Recently we were engaged to install raised piers for two Health Service projects in Braidwood and Harden for our long term client Modular Building Systems (MBS) in conjunction with Richard Crookes. The weather wasn’t particularly kind to the installation team but they soldiered on installing raised piers with adjustable caps maintaining the MBS schedule. Given the weather this would not have been possible with a concrete slab. MBS then craned their buildings on to the piers with the bearer plates set at the correct height. Some minor adjustments and then on with the build.
With tighter time frames for project completion the modular building market continues to grow throughout Australia. The benefits in controlling quality, cost, safety and build speed have been quickly adopted in a variety of sectors including education, aged care, prison, government, commercial and increasingly family homes. Given that these buildings need to be connected to the ground once transported to site, the use of Idealcorp screw pier foundations meets the tight time frames and cost controls set by this market segment. Both raised pier foundations with tie down systems or screw piers supporting a slab align with the increased speed and efficiency philosophy including reduced cost of spoil removal.
We are receiving an increasing number of enquiries for ENM/VENM soil testing from builders and developers needing to remove soil off site. In simple terms councils want to know that any soil being removed off a site is clean or contaminated and it doesn’t matter if it’s moved to another site or to a landfill tip, council will/may require an ENM/VENM assessment.
For us the ENM/VENM enquiries started in the regions north of Sydney but has now become an issue for builders and cartage firms throughout NSW.
Loads are being stopped and inspected to ensure contractors are meeting their obligations when removing spoil. The fines for not being compliant are not for the fainthearted. If you haven’t come across this requirement yet we wanted to give you some information, so you’re prepared if you’re asked to provide an ENM/VENM assessment.
What is ENM/VENM?
Our Geotechnical Engineer, Dane Dwyer kindly supplied us with the relevant area of the code.
Let’s start with what is VENM, which stands for virgin excavated natural material
The EPA definition is as follows (we have edited it for simplicity)
The Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act) defines virgin excavated natural material (VENM) as:
Natural material (such as clay, gravel, sand, soil or rock fines):
(a) that has been excavated or quarried from areas that are not contaminated with manufactured chemicals, or with process residues, as a result of industrial, commercial, mining or agricultural activities and
(b) that does not contain any sulfidic ores or soils or any other waste
and includes excavated natural material that meets such criteria for virgin excavated natural material as may be approved for the time being pursuant to an EPA Gazettal notice.’ Virgin excavated natural material (VENM) is a waste that has been pre-classified as general solid waste (non-putrescible).
Is there any other waste present?
By definition, VENM cannot contain any other waste, or be ‘made’ from processed soils. Excavated material that has been processed in any way cannot be classified as VENM.
In summary, we feel it is important to raise industry matters with our builders so they can get on the front foot and be well prepared in their building process as well as controlling their costs. We can assist you with VENM/ENM testing as part of your Lot Classification or as a standalone test. Lot Classifications can now be ordered online.
Make sure you’ve factored the cost of ENM/VENM testing into your next build budget.
Historic photo from DA submitted to the City of Newcastle Council
Every job requires focus. Even more so for tight sites and then there are very tight sites with little head height with the added precautions of protecting an old historic building. We’ve just completed installing screw piers to strengthen foundations for the old Ireland’s Bond building in Newcastle NSW built in 1884. The façade of the 4-storey building remained includingkey structural beams and columnswith the majority of the internals to be renewed to a modern luxury spec for apartment living. Ideal Foundations had to come up with a solution to install within tight confines of up to 3.0m head height clearance in and around overhead beams. How did we do that?
The original structural design called for 40 tonne (400kN) piles which can only be installed with a very large excavator, which was not possible for the tight spaces of this site. So, Chris Elliott of Ideal Foundations commissioned a structural engineer to redesign pile loads down to a maximum 20 tonne (200kN) per pile and also ensure the piles were able to be located within the existing pile caps to ensure the builder did not have to change any of these on site. Due to the low head height we also had to limit the shaft extensions to a maximum of 1.5m to ensure the reach of the excavator at full stretch plus the pile were well within the limitations of the overhead space.
The photos and video below show how confined this job site was and requiring precision by the operators of the excavator. Well done boys.
Some days we get our bigger toys out, larger excavators, larger screw piles to reach further and screw down deeper. Even though strengthening the side of the hill on this Noosa job site is supporting a residential housing estate above it’s not your typical residential site.
We assisted the Altum Property Group with a residential project built on the side of a sand hill where they will be building luxury houses as part of the Noosa Springs Golf Course Estate. The views are spectacular but the requirements for screw piling took some collaboration between Craig Geddis our Queensland BDM, the builder and the engineer.
Many of the piers installed are a double helix design and are installed up to 6m deep. You can see from the video that we needed a decent reach because of the slope of the hill – it felt steeper being there in person.
