Leading the way in NSW with Steel Framing
McDonald Jones Homes (MJH) has grown from its start in the Hunter Valley some 30 years ago, to NSW’s largest freestanding home builder, with a constant focus on the quality of each individual home. In the words of one of the founding members and Director, Bill McDonald, “We may have grown to being the largest [freestanding home] builder in NSW, but that wasn’t our ambition. We just grew the business by thinking about the customer and giving them the best possible material for their home.”
Pioneering steel framing
Bill McDonald, one of the founders and Director of MJH, had an association with steel from his very first job, working as a carpenter at BHP. So, when the issue of white ants became more commonly raised with him by people looking to build a home, particularly in regional areas of NSW, Bill recognised the opportunity for steel frames….and hasn’t looked back. “We were lucky…because we started in a local area, we were able to do what we wanted - we could do something different.” And as a pioneer of steel framing, MJH is one of the most experienced steel frame residential builders in the country having offered steel frames for almost twenty years.
A premium finish, without the premium price.
Still a carpenter at heart, Bill likens the experience of building with steel frames to building with hardwood. “The character of the material means it doesn’t twist or warp over time, and it stays straight and true, making it easier to get a real quality finish.” And for Bill, the benefit of building homes with frames made from TRUECORE® steel, really is centred on the quality and value that’s delivered by MJH, citing three key examples:
- Detailed, high-end finishes, at an accessible cost: “McDonald Jones Homes wants to deliver architectural features, at a more affordable price, so, small details that typify an architectural build like picture recesses, TV recesses and shampoo nooks is important to our customers, and as part of the precision engineered framing solution, is cost-effective to deliver. (It’s much more efficient than a non-engineered solution whereby people are having to cut material on site for these architectural details.)”
- Extra rooms and architectural roof lines: “The same principle applies when we’re working with the roof lines, either for the aesthetic, or, perhaps, to deliver a room in the roof – which is very popular these days. Working with engineered steel frame solutions gives us greater ability to deliver what our customers are looking for both in terms of spans and pitches.”
- Coffered ceilings without sacrificing room height: “When you do a traditional coffered ceiling with a timber frame, you need to start with a 9ft ceiling height, to end up with an 8ft coffered result. However, using an engineered solution with framing made from TRUECORE® steel, you can deliver a 9ft coffered ceiling in a 9ft ceiling height. It’s simply more efficient.”
No wonder then, that McDonald Jones Homes’ homes are often ‘called out’ and identified as such among real estate ads, indicating that MJH homes have something a bit extra to offer.
Framing made from TRUECORE® steel is good for trades too.
For McDonald Jones Homes, success with their customers, comes from the success McDonald Jones Homes enjoys with the thousands of trades working on their builds. And Bill McDonald considers framing made from TRUECORE® steel to be a key factor in this regard too.
“One of the best things about framing made from TRUECORE® steel is the weight. Being an engineered solution, for us, a typical steel frame might weigh 4T where the timber frame required to deliver the same home might weigh 20T. So, with some of our carpenters who have been working with us for years, and for whom the weight of material can make a big difference through the working day, working with steel means they’re able to keep on working – just because the physical load of their work is less. Plus, they can deliver a better job because the measurements are exact, and there’s no need to allow for frame creep.
And it’s not just our carpenters who like working with steel. Once you’ve got the frame in, it provides the foundation for the other trades to come through and know their jobs will be at the best standard – sparkies, plumbers, tilers, aircon and so on. Indeed, the experience at McDonald Jones Homes is that we’re now finding that tradespeople are asking for more money to work with timber frames, as it takes them longer to finish their job to the required standard; steel framing is a precision-engineered solution – things go together exactly as they should – which takes pressure off them to make calls on the site. So, working with steel is getting a better job done, faster, and helps our trades to earn more money.”
Steel backed by BlueScope.
Bill McDonald also talked about the natural partnership of framing made from TRUECORE® steel and roofing made from COLORBOND® steel, and the opportunity this affords for the wider spans and open spaces sought in contemporary homes with an architectural flair. And at the same time, to his long-term relationship with BlueScope.
“We like to use BlueScope because, especially in the Hunter, we’ve been brought up with the company - it’s part of our history. Steel is a central pillar that Australia is built around and I’m really pleased to see framing made from TRUECORE® steel coming of age; indeed, we see it moving to the forefront of Australian building and becoming the new benchmark.”
“Building with BlueScope’s materials, we know we’re getting the highest standard that we can get, and that we’ll get what we want time and time and time again - without deviation. Which is hugely important, because everything we put into a home is a reflection on our brand. At the end of the day, we’re only as good as the partners we work with, and we have a great partner in BlueScope.”
Watch this video of TRUECORE® steel ambassador, Tom Williams interviewing Bill McDonald, about how they came to be NSW’s largest freestanding home builder and how the company’s success lies in the market difference of steel frames.
Disclaimer - The content of this case study is based on statements made by the sources listed above and is a reflection of their views and experience on the above Project. TRUECORE®, BlueScope and the BlueScope brand mark are trade marks of BlueScope Steel Limited. © 2019 BlueScope Steel Limited ABN 16 000 011 058. All rights reserved.