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It sounds like a very dry topic, but in the induction of our new staff we ask, two questions:

  1. Do you have insurance?
  2. Have you read your PDS?

These questions for us are driven out of the Insurance Council of Australia February 2017 Consumer Research on General Insurance Product Disclosures Research findings report.

The report provided five findings:

  • Finding 1: There is no single pathway to purchase and the use of information in decision-making is highly varied
  • Finding 2: While most consumers report they have evaluated the details of their policy, most do not access the PDS
  • Finding 3: While most consumers are confident in their understanding, comprehension appears to be poor
  • Finding 4: Many consumers do not consider the specific risks for which they need to purchase cover as a criterion for decision-making
  • Finding 5: The accessibility of the PDS can be improved, although there are other opportunities for stronger consumer engagement

Anecdotally we concur with Finding 3, where most staff confidently confirm they have insurance and understand it, yet under some very basic questioning it is evident that their detailed understanding and comprehension of their PDS is not at the level they expected.

Our own experience reflects the key observations in the report regarding Finding 3 where:

  • Consumer comprehension of generic policy exclusions and limits is poor.
  • There is significant consumer misunderstanding about the type of home policies purchased.
  • Prior claims experience increases the likelihood of better comprehension.

This realisation is important for our staff because often until you have had an insurance claim, insurance is something you have, not necessarily something you understand.

While we do not go to the extent of asking the qualitative questions such as that below, these are examples of the types of issues we cover in the role specific training for staff to ensure they understand the broader implications of the PDS, including the limits and exclusions unique to each insurer, brand and policy.

Further, if we understand that 80% of customers do not read their PDS before purchasing a policy, our customer care and the customer centric repair journey is as much about education and expectation management as it is about repairing our customer’s homes.

Finally, the research showed that price factored heavily in the selection of a policy, over the specific risks covered.

While the research in-of-itself is interesting, it is how research such as this translates into our daily business that is of most importance to our clients, their customers and ourselves as a building partner.

For more information on the report please see: The ICA Effective Disclosure Research Report 

Our Shared Operational Language

A disruptor is defined as:

company that changes the traditional way an industry operates, especially in a new and effective way.

InsureTech refers to the use of technology innovations designed to squeeze out savings and efficiency from the current insurance industry model. InsureTech is a portmanteau of “insurance” and “technology” that was inspired by the term Fintech.

Technology is defined as, “methods, systems, and devices which are the result of scientific knowledge being used for practical purposes.”

The Question

Are we disrupting the insurance building repair industry using technology in new and effective ways to squeeze savings and efficiencies or are we just relying on what we have always done?

Further begging the question, whose role is it to be the disruptor; the insurer or the builder?

Who’s doing what?

With billions of dollars being invested in Insurtech start-ups globally, the technology behind the insurance industry is changing dramatically.

While insurers are spending vast sums of monies to meet, manage and change customer expectations; accelerate claims; manage risks; and automate the handling of policies; insurers are not the only ones investing in technology to change the way insurance claims are fulfilled.

More and more the builder is becoming a larger and more influential technology partner in the repair space.

More agile than a large insurer, a committed and tech savvy builder is able to make changes and meet the market faster, thereby providing the all critical customer centric experience, without lengthy delays and exorbitant integration with legacy systems.  For the customer this tailored experience is what they never knew they needed, and for the insurers it is something they find almost impossible to deliver, otherwise requiring them to reach down deep into the builder’s business to direct day to day contact and messaging.

Just like the way Uber changed the travel habits of people all around the world, the new insurance builder is changing the way insurers engage with their customers, through practically driven and functional InsurTech from those who live and breathe the industry.

NOTE: It is critical to note that the use of technology in the field, and getting an app into the hands of the customer is not about reducing the time with the customer or the contact we have with them. Rather it is about communicating with them on their terms.  If they want to review their repair schedule at 11pm while lying in bed, then that is their choice, similarly those who want a more personal approach are still able to opt to have a Building Supervisor attend their home and walk through the scope with them and what will be done when, by whom.

Disruptive Trends

There are many approaches and ways to disrupt an industry.  Below are some of the current trends in 2018 that are changing the way we complete insurance repairs and how the customer experiences this and the people in their homes:

  • Artificial Intelligence is one of the latest buzz words, and coupled with machine learning, the race is on to automate processes, collect and organise data, reduce manual administrative tasks, and reallocate human resources to better analyse and use the data at hand. With vast amounts of data now able to be collected quickly, the key to capturing the data is in the understanding and ultimately the wisdom gained, in turn unlocking the potential of the builder’s workforce. Rather than using technology to save on employee costs, technology is allowing builders to do more with the highly trained staff they already have, and ensure that the insurers, their staff and their customers receive a better and more quality service.
  • The personalisation of services better focused on the customer’s needs without increasing cost is critical. This personalisation drives the sense of comfort, comfortable with the experts running their repairs, comfortable with the ever-present focus on safety for all onsite (especially those that are cohabited) and comfortable that the finished product is one as good or better than what was there before the event.  How this personalisation occurs is dictated by the customer, largely nominating their own path for contact and information sharing.
  • The sharing of data quickly however is the key to a transparent and positive experience for all.  B2B and an ability to see updates live is the new normal.  As trusted partners, the sharing of claim data within an appropriate security envelope drives the new wave of products and services aimed at helping customers to feel more engaged with their repair.
  • Gone are the days of many single purpose visits.  If multiple people need to attend at different times, then this inconveniences the customer and requires them to take time off work or provide access to their home.  Developing maintainable strategies, around scoping, access, and resilience provides a circular experience with a long term and multi-focused approached, rather than a singular, linear and lengthy one.  The use of technology to facilitate virtual or physical collaboration onsite by many people at the one time, ensures decisions are arrived at faster, with all of the information and perspectives considered with minimal disruption to the customer.
  • Convergence or the blending of lines between what was previously different functions, such as client management, scoping, policy determination, etc opens up massive opportunities to evolve the claim life cycle and customer journey. Just as car manufacturers are investing in ride sharing apps as they look to reinvent themselves as mobility solutions, builders working with InsurTech to evolve alongside insurer and consumer needs, will unleash massive savings in time and overheads across all aspects of the insurance claim process.
  • While insurance repairs may not yet be at the stage of implementing simulation models like digital twins or developing fully augmented mixed reality, we can’t say they will not be an active part of our disruptive technologies in the coming years.
  • As renewable products and sustainable development strategies take hold, the building products of the near future may not always be the brick of mortar of the past.  Therefore, repairs will need to innovate to keep up with the customer demand for environmental awareness and enhance our detection of non-conforming and/or faulty building products such as lightweight but flammable wall cladding.
  • Finally, cross section innovation, convergence and collaboration in an open source environment are providing exciting opportunities where previously none was thought to exist. The emergence of smart data discovery capabilities, machine learning, and the automation of the entire analytics workflow is enabling organisations to handle vast amounts of information never thought possible. By looking outside of ourselves, gaining insights and inspiration from other industries, insurance repairs stand to keep pace with the most innovative and disruptive, but only if we as an industry drive and support it.

Conclusion

The killer of disruption is apathy. If we do the same thing we have always done, we will get what we have always got. And as Einstein said, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity!

