For the first time since COVID, FTMA headed to Western Australia for a week full of visits to fabricators and suppliers, traveling just shy of 2,000kms to fit in our 16 visits.
It never ceases to amaze me, how big the State is, and on this trip we travelled from Perth to Albany, via Busselton and way up to Geraldton to see new members Coral Coast Homes, the new owners of Geraldton Roof Trusses.
The Western Australia market for timber fabricators is like nothing else in Australia, and I’d reckon the WA designers have one of the hardest jobs in the country, as very few roofs are the same, featuring so many hips and valleys.
Kersten with new FTMA Member Clint Wells of
Worldwide Truss & Frames (middle) and Chris Shaw (Pryda)
Visiting FTMA Member Gary King of the
Midland Timber Co (Big River Group)
It will shock those in the East that builders claim it is more affordable to have their roofs stick built, due to the complexity of the roof design. WA’s market is definitely still a double brick, stick built environment, however, slowly, but surely the offsite prefabrication market is growing.
Now, when I say it is more affordable to stick build, there are many contributing factors as to why this could possibly be the case. Firstly, as mentioned above, every roof is different. Once you see it in the estates, you can’t unsee it and I was shocked with the huge variations in roof designs.
There are many other issues that timber fabricators have to battle in the West such as:
- Chippies wanting the same money to erect prefabricated trusses, as they do stick built roofs.
- There are no legal requirements to have building works certified, like they do in the East, which in my opinion, benefits stick built over our quality engineered products.
- The proposed WHS changes around falls from heights has been pushed back to March 2024. These laws would have brought WA in line with the rest of the country, and this is something we believe will have a real impact on the builders decisions between stick and truss roof construction methods.
The decision to push back the introduction of these important WHS changes, was predominantly pushed by building associations, which is extremely disappointing, as safety should always come first.
Driving through various new estates to get a good look at the construction methods, I was surprised with the amount of lightweight steel.
Some say this is a good thing, as it shows builders are moving away from double brick towards lightweight construction, however, what about the environmental footprint from these steel homes which are literally ‘steeling’ our children’s future.
What I was impressed with, was how much our industry has progressed since my last visit and even though many of us expected the prefabrication market to grow quicker, it is slowly happening, due to the innovative approach fabricators are taking.
I should also point out the work being done by the nail plate companies with Chris Shaw (Pryda) and Brad Ridolfi (MiTek) providing outstanding support for fabricators and the wider industry.
During the visit we also managed to catch up with Silver Sponsors Wespine and Vekta Automation, where we toured both facilities.
Nikita & Kersten Gentle touring Wespine
with Shane Watling of Staxa (Wespine)
Carbon Warriors visiting Ed & Shelena Serrano of Vekta Automation
I last toured the Wespine facility during my TCA days (nearly 20 years ago), and I was blown away by the investment made and the lengths Wespine go to, to maximise the structural timber cut from every log processed in the mill.
As for Vekta, WOW. Their new factory and office are huge and well laid out. You can understand why they are so busy manufacturing new equipment for our industry with many orders being finalised in the factory.
In the past 2 months, FTMA has had three new WA members with Coral Coast (Geraldton Roof Trusses) and in August we welcomed Clint Wells of Worldwide Truss & Frames in Mundijong and Kenny McGonnell of Pinelock Systems in Albany.
There is no doubt the passion and the drive for change is there, and FTMA looks forward to working with fabricators and suppliers to address the many issues facing the industry and later this year will be hosting a seminar to bring all together.
Thank you to those who took the time to see us and congratulations to all, for their innovative approach to driving change in the Western Australian construction industry.
Catching up with new FTMA Member, Kenny McGonnell
of Pinelock Systems in Albany
Wesbeam WA State Manager, Tim Mapstone with Kersten