Looking to build a new three-bedroom family home in Gunderman, on the north bank of the Hawkesbury River northwest of Sydney, Stephen Wilson sought a way to ensure that his new home would meet the requirements for building on bush fire prone land.
Building sites determined to be on bush fire prone land fall into one of six categories of Bushfire Attack Level (BAL), which measures in kilowatts/m2 the severity of a building’s potential exposure to ember attack, radiant heat and direct flame contact.
Of the six categories of BAL, this family’s site was classified as BAL – FZ, meaning it faced direct exposure to flames from the fire front, in addition to heat flux and ember attack greater than 40kW/m2. This is the most severe of the six BAL categories, and in building their new home the homebuilder would need to adhere to very strict guidelines around building processes and building materials used.
As well as being located on bush fire prone land, the building site also featured a significant amount of slope (7m). As such, Wilson needed to identify a building materials supplier who could address the dual challenges of the project. The house in total would cover 137.3m2, across the main house and deck, and a smaller studio and deck.
Spantec delivers innovative design solution for bushfire site
Wilson contacted Spantec directly, and after discussing his project with the Spantec team was referred to Shane Hall, owner and operator of family owned Sydney building and construction company Hi Quality Home Improvements. A recommended Spantec installer and a long-time supporter of Spantec System’s’ innovative steel building products, Hall worked closely with Wilson to identify additional ways Spantec products could be used on the project.
Hall detailed how working with Spantec on both the design and material supply would enable Wilson to address the challenges of his building site and successfully create the home he wanted. Spantec would design the ground floor, decks, house roof and separate studio dwelling. The Spantec design and engineering team went to work on delivering full construction drawings and an engineering certification package that would address the requirements form building in a BAL – FZ area. The team drew on their technical knowledge and design experience to determine what other flame zone products would be required to encase the Spantec ezipiers and external deck frames.
Spantec would deliver to site the nearly whole floor and roof structure in one complete, light weight kit, ready for installation, with bearers, joists and rafters cut to size and labelled for a quick, easy and cost-minimising installation.
“The block itself is pretty hard to work on,” Hall explains. “Pretty much everything has to be non-combustible. The Spantec system made it a lot easier out here with the adjustable pier heads with the change in elevation. It’s a pretty simplified system.”
The long-lasting benefits of Spantec building products
With his more than five years of working with Spantec products, Hall notes that Spantec’s uniquely adjustable pier heads take much of the pain out of residential building projects.
“There are other pier heads out there that claim to be adjustable, but Spantec is the only one that really is,” Hall argues. “You only adjust them 5mm or 10mm, even with this sort of elevation. I shoot it all by laser, and cut all the posts to size, but just knowing you’ve got that adjustment if you are a little bit out makes it really easy.”
And the same applies to homeowners who build with Spantec, such as Wilson, who are able to adjust the Spantec adjustable pier head system if there’s any movement in their floor years after their house has been built. Spantec supply a spanner with all their jobs, which Hall leaves on site and shows the client how to use it if needed.
“[Customers] get a bit of a shock when they learn that they can actually adjust it themselves,” Hall explains. “If there’s any movement in the future, the owners can get under there and move piers up instead of the old brick piers that sink and then people have to get under there and try and get fibre packings under them.”
Hall notes that the building of Wilson’s new family home in Gunderman would Have cost more and took longer to complete without the use of Spantec’s design and building materials.
“It’s cut time and cost everywhere,” he attests. “The cost would have been higher and it would have taken longer. Even the roof, [using Spantec] has cut down costs on the eaves and things like that.”
Working with a team of three, Hall expects to complete and hand over the finished home to Wilson in February 2020.
Need help with building on a bushfire prone site?
For nearly 30 years Spantec Systems has been pioneering the use steel for building professionals, owner-builders and DIY-ers. To find out how we can help with your next build, contact us on (02) 4860 1000 or by firstname.lastname@example.org. Already have plans and engineers drawings? Then get a quote now.
Having lived most of their life on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, Geoff and Debbie chose to build their retirement home on a seven-acre lot in Swansea on the east coast of Tasmania. With a long career in design, construction and project management, Geoff (MAIPM) chose to complete the home as an owner-builder using contract labour.
The house would be single storey with a basement; the upper footprint would measure 215 square metres plus an attached garage. The building footprint featured three metres of fall, and the property also sits within a BAL 12.5 fire zone.
Geoff and Debbie always planned to have a deck as a key feature of their new home, but with the large amount of fall across the building footprint, Geoff had concerns about safety and considered various execution options to overcome working at height exposure.
“I’m big about safety, and with that sort of fall and my experience I thought, ‘how are we going to do this safely?’” Geoff recounts. “There were a few options available to us including scaffold hire, early building a deck to substitute as scaffold and utilisation of mobile plant and equipment. Enlarging the deck surface area and extending it almost three quarters of the way around the house was the most economical option for the duration of the house build.”
