January 06, 2020
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.