The antonym for a disruptor then must be

a company that maintains the traditional way an industry operates, especially in old and ineffective ways.

I guess the choice is yours!  We know which direction we are heading in.

 

TC Debbie is the 2nd most expensive cyclone in Australia’s history only second to Darwin’s Cyclone Tracey in 1974.

North Queensland has a history of devastating natural disasters including cyclones and floods.

Some of the more significant events affecting the region include:

2006 – Tropical Cyclone Larry

2008 – the Mackay floods

2011 – Tropical Cyclone Yasi

2013 – the floods of Tropical Cyclone Oswald

2014 – Tropical Cyclone Ita

2015 – Cyclone Marcia

Cyclone Debbie – By The Numbers

As we are now past the twelve month anniversary of TC Debbie the Insurance Council of Australia have updated their statistics as to the cost and analysis of the cyclone.  Details are correct as at 14 March 2018.
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Sometimes when we refer to codes and standards it can be a little confusing for the lay person to understand the hierarchy of what’s involved.  Below we have broken out the hierarchy and relationship between the codes and standards to provide some insight into the regulatory framework in Queensland.

Building Act 1975

The Building Act 1975 is Queensland’s building legislation and is the Act to regulate building development approvals, building work, building classification, building certifiers and pool safety inspectors, and to provide for particular matters about swimming pool safety and sustainable buildings, and for other purposes.

National Construction Code (NCC) Building Code of Australia and Australian Standards

All building work must comply with the requirements of the National Construction Code (NCC) Series, which includes the Building Code
of Australia (BCA) (Volumes 1 and 2) and the Plumbing Code of Australia (Volume 3).

The National Construction Code (NCC) is a series published by the Australian Building Codes Board.

The NCC incorporates all on-site building and plumbing requirements into a single code, setting out the minimum requirements for the design, construction and performance of buildings throughout Australia.

The NCC provides the minimum necessary requirements for safety, health, amenity and sustainability in the design and construction of new buildings (and new building work in existing buildings) throughout Australia.

Volume One primarily applies to Class 2 to 9 buildings which are commercial, industrial and multi-residential buildings.

Volume Two primarily applies to Class 1 and 10 buildings which are houses, sheds and carports.

Volume Three applies to plumbing and drainage for all classes of buildings.

The Building Code of Australia (BCA) and the Plumbing Code of Australia (PCA) are given legal status in Queensland by reference in the Building Act 1975 and the Plumbing and Drainage Regulation.

Changes and amendments happen every three years, with the next round in 2019.

Queensland Development Code

In Queensland we also refer to the Queensland Development Code, which contains Queensland variations to the NCC.

Australian Standards

Standards are voluntary documents that set out specifications, procedures and guidelines that aim to ensure products, services, and systems are safe, consistent, and reliable.  Generally speaking Australian Standards (AS) relate to exact things, mathematical equations, like the thickness of glass, the slip resistance of tiles, etc.  Standards generally contain equations and standards that items have to meet. Mostly, they are used by manufacturers, and most people would only deal with a few Australian Standards relevant to their industry.

To ensure standards keep pace with new technologies, they are regularly reviewed by Standards Australia technical committees.

There are three categories of standards:

  1. International Standards
    • These are developed by ISO, IEC, and ITU for countries to adopt for national use. Standards Australia embraces the development and adoption of international standards.
  2. Regional Standards
    • These are prepared by a specific region, such as the joint Australian/New Zealand standards or the European Union’s EN standards.
  3. National Standards
    • These are developed either by a national standards body (like Standards Australia) or other accredited bodies. Any standards developed under the Australian Standard® name have been created in Australia or are adoptions of international or other standards.

On their own, standards are voluntary. There is no requirement for the public to comply with standards. However, State and Commonwealth governments often refer to Australian Standards® (AS) or joint Australian/New Zealand Standards (AS/NZS) in their legislation.

When this happens, these standards can become mandatory. In addition, Australian Standards® are sometimes incorporated into legal documents, and considered as a ‘benchmark of acceptability’.

Local Government Requirements

By the authority of state legislation, local governments in all jurisdictions are required to prepare a range of statutory planning documents that are legally binding. At the local level, these include planning schemes, by-laws, codes and regulations within which the operational rules and criteria for development are set out. There is considerable variation in the format and content of these instruments within and between jurisdictions and the level of authority and autonomy given to local government to regulate. Regulations exist to control and manage the use and development of private land and are an integral part of the development process.

The Australian Local Government Association states that local government does not set building regulations, it administers them in accordance with the Building Code and planning and building by-laws.

Where applications do not conform with the building regulations they are generally rejected in the first instance.

Codes of Practice

A code of practice provides practical guidance for people who have work health and safety duties. These codes give guidance on:

  • how to achieve the standards required under the Act
  • effective ways to identify and manage risks.

A code of practice applies to anyone who has a duty of care in the circumstances described in the code.

In most cases, following an approved code of practice would achieve compliance with the the Act, in relation to the subject matter of the code.

Like regulations, codes of practice deal with particular issues and do not cover all hazards or risks which may arise.

Example of the Codes of Practice in Queensland are:

  • How to safely remove asbestos Code of Practice 2011
  • Scaffolding Code of Practice 2009

For a full list refer to Codes of Practice on the Worksafe website.

QBCC Standards and Tolerances

The Standards & Tolerances Guide has been compiled in response to community and industry concerns that identified a need to collate general building standards and tolerances into one, easy to read document. The tolerances and standards identified in this publication have not been created by the authors but have been sourced and collated from existing legislative provisions, the National Construction Code, Australian Standards, manufacturers installation requirements and other recognised industry standards in Queensland (e.g. Timber Queensland Technical Data Sheets).

The standards and tolerances identified in the Guide are only applicable to “building work” as defined in the Queensland Building and Construction Commission Act 1991 (QBCC Act) and Queensland Building and Construction Commission Regulation 2003. Accordingly, tolerances and standards have not been included for constructions such as earthworks, electrical work, carpet, vinyl or floating floors that are excluded from the definition of “building work” provided in the above mentioned legislation.

The standards and tolerances documented in the Guide are intended to be consistent with and complement other relevant Acts, regulations, BCA requirements, Australian Standards and manufacturer’s installation requirements. Where there is any difference or contradiction between the Guide and an Act, regulation, the BCA, Australian Standards, manufacturer’s installation requirements; all of these take precedence over the Guide.

Manufacturer’s Guidelines

Manufacturer’s guidelines and installation instructions are provided by the manufacturer to ensure the product being used/installed is done so in a manner that ensures it will live up to warrantable life.

Respirable crystalline silica (RCS) dust exposure is at the centre of a campaign commencing soon by WHSQ Inspectors because of the harm it can cause Queenslanders.

What is RCS

Silica is silicon dioxide, a naturally occurring widely abundant mineral that forms the major component of most rocks, soils, sand and clay, and is in products such as bricks and concrete.

There are non-crystalline and crystalline forms of silicon dioxide. Crystalline silica is also known as free silica.

Quartz is the most common form of cystalline silica and is found in concrete products, fibre-cement sheeting, bricks, blocks, tiles and pavers, along with begged materials such as cement, tile adhesive and mortar.

