Blog 1. Why specifications are essential for quoting 21st August 2019 John Bransby We are frequently asked by builders, home owners and even architects to provide a quote on the basis of drawings that are preliminary or concept quality only. Sometimes we are provided with internet images or random photos on which to base a quote. Quite often these are Development Application (DA) drawings that are provided to Councils in the DA process. They are next to useless when sourcing quotes because they don’t provide any details of what is required. They may have notes that describe a set of gates as ‘metal gates’ or something equally meaningless. It’s a bit like ringing around 3 car dealers and asking for a quote on a 4 door sedan. Without details (specifications) it’s impossible to get a meaningful quote. The trend in building these days seems to be that the design costs are passed on down the chain to the builder or contractor, using the 'Design and Construct' method of tendering. This saves money initially by avoiding the cost of architects or building designers doing the specifications and detailing, but it nearly always results in low quality work. The reason for that is simple; the contractor doing the work quotes on the basis of doing work he thinks will be accepted by the client at a price that will be the lowest. Without specifications and details, the client has no idea of exactly what is being quoted on. Then, once the successful tenderer has got the job, there is a conflict of interest. The contractor or builder wants to maximise profit by doing the job at the lowest possible cost. Because there are no specifications to say how the job should be done, the client has little recourse if the job is not done to the standard expected. The architect has been sidelined early in the process but the job has the appearance of being 'architect designed'. It's one reason why there is a near total lack of confidence now in building work in Australia. Anyone in the industry knows how risky it is buying a new apartment these days. Back to our car dealer analogy….. asking 3 car dealers for a quote on a new 4 door sedan car, without going into the exact specifications. Even if they all quoted on the same make and model, one dealer may be quoting on the base model to keep the price low while the other dealers might be quoting on the same model with all the optional extras. The same car could differ in price by 40%. Metalwork is no different- 2 images of work can look identical, but the specifications could vary enormously, which in turn affects pricing. High quality specifications are very important when quoting- whether it be for building work or cars. This is why we refuse to quote without a good quality specification being provided. However, we will create a high quality specification for a fee and you are free to shop around with our competitors using the specification we created. We direct clients to our design and quoting process BROCHURE. Our thorough design process can save clients a fortune by avoiding work of low quality that either corrodes in a few years or doesn’t function as intended. While designing costs a relatively small amount at the outset, it can save a lot of money by making sure the metalwork is fit for the purpose and fit for the environment. It also virtually ensures that the new metalwork will add value to the property. Badly designed and specified metalwork detracts from a property and therefore devalues it. The devaluing effect is the most expensive part of a job if it happens. Our design and quoting process is second to none and in fact architects often engage us to do detailing and specifying for the clients because it is such a specialised field. Blog 2. Victorian Terrace Balustrades. Meeting Australian Standard 1170.1 4th Dec 2018 John Bransby Victorian terraces are common in many inner suburbs of Sydney such as Paddington, North Sydney and Balmain. Originally they had cast iron lace balustrades around 800 to 900mm height. These days the building code (BCA) requires 1.0M minimum height for balustrades, so using replicas of the original casting to replace damaged or badly corroded original work can be problematic. We have developed systems to deal with this but one often overlooked aspect is compliance with Australian Standard 1170.1 The standard requires amongst other things, that a balustrade is able to withstand certain loadings or forces to be safe. Imagine if a group of people were having a party on the balcony and at some point a number of people were leaning on the balustrade. As has happened many times, the balustrade fails and people can be badly injured or killed if the fall was from a height. This is especially important on shared house rental properties where there is less awareness of the risk by tenants and the owners may have no knowledge of how a balcony is being used. From our observation, many off the shelf balustrade systems are not tested and are not compliant with the Australian Standard in regard to their ability to withstand loads. For this reason, we only use engineer certified balustrade systems and recommend clients make sure anyone quoting on new work provides that certification. Not only must the balustrade itself be compliant but it must be fixed to the walls or columns securely enough to withstand the code’s load requirements. Old terrace walls are notorious for being