NG RATI B CELE
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June 2014 Volume 25 No. 05
Is Prefabricated Construction The Future of Australian Building? Industry News on page 8
JOHN BOWEN Stick with the Plan. Prepare Melbourne for Tomorrow bowens.com.au
Compact Housing For Today’s Market
Smokin’ Hot Big Builder Buys
The Builders Choice
A Word From John Bowen
Stick with the Plan.
Prepare Melbourne for Tomorrow On 19 May Premier Denis Napthine presented to the world Plan Melbourne, a strategy for dealing with the economic, environmental, heritage and liveability impacts of Melbourne’s proposed (strong) population growth. If you are to believe the PR, Melbourne is set to become a powerhouse of jobs, investment and greater opportunity. At the announcement, Mr Napthine said, “I am delighted to release this final plan for our city that will deliver more jobs, more transport choices, more homes and more lifestyle opportunities across Melbourne…. The Coalition Government committed a record $27 billion in the 2014-15 State Budget for state shaping economic infrastructure that will create jobs, boost productivity and build a better Victoria.” Do these statements set in stone the Plan’s execution? Unlikely. Quite often the pretty words are conveniently left behind as the world moves on and governments manage polls with short-term decisions. Even so, if you haven’t already taken a peak, click on www.planmelbourne.vic.gov.au to gain a better understanding. At 205 pages it is more than a little daunting; however you will find much of the space is made up of valueless padding – much like the rubbish I used to provide in my University assignments. Despite the froth and bubble (pictures and too many maps) and optimistic targets, it is easy to read and offers some valuable insights. The document was released as a draft in October 2013 for public consultation and has been the subject of lively and sometimes heated debate. Themes from its first iteration are well known, so it was interesting to note the changed priorities (and numbers) in the final manuscript. A press release by Tract Consulting a day after the Plan was announced summarised many of the re-prioritisations. They noted an increased need for regional Victoria’s continuing role in sharing population growth; new urban renewal areas in Fitzroy and North Fitzroy (on either side of Alexandra Parade) and the bringing forward from a medium-term initiative (2017-2025) to a short-term initiative (with construction to commence within 4 years) the old Metro underground rail link, which will run from South Yarra Station via Domain and Fishermans Bend (Montague) to Southern Cross and the much-publicised Airport Rail Link. Importantly, Tract’s analysis picked up on the recognition of new measures to accommodate faster population growth with associated housing demand. Housing in established areas has taken on greater prominence, in both absolute and percentage terms. In the Plan Melbourne draft the established areas/growth areas split was 57 per cent to 43 per cent; in the final version, 61 per cent of new housing will go to established areas and 38 per cent to growth areas. This trend needs to be recognised by businesses such as Bowens, as new sites are identified and the product we sell or manufacture is determined. In these pages (recently) I have bemoaned the forced trend to apartment living in Melbourne; the Plan only re-emphasises this progression. Detached housing is now estimated to contribute only one third of all dwellings built over the next 35 years. The reality is outlined in Figure 8 on page 62 of Plan Melbourne:
Figure 8: MELBOURNE’S HOUSING REQUIREMENTS BY TYPE, TO 2051
Dwelling requirement to 2051 ALLOCATION BETWEEN DETACHED & OTHER DWELLINGS DETAILED COMPOSITION BASED ON CURRENT & EXPECTED TRENDS
(Source: Victoria In Future 2014) Note 1: These figures refer to net additions to dwellings and not gross additions and do not take into account demolitions or vacant dwellings.
Another significant adjustment since the draft was released is the authors’ population projections – now estimated to be 7.7 million by 2051 (1.2 million or 20 per cent more than in the draft Plan Melbourne). Plan Melbourne - and the recent State and Federal budgets - make it clear that infrastructure investment, both in road and rail projects, will take the leading role in driving metropolitan planning and shaping the future of Melbourne. So too will a more efficient use of the existing transport system, with recognition given to the ability for arterial roads, trains, trams and buses to work together as an integrated system. These are big promises. For investors and developers, the message is clear - access to existing and planned transport links will more than ever determine the success of their projects.
‘Housing in established areas has taken on greater prominence, in both absolute and percentage terms.’ Coupled with Plan Melbourne’s vision is its introduction of vital structural reforms to the Victorian planning system and a monitoring framework to ensure delivery. Can you envisage The Metropolitan Planning Authority (MPA) working seamlessly with five new metropolitan subregions representing all metropolitan councils? It sounds so easy. Mr Napthine and colleagues are keen to ensure Melbourne’s liveability is treasured and maintained. The challenge is enormous as future governments and interest groups influence each step of Plan Melbourne’s execution. We will have to wait and see.
