Gun nailing of framing anchors and straps

The QBCC has recently investigated a number of complaints and issues about the inappropriate use of gun nails used to secure framing anchors and the like.

Over a number of years our industry appears to have gravitated away from hand-driving the special purpose connector nails supplied by bracket manufacturers, and tradesmen are instead securing these brackets using power-driven fasteners, such as gun nailing. 

QBCC audits of work under construction has revealed a high-level of non-compliant fixings with inadequate tie-down capacity where tradesmen have used gun nails to secure framing anchors, straps and the like. 

Issues such as inadequately-sized nails, inadequate edge distances and close groupings of nail fixings leave tradespeople with little chance of providing compliant connections. 

The incorrect use of gun nails is also of significant concern to truss fabricators and manufacturers of tie-down connectors, who expend significant funds designing and testing their products to ensure they perform as expected in high-wind events. 

Product manufacturers in Australia have a very good record of standing behind their products and assisting building contractors who use and install their products to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

The QBCC cannot understate the need for building contractors to ensure that you comply with a manufacturer’s tested system and installation recommendations to avoid the risks of a failure. 

There is real concern within the QBCC that the inappropriate use of gun nailing tie-down connectors may lead to catastrophic failures of roof structures in high-wind events if this practice continues. 

In consultation with manufacturers, Timber Queensland and other stakeholders, the QBCC has determined that if it observes building contractors continuing to use gun nails to secure tie-down connections, that the QBCC will deem the work defective and require immediate remedial works to be undertaken to remedy the situation. 

The QBCC trusts that by releasing this information that building contractors have been forewarned about this problem and the position of the QBCC.  The QBCC also trusts that if necessary, contractors will adjust their practises on-site to avoid any issues arising in relation to these concerns. 

The QBCC is also informing private certifiers and engineers of our position and the need for their vigilance when conducting frame inspections and the need to ensure correct fixing of these critical tie-down connectors. 

(Excessively close grouping of gun nails)

(Gun nail fixing between ribbon plate and top plate)

(Gun nail installed with inadequate edge cover, resulting in splitting of top plate)

 

Comments (10)

What a complete over reaction by QBCC. Looking at the photos with the article and I agree with the multi nailing on the triple grip. But surely this needs to be addressed by the certifier and is no different to the standard applied to nailing off bracing panels etc. But now look at the cyclone strap and carefully note where the punched nail holes are supplied by the manufacturer. If the chippy nails through these holes the strap would also not comply. Is the chippy to pre drill appropriate holes to then hand nail the strap. Does this particular strap, on this truss, in this location require Xkn to comply? How many nails per leg are required? Should the strap be wrapped? I work in a C2/3 zone and we use lots of straps in a roof (over 100) and each strap can require up to 10 nails per leg especially in the case of wrapped straps. To outlaw gun nails will add an extra 3+ carpenter days to the construction of an average house. Does the QBCC think that adding an extra $1000 to the cost of every house is justified just because some tradies don't comply and some certifiers allow them to get away with it. This is a complete over reaction and this ruling should be reversed immediately.

Thanks for getting in touch with your thoughts. Your feedback will be lodged through our customer feedback management system. To answer your concern, gun nails are not to be banned altoegther, they are just not to be used for fixing tie-down brackets. If you have further questions and would like to discuss this in more detail, please call us on 139 333 or email info@qbcc.qld.gov.au. Kind Regards, Kate

