How Straight are the Walls in Your New Home?June 09th, 2023
Sometimes, it’s the things in a new home that you can’t see that can have a big impact on the finished product. Tom Williams talks about the planning and building process with Steve McGregor, construction manager at South Australia’s Weeks Homes, and the company’s Marketing Manager, Sally Dunn.
Tom: Steve, what are consumers looking for these days? And how is Week's Homes meeting those needs?
Steve: A lot of the customers at the moment are looking for a bit of surety around the builders and quality. They all want quality. We know that we're high on quality and that's what draws people into our display homes.
Sally: Customers looking to build in the current market are also strongly considering buying established houses. Key to the decision to build new is certainly design flexibility...specifically the opportunity to create large open plan and integrated living spaces.
STRAIGHT AND STRONG
Starting with a steel frame can play a big part in keeping your new home looking good for a long time into the future.
Tom: How is using framing made from TRUECORE® steel helping you meet your customers’ needs?
Steve: Well, I think the talk out there in the market at the moment is all around how straight and true the walls are and I think steel definitely gives you that.
Sally: I would say there is nothing we can’t deliver with a steel frame. Each frame is designed and engineered specifically to the customers’ home design providing unmatched accuracy and strength. Architectural features such as raked ceilings demand clean lines and steel can deliver it.
PRIORITISING THINGS IN A BUILD
There’s a lot to think about when you’re planning to build a new home – make sure you’ve done your research before you start.
Tom: If you're offering advice to someone building a new home for the first time, what would you suggest they look out for or prioritise in their build?
Steve: Look for a builder that’s sound, look for a builder that's going to deliver quality...and I’ve always pushed the steel frame as well for the simple fact that we know how straight that it is...they're probably the main three things.
Tom: Thinking of some other factors, which of these is typically the most important to your customer’s needs? Firstly flexibility of layout...
Steve: I think flexibility of layout and maximising space are probably the two most important ones... that's what people want. They want to be able to change things up a little bit. We've got a reasonable size library that people can have a look at and work with those designs.
A good design can find extra space in unlikely places – it’s all about getting the most out of every square metre.
Tom: What about maximising space? It's always one of those big, big issues for somebody building a home, they've got a certain amount of square metres. They want to fit it all in there and have a little bit extra...storage etc.
Steve: These days, it’s all little blocks of land and we tend to try to squeeze a lot onto a little block of land ...hence there’s a lot of two-storey homes. I think over the years that's grown...we do a lot more two storeys now than we've ever done. That's how they maximise their space on a block of land, but they still want big open areas.
Tom: And using frames from TRUECORE® steel...Steve, does that give you that flexibility in your designs and the builds to work in with the customers...to make small changes?
Steve: I think at the start of the job, it certainly does, if you can make those changes early.
Sally: There's complete flexibility from the design perspective. Because it's pre-engineered, that flexibility needs to be on paper, but the client’s not limited by the fact that we use steel frames.
Large open spaces are popular these days. Achieving them used to be a much more difficult prospect.
Tom: Where you've got large open spaces for family and combined living/kitchens, does using TRUECORE® steel give you confidence when you're going for those big spans?
Steve: Yes, I think there's plenty of confidence around the product itself ... we work closely with design...we try to limit the structural steel that we have in jobs these days. We can do everything that timber can and probably throw some savings in there by using some TRUECORE® steel instead of using structural.
Tom: When you think about the more knowledgeable and more demanding second and third time/repeat builders that you’re seeing more of these days, what sorts of things are they looking for?
Sally: Second and third home buyers are particularly considered in their purchase ...they expect a quality build. Plus they appreciate architectural features of the home, often adding things such as contemporary facades, raked ceilings, skylights etc.
For some reason, unsubstantiated myths about steel frames bubble up from time to time. Tom thought a builder with a lot of steel frame experience might have the answers.
Tom: You've been using steel frames for over 20 years. Along the way, there have been many myths around steel frames. How do you head that off at the pass?
Steve: Some clients will ask: “Is there any noise? Is there any creaking? Is there any movement within the home?” The technology has come so far that what was there in the past has now all been removed. So there's no noise problems in the home. And as far as ongoing movement and cracking and those sorts of things, we've had no signs of that.
Tom: Well, that's good to hear. What about Wi-Fi issues and telephone reception problems?
Steve: There's certainly not an issue there with any of that. I don't know where people have got that from but I don't believe that to be a problem whatsoever. You know... being in this industry for 20 odd years, I've never had a phone call asking me “I can't get reception”. That's just one of those big ‘pie in the sky’ things. I don't think there's anything in that.
Recent years have seen an even bigger shift to seamlessly connected indoor/outdoor living spaces – extra wide doorways that are possible thanks to the strength of TRUECORE® steel help achieve this blurring of the divide between inside and out.
Tom: Are there any other trends that are coming through that you’re noticing are starting to bubble away?
Steve: I think it’s probably a mixing of facades at the moment...that's the biggest trend that you'll see. It's not a rendered finish on the front or a brick finish on the front ...it's claddings. There are so many different claddings that you can use. Instead of one or two products on the front of the home - have five or six. We've got many display homes out there that reflect that.
FAST AND CLEAN
The hidden benefits of steel frames just keep on coming.
Tom: We talked a little bit about that steel and the efficiencies... lightweight...straight... true.
Steve: Yes, so we can stand a steel frame in a day and trusses are all premade. They're craned straight up onto those jobs. We can stand a steel frame and put trusses on and have that finished in some instances in one or two days. There's a lot of time saving involved in that.
Tom: The customer is also concerned about that wastage issue. There's certainly a whole lot more efficiency with using steel frames because there is of course minimal waste.
Steve: I think everyone's a little bit conscious at the moment of being able to recycle any product. Any way that we can reduce waste is a saving you pass on to your client. I suppose if you can pass any savings on to the customers, they're going to be happy with it.
Tom: Steve and Sally from Weeks Homes in South Australia, thank you so much for your insights and your time. Really appreciate it.