“It’s a new engi­neer­ing prod­uct and we’re al­ways in­ter­ested to see how these things pan out.”

Australasian Timber - - CLT - An­drew Hastie

IT ALL started with Shaun Thodey be­cause with­out him it’s un­likely An­drew Hastie would be in the pic­ture. It shouldn’t be sur­pris­ing be­cause in­no­va­tive peo­ple know other in­no­va­tive peo­ple and Shaun knew An­drew.

“We’ve done a fair bit of work with Shaun Thodey De­sign,” said An­drew, a struc­tural en­gi­neer with ACOR Con­sul­tants.

“Shaun pro­posed us­ing this new prod­uct with Chris Swadling and that’s how we were brought into the deal.

“We had done a lot of work with Shaun and he rec­om­mended us as an engi­neer­ing com­pany.”

Mr Hastie was prob­a­bly the one with the most ex­pe­ri­ence with CLT and even that was fairly min­i­mal.

“I’d done a con­cept us­ing CLT but it only went as far as the con­cept it never went any fur­ther than that so I had heard of CLT and it was cer­tainly some­thing that’s in­ter­est­ing, one to put on the CV,” said Mr Hastie.

“It’s a new engi­neer­ing prod­uct and we’re al­ways in­ter­ested to see how these things pan out.

“Be­cause I’d done some pre­lim work with it on a pre­vi­ous project I had an un­der­stand­ing of CLT.

“What was dif­fer­ent on this one was we were us­ing a com­bi­na­tion of CLT and tim­ber sand­wich pan­els for the floor­ing. “

As with Shaun Thodey, An­drew Hastie also con­sulted Xlam in New Zealand about the gen­eral de­sign process, what to look for, what to do and for gen­eral guid­ance.

Since Mr Hastie is a struc­tural en­gi­neer he had a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive on the job at hand than Mr Thodey, he was fix­ing his sights on the nuts and bolts of the prob­lem – in more ways that one.

“It was a re­ally mixed de­sign in terms of ma­te­ri­als,” he said.

“Down­stairs is a com­bi­na­tion of full brick, brick ve­neer, tim­ber and then try­ing to tie that into the tim­ber fram­ing up­stairs, where you’re not us­ing con­ven­tional tim­ber fram­ing up­stairs that was chal­leng­ing.

“We had to try to use as much tim­ber as pos­si­ble and min­imise the steel work be­cause we were try­ing to show­case the prod­uct. “That was a fair bit of chal­lenge for us. “Then once we moved on from that we were look­ing at the con­nec­tions, try­ing to sim­plify the con­nec­tions as much as pos­si­ble.

“And that all came as a last minute rush dur­ing con­struc­tion when the pan­els were de­liv­ered and we had to or­gan­ise screws and ev­ery­thing like that.”

Mr Hastie is sure that should more CLT come into use in Aus­tralia some of the is­sues he faced would dis­ap­pear. There would be a much bet­ter un­der­stand­ing not only of the prod­uct but also of the con­nec­tors and there would prob­a­bly even be guid­ance in terms of con­nec­tor de­signs.

“A lot of the con­nec­tion de­sign was com­ing out of Europe and we also looked at a Cana­dian guide,” said Mr Hastie. “There’s no real guide based on our stan­dards.” Not only was guid­ance lack­ing in terms of how to meet Aus­tralian stan­dards but there was lit­tle in the way of stock in Aus­tralia of suit­able con­nec­tors par­tic­u­larly brack­ets such as those that con­nected the floor to the walls, ones with the cor­rect ca­pac­ity. Con­nec­tors were harder than the ac­tual use and de­sign­ing with CLT.

“De­sign­ing it was quite sim­ple be­cause you only have to look a few dif­fer­ent op­tions you’re not go­ing to change your floor plate thick­ness through­out so we just had to look at a cou­ple of spans,” said Mr Hastie.

“The roof came to­gether quite eas­ily be­cause it was a nom­i­nal thick­ness that we used for in­su­la­tion pur­poses and we had ad­vice from Xlam. That was re­ally easy.

“All the walls were sim­ple res­i­den­tial con­struc­tion. The panel de­sign was quite easy.

“It was prob­a­bly the con­nec­tions and the in­tri­cate parts of mak­ing sure the CLT was com­pletely sup­ported, that was where the project had more thought and was more com­plex.”

In fact Mr Hastie, like Mr Thodey, was more than happy with the ma­te­rial find­ing it easy to use.

“I thought CLT was re­ally easy to use, things went to­gether re­ally eas­ily on­site once we got over a few de­sign hur­dles,” he said. “I guess if we ever did a sim­i­lar project again we would have a bit of fore­thought - ideas to avoid or bet­ter de­sign ideas - ev­ery­thing came out fairly well; there were no real ma­jor de­sign is­sues that we couldn’t deal with.”

In the fu­ture sim­pli­fy­ing the process would come down con­struct­ing a whole house or project with CLT as it would go to­gether very quickly and from an engi­neer­ing stand­point the ideal would be a con­crete slab as a solid base. It was def­i­nitely a more dif­fi­cult project be­cause it was a mixed con­struc­tion.

Engi­neer­ing the project took longer than a nor­mal project as ev­ery­one was us­ing CLT as new ma­te­rial; if the job had been a stan­dard two-storey res­i­den­tial build it is quite likely that Mr Hastie would not have even been called in.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Hastie there is a fu­ture for the prod­uct in Aus­tralia but not in small-scale res­i­den­tial con­struc­tion such as this project but rather in low to medium rise res­i­den­tial build­ings where you have com­mon floor ar­eas.

“Xlam gave us a pre­sen­ta­tion where you can see the ben­e­fits of CLT are in con­struc­tion, there can be quite good time sav­ing,” he said.

“For gen­eral res­i­den­tial I don’t think it will ever be com­pet­i­tive with your stan­dard res­i­den­tial fram­ing.

“It would work re­ally well but it would come down to the cost. I have no rea­son to believe that it can’t be used in res­i­den­tial but it’s such a tight mar­ket.

“I would cer­tainly be in­ter­ested in do­ing more CLT de­sign, I’ve done it once and I don’t want to waste my ex­pe­ri­ence.

“It’s a prod­uct we’ve been look­ing into and we’ve had meet­ings with Xlam and other builders who are look­ing at the op­tion of CLT.

“Builders are start­ing to catch on but it’s find­ing the right mar­ket.”

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