Building inspections for engineered timber construction
April 18, 2017
Despite panelised timber frame systems being manufactured offsite in factories, building inspections are still an essential part of the brave new world of engineered timber.
That’s the word from Ari Akritidis, who will speak on “Building regulations and code compliance for timber construction” at the Frame Australia ‘Timber Offsite Construction’ conference in Melbourne in June.
Mr Akritidis, a building surveyor since 1996 and a business owner since 2003, has been a serving member of the Building Appeals Board for eight years, and is now on the Building Regulations Advisory Committee appointed by the Minister for Planning.
“We are entering new ground. The regulatory system in Victoria is quite clear that, for all framework, a builder must call for an inspection of the frame on its completion,” he said.
“Where structures will be built offsite and delivered to the site, that’s fine as long as the whole structure - engineered, designed and certified - is inspected while it is onsite and clearly visible. It will only be a problem when any part of the structure is not visible on site. It’s a breach, and something to think about.”
Understanding the building code provisions – ‘Deemed To Satisfy’ and ‘Performance’ pathways for timber residential buildings will be a focus of Mr Akritidis’ presentation, and include specific issues relating to timber such as fire, acoustics, doors and lift wells. Building cost-effectively will also be a key theme.
Under the code, Mr Akritidis said some sprinkler-protected buildings up to 25 metres in effective height could now be built from timber “as of right”. It had previously been available through a ‘performance’ solution, but was now a ‘deemed to comply’ solution. “That introduces a whole range of secondary compliance issues,” he said.
“What avenues are available if a designer, owner or developer wants to go outside those limitations – above 25 metres or build a building of a different class?”
Not being able to meet the two major parameters means developers will have to go down the ‘performance solution’ path.
Permitted concessions relate to building classes 2, 3 and 5 – essentially residential apartments and office buildings. “But to build for example a six-storey retail premise, you don’t achieve those concessions, even though in theory the structure is the same,” Mr Akritidis said.