Crystalline silica dust particles which are small enough to penetrate deep into the lung are termed respirable.

Work processes such as cutting, sanding, carving, grinding, blasting or polishing materials containing silica can generate respirable crystalline silica (RCS) dust.

RCS dust particles are so small they cannot be seen under ordinary lighting and the primary route of entry into the body is through inhalation.

Being so small the RCS dust particles can hang in the air for extended periods and they can be inhaled deep into the lungs causing silicosis.

Silicosis

Silicosis is a serious and irreversible lung disease that causes permanent disablement and early death, and it is made worse by smoking.  It usually follows exposure to RCS over many years, but extremely high exposures across the short-term can cause it to develop rapidly.  Exposure to RCS has been linked to lung cancer and may also contribute to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Legilsation

Crystalline silica has been the subject of regulation in Queensland’s workplaces since 1995.

Details of general requirements can be found in the WHS Regulation, Chapters 3 and 7.1 dealing with hazardous chemicals.

Workplaces supplied with products comprising silica (such as sand) and all workplaces where silica containing dust is generated in a process are subject to the WHS Regulation.

Compliance/Regulation

The WHSQ campaign will focus on the risks associated with RCS and will initially target tier 1 and tier 2 builder’s workplaces.

Inspectors will especially consider the following contraventions of the Work Health Safety Regulation 2011:

  • Suitable engineering controls must be used to manage risks from RCS (e.g. water suppression or dust extraction are not used when they could be) WHSR s 351(1)
  • Dust extraction plant, if used, must be fit for purpose (e.g. h-class vacuums and/or dust extraction units) WHSR s351(1)
  • RPE must be supplied to workers performing tasks where they are exposed to RCS (in the absence of air monitoring evidencing that personal exposures do not exceed the exposure standard) – WHSR s351(1)
  • RPE (where supplied) must be:
    • Worn by workers – WHSR s44(2)
    • Suitable for the work and hazards ( at least P1 filtration) – WHSR s44(2)
    • A suitable fit (for example, tight-fitting respirators worn over beards) – WHSR s44(2)
    • Fit-tested for each worker – WHSR 44(2)
  • A safe work method statement for RCS work must be prepared in certain circumstances (construction work in an area that may have an atmosphere contaminated with RCS)  – WHSR s299(1)
  • Work must be done in compliance with safe work method statement – WHSR s300(2).

Implications for Insurance Repairs 

Typical insurance repairs can involve RCS-generating processes including the:

  • use of power tools (including scabblers, grinders, concrete floor polishers, saws, drills and rotary hammers) used on silica-containing materials
  • mixing of concrete, adhesive or mortar using dry-bagged products
  • cleaning of sites involving dry sweeping, compressed air or blowers on dusts likely to contain silica.

Hierarchy of Controls

As provided for by the Guideline for Management of Respirable Crystalline Silica in Queensland Mineral Mines and Quarries Mining and Quarrying Safety and Health Act 1999  the Building Supervisor shall ensure that personal protective equipment (PPE) is used as a short-term control until higher order controls are developed and implemented.

The selection, use and maintenance of respiratory protective equipment must conform to AS/NZS 17154.

Conclusion

Just as we have become aware of the hazards associated with asbestos and mould, we too must ensure that our trades and customers are adequately protected from RCS dust.

 

Sources:

Worksafe Queensland – Silica – Identifying and managing crystalline silica dust exposure

Worksafe Queensland – Construction dust: Respirable Crysalline Silica

Master Builders – WHSQ campaign to focus on silicia dust

Safe Work Australia – Crystalline Silica

New research from Roy Morgan finds 8-in-10 people who’ve made a claim on their household insurance last year are satisfied with how their claim was handled.

While satisfaction for household claims is below the 86.6% satisfaction rating for vehicle insurance claimants, it must be understood that an insurance claim at your home is a far greater disruption than having a car repaired and depending on the type of claim and structure involved can be far more complex.

This latest research from Roy Morgan, collected for the first time over the last year, establishes a critical metric for this highly competitive industry.

Among the eight largest household insurance companies (based on claim numbers), Suncorp had the highest rating with 85.5%.

Other companies with above average ratings were RACV with 84.9%, CGU (84.0%) and APIA (82.6%).

The largest insurer, NRMA was close to average with 79.8%, while Allianz (68.0%) and GIO (67.2%) were below.

These new findings are from Roy Morgan’s Single Source survey of over 50,000 consumers per annum, including around 5,500 who have made a general insurance claim.

Norman Morris, Industry Communications Director, Roy Morgan says: 

“How general insurance companies handle claims is a critical factor in establishing long term loyalty and trust, as it is the real touch point with members. This research shows that there are major differences in satisfaction levels between companies when it comes to household insurance claimants and that it would be invaluable to learn from the best performers.

Strong Customer Service comes from a strong culture and strong partners!

Ambrose Building, year on year, has delivered incredibly high and consistent customer service, achieving a customer satisfaction rating averaging 93% since 2012.

Ambrose Building

The below comments from 2018 customers reflect the current commitment from our team to ensure a seamless and positive customer repair experience.

“Excellent job. Tiles perfect. Attitude towards customers 100%. Plastering excellent. Painting excellent.  Thank-you so much to all involved. Very happy 😊 “ Maree M, Eimeo – 10/10 – Supervisor Tim Board

 

 “Very neat and tidy. Professional approach, professional job. Extremely well done” Trevor and Maree M, Bowen – 10/10 – Supervisor Steve Lucas

 

 “Hi folks, I would just like to say thank you to all your tradies who did repairs to our storm damaged roof and ceiling at Glenview.

All your guys did a great job. Good to see tradies who put the effort in to do a good job and fit in with clients needs.

Special thanks to Ryan Flynn amazing to see him appear at our door just as the storm was ending and getting a tarp on the roof.

If all your staff are like the guys who came to our house ,you,ve got a great team. Thanks again.”

Kev and Shellee D, Glenview – Supervisor Jason Brettell

We also understand that good customer service is critical to the overall success of the repair and whether the customer leaves the repair with a positive attitude toward their insurer or not.

Customer Service is a key part of our culture at Ambrose Building.

Principles of good customer service

Business Queensland confirms that the key to good customer service is building good relationships with your customers.  Promoting a positive, helpful and friendly environment will ensure they leave with a great impression.

To ensure we provide the best customer service we always strive to:

  • know what our customers consider to be good customer service
  • take the time to find out our customers’ expectations
  • follow up on both positive and negative feedback we receive
  • ensure that we consider customer service in all aspects of our business
  • continuously look for ways to improve the level of customer service we deliver.

Striving to get it right

To ensure household insurance customers receive the best experience possible, we will always strive to improve upon our customer service promise to our clients and their customers.

While we may not get it right 100% of the time, we commit to always fixing any defect, listening to every customer and aiming to do better than we did yesterday by continually listening, learning and acting.

