From Ugly Duckling, to Swan… Unitex refreshes The Block Gatwick Facade

Unitex is proud to be a major sponsor of The Block yet again for 2018. 
 
This year, Unitex’s unique products and systems have been used to repair the badly damaged Gatwick Apartment facade, and turn it into a beautiful display of Melbourne Architecture.  With architectural mouldings, and cutting edge render/texture/sealer coatings The Gatwick will look stunning for many years to come.  
 
 
 
'This was the ugliest building in St Kilda, and now look at it'
‘This was the ugliest building in St Kilda, and now look at it’

It’s been hiding behind scaffolding all season, but now the grandest reveal on The Block is finally here. Yes, in all her glory, The Gatwick’s exterior has been unveiled and all that’s missing is a bow.

With fresh and bright rendering, The Block has breathed new life into the once rundown hotel, and as you can see in the video above, our Blockheads are proud as punch of the historic building they’ve spent months working on.

(Nine)

The Gatwick just a few short months ago.

(Nine)

Amazing what a lick of paint can do.

Not only is it pretty as a picture outside, the removal of The Gatwick’s scaffolding and tarpaulins means the all-important interiors are now flooded with natural light. 

“Can you believe we worked on this?” a nostalgic Hans asks Courtney.

“No,” she replies. “And we’re still working on it.”

That they are. Back to the grind, kids.

 

Industry Leaders meet to discuss Safe Cladding in Residential Housing

Industry Leaders meet to discuss Safe Cladding in Residential Housing

Melbourne’s weather came to the party when Industry stallwart, Andrew Concannon, met with industry heavyweights Russell Bielenberg (Manufacturing and Product Development Foamex Group Pty Ltd) and Justin Kelsey (General Manager Foamex Group Pty Ltd)).

The group met to discuss the important issues: Media using ‘Fake News’ and false information to smear eifs cladding in general, and the inherent safety of technically certified and accredited usage of EPS cladding systems, such as the Codemark accredited Unitex Base Board.

While it is easy to make sweeping statements and generalisations, it is not much harder to look at the facts and tell the truth. 

There are millions of square meters of specialty rendered EIFS cladding used worldwide.  As mentioned in previous articles, EIFS rendered cladding systems, such as the National Construction Code conforming Unitex Base Board are safe and reliable, when installed as a complete system according to specification.  Apart from the fact that Unitex have been safely installing these systems for over 30 years in Australia, the benefits and reasons for such systems worldwide is due to the need for energy efficiency in our current environment of ever increasing energy prices.  EIFS systems such as Base Board have been proven to  reduce heating and cooling bills by up to 30%.  Internationally for 50 years, and nationally for the last 30 years, Unitex own records show accredited and warranted systems such as Base Board have not contributed to house fires or spread of fire to date.

The lightweight EIFS cladding market, and indeed the building products market in general, have a serious issue with cost-cutting substitutions of quality, specified products, with inferior and sometimes dangerous, imported non-accredited products.  When a project has been planned, engineered and specified to use a quality cladding system, it is done for a reason.  Safety and reliability for the occupants.

Including proven, accredited and warranted Australian made cladding systems such as Base Board, in untrue sweeping statements that all rendered polystyrene ‘esky’ houses are unsafe, is fear mongering at its worst.

If you are unsure or worried that you’re cladding façade is non-conforming, contact Unitex or ensure your builder and building specifier, specify the Unitex Base Board system, which conforms to the National Construction Code.

With today’s vast and easy access to information, it is easy for everyone to research the truth on correctly rendered polystyrene cladding systems, and discover the safety, money saving and design benefits only EIFS polystyrene cladding can provide on your next project.

Unitex Base Board cladding: the quality original

Unitex Base Board cladding:  the quality original.

 

Pirating a dodgy copy of Game of Thrones does not compare with a legitimate original.  Similarly, shoddy substituted cladding does not compare with safe, reliable accredited Base Board systems.

Base Board is not only safe, warranted and accredited, it also saves money.

The ‘Grandfather of EIFS’, Andrew Concannon, who introduced Polystyrene EIFS cladding to Australia, comments; “Base Board cladding is safe.  I have it on my own home, and have for 30 years.”

“Base Board systems are popular for many reasons, but one stands out.  Money.  Base Board systems save energy costs, keeping properties warm in winter, and cooler in summer.”

“Tradespeople who substitute quality, accredited systems with cheap substandard imported products are endangering the property owner physically and financially.”