weak and crumbling, so in many cases, the standard brackets and fixings have no chance of being strong enough. It’s just another reason why we insist on only quoting from specified drawings. Many of our competitors seem to have no awareness of the need to comply with both the BCA and Australian Standard 1170.1 when doing cast lace balustrades on Victorian terraces. If comparing quotes, make sure certification and compliance is guaranteed. Blog 3. Balustrades Series. Meeting Australian Standard 1170.1 20th Dec 2018 John Bransby A structural engineer we often engage to certify that our balustrades will comply with Australian Standard 1170.1 amazed us recently when he gave his opinion about industry knowledge of the need for balustrades to meet the Australian Standard. He though most builders and metal fabricators doing domestic work were years out of date on what the standard requires. It’s amazing how long new information seems to take to percolate through an industry or profession. Apparently its no different in the medical profession - doctors still often believe what they were taught in medical school decades ago instead of what the latest literature shows. We frequently get asked to add height to an existing balustrade in a strata complex. The request usually goes something like “we just need you to weld on another 100mm at the top, so the balustrade complies with the latest codes”. If only it was so easy. Adding height adds to the load the posts are required to withstand. The vast majority of old steel balustrades in strata buildings built in the 1970’s and 80’s had no chance of meeting the standard at the low height. To add height only makes it worse. We’ve never found a job yet that was suitable to add height to and don’t expect to. Blog 4. Why specifications are necessary for conservation and restoration work 22nd Jan 2019 John Bransby We are frequently asked by builders, home owners and architects to provide a quote to ‘restore’ heritage metalwork, without being provided with any firm specification to define what is meant by the term ‘restore’. Without a specification written by someone with expertise in that work, the term ‘restore’ is quite meaningless. One person’s interpretation might be to slap on a coat of paint over all the rust, to pretty it up to sell. Another interpretation could be to make the object exactly as it was when first made. Naturally, there will be a huge difference in the 2 quotes because we are not comparing apples with apples as they say. On heritage listed metalwork, we follow the guidelines set by the National Heritage Ironwork Group (NHIG) which we are proud members of. NHIG is arguably the world’s leading authority on architectural metalwork conservation and restoration. They created a handy guide to conservation principles which we recommend clients read before requesting any contractor to quote on restoring or conserving heritage metalwork. In Australia, there is unfortunately very little awareness of these principles and we often see beautiful, genuine wrought iron work that is over 130 years old, ruined by inappropriate ‘restoration’ techniques. One of the main mistakes we see made is the shot blasting and galvanising of genuine wrought iron. It is appropriate for mild steel but should not be used on wrought iron, which is a very different metal. The 2nd most common mistake we see is the use of electric welding to repair genuine wrought iron. Nothing devalues heritage wrought iron more than these 2 inappropriate, irreversible techniques. Genuine wrought iron was used for some of the world’s most famous structures, including the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It gradually fell out of use around the mid to late 1800’s when the much cheaper mild steel became widely used. Genuine wrought iron gates and fences adorn many of Sydney’s Victorian terrace buildings in the inner city suburbs. Unlike wrought iron, mild steel needs protecting from rust with galvanising or painting. Wrought iron on the other hand, forms its own protective layer of oxidised metal which should not be removed. NHIG have a very informative brochure on genuine wrought iron and explains the differences between it and mild steel. The first step in the conservation or restoration process is to have the metalwork closely inspected by someone with experience and expertise, to determine what it is and its condition. That is followed by defining what restoration will involve and creating a written specification for the work. With that written specification, a client can then obtain quotes from suitably skilled contractors to carry out the work, knowing all contractors are quoting on the same basis. NHIG has a publication on how to choose a competent person. It’s essential reading before choosing a contractor to assess work or carry out conservation or restoration work. JB Wrought Iron have expert blacksmiths with experience in the UK, working on listed buildings, available to do high quality conservation and restoration work here. We also work with some of the best UK based conservation experts and can provide condition reports and highly detailed specifications, to ensure any conservation or restoration work is carried out in compliance with the NHIG principles.
Adding value to your property with superb quality architectural metalwork hand-crafted by JB Wrought Iron in Sydney, New South Wales.