Source:

  1. Roy Morgan, 2018, Suncorp, RACV and CGU tops for satisfying customers with household insurance claims (http://www.roymorgan.com/findings/7509-suncorp-racv-and-cgu-tops-for-satisfying-customers-with-household-insurance-claims-201802230529)
  2. Business Queensland, Principles of good customer service (https://www.business.qld.gov.au/running-business/consumer-laws/customer-service/improving/principles) 

Ambrose Building Customer Portal – Changing Repairs

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In January 2018 Ambrose Building launched our latest customer engagement tool – Repair Hub.

Repair Hub is a customer portal that is directly linked to our Repair Management System providing customers with live updates regarding their repairs.

With a view to providing customers with more ownership over their repair, Repair Hub allows customers to:

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As a single point of reference for their claim, customers are better able to interact with the repair process and have their questions answered when they want to ask them.

Uptake of Repair Hub has been very strong and feedback to date has been very positive.

To learn more about Repair Hub please contact Anthony McLean.

At times we get asked why we strip out to 1200mm (or the nearest horizontal joint) rather than lower down where the damage finishes.

Both the QBCC and the Association of Call and Ceiling Industries (AWCI) state that plasterboard should be taken to the nearest joint above the inundation level, being either 1200mm, 1350mm or full height.

With a Class 4 finish required in all standard domestic plaster works, removing it to the nearest horizontal joint allows the plasterer to manage this as a recessed joint, rather than a butt joint that would occur if cut lower down.

Level 4: The standard level of finish for plasterboard lining where normal decoration by painting is to be carried out. Unless otherwise specified, a level 4 finish shall be taken as the default standard level of finish for plasterboard (as defined in AS/NZS 2589 (2007).

Jointing is the process of covering and reinforcing the join between sheets to give a flush, seamless appearance. Paper tape is embedded into compound, then covered with two or more layers of compound spread wide to each side of the joint.

When joined at the manufactured sheet edge, there is a recess in the board allowing the join to be filled with less protrusion. When the board is cut and the edges of the sheet “butted” together this is to be treated as a butt joint.

When sheeting is installed next to a square or cut edge, such when a board is stripped out to an existing horizontal join, this requires the plasterer to treat this joint as a “butt” joint.

A butt joint is required to be set over a 500mm wide coat as per AS: 2589:2007. A standard recessed coat is only 250mm wide. See figure below:

To achieve a better finish Ambrose Building trades will often grind the plaster from the recess joint on the top (existing sheet) to provide a recess as this only requires a 250mm wide coat, effectively halving the setting labour required for a butt joint which requires 500mm final coat.

For further information refer to:

AWCI – PLASTERBOARD RECTIFICATION RESULTING FROM FLOOD INUNDATION, 2017

Long range forecaster Hayden Walker from Walker’s Weather is predicting a cyclone will begin developing late February and cross the coast between North and Central Queensland in early March.

The son of Lennox Walker, the world-famous Australian Long Range Weather Forecaster, and the fourth-generation of a remarkable lineage of Forecasters, Mr Walker recently said “I’m forecasting a tropical cyclone forming in the latter part of February in the Coral Sea and it should affect the coastline at the beginning of March,”.

“It should make its way south-west … I’m forecasting it will affect the northern districts of Queensland to the Central districts of Queensland.”

Mr Walker said it was difficult to predict the velocity and extent of the cyclone, but it could potentially wreak havoc across Queensland.

“I believe it will be substantial category wise, but we will have to wait and see,” he said.

Walker’s Weather

Walker’s Weather has been going since 1892 and they base their forecasting off sun spot activity.

The company normally predicts the weather 12 to 18 months in advance. Weather patterns and predictions are developed by monitoring solar flares, analysing historical data, and observing planetary relationships and orbital patterns.

With a proven accuracy rate of around 80%, Hayden Walker has been successful in predicting many major weather events – such as the Cyclones Larry, Yasi, Oswald, Marcia & Olwyn; flooding to the New South Wales coast during April 2015 and recent storm activity to Queensland and New South Wales.

What does the BOM say?

Forecaster Sean Fitzgerald of the Bureau of Meteorology said “March is a bit far out for our weather modelling,”.

“Weather models other than climate modelling don’t go beyond 10 days because of the way it works.

“At this stage it doesn’t look like there’s anything.”

Below is the Climate and Water Outlook issued by the BOM for March – May 2018.

 

Due to our specialisation in escape of liquids water claims we often get asked, what should I do if I have a leak at my home.  Below are our top 5 tips for managing a water leak:
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  1. Act fast. Isolating the water source is critical. Turning off water at the mains or at an isolation valve/tap can minimise the volume of water and therefore the extent of damage.
  2. Take photos.  If it is an active leak, taking photos and/or video can be invaluable in diagnosing the cause of the leak.  Please ensure you tell your insurer and/or the attending builder/plumber that you have these photos/videos.
  3. Speak to your plumber. If you have a plumber attend prior to the insurer’s builder, please ensure you tell them to do any exploratory work from the adjoining rooms, i.e. access the pipes via the walk-in-robe or hallway that may be on the other side, rather than through the tiles which will immediately compromise any waterproof membrane that is in place and require the replacement of the bathroom.
  4. Provide access.  Clean water is easy to deal with in that it needs to be extracted and the area dried. The longer water sits the worse it gets. Ensuring plumbers, restorers and builders can gain access quickly will ensure the damage will be minimised.
  5. Remove contents. If safe to do so, removing contents from the affected area will not only minimise damage to those items but also provide quick and easy access for restorers to start extracting the water.  It is a good idea to remove any valuable or precious items from the affected rooms, so they are not accidentally knocked or damaged in the water extraction and drying phase. Remember take a photo to show the condition of the room and the contents affected before you start removing them.

Below are our top 5 tips for preventing an escape of liquid claim from happening in your home.

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  1. Compare:  Whenever you receive your water bill, compare it to the previous one and if possible the corresponding bill from 12 months earlier.  Unless you have had any major works or changes in your plumbing or lifestyle, you would not expect to see any large fluctuations in the usage.  Remember: a common mistake is to look at the price and not the the usage.  Charges and fees are continually changing therefore you must look at usage to gain a proper comparison.
  2. Inspect: Every three months walk around your house and inspect any flexi hoses that have been installed.  Primarily you are looking for any twisting, stretching or corrosion on the outer sheath of the hose.  At the first sign of failure have the hose replaced with a good quality flexi-hose carrying a minimum of a 10 year warranty.
  3. Investigate:  If your water pressure drops or fluctuates, don’t wait; investigate.
  4. Test: If you suspect a leak, ensure all taps, hoses, washing machines, dishwashers and irrigation systems are turned off and go out and look at your water meter and take a reading.  If possible do not use water for an hour and then return and check the meter.  If your meter reading has moved, you have a leak somewhere in your home.  While it may be a leaking cistern in your toilet or a dripping tap, this simple test can alert you to something more sinister going on at your home.
  5. Isolate: If you are going away on holidays and do not need the water on at your home while you are away, turn the water off at the mains. Isolating water to the home will prevent large scale damage if a pipe was to burst while you are not there.  There are several devices on the market that can provide a smart solution to this problem and can isolate the water in your home while you are at work or even while you are asleep.  Remember though, while these devices will not prevent the leak from occurring if the pipework has become compromised, they will prevent large scale damage occurring while you are not home.