Unitex Base Board is Australian made, the most highly accredited EIFS cladding system available.

With over three decades of fault-free history in Australia, Unitex warrants and signs off each Base Board project.  Polystyrene cladding has a defect free history of over 50 years internationally, when installed and used correctly. 

With an accredited, complete Base Board system, you are safe as houses.

Recent Customer Concerns  – the fallout from the London Cladding Inferno.

Recent Customer Concerns

 – the fallout from the London Cladding Inferno.

Given the recent horrific high-rise tower fire in London, and subsequent death toll, it is natural that builders and owners are concerned and looking into the materials used on their buildings.  A recent conversation between a Unitex customer and our Technical Director illustrates this:
 

To Unitex,

Hi, we are building a new 2 story home using Unitex panels for the upper floors.
with the current issues regarding flammable building coatings can you please give me some information regarding Unitex panels as they are made of expanded Polystyrene which to my knowledge is very flammable and also produces toxic vapours and fumes?

Brian
 

Gday Brian,

Thank you for your email.
Non-conforming products in Multistorey Buildings is certainly a serious topic, and has been for Unitex for decades, and more recently, brought to light to the general public.

Before I go into why the Unitex Base Board System is compliant and National Construction Code approved building system for residential dwellings less than 3 storeys in height, I agree polystyrene is, in itself flammable as is timber and other materials used in typical house construction.

Unitex, who are local Australian manufacturers of a range of modified cement render and texture systems also use flame-retarded expanded polystyrene as the insulant in our now 25 year old External Insulating Cladding System (EIFS), known as Unitex Base Board system.

In international residential construction, responsible companies like Unitex have developed similar EIFS systems in the USA, Europe and Canada for over 35 years, without issue when used as specified.

Unitex Base Board System is not only approved by a document review, but most importantly by full laboratory, weatherproof and fire testing to be accepted in the Australian Residential Construction market as Compliant and conforming to the National Construction Code (BCA).

This is done by the Australian Building Codes Board process of obtaining CODEMARK Accreditation as the required independent third party accreditation.

The Unitex Base Board System, manufacturing system, site installation and processes are yearly audited to fully assure of conformance and that Unitex products, product systems and organisation, do what we say they do.

 
The standard Unitex Base Board system is tested to be compliant in Bushfire Attack BAL 29 zones, passes Australian Standard Fire Test AS 1530 Part 3.

Our high build render Base Board System also passed for use in bushfire attack BAL 40 zones.

No other company in Australia has such complete testing and accreditation.
This is done for our and your comfort, safety and peace of mind!

In walls where NON COMBUSTABILITY is required to AS 1530 Part 1, you are correct Polystyrene or wood may not be used.

But these are generally 1-2 hr fire rated boundary walls or partition walls. 
In short, if you are in a Bushfire FZ (non-combustible), zone you cannot use Unitex Base Board nor even  timber frames. 

Otherwise in residential dwellings below 3 storey and in class 1-9 building types,
i.e. almost all residential single dwellings, you can feel totally safe but always check with your Building Surveyor who is the ultimate site arbitor.

I have no hesitation in warrantying your Base Board System when done as per Unitex Accredited Specifications.

If you or your Builder or Building Surveyor require further information please don’t hesitate to contact me or our Sales Manager Luke Molloy on 03 9768 4900.

Andrew Concannon.
Technical Director.

This conversation provides an insight into why Unitex has been, and is currently, the market leader in compliant lightweight EIFS cladding, with the most highly accredited and tested solution available in Australia. 

Unitex Base Board is warranted for 7 years if used as specified.  Good builders only use National Construction Code (NCC) compliant materials.

Unitex Base Board from the outset, was designed to provide builders and owners a ‘safe for life’ insulation cladding solution.  One that provides huge energy savings, whilst keeping the occupants as safe as possible.  Polystyrene foam is the ultimate insulator and this is why it is the current world standard for EIFS systems, using fire retarded polystyrene foam without incident.

The London high-rise fire, and similar incidents around the world, including recently in Melbourne, are cause for concern and will hopefully produce meaningful action – that all cladding should be as vigorously tested and accredited as Unitex’s Base Board solution is.

It is sad that it has taken the loss of innocent lives to bring about positive change required for a safe future.

Authorities catch up to Unitex thinking


Authorities catch up to Unitex thinking

The continuing saga of high-speed building fires caused by unregulated and non-accredited cladding has been big news in Australian media, and is also causing huge headaches in the Middle East.