The couple considered timber for their deck but decided the effort required on site for the work team to measure, cut and install timber framing for the large deck would pose challenges given the heights involved. The costs considerations were also critical because the deck itself would be a sizeable 230 square metres (larger than the upper footprint of the house).
A pre-cut and drilled structural steel deck frame kit became an attractive option because it would maximise works in the manufacturing plant and minimise works at the building site. So, they turned to steel, and soon started the conversation with Spantec Systems.
“I hadn’t used them before,” explains Geoff, “but no-one in Tasmania really does [steel deck framing supplies] to the same extent than Spantec do in New South Wales. There are places where you can buy similar components, but it’s not always designed and pre-cut to the same extent as Spantec.”
Custom designed solutions for custom projects
Spantec took a practical approach to working with Geoff and Debbie and accommodated their specific design requests. This included adjusting their deck design (including re-spacing joist centres) to accommodate fibreglass reinforced plastic (FRP) grating panel sizes. Spantec provided more than 20 architectural drawings of the deck structure and assembly method.
“I found Spantec to be very accommodating to our needs,” says Geoff. “They provided all the steel materials pre-cut, except for the support posts which were site cut to suit final levels of concrete footings. Adjustable pier heads and base plates were used throughout; they are fantastic. Everyone who has seen it has positively commented on the deck structure and adjustable height posts.”
Spantec shipped the order from their Mittagong base to the Swansea building site on two truckloads, such was the size of this job. Geoff noted that Spantec owning the liability for both the manufacture and supply of the product until it is delivered to the building site provided peace of mind while the materials travelled from NSW to Tasmania.
Using the Spantec product for the first time, Geoff’s contract labour work team commented noted how easy the system was to assemble.
“It took us four and a half weeks to build 230 square meters of deck structure at an elevated height,” Geoff recounts. “The work team said they would seriously think about whether or not to do timber decks in the future or use something like Spantec because of the ease of assembly.”
“We even bought some adjustable heads and bases from Spantec to use on one section of the house where Debbie was quite adamant that her yoga room have a timber floor rather than a concrete slab. Fantastic!”
Overcoming the challenges of a sloping block
Geoff and Debbie faced key challenges due to the severe slope of their building footprint on the site. The unique and versatile design of the Spantec system makes it the perfect solution for sloping blocks and enabled the couple to overcome these site challenges.
In addressing the slope on the block, Spantec designed a solution that featured 30 support posts, varying in height from 500mm to three meters, with re-adjustable heads.
“We laser levelled everything, cut and assembled the posts, stood [the posts] up set at the midpoint of adjustment.” Geoff explains. “I would go so far as saying that the whole deck is level within one or two millimetres over the whole 230 metres squared area, which is quite an achievement on such a sloping block. It was great to be able to use the adjustable heads to help us overcome that. We couldn’t have asked for a better result.”
The result is so great that Geoff and his team will use the now completed Spantec deck as the scaffold platform for building the top level of the house.
“The money we were going to invest in hiring scaffolding, we’ve instead invested in Spantec,” beams Geoff. “And when we’ve finished, we’ve got full utilisation of that money invested in the house and the deck rather than in temporary scaffolding. I can’t speak highly enough of the Spantec team and how they accommodated our needs.
“We’re still talking to them for a couple of things we’ve added to the project, such as using their post bases upside down to support our handrail on the posts. We’ve actually got 65 of those in transit now coming down from Spantec; I see it as an ongoing relationship between Spantec and us.”
Need help with your home building project?
A member of HIA (Housing Industry Association) and NASH (National Association of Steel-Framed Housing Inc), Spantec Systems offers user-friendly and durable components (all steel supplied by BlueScope) for a simple and quick install. If you want a deck that offers a long-life span with minimal maintenance, call us on (02) 4860 1000 or email email@example.com for more information and a quote.
David, a client in Tasmania, was in the early planning stages of a new home build project and searching for cutting edge building solutions for the job. Visiting the Melbourne Home Show, he was introduced to Spantec Systems.
Speaking with the Spantec team, David learnt more about the NSW-based company and how for the last 25 years they have pioneered the use of modern, steel-based systems for a variety of building and construction projects. The Spantec prefabricated steel flooring and piering system sounded like the perfect solution for David’s project, which was on a sloping block and in an area that received above average annual rainfall.
“I didn’t think there was that much fall,” David says of his block, “but there is nearly two metres of fall across the site. So I thought the Spantec system would be ideal to use.
“I’ve built as an owner-builder previously and knew the perils of building. Previously I had a combination of timber, and when the rain hit it there were delays with contractors. I was there every morning sweeping the water off the thing and I swore to myself I’d never use timber again.
“I wanted something stable and straight that could handle variable weather; I was very glad that I didn’t have to worry about the galvanized steel being exposed to the weather. I gave Spantec my plans and they came up with a design for the sub-floor system.”
David notes that the initial quote Spantec gave him was very close to what his flooring system ended up costing in the final quote.