© 2020 John Bransby Wrought Iron | Wrought Iron Services Sydney | Wrought Iron & Stainless Steel Balustrades, Railings, Handrails | Sydney Wrought Iron Security Doors | Crimsteel Security Doors | Wrought Iron & Stainless Steel Doors and Fences, Driveway Gates, Pedestrian Gates, Garden Gates Sydney | Heritage Restoration Work Sydney | Stainless Steel Work Sydney | Design & Project Management, Sydney, NSW
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1. Why specifications are essential for quoting 21st August 2019 John Bransby We are frequently asked by builders, home owners and even architects to provide a quote on the basis of drawings that are preliminary or concept quality only. Sometimes we are provided with internet images or random photos on which to base a quote. Quite often these are Development Application (DA) drawings that are provided to Councils in the DA process. They are next to useless when sourcing quotes because they don’t provide any details of what is required. They may have notes that describe a set of gates as ‘metal gates’ or something equally meaningless. It’s a bit like ringing around 3 car dealers and asking for a quote on a 4 door sedan. Without details (specifications) it’s impossible to get a meaningful quote. The trend in building these days seems to be that the design costs are passed on down the chain to the builder or contractor, using the 'Design and Construct' method of tendering. This saves money initially by avoiding the cost of architects or building designers doing the specifications and detailing, but it nearly always results in low quality work. The reason for that is simple; the contractor doing the work quotes on the basis of doing work he thinks will be accepted by the client at a price that will be the lowest. Without specifications and details, the client has no idea of exactly what is being quoted on. Then, once the successful tenderer has got the job, there is a conflict of interest. The contractor or builder wants to maximise profit by doing the job at the lowest possible cost. Because there are no specifications to say how the job should be done, the client has little recourse if the job is not done to the standard expected. The architect has been sidelined early in the process but the job has the appearance of being 'architect designed'. It's one reason why there is a near total lack of confidence now in building work in Australia. Anyone in the industry knows how risky it is buying a new apartment these days. Back to our car dealer analogy….. asking 3 car dealers for a quote on a new 4 door sedan car, without going into the exact specifications. Even if they all quoted on the same make and model, one dealer may be quoting on the base model to keep the price low while the other dealers might be quoting on the same model with all the optional extras. The same car could differ in price by 40%. Metalwork is no different- 2 images of work can look identical, but the specifications could vary enormously, which in turn affects pricing. High quality specifications are very important when quoting- whether it be for building work or cars. This is why we refuse to quote without a good quality specification being provided. However, we will create a high quality specification for a fee and you are free to shop around with our competitors using the specification we created. We direct clients to our design and quoting process BROCHURE. Our thorough design process can save clients a fortune by avoiding work of low quality that either corrodes in a few years or doesn’t function as intended. While designing costs a relatively small amount at the outset, it can save a lot of money by making sure the metalwork is fit for the purpose and fit for the environment. It also virtually ensures that the new metalwork will add value to the property. Badly designed and specified metalwork detracts from a property and therefore devalues it. The devaluing effect is the most expensive part of a job if it happens. Our design and quoting process is second to none and in fact architects often engage us to do detailing and specifying for the clients because it is such a specialised field.

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2. Victorian Terrace Balustrades. Meeting Australian Standard 1170.1 4th Dec 2018 John Bransby Victorian terraces are common in many inner suburbs of Sydney such as Paddington, North Sydney and Balmain. Originally they had cast iron lace balustrades around 800 to 900mm height. These days the building code (BCA) requires 1.0M minimum height for balustrades, so using replicas of the original casting to replace damaged or badly corroded original work can be problematic. We have developed systems to deal with this but one often overlooked aspect is compliance with Australian Standard 1170.1 The standard requires amongst other things, that a balustrade is able to withstand certain loadings or forces to be safe. Imagine if a group of people were having a party on the balcony and at some point a number of people were leaning on the balustrade. As has happened many times, the balustrade fails and people can be badly injured or killed if the fall was from a height. This is especially important on shared house rental properties where there is less awareness of the risk by tenants and the owners may have no knowledge of how a balcony is being used. From our observation, many off the shelf balustrade systems are not tested and are not compliant with the Australian Standard in regard to their ability to withstand loads. For this reason, we only use engineer certified balustrade systems and recommend clients make sure anyone quoting on new work provides that certification. Not only must the balustrade itself be compliant but it must be fixed to the walls or columns securely enough to withstand the code’s load requirements. Old terrace walls are notorious for being weak and crumbling, so in many cases, the standard brackets and fixings have no chance of being strong enough. It’s just another reason why we insist on only quoting from specified drawings. Many of our competitors seem to have no awareness of the need to comply with both the BCA and Australian Standard 1170.1 when doing cast lace balustrades on Victorian terraces. If comparing quotes, make sure certification and compliance is guaranteed.