Skyscraper after skyscraper are going up in flames, often taking less than 30 minutes to ignite top to bottom.  The culprit, non-accredited cladding, has been used in almost every city worldwide that has had property booms in the past 10 to 15 years.  All major cities in Australia have used the Aluminium Composite Panels on hundreds of buildings.  Even Melbourne’s tallest building, Eureka, has been found to have flammable cladding.

As recently reported on ‘The Fifth Estate’, This is a national problem.  At least 51 per cent of the 170 buildings audited by the VBA in its External Wall Cladding Audit were found to be non-compliant.”

Source: http://www.thefifthestate.com.au/politics/inquiries-and-submissions/non-compliant-buildings-the-can-of-worms-is-open-and-its-all-coming-out/80362

United-Arab-Emirates-skyscrape-fireUnitex Director, Andrew Concannon, has been on the forefront of cladding solutions for decades.  “We decided to ensure our cladding systems were accredited, and achieved high Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) ratings very early on.  While competitors sold systems with unknown ratings, and possibly even non-conforming, we wanted the peace of mind of selling accredited systems so people would not end up in the situation they find themselves in now, with building owners, builders and building practitioners playing the blame game with these fire hazards”.

Whilst Unitex has called for industry wide accreditation and testing on cladding systems, only now after the recent spate of building fires, are people catching up with this thinking.  As discussed in the article “ Cladding scandal: action at last on dodgy materials”

“Measures to be taken by the ABCB include considering mandatory third-party accredited certification of cladding materials, a much more stringent option than the mandatory certification it considered last year, which could have allowed self-certification by product manufacturers. It will also look into developing a new verification method referencing a new Australian Standard for determining the fire combustibility of wall claddings and wall assemblies”.

Source: http://www.thefifthestate.com.au/politics/government/cladding-scandal-action-at-last-on-dodgy-materials/80468

Unfortunately these measures and changes will not help the hundreds and thousands of innocent home and apartment owners who find themselves in a building that may catch fire, and burn quickly when it does.

 

Further articles are available here:

https://sourceable.net/another-skyscraper-breaks-out-in-flames/#

https://sourceable.net/vba-sounds-alert-combustible-external-cladding/#

http://www.thefifthestate.com.au/politics/government/cladding-scandal-action-at-last-on-dodgy-materials/80468

http://www.thefifthestate.com.au/politics/inquiries-and-submissions/non-compliant-buildings-the-can-of-worms-is-open-and-its-all-coming-out/80362

Unitex teams up with local know-how for iconic Temple

When a local Buddhist Temple wanted to expand, and create a new landmark in the Springvale area, their builder turned to Unitex expertise to create bespoke moulds, custom designed and made in Unitex Head Office, Dandenong.

Temple_hero

Working closely with the building team, the owners, and Unitex’s network of installers, the plan came together and the previously non-descript building turned into the spectacular multi-level temple.  Unitex’s in-house expertise and processes are unmatched in Australia, and provide building professionals and owners with the confidence to create stunning custom designs with the knowledge that Unitex will follow the project through to completion, with great attention to detail and consultation throughout the entire process.

Unitex prides itself on quality products, supported by expert staff.  Projects such as this are an example of Unitex’s market-leading approach to working with local builders.

Unitex faithfully recreates custom architectural mouldings for Newport Church.

Author: Nate Ward, Digital Marketing Manager, Unitex.

As reported by ABC News, a historic church in Newport was damaged by strong winds: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-10-01/damaged-church-in-newport-2jpg/4991670

1

A local resident had booked in a wedding at the church, which has been used by her family for three generations.  With only weeks until the wedding, the bride to be was more than worried!

With unique, hand crafted design features destroyed and left in small fragments, Unitex was contacted to come to the rescue.

Unitex’s in house experts carefully examined the remains and project managed the repairs to the brickwork whilst the broken mouldings were recreated with cutting edge modern day materials and processes. With very little to go on, the team at Unitex has faithfully recreated a very close replica of the original and the results speak for themselves.

 

The repairs were miraculously completed in time, and the bride was able to enjoy wedding photo’s in front of the previously destroyed church façade.

Unitex is Australia’s leading Architectural Profiles & Columns manufacturer.  With a large range of stock items, and bespoke made to order products available.  Contact our team to discuss your projects requirements!

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Spotlight is on non-accredited Cladding: Disaster for the Australian Building Industry.

Spotlight is on non-accredited Cladding: Disaster for the Australian Building Industry.

