As operations manager for Whytehall Services, Alex Labberton typically works on commercial projects for large well-known companies doing interior and structural fitouts, but he swapped his suit for his tool belt to build a holiday home for his family.
“It was my chance to get back on the tools as a hobby across 18 months of weekends, public holidays and RDOs to build the family holiday home,” says Alex, an experienced builder.
“I pretty much had carte blanche but my Dad warned me: ‘You better not build me an office block.’ It’s a family joke because I also have a hotelier cousin who built a foyer-style reception area in his home.”
The holiday home is 600 square metres on one level in coastal Kilcunda, Victoria and overlooks Bass Coast. There are two wings to the house, with five bedrooms and three bathrooms at one end, and all living areas at the opposite end. It sleeps 14 people, which was tested for the first time last Christmas and has hosted many gatherings and parties since.
Alex changed tack pretty early on, opting to go with an elevated Boxspan Steel flooring and Ezipier system rather than the specified timber bearers and joists on core-filled concrete blocks. “We regularly look around to see what products are available for the applications we’re building and timber is like a foreign language for us as we predominantly build with steel in commercial buildings,” says Alex. “We found the Spantec Systems website and saw the company supplies nationally.
“As soon as I talked with Spantec’s draftspeople I was comfortable that they talked the same language, even though they’re in NSW. I felt they had grasped the project and understood all the heavy loads and cantilevered design principles that needed to be transferred to the foundations.”
The Boxspan Steel flooring system comes to site in kit form with bearers and joists cut to length. Perimeter bearers are marked with joist locations and pre-punched ready for brackets to be screw fixed. Brackets and screws are part of the floor kit along with detailed working drawings to make installation easy. Alex also chose the higher protection coating offered by Spantec, given the home’s proximity to the coast.
“I won’t tell a lie, I was fairly daunted when I saw the semi turn up with all the steel,” says Alex. “I expected the Boxspan floor to be quick to install, but I underestimated how quick it was.
“With concrete footings already poured we had the Boxspan floor, piers and bracing up in four days with just four to five blokes. The adjustable Ezipier heads were worth their weight in gold and the bearers and joists were like putting a Meccano set together.”
The Ezipier adjustable piers and subfloor-bracing system was also incorporated into the kit, with pier posts cut onsite close to the required height and then final adjustment made with the adjustable Ezipier heads to get to the correct floor level.
“The levelled floor was a huge surprise to me as it’s not often you get to drop a kitchen in without levelling the cabinets,” says Alex. “You can drop a marble anywhere on the floor and not have it roll away, unlike the shopping centre floors I typically deal with. It saved us three weeks of labour.
“Set-downs for wet areas and decks were also taken care of by Spantec in the design, which saved a lot of time onsite.”
Alex has built his large architecturally designed holiday home with large window openings, giving it a spacious feeling. By raising the floor higher he was able to capture 180-degree views of Bass Bay and give the house a unique look as if it floats above the hills that surround it. Spantec loves seeing the exciting projects its customers undertake.
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