Affordable housing construction success

Affordable housing construction success

May 28, 2018

When the Department of Health and Human Services planned an affordable housing project in Preston, their strategic decision centred on timber. They wanted affordable housing, so it needed to be lightweight timber framing.
Steve Ayton, DHHS senior project manager, said the project was conceived as a new technology building with mid-rise timber construction, which had a great ESD (ecologically sustainable development) outcome. “We had a budget for it, and wanted the best result we could get,” he said.
The landmark project is a major component of discussion in the panel session on day two of the Frame Australia conference, and will be followed by a delegates visit to the Preston construction site.
Jack Haber, managing director of Tecbuild Systems, a key supplier said the project, with four storeys, had to be able to cope with varying configuration of apartments, with many different span and floor conditions. 
“The reason they chose the Tecbeam floor system is that it has the flexibility to do long spans and it feels just like a concrete floor – it’s so stiff, he said. 
“DHHS has a lot of land, there is a huge need for affordable housing – 100,000 people are homeless.  To deliver to meet that need, you must build at lowest cost, and timber is the way to do it,” Mr Haber said.
However Leon Quinn, national sales and marketing manager for Tilling Timber said the importance of the project is also about the process – including the lessening of risk. 
“The most attractive thing for the builder and developer - they make the decisions -  is to mitigate risk earlier and have supply chains that can supply the complete system,” he said. 
With the Preston project, Big River Group supplied a range of collaborative products, including Tecbeam, SmartLVL15 and MaxiFloor that provided a construction system.
Mr Quinn said construction was an industry dominated by concrete and slow to change. “We are trying to make a once in a generation leap to a new paradigm - and that’s what timber is,” he said.
“Changing to timber, finding the trades you can trust and getting the supply chain right is starting to evolve. In Melbourne for the first time, there are starting to be enough builders to put on the tender list who understand the process, and that’s key to the success of the industry.”
For Mr Ayton of DHHS, the Preston project is meeting expectations.  “The contractor is doing a great job – we will get a great project - but we’ll wait until the end of the project to do a de-brief,” he said.
 Frame 2018 titled ‘Timber Offsite Construction’ will be held on Monday and Tuesday 18-19 June at Park Hyatt Melbourne, and for details visit the website 


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