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3. Balustrades Series. Meeting Australian Standard 1170.1 20th Dec 2018 John Bransby A structural engineer we often engage to certify that our balustrades will comply with Australian Standard 1170.1 amazed us recently when he gave his opinion about industry knowledge of the need for balustrades to meet the Australian Standard. He though most builders and metal fabricators doing domestic work were years out of date on what the standard requires. It’s amazing how long new information seems to take to percolate through an industry or profession. Apparently its no different in the medical profession - doctors still often believe what they were taught in medical school decades ago instead of what the latest literature shows. We frequently get asked to add height to an existing balustrade in a strata complex. The request usually goes something like “we just need you to weld on another 100mm at the top, so the balustrade complies with the latest codes”. If only it was so easy. Adding height adds to the load the posts are required to withstand. The vast majority of old steel balustrades in strata buildings built in the 1970’s and 80’s had no chance of meeting the standard at the low height. To add height only makes it worse. We’ve never found a job yet that was suitable to add height to and don’t expect to.

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4. Why specifications are necessary for conservation and restoration work 22nd Jan 2019 John Bransby We are frequently asked by builders, home owners and architects to provide a quote to ‘restore’ heritage metalwork, without being provided with any firm specification to define what is meant by the term ‘restore’. Without a specification written by someone with expertise in that work, the term ‘restore’ is quite meaningless. One person’s interpretation might be to slap on a coat of paint over all the rust, to pretty it up to sell. Another interpretation could be to make the object exactly as it was when first made. Naturally, there will be a huge difference in the 2 quotes because we are not comparing apples with apples as they say. On heritage listed metalwork, we follow the guidelines set by the National Heritage Ironwork Group (NHIG) which we are proud members of. NHIG is arguably the world’s leading authority on architectural metalwork conservation and restoration. They created a handy guide to conservation principles which we recommend clients read before requesting any contractor to quote on restoring or conserving heritage metalwork. In Australia, there is unfortunately very little awareness of these principles and we often see beautiful, genuine wrought iron work that is over 130 years old, ruined by inappropriate ‘restoration’ techniques. One of the main mistakes we see made is the shot blasting and galvanising of genuine wrought iron. It is appropriate for mild steel but should not be used on wrought iron, which is a very different metal. The 2nd most common mistake we see is the use of electric welding to repair genuine wrought iron. Nothing devalues heritage wrought iron more than these 2 inappropriate, irreversible techniques. Genuine wrought iron was used for some of the world’s most famous structures, including the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It gradually fell out of use around the mid to late 1800’s when the much cheaper mild steel became widely used. Genuine wrought iron gates and fences adorn many of Sydney’s Victorian terrace buildings in the inner city suburbs. Unlike wrought iron, mild steel needs protecting from rust with galvanising or painting. Wrought iron on the other hand, forms its own protective layer of oxidised metal which should not be removed. NHIG have a very informative brochure on genuine wrought iron and explains the differences between it and mild steel. The first step in the conservation or restoration process is to have the metalwork closely inspected by someone with experience and expertise, to determine what it is and its condition. That is followed by defining what restoration will involve and creating a written specification for the work. With that written specification, a client can then obtain quotes from suitably skilled contractors to carry out the work, knowing all contractors are quoting on the same basis. NHIG has a publication on how to choose a competent person. It’s essential reading before choosing a contractor to assess work or carry out conservation or restoration work. JB Wrought Iron have expert blacksmiths with experience in the UK, working on listed buildings, available to do high quality conservation and restoration work here. We also work with some of the best UK based conservation experts and can provide condition reports and highly detailed specifications, to ensure any conservation or restoration work is carried out in compliance with the NHIG principles.
Bespoke Architectural Metalwork
Adding value to your property with superb quality architectural metalwork hand-crafted by JB Wrought Iron in Sydney, New South Wales.
© 2020 John Bransby Wrought Iron | Wrought Iron Services Sydney | Wrought Iron & Stainless Steel Balustrades, Railings, Handrails | Sydney Wrought Iron Security Doors | Crimsteel Security Doors | Wrought Iron & Stainless Steel Doors and Fences, Driveway Gates, Pedestrian Gates, Garden Gates Sydney | Heritage Restoration Work Sydney | Stainless Steel Work Sydney | Design & Project Management, Sydney, NSW.
PH: 04 8181 5530 NSW Contractor Licence 300497C