We constantly use the word value. Often the word value is confused with the word cheap. At Ideal Corp we see value as providing the technical knowledge and hands on experience to solve problems for clients. Last week we provided a solution for a site in Freshwater, Sydney with difficult access and site conditions for Daniel and Adam of Southern Cross Homes.
The problem, accessing the site through an existing façade that had to be retained, wet and collapsing soils and to cap off the challenge, a long reach over the excavated pool to install a number of the piers to a depth of 5 metres. Not a big job but one that needed something extra. After site visits from Chris Elliott, our sales exec in the North-East and a bit of a brainstorming session between Chris, Adam and our installation team a plan was devised. The plan consisted of; 1. trimming some brickwork to get through the façade, 2. Adding an extension to gain the required reach and 3. a process of care to ensure damage wasn’t done to the excavated area.
As if this wasn’t enough on a tight site, we had the addition of water running through the site at the bottom of the pool excavation where some of the piers were to be installed.
When implemented on site all the preparation that had been done resulted in a positive outcome for our client and the homeowner that has solved the problem and allowed the builder to move forward with the construction of the home. Preparation, experience, attention to detail and a knack for problem solving.
Sean Irwin General Manager of Ideal Corp recently got back from the 2018 GJ Gardner Homes International Conference in Hawaii. The event recognizes the best of the best throughout G.J. Gardner Homes, internationally:
– The best building franchise of the year
– The best franchise in each state and country
– The best performing sales people
Ideal Corp is proud to continue our support through sponsoring their conference. Over the past four years we’ve enjoyed meeting new franchisors and celebrating their achievements. We thank G.J. Gardner Homes for supporting us and allowing us to be involved in Hawaii.
The highlights were:
– The Hawaiian welcome party
– 50’s party night
– Awards Night
– G.J. Shark Tank – Franchisors pitching new ideas
The conference was a well-organized fun event and we look forward to seeing all the franchises in Vietnam next year. Until then we’re back onto the building sites helping GJ Gardner Homes getting out of the ground and building new homes.
Order Lot Classifications online. Another first for Ideal Geotech!
Saving of time and simplicity is what customers consistently demand from Ideal Geotech’s lot classifications. In keeping with their on-time focus Ideal Geotech have created another first for the Geotechnical industry, with their new online ordering for account customers. Submitted orders go straight into the customised scheduling system with the allocated zone for quicker allocation to one of their field/soil technicians. Customers now have one place to enter orders and see previously submitted orders, leaving behind the emails, faxes and who sent what when. Yes, it’s easy to say we’re on time, right? So to prove it, account customers are provided with a tracker report. It’s like a report card that measures turnaround times of lot classifications against agreed lead times. This is the same report used internally to make sure they are “on time”.
A builder who knows his numbers are fixed!
Foundation work has just started on a set of 33 two storey units in Camden South, South West of Sydney. The builder/developer is also currently completing another project where the Ideal Foundations team installed screw piers for a 22 unit project in Oran Park. The speed in which they got out of the ground on the previous site was one of the defining reasons to do same on the their new 33 unit project plus the added bonus of having their foundation costs fixed.
Like the previous site Ideal Foundations assisted in their redesign away from bored concrete piers to screw piers. This was achieved by conducting a thorough geotechnical report across the site which also enabled Ideal’s engineer’s to determine founding depth and fix the cost of foundations. The geotechnical report also identified acid sulphate soil, which means the screw piers will be core filled with concrete for the required design life.
Here’s what the numbers look like:
All this at a fixed price.
Last week as mums and dads prepared themselves for the new school year something big was going down at Winston Heights Public School. A team of volunteers converged across the Winston Heights school grounds for the first working bee of 2018. With only 24hrs before the gates opened to allow children and parents to pour in, it started to feel like a home improvement show working against clock before the owners come home for the unveiling. With 10 projects to be done all but one remained at the ring of the bell.
Not bad… 9/10 and the school year hadn’t begun.
Enda O’Neill, one of Ideal’s leading screw pier installers, was right back in his element from his younger days in landscaping as he cleared the old untouched gardens, dead trees and stumps to create a clean canvas for beautiful new gardens to be planted. The gardens surrounding the seniors’ COLA were no match for Enda and his “Big Toy” excavator as a number of old trees went by the wayside surprising Margaret Creagh, the school principal. If she had one handy, Enda would have certainly received a gold star and a smiley face.
Following the Ideal Foundations excavator was a solid team from Transurban taking away the dead plants and levelling the soil amongst many other projects they completed on the day. An awesome team effort.
No screw pier or foundation work was needed for this project but we wanted to help out the school and save many back breaking days of hard work to give the children a clean canvas and start a new chapter for these gardens.
We look forward to seeing the new gardens growing and we wish all the staff and children at Winston Heights Public School a successful year in 2018.