​For further information on why isolating water to your home is a good idea when you are away read our post:  “Why flexi hoses burst when you are not home”

What can you say when you walk into an Assessment and see this?  Mushrooms in the carpet!

Reasonably aware

When mushrooms start growing inside your home it is a little hard to argue you were not aware of the moisture problem.

The real risk

Mould and fungi will take root on almost any surface when there is moisture and a food source present.  Mushrooms are fungi that require oxygen, a food source, suitable temperature and a source of water to thrive.

While fungal spores that generate mushrooms are microscopic and light enough to be carried by the wind, on clothing or on shoes, for a mushroom to grow two of the single cell spores must combine.

Mushrooms generally require high humidity and low light to grow.  Therefore when mushrooms such as the ones shown above are located, the substrate needs to be carefully inspected for structural damage as it is an indicator of high levels of moisture being present over an extended period of time.

The real danger of mushrooms growing inside the house is they are a sign of a significant moisture problem that could support the more harmful growth of black mould.

Treating the risk

By simply having fresh air and sunlight in the home, humidity is reduced and the surface is able to dry naturally if there is a source of moisture present.

Without these elements fungi can thrive and while mushrooms in bathrooms and basements are more common because of these reasons, mushrooms growing out of carpet is a big red flag!

Simply treating the mushrooms with a fungicide in this situation is not enough to prevent future fungal problems.  Rather, like all moulds and fungi, the cause of the moisture must be identified, treated and the moisture removed,before the area is treated.

Causation

In this instance the source of the moisture was from several sources.  Missing grout in the shower cubicle, lack of sealant around the tap spindles to provide a waterproof seal, a leaking pipe in the wall and a failure in the laundry taps.  All of these elements combined to provide sufficient moisture to support the growth of the mushrooms inside the house.

This Christmas season the team at Ambrose Building pitched in to help those in our community that are less fortunate than ourselves.  Every team got involved in the buying, packing, wrapping and delivery of gift baskets.

This year we partnered with Life Church, Sunny Kids, Wish List at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital and the Salvation Army.

    

Life Church are a contemporary, people orientated church, committed to excellence, a heart of worship and a desire to serve our community.  The heartbeat of our church is in fact PEOPLE, both those who are already a part of Life Church and those around us in our community. So our commitment will always be to be there for people.

The Salvation Army has been in Australia for over 130 years and helps more than 1 million Australians every year – that’s one person every 30 seconds!  Our Christmas hampers this year have gone to the Nambour Corps and will help them care for those in need this Christmas.

Wishlist is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to fundraising for the needs of the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service. Established in 1998, Wishlist pledges more than $1 million each year to ground-breaking research projects, vital medical equipment, support projects and education funding. Wishlist is committed to improving local public health services for patients and their families. Wishlist’s operational costs are covered by enterprise, including the Nambour Hospital car park, so 100% of donations go directly to the cause. For more information, visit www.wishlist.org.au.

SunnyKids works to bring the whole community together as a village and in doing so, make sure every child is safe, has food and shelter, feels connected and has a strong sense of belonging so that they have the chance to reach their full potential.

The Lions Club Morayfield donated the little wooden cars to us to pass on to the kids in the hospital. We originally wanted to buy some bigger trucks they make but they had sold out and they make these for the Caboolture Hospital and wanted to donate the 12 they had left to us.  Thanks so much to the Lions Club and their giving spirit.

  Wish List Sunshine Coast   

The act of gift giving has been felt by all staff involved and below are some of their thoughts:

Claire

First off thank-you to Ambrose for allowing us to all participate in this charitable activity, it definitely warms the soul being able to help others!

It was such a privalege to be able to attend the hospital and not only see the great work that Wishlist do for sick kids but also to be able to contribute to putting a smile on the kids faces, their parents and the nurses. Everyone we met with was so appreciative of the generousity of Ambrose, it was a very heartwarming experience to be a part of.

Harmony

It was a really warming experience, and a friendly reminder that any stress I face daily is incomparable to the long term stresses these families are facing. When asked from Hans and Bianca “who did you get all of these donations from?” it was a proud moment to be able to respond and say that all of this was from us at Ambrose! We were invited to tour the paediatric ward, and we were shown the family retreat area where parents can stay overnight to be close to their kids in care, makes you appreciate the small things! Was an experience I will never forget!

Patrick

They took us for a little tour and showed us where parents can actually stay in the hospital when there children have a long stay ahead of them . These rooms where suppose to be offices but have been turned into lovely homely like spaces for parents to stay. They are doing great things at the hospital and it  was a real pleasure to know that they will bring a smile to a little dial.

“ When things seem tough and a little  rough, take the time to rewind and be a little  kind “

Narelle

”With such busy lives, we tend to forget there are others less fortunate than ourselves.  I’m proud I work for a company that support local charities and encourages their staff to actively contribute to the joy of giving at Christmas”

Thanks to the entire team at Ambrose for getting involved in the spirit of service this season and here’s to a happy and safe festive period for all!

The Wilson Family have received the most devastating news that their sweet daughter Kitty Rose Wilson, just 4 years of age has a cancerous tumour. Kitty attends Whitsunday Shire Family Day Care who are coordinating the fundraising efforts for Kitty and her family.

All funds raised will go to Kitty’s family to assist them with their financial commitments over the coming months so they can focus on their little girl.

Kitty Wilson Fundraiser

If you would like to help support the Wilson Family, donations can be made to:

WSFDC Kitty Wilson Fundraiser
BSB# 034207
ACCOUNT# 232840

Severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie was the strongest tropical cyclone in the Australian region since Cyclone Quang in 2015, and was branded the most dangerous cyclone to impact Queensland since Cyclone Yasi in 2011. Forming as a tropical low on 23 March, the low gradually intensified to a named tropical cyclone on 26 March. After steadily strengthening offshore to a Category 4 system, Debbie eventually made landfall near Airlie Beach at around 12:40 AEST on 28 March 2017.

The Whitsuday Village is arguably the heart of Airlie Beach, home to Magnums, McDonalds, BWS and many more retail outlets and as a result of TC Debbie sustained damage to their roof.

With the repair commencing on 7th November, Building Supervisor Mike Hessell and his trades needed to contend with six solid rain interruptions, Airlie Beach Music Festival, excited schoolies, stifling humidity and the general the hustle and bustle of everyday life in downtown Airlie Beach.

Below are some pictures of this 10/10 repair and comments below from management on the complexity of the repair.

Ambrose Building

Ambrose BuildingAmbrose BuildingAmbrose BuildingAmbrose BuildingAmbrose Building  Ambrose BuildingAmbrose BuildingAmbrose BuildingAmbrose Building

Good Morning all

I would like to personally extend my thanks to all that was involved with this project to make it run as seamlessly as it did from delivery suppliers to our internal employees keeping the site tidy.

A special thanks to the Roofing team it must be said that these boys gave it everything they physically had to pull this project in line with our projected schedule dates from the half a dozen rain delays we had.

The 10/10 sign off is a combined effort of everyone doing what was asked of them and I could not be any more pleased with the outcome.

Mike Hessell, Building Supervisor

 

Great job Mike!

Running the repair from the initial estimate through to the completion has been a huge effort!

