Zak Nixon has been in the construction industry all his working life. He learned from his father, who spent time helping out on building sites with his own father, who is also a builder. As a third-generation builder, mentored by his father Bret Nixon, Zak has done new builds and renovations, including heritage renovations.
But these days his Queensland business specialises in house raising and structural steel placement. Zak is the director of Nixon Build and Design. Zak and the team use their own pier jacking system to raise timber homes from Townsville to Brisbane, often in heritage or character precinct areas, or areas subject to flooding.
Zak’s grandfather was involved in house raising decades ago when his father Bret Nixon was a child.
‘He actually developed the first principles of the lifting gear back then and we’ve perfected it since. In the first system my grandfather used big hardwood pier jacks. After two jobs he moved onto steel because the timber had limitations and was very heavy. Since then, my father Bret has been refining and improving the system,’ Zac says.
The pier jack system they use today is their own Pro-Jax™ structure lifting system with patent priority established.
The lion’s share of house raising work comes from people who are looking for a bigger house on a small block, or homeowners in a character precinct with heritage restrictions on their homes. Heritage homes can be raised up, and a new storey – or two – added at ground level, without altering the character of the home, or the street.
For years, Nixon Build and Design specialised in remodelling and renovating heritage homes, raising them up to provide habitable space underneath.
‘It’s important for the work to be authentic to the original character of the structure. Those techniques are all part of our trade, the real art in renovation is in keeping the charm of the building and remodelling it into a contemporary space,’ Zac says.
There are lots of reasons to make this kind of change to a home.
‘Some people want a parent’s retreat and rumpus room, or space for elderly parents. Others raise up the house to create space underneath for cars, utility and storage areas, and a boat,’ he explains.