Why after this statement release, does it feel like we are taking a backward step ( to the 1980’s) instead of encouraging a forward step. It seems to me to be a bit of misuse of the power the QBCC have over the industry. I believe a good way to attack this issue is to get specific tie methods with gun nails from the manufactures (Pryda, Mi-Tek, Multinail etc). If they don’t have them, there should be a major push to have them produce something. Coming from myself, someone who has been a carpenter and now builder in the industry for over 10 years, who in that time has not seen or heard of any other carpenter not use machine driven nails to complete their tie down. Why, without it being an issue in past 15 plus years, has it been acceptable to tie down with nail guns? What has happened , besides a freak storm through The Gap (which there was other multiple, more crucial failures), to make the QBCC want to enforce this rule on short notice? The information I have read into about the reasons of this crack-down is mostly on the part of some carpenters cutting corners and not understanding how it should be done with a machine driven nail (clustering nails, shooting to close to exiting holes or the edge). Also due to some certifiers are not being vigilant enough towards these carpenters telling them it is installed incorrectly. Why does the whole industry in Queensland have to change due to a few? Most certifiers I see come on to site on residential builds for an inspection are barely there for 15 minutes, especially when the industry is busy. How do they have enough time to inspect all components of the build properly in this time? Some certifiers though will spend 45mins to 1.5hrs on a job, looking at each component thoroughly, writing a detailed list for rectification, even on a tidy, well-built frame. I used to consider this as an over-kill or a reason for them to justify their job. But now realise, they are one of a few who do their job correctly and thoroughly. Maybe part of the blame should be aimed at these certifiers. My research shows Pryda has a definition to how to apply machine driven nails to their current products. I’ve been told by several certifiers though, that even if this designed and tested method for Pryda products is used, they will still request a remedy to rectify. Does this design from Pryda not fall under the Deemed to Satisfy provisions (for an Alternate Solution) of the NCC? With other manufacturers of tie down, Mi-Tek has a performance statement stating pro and cons of machine driven nails compared to hand driven nails (Fact sheet 182). Multi-nail really doesn’t have any definition regard use of machine driven nails. If this is not practicable for them to supply or produce such guides due to engineering, maybe there needs to be a design change or addition of suitable products. From what I found, there is only one product that allows machine driven nails and the is the Blockfast by Mi-Tek. It is designed in a way that it is a solid strap that has circles scribed into it describing a proximity of where you can punch a machine driven nail. I believe something like this is the way. The next concern from this is having carpenters hand nail all there tie down at the current low sub-contract rates, mostly with project builders. The sub-contract values for most of these builders is cut-throat as it is and barely any of them make a move with inflation of material costs, living costs, insurances and employee/apprentice costs over the past 8 plus years. I know this for a fact as I still do marginal subcontracting work for some project builders. As a private, small time builder, find it difficult at times to be anywhere near competitive with these builders though, I do not offer to the market they are after. I don’t believe many if any will pay the extra costs for time required to do the hand nail tie down required. A couple of problems arise from this. Firstly, I believe if there is a current skill shortage with carpentry, it is only going to get worst. What sub-contractor would pay their employees more than what they would pay for themselves? For example, apprentices from most training organisations are around $36 Plus GST ( for a 3rd year which is not affordable at the current subcontractor rates). I hear constant and multiple stories of sub-contractors in the project building sector (which to my understanding makes up a vast majority of the industry starts) , sub-contracting to other carpenters for as low as $22/hr plus Super. Average is around $26-27/hr plus Super. Why hire or put on an apprentice when you can get qualified carpenters cheaper? I know the ATO and Fair Work Australia is trying to kerb this kind of scenario with the classification of who is a worker and who is a subcontractor more defined, but the reality is that most principal sub-contractors cannot afford to put these guys on correct full time wages and pay their holidays and other allowances. This can then create the issue of tradesmen leaving the industry, apprentices only getting experience for 1 to 2 yrs (when they are affordable) and more ‘cowboys’ coming in. Another (unlikely) scenario that may happen, is that the builders will pay the extra labour required for the tie down to be done by hand. If the project builders do commit to this, considering they may have 50-100 or more contracts signed and on the books, will cost them a small fortune. Someone is going to suffer financially from this decision from QBCC and I believe it is a high chance that it would put some people (mainly subcontractor carpenters) out of business if not financially compensated from the start of these changes. I estimate It would add anywhere between $1200 to $4000 and more extra per job, depending on the type, size and wind rating of the job. I can tell you that I would not recommend anyone of my children, their friends or anyone I like to become a carpenter. They are the only trade that constantly getting screwed over. They have to carry the most tools, have the most knowledge, liase with the most trades, asked the most for favours, take a higher risk than most and get paid almost the least. I’m not saying any trade is more important than the other as they are all required. But whenever there is change to health and safety or structural rules like this, no one compensates the carpenter financially for the extra time the changes incurred. A lot of carpenters (mainly in the project builder sector) are making less and working more to try and make the same kind of money they made 8-10 years ago. With the project sector, there is no fair competition of trade. Carpenters are not given the chance tender on jobs. Not given the chance to compete on prices. Not given the chance to quote a job where they can make a profit. They are given a price and basically told if you don’t like it, we will get the next guy to do it. I believe something has to be done about this. If the projects builders are going to continue regulating the prices they pay certain contractors, someone should be regulating them to ensure everyone is getting a fair price and inflation is adjusted accordingly. Why do you have to apart a Union to get a fair deal? It's time for all carpenters to stand up and demand they get paid accordingly, especially in the project building sector. I hope the industry can rise above and come out with a reasonable solution regarding these changes and issues and please correct me if any of my statements are incorrect. Josh O’Sullivan

