Sydney’s Opal Tower is a timely reminder

Opal Tower Sydney
Opal Tower Sydney
Opal Tower in Sydney fiasco comes as a timely reminder. Image credit ColourByDesign.




Scaffold, Formwork, construction in SydneyIn the wake of Sydney’s Opal Tower fiasco, the New South Wales state government’s approach is geared toward improving the construction industry and alleviating public concerns by cracking down on private building certifiers. For all in the industry, this can be likened to taking the paintbrush off a child and leaving them with the open paint tin.

Let’s be honest: What is the purpose of building certifiers? They check that the proposed building design meets all the regulations, standards, and building codes for the proposed “classification” of the building. Once the building is complete, all they are checking to ensure the building, in its “finished” form, meets the classification requirements. The certifier will also compile every consultant, subcontractor, and builder alike, that all the appropriate evidence (aka paperwork) stating they have completed their job correctly.

At what point has the private building certifier walked onsite? Unless you are doing a partial handover, they will only come to the site at the end. How is this relevant to the Opal tower in Sydney?

Building certifiers and Opal tower

Reo in suspend concrete slabFirst, we need to ask: was the building certifier there when the concrete was being poured? Was the certifier there when the precast panels were being installed? It is highly, highly unlikely.

How is this the certifiers problem? Frankly, its not. Who’s responsibility is it? It’s ours; we have all done it: didn’t blow/clean the formwork deck off properly, didn’t remove the over-spilled concrete from the top of that column. And before everyone jumps up and down, I am not saying we are doing a bad job. The Opal Tower is one major incident that has emerged after the handover in how many buildings that we all have collectively built? More than anything, this is a timely reminder.

We all have tight timelines, and hundreds of meters of concrete booked weeks in advance, all while managing teams of contractors to meet these fictitious dates. We have become masters of balancing risk, timing, and ever-pressing constraints of construction. Of course, we let things slide; how else do you build a tower in under 12 months?

Opal tower’s timely reminder

It’s easy for us to get complacent when making decisions of what we will let slide and what we won’t. Just like the guys on the ground at Opal tower would be feeling the weight of their decisions made throughout the project, we, too, have to live with our decisions.

Construction site in Sydney

Maybe we have been lucky, maybe not. And with all the quality and consultant inspections that we have to complete on a daily basis, not to mention the continual re-checking (I know we all love re-checking everyone’s work), it’s the detail that will always cause sleepless nights.

As the saying goes, “the devil is in the details.” By having the person (private building certifier) that has a broad brush stroke being responsible for painting between the lines will only cause a mess. After all this has blown over, as we are the people responsible for building our buildings, we will have missed the direct government scrutiny, but we will feel the added pressure with our ever-shrinking project constraints.

Related article: Don’t stand on the outside of construction

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Pro Build’s Greenland Centre could be Sydney’s most recognised construction site

Pro Build Greenland Centre building steel structure looking up from the street with two tower cranes




Pro Build's Greenland Centre building steel structure looking from the street up to wards the sky with two tower cranes
Street view of Pro Build’s Greenland Centre building. Image by Chiagramz

Walking through the heart of Sydney city, there are construction sites everywhere. You have what feels like every second city street having the new 12km light rail being built by Acciona. Then there is all the high-rise construction happening throughout the city and surrounding areas. For perspective, the RBL crane index has listed Sydney as having 334 cranes erected in the second quarter of 2017. Sydney currently has over 50% of Australia’s tower crane population.

Pro Build’s Greenland Centre building

Of all the work that is happening, there is one construction site that stands out, one that everyone recognise. That is Pro Build’s Greenland Centre building. At the moment the original 1960’s building steel structure rises high, which will be incorporated into the new building’s structure.

Pro Build Greenland Centre building steel structure zoomed in with two tower cranes visible
The old steel structure makes an interesting subject to photograph. Image by Colourbydesign

Looking from the street, the skeleton, the remaining steel structure of the old building has a presence of its own. So much so, that photos of the structure have been flooding Instagram. This building can almost be used as a point of reference to anyone visiting the city.

The trouble that Sydney photographers are facing is, who has that one image that sets them apart. That photo that puts them ahead of the pack. There is everything from the street view, to window reflections and far away zoom pictures.

Who has the best photo?

Well, I guess, who has the best image is a question more of personal choice. For the time being, we have a short window of opportunity to try and capture that one special photo.

The rumour on the street is Pro Build has the new concrete structure up to ground level. So if you are looking to get a great photo, you may only have a few months before this unique view disappears.

Night time photo of Pro Build's Greenland Centre building with car lights, lit up site hoarding and the steel structure.
By night the steel structure with the access lighting it all interesting. Image by Thetravellingbuilder

Take a search on Instagram using the hashtag #greenlandcentre, #greenlandcentresyd and #greenlandcentresydney to find a few more images. Also, if you search the hashtag #towercranes, you will find a scattering of some of the images that feature this unique view of the Greenland Centre building. I will let you be the judge to which photo is the standout.

Leave a comment below about any interesting photos you find of this soon to be hidden Sydney gem.

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Adam Pykett exceptionally well delivered Electric Avenue Jr

Electric Avenue Jr bar




Electric Avenue Jr bar
Electric Avenue Jr bar

If you are familiar with Woolloongabba in Brisbane, particularly the café precinct at the end of Logan Road; you may have come across ‘Electric Avenue Jr.’