We have all seen the recent headlines and read the reports of disastrous construction events caused by non-accredited and non-compliant cladding, leaving both resident and developer in a legal minefield. Whilst we at Unitex empathise with the victims in these reports, we have long advocated for the industry to support locally made CodeMark accredited complete systems only, as recommended by the Australian Building Codes Board.
Unitex, over 30 years ago, was leading the change in Australia – a local manufacturer that introduced Australia to lightweight cladding as was already developed in Europe and was fast moving to a dominant position in European and UK markets as the cladding of choice for its insulated and protective properties.
Unitex never shied away from third party accreditation and was one of the first in Australia to have their Unitex TWS system tested by both ABSAC and CSIRO. When ABSAC and CSIRO ceased their testing, Unitex went further and tested their more recent development – the Unitex Base Board System (Cavity and Non-Cavity) – through the VBA (BRAC appraisal) and the National Construction Code (CodeMark) accreditation process which included a BRANZ and a SAI Global appraisal. Unitex Acreddited Base Board Unitex Accredited Base BoardUnitex BAL Base Boards Systems have also been approved for Bushfire Attack levels up to BAL 40.
Unitex was one of the first to have a full system appraised and fully accredited, and is regularly audited to continually meet the standards of the accreditation – something we at Unitex hold as a top priority, for your reputation, for your safety, and for ours.
But in our eyes, accreditation is only the first step. As the highest accredited supplier of audited EIF Systems for the Australian market, Unitex with its expert Technical Representatives advise on-site, provide sign off checklists for all Building Surveyors and Builders, as well as inspect during the build, and also provide manufacturer sign off for Building Surveyors and Builders to ensure compliance to the Unitex CodeMark Certification.
Unitex also provides comprehensive training on its CodeMark and BAL accredited systems for all Building Surveyors and Builders, with all attendees receiving their free copy of the Unitex Systems Checklist booklet at the end of the training session. If you and your team would like more information on these comprehensive training sessions, or to book Unitex to come to your office to conduct the training, please contact Unitex Marketing department at the Unitex Head Office (Dandenong) today on 1800 RENDER (736337) or 03 9768 4928, or use our contact page to request a call back to arrange.

These sessions are completely free of charge and will provide you and your team confidence and assurance for future sign off and on-site checks.

December, Deregulation and Dust

Author: Siska Concannon, Marketing Manager, Unitex.

Is it really that time of year again? Ensue headache…why not, may as well start early.

In case you thought otherwise, I’m not even talking about Christmas. It’s that time of year when people are either winding down or beyond manic, more so the latter these days. Being in Marketing and the Building Industry means I have a list, longer than I like to think too much on, of details that need finalising and projects that need completing all by December 21. Not really the fun, silly season then it would seem.

I guess I should be happy – I am fortunate enough to do a job I love for a company that prides itself on its commitment to its customers and staff, and most importantly, I believe in and respect…not everyone can say that. So I do get irate when I see companies sully the industry with their immoral practices and poor product offering. I may be playing with fire here, but after watching the recent ‘Tele-Movie’ on the real life events of the Australian Asbestos scandal called ‘Devil’s Dust’ (ABC, 11-12 November 2012), it made me angry that not all the companies involved in this scandal were named and shamed but also that this industry is not more tightly regulated.

Following the GFC (Global Financial Crisis) the world wide banks were put under a microscope, Government organisations were created to police the deals and practices of said banks and heavy penalties were sanctioned. Whilst some could argue that the rate of suicide increased, the banks were not directly to blame for this – in other words their product didn’t kill these people. Yet, a company product has (and continues) to kill people and they only get a slap on the wrist. No jail time. No bankruptcy. No anything. Not to mention the other companies involved, with larger mines that have not even faced a slither of reprimand for their involvement.

Not sure if it is a numbers game? Perhaps as it is not on a global scale? Is 60,000 deaths not enough (estimated number of Australian asbestos related deaths by 2030)? Guess the Government doesn’t seem to think so. This industry is one of the most deregulated industries going, and for an industry that manufactures, sells and constructs possibly the most fundamental item all individuals rely on, it is baffling to me why it is still not heavily regulated.

What I hope comes out of this, including an apology to the victims and their families as well as those directly accountable to stand trial, is that there be heavy regulation in this industry. Not lip service like the current system. Quality manufacturers invest in proving their product worth, and proving they have the goods to back up their product marketing statements – the government body placing ‘regulation’ on these products happily take the money, but do nothing to enforce the requirement. To me, this is not enough.