It's long overdue, there are hundreds of homes out here that would not stand a stronger then usual breeze, due to poor workmanship at frame stage. Tie downs are a crucial part of the building as we all know and should be taken serious by all involved. If that means that the carpenters need to get a few more $$$$ let it be it, but ignoring what can be such a catastrophe is not a good solution.

I agree with all of what Josh has said. We cant have changes like this made without recognition of some kind of payment to the only person this will effect (the carpenter). I also agree that because of the rate issue there is a lot of cowboys out there who feel they need to cut the corners to make a living. This is the actual problem that starts this result in workmanship. None of these guys have time or money to put into teaching apprentices correctly, I also believe a lot of these blokes were never taught correctly themselves because of rate problems their employers had during their apprenticeship. I cant see this improving at any stage soon. It seems to me that we have this big rush on at the moment for everyone to get their license and go out and have a go but then we are drawn back to simple issues like this. I believe that if these issues were policed properly bye inspectors then carpenters would realize they would have to get a better rate to perform the work correctly. It is definitely time for carpenters to stand up, as Josh pointed out no trade is better than the other however the carpenter has a lot more tools, responsibility and is constantly having to work in with all other trades. I don't blame these guys for working for a terrible rate because I am sure they have families to feed, I just feel that project builders have exploited carpenters down to the rate we are at now. The pictures show bad workmanship that needs rectifying. This said there is a lot more rectifying required when it comes to rates and what is expected from carpenters for the amount that is considered an acceptable rate. Ian Matthews

Hi Ian, thanks for your comment. I will pass on your feedback, and if you'd like to discuss in more detail please give us a call. We can be contacted 24/7 on 139 333. Kind Regards, Kate

The pictures appear to show only poor workmanship, this is nothing to do with the use of gun nails & everything to do with workmanship in my opinion. It is the Principle Contractors job (via his Building Supervisor where applicable) to ensue all aspects of the building are carried out to the relevant AS, code, regulation & manufacturers recommendation etc AND the appropriate level of workmanship is maintained in the process. The Certifier is a back up to this process by the Principle Contractor which should ensure all codes, standards regulations etc are enforced but it is the Builders job to ensure workmanship is of the required level, where this sort of workmanship has been identified during a compliance inspection I believe the correct procedure would be to address the issue directly with the builder involved. To go down the track which QBCC seems to be heading will serve no other purpose than to take us back to the last century. There should be a set of guidelines written up for each of us to enforce which determine the maximum distance acceptable from the edge of the member being nailed, quite often the pre punched holes in triple grips, cyclone straps & multi grips do fall on or near the edge of the timber members. Since the introduction of gun nails on my projects this problem has disappeared. Leave the gun nails alone and concentrate on enforcing good workmanship, Garry Eccleston

Good morning Garry, thanks for contributing your thoughts on this blog topic. If you're interested to discuss this with our technical guys, please don't hesitate to give us a call anytime on 139 333. Alternatively send us through your number privately and we can get in touch. Hope you're having a great week! Thanks, Kate.