Building essentials & smart solutions

As competition across the housing industry intensifies, it’s time to take advantage of time-saving products and services to improve your onsite efficiency.

Photo courtesy EGGER

After several consecutive years of sustained growth in the housing industry, recent changes in market conditions have translated into a slight decline in new home sales. HIA Economics recorded a fall of 2.9 per cent from January to June this year (compared to the last six months of 2017), and is forecasting a ‘modest decline’ for the remainder of the year. However, building activity continues to boom – especially in centres outside of Sydney and Melbourne – and in June 2018, the number of new home approvals rose by four per cent.

Together, these conflicting figures show that many housing professionals across the country are operating in an increasingly competitive market, where the supply/demand equation has almost reached saturation point.

As the market evolves and economic pressures increase, home builders can safeguard their competitive advantage by streamlining processes and prioritising quality. Get a head-start on your builds by choosing smart, innovative building systems, high-performance, dual-purpose products, and leveraging tech tools that can simultaneously speed up construction and deliver a high quality finish. By helping you improve operational efficiencies, these measures can dramatically reduce your labour costs, and allow you to price more competitively.

When working with an EBP, the selection of the correct components for the specific application is critical
Photo courtesy EGGER
The team at six star plus are solar specialists and offer a full service from concept to completion
Photo courtesy Six Star Plus

Structural solutions

During construction, choosing products that go together quickly can simplify the building process. EGGER OS’Brace® 6mm bracing panels are trusted by builders to provide a safe and easy solution for fast and uncomplicated construction.

The panel size fits neatly to the timber frame construction used in the Australian building industry, meaning installation is quick and straightforward.

Established as an effective bracing solution, the OS’Brace® panels are engineered and tested to comply with the relevant structural performance requirements of the National Construction Code, and have been working well on Australian building sites for more than 15 years.

EGGER OS’Brace® is a resin-bonded, three-layer wood material board created from specially oriented strands of wood. EGGER explains that separate strand processing for the core and surface layers, a special strand geometry, and a high level of orientation of the surface strands all optimise the structural performance and physical appearance of OS’Brace®. The orientation of the strands creates a performance which is greater than required for strength and stiffness properties between centre to centre of joists, plus, depending on the application, it can provide bracing solutions for up to 6kn of pressure.

Suited to a wide variety of building solutions, the panels have a full cross-sectional treatment against termite attack so they can be used in all regions of Australia. The high-quality, moisture-resistant and innovative structural panels are designed and manufactured specifically for the Australian building and construction industry.

For many builders, Engineered Building Products (EBPs) offer the combined benefits of structural integrity and streamlined construction. However, when working with EBPs, the selection of the correct application-specific components is critical. To save you time and ensure peace of mind, MiTek has developed the EasyCat App, which takes the hard work and confusion out of choosing the right EBPs.

According to MiTek, this free app is probably the most important tool a builder or certifier can take on site. It includes an electronic catalogue of EBPs produced by MiTek Australia, the latest data sheets and, where applicable, links to short, instructional videos demonstrating correct installation of EBPs.

MiTek’s huge range of EBPs are designed and engineered to meet the individual requirements of each particular job. All are rigorously tested and re-tested to ensure they pass (and in most cases, exceed) Australian Standards. This is especially important when it comes to ensuring the structural integrity of your building or structure, and that compliant load-bearing requirements are met.

The EasyCat App is easy to navigate: find facts fast with a search feature and a favourites section. EBPs are broken down into groups such as Bracing, Girder Brackets, Roof Ties and so on. Having a ready-reference, handy, on-site tool like the MiTek EasyCat App gives you confidence in selecting the right EBP for the right application.

The MiTek EasyCat App is free, and all updates made as products and/or Australian Standards change will also be free. It’s compatible with Apple and Android devices, and can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Solar solutions

As energy prices continue to skyrocket, solar electricity and hot water are becoming increasingly desirable for new home buyers. Being able to cost-effectively include this value-add can help home builders to secure a competitive advantage.

However, until now, selecting and installing the right solar system has been complex and time-consuming (and therefore too costly) to be a viable inclusion for most home builders to offer.

That’s all set to change in Melbourne, where builders are now turning to a specialist service business when seeking solar products for their projects.

The aptly named Six Star Plus is a solar one-stop-shop offering supply, installation services and rebate management, and has filled a niche as a solution provider for builders embracing solar hot water and solar electricity.