Installing a 45 degree pitch roof is hard work at the best of times but in summer, humidity and rain this was a massive effort from the roofers. To keep them motivated and on schedule without pushing the boys too hard was awesome man management!

Really well done Mike!

Brock Johnson, Queensland Construction Manager

 

Myself and the Supervisors in the Airlie event centre have witnessed the massive effort Mike has put in to ensure this very high profile and  high risk project has been run seamlessly without incident from start to finish including getting up at 4.30am every morning to be onsite everyday then coming back to the office at 5pm and often working until 8pm.

Truly inspiring mate , well done !!

Fraser Culpan, QLD Catastrophe Event Manager

Queensland Workplace Health and Safety recently reported that in October 2017, a tree lopper was hit by a branch cut by another worker in an elevating working platform approximately 8-10 metres above him.  The worker was wearing a helmet and was struck in the head, fracturing his skull. He was admitted to hospital in a serious condition.

Initial inquiries indicate that exclusion zones were not maintained for workers performing activities below trees being cut.

Preventing Similar Incidents this Storm Season

Before starting tree lopping, cutting or pruning work, a thorough risk assessment of both the work site and the tree must be undertaken. Hazards usually include:

  • falls from height
  • being hit by falling objects
  • uneven or sloping ground (when using EWP’s)
  • overhead powerlines
  • weather
  • wildlife

Risks associated with falls from height and being hit by falling objects must be controlled by ensuring:

  • safe systems of work are in place that address site specific hazards
  • workers are provided with suitable equipment for the task
  • workers are given relevant information and instructions, and are trained and competent to perform the tasks.

Using an EWP for tree-lopping is an accepted practice. The EWP reduces worker fatigue, and provides a stable platform for work to be performed. While cutting trees or branches, exclusion zones must be established to ensure that workers or others below the EWP are not struck by falling branches. Consideration must also be given to plant stability on uneven or sloping ground and contact with overhead power lines.

PCBU’s should also ensure that:

  • workers adhere to established exclusion zones
  • no work is carried out above workers or others
  • workers have suitable means of communication – radio, hand signals etc.
  • workers are provided with appropriate protective equipment including helmets or hard hats
  • spotters or worksite controllers are used to manage movement of plant and personnel on site, and to ensure that exclusion zones are adhered to while overhead work is being performed.

Statistics

Since 2012, WH&S has responded to 51 events involving tree trimming or removal that resulted in either a fatality or serious injury requiring immediate hospital treatment. 38 enforcement notices were issued including 17 prohibition notices and 21 improvement notices. WH&S were notified of a further two incidents involving contact with overhead power lines, one of which resulted in a death.

Since 2011, a total of 88 workers’ compensation claims have been accepted for injuries associated with being hit by falling objects while performing tree cutting or removal. Reported injuries include head, face and eye injuries, lacerations, soft tissue damage, being crushed by falling branches, broken arms, hands, legs and feet, broken ribs and collar bones.

Prosecutions and compliance

In June 2017, a company was fined $80,000 following the death of a home occupier who engaged the defendant to cut down eight trees in his backyard. To save costs, the home occupier and other family members were assisting on the ground while the defendant cut the trees. The home occupier was killed when he was struck and crushed by a falling section of the tree trunk and branches.

More information

Managing Risks of Tree Trimming and Removal Work

Tree Trimming – Hazard Identification Checklist  (PDF, 153.84 KB)

Worksafe Queensland

What is Adhesion

The ANZ Standard 2310:2002 Glossary of paint and painting terms defines “Adhesion” as the sum total of the forces of attachment between a dry paint film and its substrate.

Therefore when paint loses its adhesion it can:

  • blister (deform the paint film arising from the detachment of one or more of the constituent coats/layers)
  • check (break the surface of the paint film but not visually show the underlying surface);
  • craze (forma minute criss-cross cracks on the surface of the paint film);
  • crack (form defined breaks in the paint film which exposes the substrate);
  • flake (the complete detachment of pieces of the paint film from the underlying surface or substrate)
  • peel (localised loss of adhesion between the paint film and substrate)

   

Image 1: Blistering Paint                                                 Image 2: Cracking paint

Why does paint lose adhesion?

When re-painting existing painted surfaces during repairs we sometimes come across wall and ceiling linings that have not been previously prepared correctly. When the new paint is applied this adheres to the original paint layer but not to the original substrate ie plasterboard etc.  If the substrate has not been prepared correctly it is unreasonable to expect the new paint surface will adhere successfully.

Fit for Purpose

As soon as the painting contractor paints over the existing paint layer he/she accepts that substrate as “fit for purpose”. This means if the paint is to fail in the future ie blister, craze, crack, flake or peel, it is the responsibility of the painting contractor due to the poor preparation of the substrate.

How to Test for Adhesion Loss

An adhesion test is a method of testing the substrate/paint quality.

The Resene website explains an adhesion test as follows:

Thoroughly clean the test area. Use a sharp razor blade or putty knife and cut a small ‘X’ shape on the surface in the area you wish to test. Carefully apply half of a clean 4cm strip of tape to the cut area. Ensure the tape is firmly adhered by pressing it down with your thumb nail. Hold the free ends of the tape at right angles to the test surface and yank it off with a sharp pulling movement away from the surface. Observe the removed tape for old paint and stain. If paint is easily pulled off, the adhesion of that coating must be considered suspect.

Peeling is an adhesion failure whereby the paint film peels away from the surface. There are two types of peeling:

  • Total film failure back to bare surface (all coats are peeling);
  • Intercoat failure (one or more coats separate from a lower coat).

Conclusion

It is the responsibility of the painting contractor to ensure that the substrate is fit for purpose by completing an adhesion test. This test should be documented and photos taken before and after the test and also of the tape used.

Source:

Resene Website – Peeling Paint 

November 20-24 is Asbestos Awareness Week.

In recognition of Asbestos Awareness Week we thought we would provide you with 10 random/unknown facts about asbestos.

  1. Asbestos comes from the Greek word meaning in-extinguishable.
  2. Asbestos is a natural product that can be mined from the ground.
    • Asbestos was mined as early as 5,000 BC in Finland, Sweden, Greece, and Cyprus.
    • By 1970 more than 4 million tons of asbestos were produced each year from mines across the world.
      • Chrysotile is the most common type of asbestos and is mined in Quebec.
      • Amosite is predominantly mined in South Africa.
      • Crocidolite is mined in South Africa, Bolivia and Australia
  3. Despite the known dangers, in 2009, 2 million tons of asbestos were mined worldwide. With Russia and China being the largest producers
  4. Asbestos has excellent heat resistant and heat/cold insulating qualities, which made it the material of choice for pipe and boiler insulation, corrugated roofs, floor tiles, brake linings, cement and wall tiles.
  5. In 1820 Italian scientist Giovanni Aldini crafted fireproof clothing from asbestos.
  6. Exposure to Asbestos can cause Lung Cancer, Mesothelioma, and Asbestosis. But what’s the difference?
    • Lung Cancer – Asbestos fibres build up in the lungs damaging healthy cells
    • Mesothelioma – The most common cancer associated with asbestos exposure
    • Asbestosis – An inflammatory condition that caused scarring in the lungs.  It causes shortness of breath, coughing and irreversible lung damage
  7. The first recorded case of asbestosis is documented in 1924.
  8. The following occupations have asbestos contamination as a common part of their job:
    • Auto mechanics (using a compressed air gun to clean brakes releases millions of asbestos fibres into the air)
    • Constructions workers (asbestos containing materials can be used on the walls, ceilings, roofs, insulation and even glue under vinyl)
    • Firefighters (once asbestos containing material is burned it becomes friable, meaning it can be crushed by hand and fibres can release into the air)
    • Miners (miners who extract asbestos are at risk as are those who live within close proximity to the mine)
  9. In the 1950’s a British tobacco company introduced a cigarette that used filters made out of asbestos
  10. Asbestos snow was used in the poppy scene in the Wizard of Oz.

