QBCC Connections - July 2014 Issue


In this issue


Exciting initiatives at QBCC

Hello everyone,

We’ve hit the ground running this new financial year, launching a range of new and exciting initiatives at QBCC. 

E-newsletters such as these are a great way to share news with yourself and industry. We believe however that you should have access to information as it happens and have the opportunity to provide feedback, ask questions and share the information with others. Social media is widely accepted as an ideal way to achieve this. I therefore encourage you to follow our social media pages which provide up-to-date information for industry contractors and subcontractors. So get involved and follow our pages on: 

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+

I mentioned in my last update that we were piloting an Early Dispute Resolution (EDR) service. This came into effect on 1 July and has seen very positive results so far. The EDR service is free of charge and can be initiated by either the contractor or the consumer. The intention of this service is to drive faster, more economical and hopefully less frustrating outcomes for all parties.

If you have visited our new website or been to one of our offices recently, you will have noticed that the public face of QBCC has had a makeover. This update is to reflect our customer service focus and new corporate values. There are also QBCC branded vehicles driving about the State so QBCC Building Inspectors can be more easily identified.

We understand that a lot of work takes place after standard business hours. As a result, one of our key initiatives this month has been the commencement of 24/7 customer service. You can now call a QBCC representative anytime, day or night on 139 333.

These are just some of the new initiatives as part of the reform. As other activities unfold our team will promptly update you via social media. Alternatively, I will update you in the next the QBCC Connections newsletter.

I look forward to sharing more industry news with you then.

Steve Griffin
Commissioner, QBCC

Consultation for Queensland's building legislation

Your chance to have a say on the review of the Building Act 1975 and building certification closes at 5pm, today, Friday 25 July.

The review aims to further cut costs and reduce delays within the building and construction industry, as well as deliver greater accountability to consumers and help protect against conflicts of interest. More information about the review and how to provide feedback is available on the Housing and Public Works website or via their Get Involved website online survey.

For those of you who have submitted feedback and/or attended information sessions—thank you for your comments on the discussion paper. If you have any questions, please contact Building Codes Queensland on buildingcodes@qld.gov.au

A win for consumer confidence

QBCC’s recent successes in the Queensland Supreme Court ensure contractors are held accountable for defective and uncompleted work; and is a win for consumer confidence in the Queensland building industry.

In June this year, former director of failed building company Cavalier Homes (Brisbane) Pty Ltd, Christopher Robin O’Dare was ordered to pay to the Commission $1,307,517.51 plus costs in respect to 40 homeowners left stranded by the company following its collapse.

This most recent decision against Mr O’Dare reinforces the Commission’s commitment to consumer protection and industry confidence.

Also in June, the Commission took action against Raymond Houltram Ward, a former director of Stanglade Constructions Pty Ltd.  

Mr Ward and the company were ordered to pay $1,338,388 to the Commission for defective construction at a unit complex in Morningside.

These recoveries reflect the amounts paid out to consumers under the QBCC’s home warranty scheme for the rectification of defective building work and non-completion of building work.

These recovery actions ensure that contractors not doing the right thing are held accountable, and that premium increases for the scheme reflect inflationary pressures, rather than unrecovered claims.


Deck Construction – Part 3

This is the final part of the 3 part series covering deck construction issues. Previous articles have highlighted matters including inadequate falls, shoddy connections, deck design considerations, appropriate material selection and specification, sizing members and connections and bracing.

In this final part we will consider balustrades and handrails, finishing and maintenance and waterproofing.

Balustrades and handrails


Handrail and balustrade failures occur far more frequently than total catastrophic deck collapses and where they occur they can result in equally significant injuries or death.

The National Construction Code  – Building Code of Australia (BCA) gives quite detailed specific requirements for the design and installation of handrail and balustrade systems including geometrical requirements such as minimum heights, spacing between members and climb-ability.

It also specifies the minimum loading requirements for balustrade systems that need to be considered in design via call up of AS 1170.1 – Structural design actions. This standard specifies the actions (loads) that all parts (posts, rails, infill and connections) of a balustrade system must meet and these loads may apply inward, outward or downward.

For example, in a typical domestic situation, the inward, outward and downward load a handrail and its connections must resist is a factored load of 1.13kN/m or in other words, about 113kg force per metre run along the handrail. Infill, including balusters, is required to resist approximately 75 kg force in any direction.


As was the case for decking and deck framing, the BCA also requires handrails and balustrade systems that are exposed to the weather to be Above Ground Durability Class 1.

Readily available hardwood timbers that satisfy this include spotted gum, ironbarks, blackbutt and kwila/merbau with any sapwood present treated to a min of H3. Plantation softwoods including laminated and finger jointed (pre-primed or bare) are required to be preservative treated to a minimum of H3 in accordance with AS 1604.