In the meantime I hope that what changes is that the Australian public realise the value in only selecting, nay demanding, high quality products. Now this is not some insensitive marketers statement to make a sales pitch out of a shocking and devastating event, but more a plea. Whatever brand you choose to use on your house or project – know the quality, know what value you are getting out of it, research not only the company but the products. Ask to speak to customers and get their feedback, listen to the experts in the field (Twitter, blogs, Facebook, word of mouth, talk back radio – that don’t receive kick-backs).

This is your project, your life and your money, don’t give it away to a sub-standard company for a sub-standard product.

I would love to hear your feedback on this issue – what has been your experience? Do you agree or disagree that the industry needs more regulation? Your thoughts shape the way this blog continues, so please provide feedback, comments and questions below.

To Renovate or Sell…That is the question

Author: Siska Concannon, Marketing Manager, Unitex Granular Marble Pty Ltd

Whether it is where Australians work, shop, play or live the Building and Construction Industry performs an integral role in Australia’s economic development and is highly responsive to trends in the business cycle and household spending. With manufacturing constituting 8.75% of the Australian workforce, third in line directly behind the Construction industry (9%), this industry is not only economically integral but also highly volatile.

So it was with some sigh of relief that I read yesterdays article by ‘The Australian’ journalist, Sarah Danckert (‘Building approvals on the rise’) confirming that residential building approvals increased by 7.8 per cent in the last month (an increase of over 12% from September 2011). The relief was not purely from a business perspective (which, let’s face it, is always important) but also from an economic one – this means Aussie’s are spending, and spending in the right areas, which is fundamental to keeping Australia profitable and out of the grips of GFC nightmares.

I of course am interested in what is happening in the building and construction arena, and not wanting to be a ‘Negative Nancy’ or ‘Cynical Cindy’ but did pose the question as to why. Why has this change occurred? Is it purely down to Reserve Bank interest rate changes (and so not really a long term solution)? Or are Australians feeling more confident and secure economically? So I did a bit of probing….

It seems Melbourne housing industry isn’t actually doing that great, which is problematic…if you are looking to sell that is. RP Data research director Tim Lawless has been quoted as stating that ‘Melbourne’s apartment market had shown the greatest weakness over the month and could worsen as thousands of apartments under construction were completed’ (The Australian, ‘Property prices slump in most capital cities’, Nov 02 2012). With apartment prices dropping 6% and housing decreasing by just over 4% it would seem it is not a great time to sell. Although I remain optimistic that this is merely a down cycle, and prices will rise again, I cannot help but believe this is a result of an over-inflated market bubble….as Newton’s law of gravity states – what goes up, must (eventually) come down.

What is interesting is that home renovations are on the increase. It was recently reported that more than half of Australia’s homeowners plan to renovate in the next four years. Makes sense considering the market – if you can’t sell it, you might as well create what you want with what you’ve got.

I recently placed a Tweet out to our followers attempting to start a discussion on this very topic – asking if they are, or are considering, renovating over the next 12 months…and if so, what their biggest renovating challenges are. Admittedly I didn’t get much of a response, which either means my tweet got lost in the list of tweets that would pop up on followers timelines (it is estimated the average Australian Tweeter follows 100 people and brands) or none of the @UnitexAUS followers are renovating. But I am determined to find out what the Aussie market is doing, and in doing so creating more relevant information for our Blog readers, which is my ultimate goal.

So let me know in the comments section below – whether you are a specialist, in the trade or a home owner, your input is greatly appreciated and will assist me in providing you with the most relevant information and discussions for your building and renovating requirements.

The WOW Factor

A few weeks ago I was invited to attend one of the biggest horse racing events on the Australian calendar – Melbourne Cup. Now, there are not many out there (possibly slightly more females than males) that have left organizing their ‘look’ till now…alas I fall into that minority. Whilst on any other occasion this would not pose such a great problem, it does here. This is predominantly down to the fact that I am Melbourne based, and this is the biggest social event of the calendar so the ability to find a look within budget, my style and unique becomes a challenge that not even Felix Baumgartner would attempt.

As any woman will tell you (and some males), the sheer horror of seeing another woman (or male) in the exact same outfit is, well, mortifying. If your own knowledge of your ‘look’ twin isn’t enough, then comes your friends attempt to comfort you, “you look so much better than he/she does”. All this is just too much anxiety for what should be a fun day.