 

Sources:

www.pannone.com

 

Hailstones are created when the updrafts in thunderstorms carry raindrops upwards into extremely cold areas of the atmosphere and they freeze. The hailstone can grow by colliding with super-cooled water droplets in the updraft that freeze upon contact with the hailstone. When the hail stone grows too heavy for the updraft to sustain its upward trajectory, it falls to the earth’s surface.

If you cut a hailstone in half you may see the concentric circles or hail rings that are formed, much like that of tree.  Therefore the larger the hailstone, the more ice layers or rings it will contain.

An Australian Building Code report from 2010 title “An Investigation of Possible Building Code of Australia (BCA) Adaptation Measures for Climate Change” stated that across 2100 recorded events at that time 44% of hailstorms had hail 2-4cm in diameter, 37% with 4-6cm and just 10% of storms had hail 6-14cm.

Smaller hail tends to appear more uniform in appearance than larger hail that can have jaggered edges. This is caused bu the super-cooled water drops freezing to different parts of the hail and as it grows some areas grow faster and more dramatic than others.

As if big hail isn’t bad enough – it can also have edges!

Image credit: www.weather.com / Carissa Everett shared with Hunter Weather

Customer Service is defined as “the assistance and advice provided by a company to those people who buy or use its products or services”

But what is it?

  • A friendly face?
  • Being there when they need you?
  • Being knowledgeable in our advice and services?
  • Being positive?
  • Being willing to fix problems, not create them?
  • Treating people with respect?
  • Be present when they are talking and really pay attention to what they are saying?
  • Being polite and remembering good manners cost nothing?

Perhaps the bigger question is, does customer service boil down to one thing?  The answer is obviously not.

As a culture though, perhaps it is a willingness to listen and engage with your customer.

This is what BBC News reported when Lily Robinson at the age of 3 and 1/2 wrote to the supermarket chain Sainsbury to ask

“Why is tiger bread called tiger bread? It should be called giraffe bread. Love from Lily Robinson age 3 and 1/2”.

Chris King from the Sainsbury’s customer services team wrote back: “I think renaming tiger bread giraffe bread is a brilliant idea – it looks much more like the blotches on a giraffe than the stripes on a tiger, doesn’t it?”

But he went on to explain how it had got its name: “It is called tiger bread because the first baker who made it a looong time ago thought it looked stripey like a tiger. Maybe they were a bit silly.”

He included a £3 gift card, and signed the letter “Chris King (age 27 & 1/3)”.

Sainsbury then went ahead and renamed Tiger Bread, Giraffe Bread.

Or is it creating an experience so amazing that someone can’t help tell others about it?

In 2012 Chris Hurn’s family went on holiday at the Ritz Carlton in Florida.  Upon returning home the family discovered their son’s favourite toy “Joshie” had been inadvertently left at the hotel. In order to pacify his son, Chris told him that Joshie was taking an extra long holiday at the hotel. That night, the Ritz-Carlton called Chris to say that they had found Joshie and would return him as soon as possible. To Chris’ young son’s surprise, Joshie was returned in a package containing extra goodies as well as a series of photographs of Joshie on holiday around the Florida resort!

Neither Sainsbury or the Ritz Carlton had to make the extra effort, but someone in their organisation did take the time, to provide exceptional customer service.

Our Goal

At Ambrose Building, every day we strive to provide the best repair experience possible; to our client (the insurer) and their customer (the home owner).  Therefore it is exceptionally pleasing when we see comments such as those below from customers.  We don’t always get it right first time, but we do commit to getting right every time and it is the commitment of our staff, not one, but the whole group to deliver the best in customer service.  It is a company culture!

From the beginning communication with Ambrose Builders was excellent and continued throughout the rebuild. We asked that time be taken to complete the job as we didn’t want a rushed job and therefore possibly detail missed and that is what we got and the finish is just outstanding! We couldn’t be happier! All of the trades persons listened to any concerns and were very easy to deal with. When people visited our house prior to the damage they walked up the front butterfly stairs and they say to us “what a great spot” and then when they walked through the front door they would “Wow”! Well now they will “Wow, Wow, Wow”. Thanks. 10/10 (Jennifer, Rosemount)

Cannot fault anything. All tradies have been great.  Dave was amazing also.  Thanks. 10/10 (Hannah, Jubilee Pocket)

Excellent work. Would recommend Ambrose Builders anytime. 10/10 (Bernie, Midge Point)

Awesome service. Fast, easy to deal with great communication on all fronts. Excellent job overall. 10/10 (Amanda, Andergrove)

Tim Board’s performance on our whole job was 2nd to none, nothing was not fixable for him. His attitude was 10/10, he is an asset to your company. 10/10 (Bryan, Koumala)

Awesome job from day one. Very happy with work carried out and all contractors easy to deal with. 10 out of 10 fro Tim! Made a very stressful time, not so stressful. 10/10 (Suzanne, Sarina)

We couldn’t be more happier with Tim and the team from Ambrose. All the tradesman they have used have done an awesome job. Tim has gone above his job. Nothing was a drama and he has done so much to help us. tim was friendly and approachable and always willing to help. 10/10 (Karla, Seaforth)

Very helpful, easy to talk to. Explained how long the repairs would take. Was very helpful when I was sick having my treatment to help me pick out bathroom items and helped me match tiles, etc. This was the reason I requested Ambrose Building and especially Aaron for the second lot of repairs that needed doing. And today the last repairs were done. Very happy. 10/10 (Janet, Bororen)

Courteous and very informative. Provided a schedule with set dates and times for completion and had repairs completed before proposed deadlines. Professional and excellent customer relationships between trades and supervision. 10/10 (Graham, Bidwill)

The repaired and all involved have been great. It has happened quickly an respectfully. All were reliable and  the supervisor was consistently checking that all was going well. Clean up was conscientious so that everything was back to original state.. 10/10 (Maria, Pialba)

Absolutely awesome customer service and scheduling information.  Contractors who did the jobs communicated any changes of their timetable – were prompt, courteous, skilled and well prepared for the work.  10/10 (Philip, Cannonvale)

Exceptional service with prompt and friendly manner. Very happy with everything. 10/10 (Colin, Airlie Beach)

Everyone has been wonderful from start to finish. From Phillip assessing, getting the clean up team, the flooring is brilliant, the painting looks flash and I am very pleased how it all turned out. 10/10 (Kathy, Kirwan)

Sometimes it can just be wrapped up with……..

