive designs with function at a reasonable price. Using quality materials and the skills of many dedicated craftsmen, Macalister started building 30 homes per year, a number which rapidly grew to well

As Macalister grew, so did the need for other construction work with requests coming in from satisfied clients to build other structures. By 2004, the demand had grown to a point where the decision was made to create a second entity to handle demands for quality commercial work and that year, Macalister Constructions Pty Ltd was created. The timing was perfect and Macalister – already equipped with a solid staff of builders, supervisors, drafting people, and office workers – made the decision to create quality homes and commercial structures. Today, the commercial arm of the company takes on projects ranging from $500,000 retail premises to $6,000,000 sporting complexes and everything in between.

n the field of construction, some companies make new homes the focus of their business while others dedicate themselves to creating quality commercial projects, constructing schools, sports centres, apartments, and retail complexes. In Australia, the multiple-award winning company Macalister is successfully fulfilling the needs of the country’s commercial and residential sectors through two highly successful entities.

Australian Construction Focus | September 2010


Awards from Master Builders and the Housing Industry Association

In 2005, Macalister received multiple awards for their superior quality work both from the prestigious Master Builders and the Housing Industry Association (HIA), which promote the country’s vibrant building and construction industries and maintain rigorous codes regarding quality construction. “Receiving these awards is a huge honour,” says Hamish McDougall, Marketing and Sales Manager for Macalister. “Any time you can pick up a Housing Industry Association or a Master Builders award for our business – whether it’s for the residential or the


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

commercial arm – it makes everyone in the company proud, because they’re your peers. It is basically industry bodies turning around and saying “You’re doing good work.” The quality of the many homes and commercial buildings created by Macalister speak for themselves. As a preferred commercial builder of choice, the company is able to maintain the finest quality work delivered on time and on budget. In addition to awards from Master Builders and HIA, the company has been a winner, finalist, or runner-up for many regional and state competitions, such as the Bendigo Bank Gippsland Business Awards. “We have won 24 Master Builders and HIA awards on the

residential side,” says McDougall of the company. Two of their standout awards include the South East Regional Residential Builder of the year in 2007 and again in 2009, and the 2007 Best Custom Home over $500,000.

of $18 million. While the company is proud of the many awards they have received, they are equally pleased with being a builder who will create structures like schools and sports facilities that will benefit local communities long into the future.

On the commercial side, Macalister Constructions Pty Ltd is working on 14 projects at the present time, valued at a total

From Sports Centres to Schools

“The Gippsland Regional Sporting Complex is a big one,” says McDougall of the centre Australian Construction Focus | September 2010


which will be the new home for basketball and many other sports. Located in Cobains Road, this large, fully-integrated project has involved the clearing of land and construction to make way for this multi-purpose sports stadium. Started last November, it will be completed this year at a cost of almost seven and a half million dollars. “It is based in Sale, and our head office is based in Sale. It’s obviously good for us, because we’re putting back into the community that we’re a part of,” says McDougall. “We’re not just a builder who works here and brings in trades from outside areas; we actually used trades from all the areas that we build in.” Along with the Gippsland Regional Sporting

Dahlsens prouDly supports macalister prestige homes Dahlsens is proud of its association with Macalister Prestige Homes and to support their future growth in South East Victoria and beyond. As a preferred supplier to the building and home improvement industry, Dahlsens takes this opportunity to thank the Victorian community for its continued support.

timber fix out winDows kitchens

1300 Dahlsens


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

harDware truss & frame claDDings plumbing

olition of an existing building and clearance of the site – followed by a second stage, which included the construction of the school and a music, arts, and administration building. Like many other projects spearheaded by Macalister, the Maffras Secondary College was a finalist and award-winner. “Stage one was a finalist, and stage two won it,” says McDougall, ‘so from our company’s point of view, to receive an award like that was fantastic, and we’re obviously quite honoured to get that from the Master Builders as well.” In addition to creating residential and commercial projects that benefit homeowners and businesses, Macalister Constructions Pty Ltd and Complex, Macalister is working on six area schools that will benefit the local area and the new Callignee Community Centre. Begun earlier this year, the $2.3 million community centre is expected to be completed this fall. It is an especially poignant project for Macalister, since it is being constructed in an area devastated by the ‘Black Saturday’ bush fires. The company is equally proud of their completed projects, which include aged care facilities, retail premises, health centres, and schools. One of their recently-completed projects, the $5.5 million Maffras Secondary College, was a two-stage development the first stage was the construction of a new middle school building – along with demAustralian Construction Focus | September 2010


Macalister Prestige Homes are known for the quality of their work and the skilled staff who work for both sides of the company. As great believers in supporting the community, Macalister deal with local people whenever possible. “We want to use local trades and suppliers where we can, as long as they meet our criteria,” according to Marketing and Sales Manager Hamish McDougall. “We want to use the best people and the best products for everything we do.” This includes the hiring of Indigenous persons to work on their many construction sites. “We have a simple philosophy, really, which is we are an equal employment opportunity company. If someone is good at what they


September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus

do, and they can do the job for us well, we’ll use them. There’s no point being in a position where you don’t, and from our company’s point of view, we don’t understand why people wouldn’t.” As believers in creating good deeds, the company is often approached by young men and women who have recently received their trade certificate. If the person hasn’t yet attained the necessary skills required by the company, they will often put them in touch with one of their subcontractors, where they can gain on the job training. Over time, a number of these men and women have approached Macalister years later, and have been hired.

“The reality is, as you go through time, there’s going to be people who come back to you. And as we get bigger and busier, we’re going to need more site foremen, and things like that.” Some young people come back years later. It all comes down to Karma. Whether creating prestige homes or building school and sports centres benefitting the local community, Macalister believes you are only as good as your last project and by maintaining high standards and hiring the best people, you will maintain your success for yourself and your clients. “People want to make sure they’re going to get good service, and consistent levels all the way through, and we like to think we provide that.”

Australian Construction Focus | September 2010






September 2010 | Australian Construction Focus