A growing trend in timber mid-rise apartment developments has been keeping this Adelaide business busy.

Pin Design Truss & Timber is an Adelaide-based timber supply company that manufactures quality roof and floor trusses. The business has been serving the South Australian building industry for more than 30 years, evolving through several changes of ownership and a name change to Pine Design Truss & Timber in 2009. The last time TimberTrader News caught up with Pine Design, in September 2016, the Adelaide-based business had recently branched out, opening Precision Frames & Trusses in Penrith and Wauchope in NSW.

Since then business has been going strong in both states, with general manager Ryan Mansell admitting that the past few months in Adelaide have been the busiest they’ve had in over a decade.

“Business is going really well,” he says. “It’s growing organically, and it’s growing to meet customer demands. Entering the Sydney market is obviously new to us, which is pretty exciting. In Adelaide in particular, this has been the busiest three months in about ten years.”

The business has definitely seen an increase in customers wanting timber since the change in the National Construction Code to allow for timber buildings up to 25 metres, or eight storeys high.

“We’ve been getting a lot more into mid-rise buildings – apartment blocks three storeys and above,” Mansell says.

“Quite a few of our customers are choosing to build in timber. We’ve got quite a few proactive customers, and they are always looking at how they can change things up and better improve efficiency and reduce costs and time.”

Pine Design has recently finished work on a three-storey, 24-apartment development in Adelaide’s Devon Park.

“We decided to use floor cassettes – it was our first time and the customer’s first time – and it went quite well,” Mansell says. “Effectively there were two levels of 744 floor trusses. Each apartment was around 80-85sqm, and the total development was just under 2000sqm.”

Each apartment has five floor cassettes  in it, about 3.5m wide by 7m long. The cassettes were built onsite at Pine Design and then transported out to the building site and craned up into place.

“Normally we would send floor trusses out and the carpenter would lay them out on top of the wall frame and stretch them over the frames and nail them in,” Mansell says. “By doing floor cassettes it’s effectively a pre-finished floor where they go out in slabs and get craned up – the floor is complete. They were finishing a floor in roughly about an hour, with five to eight minutes per lift of the crane.

“According to the developers it’s saved them from two to three weeks onsite. So we are pretty keen to keep replicating that. We’re lucky to have the builders on board that we have.”

The business is also completing another, even larger project at the moment in Marden, Adelaide. With 42 apartments over three storeys, the construction has a total of 1694 floor trusses. And there are more projects like this in the pipeline.

“The customers want to do it because it speeds up their time, and that saves them money,” Mansell says. “This is a direction we’re moving more towards. Of course, it will only work for the right project. There’s no point trying to do something that’s not going to save time. It’s something that we will consider for each project, and see whether it works or whether it doesn’t.”

With a busy few months behind them, it doesn’t look like things will be slowing down any time soon for Pine Design.

“Whether that’s the market upturn? I don’t think so,” Mansell muses. “I think it’s a spike in our customer base, and the fact that more people are becoming aware of the benefits of using timber in construction.

“Especially from a development point of view – multi-rise has traditionally been a steel and concrete market. That’s where we’re lucky enough to have a few developers who are forward-thinking and proactive in their approach and they are embracing the National Construction Code changing to allow for more timber multi-storey buildings.”

For more info on Pine Design Truss & Timber, head to pinedesign.com.au

For more info on Precision Frames & Trusses, head to precisionframes.com.au