Adam Pykett from Adam Pykett Carpentry teamed up with the owners of Canvas from across the road to deliver Electric Avenue Jr.

Adam Pykett and his team specialise in old Queenslander renovations (link to a definition of Queenslander), and it’s clear to see their skill as tradesmen. Especially when you look at the level of detail that has gone into Electric Avenue Jr.

Always something new to look at in Electric Avenue Jr

Adam Pykett's well thought out work
Adam Pykett’s well thought out work.

Electric Avenue Jr is freaking cool. Its pre-prohibition era, with an interesting twist. First, you are greeted by one sophisticated deer head sporting a spectacle, approving of any future antics. Once you get past the deer, you will annoy the people standing behind you. You will lose yourself in the details of the place as you try to work out where to sit. Do you go over to the bistro tables and sit down? Or, do you go to the exceptionally well-stocked bar?

There are things everywhere, not the cluttered hoarding style.  Stuff so well placed, you can’t help but get drawn into their stories. The bar downstairs is impressive, but, and that is a big ‘but,’ it is not the bar that is going to get you excited, there are secrets. And after dark, the secrets come out, and you better be ready. If you think that you have seen it all, think again. Brisbane’s whisky’s bars have something to worry about because Electric Avenue Jr has brought something to the table that I will never be able to put into words.

What I love the most about this place, the work that has gone into it is so good that the work mostly goes unnoticed. And it’s when a trained eye misses half of the detail, that is when a job is exceptional. For example, I was looking around for about 20mins before I notice that all the lights above the bar, they all are hard-wired inside the ceiling space. No dodgy cover plates, no messy holes and patches, just plain simple work that goes unnoticed.

Adam Pykett Carpentry’s team eye for detail

 

Electric Avenue Jr armchairs
The armchairs are custom made in Holland.

Adam Pykett and his team have renovated Electric Avenue Jr so fitting into to the Woolloongabba area with the pre-prohibition era theme.

Writing this article, I am struggling to put into words something that is fitting for what Adam and his team do on a daily basis. I keep getting drawn back to my experience of Electric Avenue Jr. The whisky drinking armchairs and couches show how much care and attention has gone into this place. I mean armchairs, not the horrible metal stalls and chairs that just about every bar in Brisbane have on offer.  I mean, real leather chesterfield style armchairs and couches.

Finding the armchairs is a closely guarded secret, which I have been asked to keep.  You will have to go and explore for yourself.  And for all you out of towners, you will have to trust me this place is worth the visit.

 

Electric Avenue
Electric Avenue Jr

Adam and his team have done a fantastic job turning the old “Crosstown Eating House” into Electric Avenue Jr.  Without a doubt, Electric Avenue Jr will become a new favourite to many.

Website: Adam Pykett Carpentry

Heath Nicholson Builders ‘Round House’

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I have been following Heath Nicholson Builders on Instagram for a while now, watching their various projects progress. So I got in touch, asked if I could write an article about one of their projects.

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Heath Nicholson Builders aerial photo of frame stage with the guys working.

Heath was more than happy to help out with an article and said that the “Round House” they are currently working was a once in a career opportunity.

Before we get into the project, talking with Heath, in particular asking to write about a project of theirs has been easy. In my experience, people that are willing to help out another person is a credit to that person. A person’s willingness to help others can tell you a lot about how they run their business, and this is no different with Heath.

We have all heard that social media is a powerful marketing tool.  It was social media that prompted this client to contact Heath.

“I won the job because the client saw some of the different types of work we were doing on social media, and called me. She told me she couldn’t actually find any builders in the area to take the job on because it was “too hard.””

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Heath Nicholson Builders feature roof rafters.

As you look through the photo’s, you can see that it’s not just a straightforward building. As we all can imagine, a circular building is going to be a nightmare. The curved walls have been creating daily challenges, especially being constructed out of timber, steel and brick. We are not talking a nice large gentle radius, the radiuses are tight.

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Heath Nicholson Builders curved steel beams.

The level of workmanship that is going into the project is second to none. As we all know doing something right doesn’t take much more time. As Heath said, they are on track and have only be slowed by wet weather.

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Heath Nicholson Builders roof rafters following the round shape of the home.

According to Heath, the openable domed glass roof in the center of the building is going to be a fun challenge. The domed glass is currently being designed and will be interesting to see how they make this happen.

Shepparton Victoria Australia builder, nicholson builders, heath nicholson builders, curved brick wall, round windows, house construction
Heath Nicholson Builders curved brick wall with matching round windows.

There have been no specialised subcontractors brought in for this project either. The team that Heath is using are the same contractors he uses on every project. That is a statement of the trust Heath has in his contractors and employees.

This is one of those projects that once finished, will be talked about for a long time.

I am looking forward to seeing this project unfold. If you want to follow along, the best way is to follow on Instagram (@nicholson_builders).   Heath Nicholson Builders is based in Shepparton Victoria Australia.

Heath Nicholson Builders website: www.heathhicholsonbuilders.com.au

Email: [email protected]

Phone: +61 459 999 676

Shepparton Victoria Australia builder, nicholson builders, heath nicholson builders, aerial photo, house frame, house construction
Heath Nicholson Builders aerial photo of framing and brick walls.
Shepparton Victoria Australia builder, nicholson builders, heath nicholson builders, brick laying, house construction
Heath Nicholson Builders house frame stage and bricklaying.