John Bowen, Managing Director
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James Hardie & Porter Davis Group
Compact Housing To Meet Today’s Market
Changing demands A lack of supply in affordable housing options coupled with fundamental changes in demographics and lifestyle trends are generating an increased need for greenfield residential developments to deliver more diverse and affordable housing options for modern Australian society. Developers of these master-planned communities are responding to evolving market demands with approaches that include reduced lot frontages and lot depths, innovative corner housing designs for block ends, rear access terrace homes and studio accommodation over rear garages. Major Australian volume builders have begun identifying how they too can contribute to the delivery of these types of housing options. Many are starting to realise that future planning requirements will be aiming for increased net densities therefore innovative housing products that suit smaller lots will start to shift from niche to mainstream
Maximising the end product Porter Davis are one of Melbourne’s largest volume builders, constructing over 1000 homes per year. They offer consumers a range of housing designs and price points. They have many display homes located across Melbourne attracting more than 8,000 people every month. To provide effective solutions to the increased demand for affordable housing options, Porter Davis are working with leading property developers to deliver better house and land packages, including an entirely new range of homes, the Smarter Living Range, designed to work within existing grid layouts and newly proposed layouts of land parcels, assisting with a better delivery of product. Of particular note, their Kingscliff design, a three bedroom, two bathroom home complete with garage, combines open plan living, dining and kitchen area with well-placed bedrooms, designer amenities and affordability. There is direct access into the home from the garage and rear yard access without having to walk through the home.
Redefining boundaries Applying composite construction systems made available with James Hardie® products rather than using brick on the rear
and sides of the Kingscliff home has provided additional internal floor space of approximately 5m² extra per every 100m². This was achieved through the elimination of wasted wall cavity space and resulted in Porter Davis’ ability to ensure a three bedroom dwelling with an added study nook. This home design is on the market for around the same price point as two bedroom alternatives from other builders. • Modern, intelligent and attractive designs, generating market appeal; • Designs that met target market expectations relating to affordability; and • Reduced frontage requirements, resulting in land cost savings
Smarter construction Porter Davis were looking to design a product offering that would fit a non-standard, 8 metre wide lot. The Industry standard small lot width prior to the delivery of this product was 8.5 metres. The half-metre reduction in frontage equated to approximate $10,000 in land savings. The Kingscliff design met with this new requirement, due in part to the use of composite construction with James HardieTM materials. Using James Hardie building products on three sides of the Kingscliff home also assisted with some of the more practical challenges of working on the narrow 8m blocks including general material handling on site, where significantly reduced working areas create issues with the manoeuvrability of traditional building materials. • Issues with manoeuvring bricks around site almost eliminated – bricks designed to the front of the home only, improving speed and ease of construction • Primeline® Newport weatherboard was selected as the standard product for its ability to be joined off stud. This contributed to reduced wastage and resulted in completed wall cost savings • James Hardie worked with designers and builders to help ensure junction details and installation methods were cost effective and installed to best practice standards
MEALS BED 2
LDRY LIGHT COURT
“The Smarter Living Range is designed to work within existing grid layouts and newly proposed layouts of land parcels, assisting with a better delivery of product” Profitable partnership James Hardie and Porter Davis have a long and successful history of working together. In solving the challenges of affordable housing and reduced lot sizes, Porter Davis designers turned to James Hardie to assist with the development of a product with liveable spaces for compact lots. When it came to the building, James Hardie worked with Porter Davis’ crews to ensure that the innovative designs were easily installed. They were supported throughout the construction process to increase speed and ease of product completion. Upon the success of this product, James Hardie are now reviewing the designs with Porter Davis to assist with the continued improvement and evolution of the product range. “We are always seeking new products and good solutions to economical building practices. James Hardie has provided us with numerous product ranges that seek to enhance the look and feel of our homes” Keith Fuller Senior Designer, Porter Davis Group
That Every Builder Must Know Well, it’s that time of year when I talk about decking. Why is it so? Over the next 4 months is the time that I have most complaints regarding this product and for that reason I have classed decking as one of my notorious products. Again, as usual it is in the setup or lack of planning that often is the problem and not ANY PROBLEM TO DO WITH THE TIMBER. My suggestions below should not be taken in isolation, often when there is a problem it is a combination of factors that cause an unwanted outcome. However, of the various factors listed below I would have to say the most important is VENTILATION. As with a healthy light weight timber floor that requires good cross flow sub-floor air flow, it is desirable to have good sub-deck air flow as well.. Having said that, I list some difficult situations that may require special consideration; • Decks adjacent to a concrete slab. • Decks surrounding a swimming pool. • Decks that have to be constructed close to the ground. In situations where ventilation is compromised, mechanical fans can be invaluable, but they need to be strategically placed. A natural consequence associated with the greater use of wide decking is a higher rate of board movement, that is, shrinkage/expansion, depending on the time of year. It is also fashionable to use timbers of Australian origin, (the likes of; Spotted Gum, Ironbark Silvertop Ash) unfortunately, compared to Merbau, they have relatively high shrinkage/ expansion rates. All this means the installation fundamentals are more important for the good long term performance of the decking product.