Solar products are frequently used in Victoria to satisfy a 6-star new homes rating. The benefits and savings for the homeowner are well documented, however it is making solar easy for the builder that drives Six Star Plus.

Manager of Six Star Plus, Andrew Richardson, explains: ‘We find many builders avoid solar because they believe it to be difficult. Our team are solar specialists and we offer a full service from concept to completion. We want every customer to confidently add and profit from solar products in their projects. Every customer is provided a dedicated account manager to support, advise and offer tailored solutions.’

As a supplier to the building industry, Six Star Plus use only quality brands which support the builders warranty. ‘We have a strong relationship with our major supplier Rinnai, and our builders feel comfortable using us and the Rinnai brand,’ Andrew says.

Six Star Plus provides a simple avenue for builders to offer and profit from the latest energy efficient solar products and technology.

The unique construction method makes the system ideal for close proximity to boundaries
Photo courtesy CSR
Designpanel has a classic Scandinavian look that reflects light beautifully while ensuring that excess noise is removed
Photo courtesy Knauf

Selection solutions

A vast array of innovative new multi-function product offerings double-up on benefits in a single product, and enable builders to streamline construction times.

Knauf, a company known for its innovative approach, has recently released Designpanel, a clever dual-purpose plasterboard which incorporates acoustic properties – making it a smart choice to improve the practicality and liveability of open-plan homes.

Designpanel has a classic Scandinavian look that reflects light beautifully while ensuring that excess noise is removed. It delivers both sound diffusion and sound absorption, where reflected sound is evenly spread to create a comfortable environment for everyone.

Designpanel’s superior acoustic performance is achieved through vibrations in the plasterboard and by sound waves travelling through the perforations and acoustic felt backing into the air cavity behind the board.

The degree to which sound is reflected or absorbed can be described by ‘reverberation time’, which is the time it takes for sound to fade out, or more specifically, bounce around a room before being absorbed by the materials and the air in the room. (To calculate this for a room, use the handy Knauf reverberation calculator).

Using Designpanel, there is no compromise on acoustic performance, evening out sound and avoiding peaks or troughs in one area of the frequency range. So it’s not just the low frequency or high frequency sounds that are removed, Designpanel has excellent sound absorption values across the full frequency range. The result is a high-quality sound experience where human voices are clearly heard and everyday communication is simply understood.

Designpanel is easy to install and certified by Global Green Tag to GreenRate Level A, and recognised by the Green Building Council of Australia for materials and volatile Organic compounds (VOC) credits.

Space solutions

The smart application of dual-function products can also deliver added flexibility, improving the overall functionality and value of your projects. This is particularly relevant within the medium density housing market where builders, designers and developers are constantly seeking new ways to boost the amount of liveable space within each residence.

CSR Gyprock’s new Boundary Wall Systems for zero-lot-line construction has been developed to address this exact issue. It’s a responsive solution that evolves, if and when required, from a single boundary wall into a double boundary wall system that performs like an intertenancy wall, allowing non-sequential development of adjacent dwellings in zero-lot-line developments. The result is the ability to maximise liveable space while meeting BCA requirements for Class 1a buildings.

Traditional methods required an entire ‘block’ of attached dwellings to be built as one, with the intertenancy walls lined as interior walls, after the roof and exterior walls are completed. The Gyprock Boundary Wall System allows for individual units to be completed before the construction of adjoining units.

The unique construction method makes the system ideal for close proximity to boundaries, and to the subsequent addition of a second wall system. The fire rating and weather-resistant properties required of external walls are provided, as well as a high level of acoustic separation for occupant comfort.


This article was compiled with contributions from Egger, MiTek, Six Star Plus, Knauf and Gyprock.

Improve your competitive advantage: top tips

• At planning stage, ensure your project is designed to optimise economy in construction.
• Meet energy targets without incurring extra costs by ensuring living areas face north. Getting the sun in through winter helps keep energy bills down. Install eaves or awnings to keep the higher summer sun out.
• Solar PV systems and water harvesting are a desirable selling point as they further reduce ongoing running costs.
• Access experts and online catalogues and calculators to save research time.
• Keep labour costs down by choosing innovative engineered structural components designed to streamline on-site construction.
• Choose smart two-in-one building components and fittings that offer extra benefits in terms of performance and function.
• Prioritise communication with your clients, keep them updated as building progresses.
• Be transparent about costs, especially if variations occur during the build.

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