It can be argued that after the 5th Champagne, the care factor would have reached undetectable levels so really no damage done (although your liver may tell another tale). However, the same cannot be said for every similar situation. Your house is always there, and unless you are constantly drinking Champagne (to which you may want to reassess your health status), it is hard to ignore the truth, especially if it looks exactly the same to your neighbours and your neighbours neighbours facades.

The Spring Racing carnival is all about the competitive edge, and I am not just talking about the actual races – who looks the best in what, who will make more of a fool of him/herself, who has the best marquee/lunch to go to and which corporate has the best event and secures the biggest celebrity guest. But what it always comes down to is the look, or as terminology we use – the façade. Whether that be in relation to an event or what someone is wearing, the competition is fierce and always on.

So why do we place such importance on how we look, making sure our look is individual and have that WOW factor, and yet we are more than happy to follow the status quo when it comes to our house facades.

Everyone wants to pick a winner, and placing bets on your home to make sure it looks pleasing but will also bring in a nice return is important and imperative, however that doesn’t mean it has to look like most houses you find throughout your local areas. Individual design matched with surface effects and different features (ie rough cast) can and does achieve that elusive WOW factor…and let’s face it, who doesn’t want to have the best dressed house on the block.

 

We appreciate your feedback on this subject, and also welcome suggestions for future blogs – please leave your comments below.

Carbon Tax…and Underground Homes

After watching what could only be the 1,000,000th repeat of Roland Emmerich’s ‘Independence Day’ it got me thinking about our little planet and the possibility of having to live in bunkers to escape evil alien spawns. Not really, but it did get me thinking about what future we are leaving our children and our children’s children. Not wanting to get all ‘tree hugging’ on you, but the world is changing and how we live has changed dramatically.

It is hard to escape the media, or at least what they want us to see, and you would need to be living in an underground bunker to not be aware of what we are watching. It may not be aliens (but to some the financial markets may as well be) but watching their crippling demise worldwide, some of us feel about as useful as those American civilians running for their life from said aliens. Not only has the financial markets taken a sharp dive, but we must also contend with the ice melting at faster rates than ever before – in hindsight, maybe ‘2012’ was a better movie analogy.

So it would be assumed then that the Gillard governments ‘Carbon Tax’ would be a great way for Australia to start minimizing our impact on the globe. Great in theory, not so much in practice. The problem with this tax is that it doesn’t actually do anything for the planet, and does even less for the Australian economy. Whilst I don’t want to get into a political debate, Direct Action does seem the best option to tackle this world wide dilemma as the Carbon Tax purely discourages Australians and the rest of the world from buying Australian Made. Remember the big ‘Australian Made’ campaign not too long ago – keep Australian jobs in Australia? Well it is still around (I did a Google search, and they still have a website), but unfortunately the very institution that set it up is the very institution forcing us to go overseas!

When it comes to the manufacturing industry – building products specifically – you can’t get much cheaper than Asian imports (Chinese specifically), which is fantastic for the Chinese economy and even better for your back pocket, but (and there is always a ‘but’) not so great for the long term future of your house or commercial project. The age old saying ‘you get what you pay for’ still holds its weight in this example, and believe me, we have seen it time and time again. When purchasing from abroad for cheaper products, and problems happen (to which I can almost guarantee they will), the company will either no longer exist or the product is not manufactured anymore and defect upon defect is seen. However, to actually find a company that is Australian owned and manufactured in the building game is also a rarity as local prices and consumer demand for cheaper prices (and as such reduction in quality) has forced these players out of the game. So not only has the Carbon Tax discouraged international business for Australia but has also discouraged local business for Australia, at the cost of quality….so what is the solution?

With the upcoming election next year how about our Pollies come up with a grant that not only helps the planet and the economy but also benefits the people they represent. Why not instead of the first home buyers grant (which is abolished anyway), we look at ways to incentivise those building a home or commercial project that is energy efficient? A grant that brings benefit to those building with the lowest embodied energy content in the house structure. So this would mean that bricks and steel frames are out, glass must be minimal as it is all made with energy (molton silica), timber frames are in as they are locked up carbon and modified concrete will also be ok.

Another option would be to build underground – not sure how feasible that will be, but will save energy. Or perhaps we should change our desire to live in 200+ square meter homes that are currently the average size being built, and live in tiny houses of 60 to 70 square meters? Again, saves some energy there too.