Deck Gap Plan to leave a sufficient gap that will allow the boards to move, particularly in winter, so they will not come together. A consequence of this occurrence is severe cupping. Keep the following in mind, boards of 130 millimetres in width will expand by about half a millimetre for every 1% increase in moisture content that the boards will take up during winter. Usually the increase (in moisture content) is about 4% to 6%, so the increase in board width can be about 2 to 3 millimetres. Keeping in mind the adjacent board is experiencing the same conditions, hence the need for a gap as suggested below.
Species that have a relatively high content of the lighter coloured sapwood, particularly Spotted Gum, will have some boards that will expand more. As a rule I suggest the following gap allowance when planning your deck; board width 130 millimetres at least 6 to 7 millimetres, boards up to 90 millimetres in width allow 5 millimetres gap.
Board Preparation I believe an oil based preservative (Available from Bowens) be applied on all surfaces prior to installation, including the trimmed ends. This process acts as a sealer and helps slow down moisture loss or gain. Applying the preservative to the cut ends is particularly important because that is where most moisture is gained or lost in the decking product. A second coat should be applied after installation to the exposed surfaces. At that stage a coloured tint can be added if desired. This process gives the decking more stability and should be undertaken even if a tinted appearance is not required. Cutek for instance, will slowly diffuse into the wood and ‘grey off’ in time and will be not seen on the surface of the boards. A common mistake I see is the first coat, usually a decking stain is applied to the exposed boards after installation. This means the underneath surfaces can lose or gain moisture at quicker rate than the top surfaces, accelerating the possibility of board distortion. The tint will help to prevent the ‘greying off’, but regular coatings will need to be applied if the tinted finish is desired, going forward. Natural Cutek will not prevent the wood losing its natural colour.
Ventilation Regularly readers of my articles should know by now how much importance I place on this necessity. Decking is no different to flooring it must have fresh air underneath the deck. Many people mistakenly think the gaps between the boards will service the deck, it does not work that way. Allowance should be made to ensure air can easily service the sub-deck cavity. A problem I often see is the deck perimeters are a concrete slab or a swimming pool. This means a cross flow of ventilation is not possible and the possibility of mechanical ventilation should be investigated. The usual consequence of a lack of or no ventilation is damp sub-deck micro climate, causing the bottom of the boards to gain moisture and unsightly cupping
Installation Fundamentals • Gaps – Plan to leave a minimum gap between the boards. • Ventilation – Ensure there is good-sub deck ventilation. • Fixing Pins – Use a properly designed decking nail or screw. • Preliminary Coat – Before installing decking, coat the boards on all 4 faces with a good quality sealing agent. • Membrane – Use a waterproof membrane (malthoid) between the joist and the decking. • Timber Type – Select a product like Merbau, the shrinkage rate is a third less than the Australian timbers.
Install A Membrane Over The Joists Another important facet of decking construction overlooked. This process not only helps to stop dry rot, but also means the wood remains dry and the joists will hold fixing nails/screws in place. Although treated pine will not rot, being a softwood will become too soft and consequently make it too easy for the fixing pins to move when the decking experiences climatic changes and naturally expands or contracts. These days custom U shaped products are on the market or just use plain malthoid.
Pre-Drilling Drill a pilot or countersink hole, then drill the holes to facilitate the decking screws. This will help to harness the stress the decking will experience when there are the usual seasonal movement changes in the overall deck. These 2 operations should prevent the boards from cracking or splitting. If using a decking nail ensure the board ends are pre-drilled as well.
