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Universal’s Framing - Raised from the Rain

27 August 2018

Today we talk to Alan Dick from HIANDRI.

Crosby: Great running into you at the buildnz | designex conference and thanks for taking a few moments. As we discussed, back then I had asked our design team what are some of the small things we are doing, improvements we have made, that help us build better homes, faster. The media is so focussed on risky silver bullet solutions - but constant and gradual improvement in multiple areas, with controlled focus and quality measurement is also innovative. Anyway, one of the guys asked, ‘what about those little blue things ‘high and dry?’ – which made no sense to me at the time.
Can you tell me what those ‘little blue things’ are?

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Alan: Sure, simply HIANDRI Packers are a fully Code compliant system that lifts the wall frames off the floor allowing them to dry naturally and faster, this saves not only time but expensive artificial drying methods like heaters and dehumidifiers. HIANDRI Packers have revolutionised the way New Zealand builders have dealt with moisture. Universal Homes were one of our first customers and an example of how a company can adopt new practices with benefits both to themselves and home-owners.

Crosby: Ok, so what did we used to do before we used them?

Alan: Traditionally wall frames sat on a damp-proof course hard on the floor. Unfortunately, this allowed rain water to soak into the frames causing significant and expensive delays in construction while waiting for the frames to dry.

Crosby: It’s almost obvious in retrospect. When I go to site now, I can’t miss them – especially when it’s been raining hard in the last few days and the elevated framing bottom plates are dry.

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The build crew simply sweep any water off the floor edge out through the door or right under the now elevated framing. And because it’s elevated the airflow enables the bottom plates to dry out much quicker – to get to the moisture level where the inspector will sign off. A quick mini conference of the project managers here and I’m told that can save weeks if there has been a downpour before the roof is on, during winter. Let alone the cost of hiring large fan heaters to try and dry it all out. In some cases, it prevents us having to replace ‘soaked’ bottom plates. Are there any other benefits?

Alan: Yes, for the life of the building they act as an early warning system. As the frame is off the floor, should there ever be a leak for whatever reason the water travels past the bottom plate and shows on the next driest area i.e. carpet/skirting. This means that the leak is found within days of happening and can be remedied before there is any expensive structural damage done. This gives the home-owners great assurance.

Crosby: They come pre-installed on our framing, we simply fix the frames to the ground like we used to and apply quick squirt of insulation between the bottom plate and the concrete slab. Simple application. No real limitations, other than firewall systems. What’s happening at your end on that?

Alan: Firewalls can be completed with specific design from a Fire Engineer on a job by job basis. We are also working with the major stakeholders of proprietary Firewall systems to bring a generic HIANDRI approved firewall system to the market.

Crosby: We roll this out on all our timber frame developments now – terraced homes and houses, both on the concrete floors and the timber midfloor. A simple concept, but highly innovative in its practical application – especially when building through Auckland’s notoriously wet winters. I asked our construction manager for a few comments….

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Grant: Well, it keeps the bottom plate dry and saves us time and cost, especially when it’s wet - which is all the time in Auckland. We were looking for a solution and HIANDRI turned up and we bought into the concept very quickly. We roll it out on frames both winter and summer now.

Crosby: So, you can have the final word, what’s next for HIANDRI Alan?

Alan: We are continuing to work with our customers and others in the building industry to educate and inform them on the benefits of using HIANDRI and to make the transition of using our product as easy as we can for them.

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