Or perhaps we look at what the rest of the world (Europe and America in particular) have been doing for decades and in so saving a lot of energy, through insulating surfaces. Insulating surfaces (ie Base Board cladding saves more energy loss (multiple times over in fact) than it costs in energy to manufacture. The locked in carbon from a Base Board cladding system is sustainable for around 60-100 years, and with payback currently at 7 years it is a 9 to 10 fold reduction in energy waste (not to mention the savings on heating and cooling bills – impressive would be an understatement). Providing this type of incentive would require Australian manufacturers to provide quality and accredited systems with guarantees that can be produced for verification (along with the Architects/Building Designer plans) of energy saving structure and design. This would keep our economy strong by keeping Australian accredited manufacturers first in line for buying decision and guarantee quality as well as providing guaranteed longevity to the home owner and/or developer, not to mention actually providing a positive solution for our planet and its longevity.

 

Interested in knowing more about the nationally accredited Unitex Base Board System? Contact us directly with your enquiry here, or have a look at the Unitex Base Board brochure here.

We appreciate your feedback on this subject, and also welcome suggestions for future blogs – please leave your comments below.

Big Brother comes to Melbourne suburbia

Author: Siska Concannon, Marketing Manager, Unitex Granular Marble P/L

I was struck by an article a colleague presented to me this week (Barclay, A, Boroondara Review Local, ‘Council outlaws mock mansions’, October 03, 2012) on the Boroondara councils unanimous ban on rooflines to, in short, discourage neo-Georgian and French provincial houses from being constructed in residential areas. It struck me for two reasons, but both reasons centered on the issue of a home owners right to dictate style and taste on their own home.

This Eastern suburbs city council covers an array of prestigious suburbs, and much sought after addresses in the Melbourne inner eastern area, and has achieved this through immaculate house facades and the timeless classic look of neo-Georgian and French provincial homes. However, regardless of your taste and whether you agree that the neo-Georgian and French provincial look is timeless or even your version of attractive, the point is that councils are looking to have the power to tell you what style is yours and what look your property will have. Now, I cannot speak for everyone, but this lack of choice in one of the biggest investments you will make in your lifetime seems almost not worth it. We might as well stay in the rental game, as it would seem that soon we may have as much rights there as we would in owning our own home!

Whilst the ban in question is specific to sloping rooflines, there was a comment by Cr Jack Wegman to A Barclay urging that the council also ‘redefine period reproduction to discourage “detailing such as mock-Georgian and mock-French Provincial”’. So it begs the question if taste and style is subjective, and as Australian’s we live in a ‘free society’ (or at least relatively free), who has the right to force their beliefs on us? In this case, and especially when it comes to our basic right to express ourselves in and through our private domains – our home.

Now this may open up a can of worms, but what I am mostly concerned with is a persons right to decorate their home facades to their taste and style, which not only says to everyone that views the property, this is a reflection of our style, but more importantly that you have complete ownership over your dwelling – inside and out. When the statistics show that 70% of Australian households own their own home (80% of these being high income owners) this issue is of considerable importance to a vast majority of us all.

After speaking with many experts in the housing industry and listening to focus groups on this matter, opinion is still very much pro choice. Stylish facades are in-vogue, however what constitutes style is where the discussion gets juicy, as no two people 100% agree with the other, but isn’t this the very definition of style – subjective opinion.

One of the experts I spoke with went onto say “take an uninformed child for a walk down the streets of Melbourne and ask which houses are considered beautiful and every time the answer will be the old-world style of rendered facades with architectural profiles and entrance columns”. He went onto add “In the late 1880s to the mid 1930s companies like ‘Hopkins Plaster’ had over 2000 Artisans crafting all the various stylish buildings in Australia that are, today, listed by the National Trust, and some even awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status, and are required to be preserved. These buildings are of Edwardian, Victorian and Georgian style and generally I do not hear these ‘commentators’ calling these listed buildings (ie The Windsor, The Royal Exhibition Building etc) copies or ‘mock’ designs.” Another expert added “Who is the arbiter?! Who says a ‘mock’ brick veneer or ‘mock’ Californian bungalow is better than a ‘mock’ classic style?  The homeowners are the arbiters and currently they are saying they want classic styles and our builder customers agree”.

When I attempted to be somewhat of a Nancy Drew and approached the Boroondara council to provide comment on what this new vote involves for the residents in question, they were very forthcoming and helpful in their response to clarify that the design guidelines aim is to “ensure new development fits in with the character of the streetscape, and in some cases the guidelines discourage period reproduction design where this is inconsistent with the housing styles in the area” and basically to prevent misinterpretation of ‘mock’ Georgian and ‘mock’ French provincial design.