Spantec for a simpler build
The three-bedroom house that David designed featured two separate buildings that in total covered 250m2, with the main house consisting of 200m2 of floor space and a detached guest area of 50m2. The main building, deck and courtyard were to be on the higher level of the block, with the guest area located on the lower level.
“The Spantec system enables you to have different levels quite easily and not have to pour extra concrete,” notes David. “And the base is already contained, so we didn’t have to come up with a unique design for that. That’s all part of the system. The adjustable pier head made achieving a perfect level very easy. That’s the only thing the builder had to cut – the steel piers. Everything
else was already done.”
From its warehouse in Mittagong, south west of Sydney, Spantec Systems shipped all the pieces of David’s steel floor system to the site outside of Hobart. “When it rolled up on the truck I thought, ‘wow, is that it?!’,” David recalls. “Everything was labelled clearly and everything was accounted for and accurate. Nothing was missing.”
David noted that the building contractor he was using “hadn’t seen anything like it before” and commented favourably about the system and how all the pieces were accurate and clearly labelled.
“Having never used this type of pre-fabricated system, things moved along nicely once he understood how things went together,” David recounts. “It was like a giant kit set – everything was pre-cut and straight and nothing was moving, and once it came together, he didn’t have to touch it again. It was a few clicks of a spanner and it was done. That’s one of the advantages of the system.”
One of the key benefits of the Spantec steel flooring system is its versatility and how it makes levelling off the floor base extremely simple. That’s something that both David and his builder witnessed first-hand.
“[The builder] has the laser level and they just sit it on there and click it with a spanner,” David explains. “The builders loved it because the process was much, much easier. Traditionally there would be shaving some timber off, packing it here, and moving things around. That all went out the window. Everything was there and there was no cutting to do. It was great.”
Working with Spantec
David recommends Spantec to others building a new home, recalling how easy the company was to work with. “They were pretty accommodating, from the quote process through to finalising things to letting me know the schedule for production,” he says. “I was kept up to date, from production through to delivery. Everything stuck to the schedule.”
Need help with your home building project?
Spantec Systems offers user-friendly durable components, galvanised steel box section bearers and joists and adjustable piers for a simple and quick install. If you want a deck that offers a long-life span with minimal maintenance, call us on (02) 4860 1000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and a quote.
James Clark, a client in regional NSW, sought to create a deck with a difference for his large two-storey brick home. He envisioned a large deck joined to his existing veranda that would be used as n outdoor living and entertainment area. He was specifically seeking something eye-catching that offered clean lines and would reimagine what a domestic deck could be.
When Clark’s chosen draftsman, who completed the original plan and assisted with planning and building permits, didn’t buy into his vision, Clark took matters into his own hands. Drawing on his background in manufacturing and engineering, Clark redesigned the draftsman’s plans himself to more accurately reflect the high impact and highly visually appealing deck he envisioned.
Clark required his deck components and frame to be built out of steel due to his house being in an area prone to bushfires. Through research online and visits to building and home renovation exhibitions, Clark was introduced to Spantec Systems, a Mittagong-based Australian building supplies innovator with more than 25 years’ experience. Spantec pioneered the design and use of light structural steel beams and steel flooring systems for home improvements in Australia and created the concept of using adjustable steel piers under sub-floors.
Clark was enamoured with Spantec’s one stop shop service model, which includes design, construction drawings, engineering and ongoing technical support throughout the build, which Clark would complete himself.
Having also sought quotes from one of Australia’s largest providers of steel products, Clark chose Spantec and its Custom Deck product for his cutting edge new deck due to both his interest in spantec’s modular design system and the support he was shown from Spantec’s sales team.
The Spantec Custom Deck product would enable Clark to bring to life the deck of his dreams. The strength of the deck would also support a spa that would sit on top of the structure.
“We wanted to incorporate a spa and the weight made everyone nervous,” Clark recalls. “We didn’t want a ‘climb over the side’ full height spa and didn’t want something at ground level that would be hard to get in and out of. We came up with a plan to partially lower the spa into the deck, so its height above the deck would be 600mm, which is the perfect height to sit on the side then swing in.”
Expanding the scope of works to replace ageing wood beams
During construction, Clark discovered that the existing veranda bearers were rotten. After consulting the Spantec technical team, he expanded the scope of the project to include stripping back the original decking boards and replacing the wood beams with Spantec steel bearers and joists.
With further input from the Spantec technical team, Clark also extended the use of the Spantec beams to build the landing for the stairs and the second landing and steps down from the veranda to the deck.
“I was extremely satisfied with the end result,” Clark said. “I completed most of the work myself; I was very pleased with the detailed plans. My building inspector even commented that he thought it was the best deck he had ever seen, which gave me peace of mind that I had chosen the right product for my deck. I found the Spantec technical team very helpful in assisting in the development of the design.”
If you want a deck that offers a long-life span with minimal maintenance, call us on (02) 4860 1000 or email email@example.com for more information and a quote.