Type Of Fixing Pin That Should Be Used Always use a properly designed decking nail or screw. If using a nail it should be at least 65 millimetres long for a 19
mm thick decking product. Unfortunately I believe many of the decking screws on the market to be an inadequate gauge, particularly when the joist is a treated softwood or a laminated LVL product. In my opinion the screw gauge should be at least 10g or for a wide board perhaps 14g. The fixing pins should be hot dipped galvanized or stainless steel particularly if the deck is close to salt water. My final comment is on the type of decking product to use. Above I made comment about the relatively high shrinkage/expansion rates of Australian timbers. This is not to say they should not be used, but it means the above procedures should be employed, particularly if a wide board is specified. The problem product I come across the most is 135x19 Spotted Gum decking. My favourite decking timber is Merbau which is a very forgiving decking product. This is because the shrinkage/ expansion rate of this specie (Merbau) is about a third that of Australian species. Perhaps this could be part of the problem, that is, installers have been able to get away with not carrying many of the points listed above because they have used Merbau, but experienced problems when they have gone to another specie. However, Merbau is not as durable as Australian species. Where most products have a durability rating of class 1 above ground, Merbau has rating of class 2 above ground However, Merbau should still be treated or coated, particularly on the ends. Merbau has been known to experience shrinkage over the board length. It will also minimise bleeding, that has been a problem with this specie in the past.
If you’re already experiencing problems & need expert advice on decking installations, Jeff Harvey can assist you. Simply give him a call directly on 0412 550 740 or email email@example.com
to view video 7
JUNE JUNE 2014
Is Prefabricated Construction
The Future of Australian Building? Dr Phil ALVIANO Sustainable Building Adviser, Master Builders Association of Victoria
New trends are always emerging in the building and construction industry, especially in the sustainable building sector. As builders grapple with increased pressure to be efficient amid industrial disputes, unpredictable weather events and increased regulation, one trend is gathering momentum; prefabricated construction. Master Builders’ Sustainable Building Adviser Dr Phillip Alviano says major Australian developers like Australand, Hickory and Lend Lease are already starting to see the wideranging benefits of this system, and word is spreading. “Prefabricated building manufacture means that most of the process happens in the controlled environment of a factory so there are a range of increased efficiencies,” Dr Alviano said. “Inside a factory you don’t have to worry about the traditional impediments to efficient building like inclement weather and traffic disruption,” he said. “Workers also operate in one, level workspace with better facilities and utilise manufacturing principals making it a much safer environment than a typical construction site. There are also the added environmental benefits of less waste and better more energy efficient buildings.” “This also has the added benefit of less disruption to the local community in terms of noise and truck traffic.” Dr Alviano has recently been awarded an International Specialised Skills Institute Fellowship to undertake a research study into prefabricated building in the more advanced overseas markets. He said the trend has already taken off in America and Europe partly to compensate for the loss of other manufacturing industries. “Prefabricated building seems to be coming to a head here as there’s this push from all different areas to kick-start the industry,” Dr Alviano said. “As the Australian car industry collapses, prefabricated building may be an opportune alternative for those skilled, unemployed manufacturing workers. “My research will focus on the sustainability aspects and what types of jobs roles and skills will be required by this industry
Lend Lease’s 10-storey Forté apartment building in Melbourne. Touted as the tallest timber apartment building in the world.
and the pathways to them, particularly around vocational training and apprenticeships.” Lend Lease’s 10-storey Forté apartment building in Melbourne is a shining example of how well prefabricated construction can work. Touted as the tallest timber apartment building in the world, the 23-apartment complex was manufactured from cross-laminated timber (CLT) which is created using layers of timber to create solid panels. Prefabricated building can use a variety of other materials including tilt concrete panel slabs, pre made timber frames and roof trusses and structural insulated panels (SIPs). Innovators like Hickory Group’s Unitised Building even create prefabricated ‘pods’ that are fitted with plumbing, tiles, joinery and appliances can also be made entirely within a factory and then simply taken on site, and dropped in to place. “There are so many good things about prefabricated building that will inevitably make our industry go that way, it’s exciting to see,” Dr Alviano said.
For more information about new trends like our TimberTruss Cassette Flooring System or Prefabricated Building, contact TimberTruss on (03) 5244 8400 or Dr Phil Alviano (Sustainable Building Advisor) on (03) 9411 4577 to offer any insights about this upcoming industry.
to view our Cassette Flooring System 8
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