Whilst I do understand that more often than not, one does not just buy a house, they are also buying into a street/community and all the foibles that come with it, and it can be said that there still involves choice as one can choose to not buy in the particular street if they believe they are being restricted. However, my concern is if this is accepted now for certain streets – heritage or not – where does it end? Will eventually the home buyers’ choice be diminished as councils build strong cases against individual design for more and more streets and areas? Are our Architects and Building Designers going to be forced to follow template designs and thus any form of creativity be squashed? Will we find ourselves in our own ‘Truman Show’ (as a side note, great movie!)? I can only hope we as society do not let this happen.

As a former Premier of Victoria once said “The home owner feels that he/she has a stake in the country, and that he/she has something worth working for, living for, fighting for.” So let’s kick out Big Brother type legislation and regulation and continue the fight to own our own home and be able to dictate what that home looks like.

 

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Quality v Price – The two heavyweights go head to head…

Author: Siska Concannon, Marketing Manager. Unitex Granular Marble Pty Ltd

It has long been established that price is the tangible recognition of value – you wouldn’t expect to pay $10 for a Tiffany ring, in fact if you saw that price you would debate the authenticity and thus would surmise it to be a fake…to which you would probably be right.

So why does this understanding and acceptance of quality and price not resonate to an individual’s highest commodity and most valued possession – their home.

Well, the problem is, ‘they’ do. The home owner, the Architect or Building Designer, Building Surveyors, and the reputable Builders and Applicators do understand and more than accept the notion of quality and the price association…but in an unregulated industry, unfortunately, in some cases ‘they’ are still at the hands of the discreditable Applicators and Builders that are looking for increased margin. Why not, I hear some of you say – it’s not their home, they get to walk away and will be long gone when the cracks and rust marks appear, and in the worst case, serious complications arise. Why can’t we all make money…to (mis) quote the infamous Madge, we live in a capitalist world and we are a capitalist girl/boy. The problem with this is that someone pays in the end, and more often than not this will always be the property owner.

The Australian Building Codes Board have put together a list of criteria that manufacturers must abide by if they are to promote an acceptance by this national body that their systems do what they say they will do, and will provide extensive benefit to the property owner. This accreditation is known as aCodeMark accreditation.

However, currently the ABCB have done little to push this or make it law. So manufacturers that go to the great expense and effort of attempting to achieve this prestigious accreditation for their system (beware of product only CodeMark accreditation) are left with not much to advertise on as most property owners don’t know what it is, or the trade quite frankly don’t have to use it so often will go for a cheaper option.

Architects, Building Designers, reputable Builders and reputable Applicators along with Building Surveyors are forcing the use of CodeMark only accredited systems and, Surveyors in particular, will not accept anything less. As they are all too aware, that if a fully accredited system from the one manufacturer is not used (especially when it is specified to be used) they are all in for one big headache…financially and legally speaking, and quite frankly, why take the risk. If you cannot guarantee a project (manufacturers guarantee) why enter into it, especially when the project in question is not only an investment into your future but will house some of the most precious investments you will ever have.

It is the same argument as can be seen in the car world. Would you place a Ford engine into a Holden and expect it to perform to the promises of Holden, if it even performs at all? Of course not. Taking products from various manufacturers, even if they are designed to perform the same job (ie render coat), will not ensure performance but it will almost always ensure lengthy and costly problems.

So what is the outcome? Sigh and just accept the status quo – the industry is never going to change, so who am I to think I can do anything about it? The greatest fallacy in that statement is that in reality, you are actually in the power seat. If your property design plans or builders quote specify a manufacturers fully accredited system, that is what you are legally required to provide your client, and as the client what you are legally entitled to. If it doesn’t, then make sure it does. Be on site and be the police of your project or your clients project. If you cannot, make sure someone is. Form a professional relationship with a reputable and accredited manufacturers representative/s – get advice and understand what value you are getting in return for the stipulated price. Value is everything and the price is secondary to the long term value. If the manufacturer cannot guarantee their systems, nor supply you with their accreditation details, then be very wary.

Education is key, by knowing what accredited building systems achieve, who best to speak to, what will achieve your clients desired outcome and budget, what to look for and what to ask for, will put you in the drivers seat and provide you with 100% reassurance that the all too common issues with mismatching systems, and thus the nightmare of being left with zero warranty, will not affect you.

 

Unitex Render Warehouse offers free seminars and mini-courses to Trade and the general public on all systems and how to avoid future risk to your new build or renovation.

Contact Unitex Marketing via the website www.render.com.au or on 03 9768 4910.

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