[Note: Under a Queensland variation to the BCA, all timber used in buildings must comply with “Construction Timbers in Queensland”, available to download free from the  Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry website.

For weather exposed applications, all metal connections including nails, screws, bolts and brackets should be a minimum of hot dipped galvanised (or for screws, Class 3 corrosion resistance as per AS 3566). For coastal environments subjected to airborne salt deposition, stainless steel or equivalent corrosion resistant metal connections should be used.

Members and connections

Members in a balustrade system must be designed and sized to meet the structural requirements noted above. This needs to take into consideration:

  • timber grade (‘F’ rating)
  • member spans
  • available sizes/profiles etc.

Similarly, all connections including top and bottom rails as well as baluster connections also require design and detailing to satisfy the imposed loads.

For common combinations of timber materials and balustrade designs, simplified span tables have been developed as well as minimum baluster sizes.

Similarly, for commonly used connection, connection capacities have been developed which can then be matched to loads etc. for different handrail spans to ensure adequate structural capacity.


The satisfactory long term durability (and therefore structural performance) of decks and balustrade systems will be not only dictated by the quality and durability of the base materials but also by the initial finishes applied and the level and quality of maintenance performed over the life of the structure.

Various finish options are available and the choice of what types/systems are used will be largely dictated by the desired ‘look’ of the final installation. Irrespective of whether it is a ‘clear’, stain or opaque paint system, the manufacturer’s directions should be strictly followed.

Some general rules that should be followed include:

  • provision of temporary protection to the timber using water repellent preservatives (the compatibility of WRP with other coatings should however be checked)
  • cut ends of H3 treated pine should be treated with a site-applied supplementary preservative
  • all surfaces, ends and joints should be primed prior to assembly with a quality, solvent-based alkyd primer or stain
  • pale coloured finishing coats are preferred (not dark colours)
  • clear polyurethane finishes can breakdown under UV exposure and are not generally recommended for full weather exposed external use.


At the time of completion of the job, builders should clearly advise homeowners of their on-going maintenance responsibilities.

Frequent wetting of decks should be avoided (sweep or clean, don’t hose). Adequate ventilation should be provided to allow rapid drying after rain or watering. Pot plants should be on trays and prevented from overflowing. Shrubs which permanently shade the deck and creepers on rails etc. should be avoided.

Re-application of finishes will be required at regular intervals, depending on finish type and degree of exposure. Before recoating all decks and balustrade systems should be thoroughly cleaned and debris removed from between boards. For some finishes, decks may also require sanding. Recoating shall be carried out in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.

All connections and joints should also be regularly inspected for corrosion and looseness and fasteners replaced where required.

Waterproofing of decks 

Waterproofing decks is problematic at the best of times, even where best practice is followed.

For this reason, it is strongly recommended that

  • All materials used below the waterproofing membrane are of high durability, that is, the same durability as is required for non-waterproof decks exposed to weather. This also applies to structural sheet products that support the waterproofing membrane. 
  • The waterproofing system only be installed and certified by a licensed water-proofing contractor 
  • All materials used to effect the water-proofing are permanent and durable (i.e. typical building mastics and sealants have limited life expectancy and should not be used to seal around penetrations through the waterproof membrane)
  • If the deck is sealed on the underside, inspection points it be installed to enable a regular check of the integrity of the hidden support structure

More detailed information and resources on decks and other topics, visit our website.

Research survey on prefabricated housing

Housing companies and builders are invited to contribute to a survey study on prefabricated housing. All participants are eligible to go into a draw to win an Apple iPad (16GB, Wifi + 4G).

The survey is being run by researchers from the Queensland University of Technology’s School of Civil Engineering and the Built Environment, in conjunction with partners in the Queensland Department of Housing and Public Works, and the Western Australian Building Commission.

The survey can be accessed here: http://survey.qut.edu.au/f/180788/37ba/ and will take approximately 10 minutes to complete.

Prefab covers a range of building methods from the use of pre-finished structural panels, to building modules or whole houses in a factory setting.

We want your opinions on the use of prefab in housing and how increasing its use would impact on your business. You do not need to be currently using prefab building methods to take part.

For more information please feel free to contact the project manager, Dale Steinhardt, on  (07) 3138 9988 or at d.steinhardt@qut.edu.au

Awning alert

There have been at least three incidents in South East Queensland since 2006 where awnings have collapsed due to anchorage points or structural supports systems failing. Because of this Workplace Health and Safety have produced a Safety Alert  which provides a summary of contributing factors and highlights the need for accountability during the design, construction and ongoing maintenance of these structures.