Great service and friendly staff.  Thanks! 10/10

If for whatever reason we don’t get it right, we will keep trying.  To assist us with that we are happy to announce the upcoming release of our customer portal.  Lookout for more details coming soon!

Sources:

BBC News: Tiger bread renamed giraffe bread by Sainsbury’s

The Hub

When a claim of hail damage is received it is obvious that our thoughts immediately turn to the roof because this is the largest part of any home that is facing the sky and therefore the threat of hail.  However rather than just rushing in and jumping straight on the roof in an assessment, there are number of tell tale signs an Estimator can look for to highlight the presence of hail damage.

By looking at the items around a home that are made of softer materials than the roof, i.e. gutters, down pipes, letter boxes, fences, air conditioner housings, garden sheds, timber handrails and balustrades, will indicate the presence of hail damage.  However an experienced Estimator does not look simply for the presence of hail damage, rather they are seeking to identify the density, direction, and impact of the hail before climbing onto the roof.  Looking at the elevations and even the surrounding properties from the ground will provide the Estimator with an enormous amount of information before climbing up their ladder.

Once on the roof items like skylights, vents, whirly birds and ridge capping will be the first indicator of hail damage.

Ambrose Building  Ambrose Building    Ambrose Building

While metal roofs are thought generally to be easy to identify hail damage on, factors such as weather, age and density can impact on the successful identification of the damage present.  One of the easiest methods to clearly show hail damage in photos is to mark the hail dent with chalk.

It is important that when hail damage is located it is inspected to ensure it is from the claimed event.   Sometimes an insured may have historical hail damage that they were unaware of and evidence of dirt or mould in the dent may lead to questions over the age of the damage.  The point of this is not to dispute the fact there is hail damage but to ensure the loss date is accurate for the insurer.

Remember: in a hailstorm, many other items apart from the roof can be damaged and form part of the claim, therefore by looking around the house before jumping on the roof ensures the Estimator is fully aware of all of the damage caused by the storm.

 

At 4.45pm on Thursday 26 October 2017, wind gusts of up to 89km/h and large hail stones were recorded west of Brisbane. While reports of golf ball sized hail were consistent across the affected area, there was a social media report of hail up to 7.8cm at Dungog.

Image Credit: Carissa Everett shared with Hunter Weather

The Bureau of Meteorology issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the Ipswich, Logan, Lockyer Valley, Gold Coast, Toowoomba, Brisbane and Somerset areas, warning of thunderstorms that were likely to produce further destructive winds, hail and heavy rainfall which could lead to flash flooding. Several buildings lost roofs and make safes were required for hail damage to skylights and roofs. Widespread reports of hail damage were received across the Darling Downs region including claims at Centenary Heights, Glenvale, Kearneys Spring, Middle Ridge, Rangeville and Westbrook. The severe thunderstorm warning was cancelled by the BOM just before 6.30pm after the system moved out to sea.

Observations included:
4:25pm – Golf ball size hail was reported at Josephvile.
4:35pm – 10 cent size hail was reported at Mount Maroon.
4:45pm – 89km/h wind gust was recorded at Toowoomba.
5:10pm – 4cm size hail was reported at Toowoomba.

  

Shed in Withcott losing roof                            Hail in Westbrook

 

To learn what causes a thunderstorm to become a thunderstorm <<CLICK HERE>> to see our post from January 2017!

 

Sources:

Bureau of Meterology (www.bom.gov.au)

Hunter Weather – Facebook

Last year we wrote a post on Flexible Water Hoses, better known as Flexi Hoses and whether they are a Help or a Hindrance.  The article was sparked from our observations of the increasing failure rate of flexi hoses in domestic applications.

Our article became all the more relevant in May this year when IAG published some of their claims data to highlight that

flexible hoses accounted for 22% of water damage claims in Australian households in 2016, with properties between 11 and 30 years old most likely to suffer an escape of water claim.

Ambrose Building and Con-servRecently we met with Ian Carmody, Technical Product Advisor for Con-Serv, to discuss their Flood Stop devices that are used to prevent water damage in homes due to the failure of flexi and/or dishwasher/washing machine hoses.

The purpose of this article is not to review the Flood Stop devices provided by Con-Serv.  For further information on these quality products please see the links below.

The purpose of this article is to highlight a discussion we had with Ian and get your thoughts on the question below.

 

Why do flexi hoses fail when no-one is at home?

Ian’s answer was extremely insightful and while it is based on his professional opinion and not any specific or conclusive evidence based research, it is certainly a position worth considering because it just makes sense.

In answer to the question Ian said that over any normal night when we go to bed, the house pipework pressurises because there is no release of water and it is not until the morning when a tap is turned on or the toilet flushed that the pressure is released.  From that point on water is used throughout the day depending on the occupant’s requirements and lifestyle choices.

Historically houses were always hard plumbed with copper and metal pipes and they tended not fail under pressure due to their rigid design. With the introduction of flexi hoses, a weaker point than metal was introduced into the system, even though the rubber inner tube is wrapped in and retained by the outer braided stainless steel sleeve.

As we know the biggest problems with flexi hoses is damage prior to or during installation. If the flexi hose is damaged due to it being kinked, stretched or twisted, or even if the sleeve has started to corrode, this introduces a weak point into the hose and its integrity is compromised from that point.

Corroded
Stretched and Corroded

Kinked out of the packing

Overnight as the system pressurises the water is seeking a path of escape.  This pressure can cause the weak point in the flexi hose to bulge, even ever so slightly.  Night on night, this point will be under pressure, stretching and then releasing the pressure in the morning.  Like blowing up a balloon ever so slightly and then letting the air out, this stretches the inner rubber tube over time, starting at microns and ending in millimeters, applying greater pressure on the compromised outer sleeve.

What Ian says happens when you go away on holiday is the system is under pressure and remains so the entire time.  Because water cannot be compressed it is seeking a path of egress and under continued pressure, with the stretched inner core now the weakest point in the system continually under load, it can fail and unchecked pump thousands of litres of water into the home.

The better quality flexi hoses come with a maximum warranty of 10 years and it is for this reason regular inspection of the hose for damage is critical, ensuring you do not fall victim to a burst flexi hose.  The flip side is understanding a burst pipe/hose can deliver 1500 litres of water an hour into your home in a very uncontrolled and unplanned manner, hence the market for the Con-Serv products.

Ian’s explanation made sense to me.

What are your thoughts?

 

Links:

Con-Serv – Whisper Flood Stop Valve

The Plumbette – Prevent Flexible Hose Floods with the Whisper Flood Stop Isolating Valve

 

On Thursday 12 October 2017 the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) released the Tropical Cyclone seasonal outlook for The Coral Sea which includes the number of cyclones that will impact Queensland this year.

The outlook highlights:

A 54% chance of an above average number of tropical cyclones in the Coral Sea (average number is 4).  Meaning a 46% chance of having fewer Tropical Cyclones than average.

Ambrose Building

The BOM stated in their release

Tropical cyclones are low pressure systems that form over warm tropical waters and have at least gale force winds (sustained winds of 63 km per hour and gusts of 90 km per hour or more) near their centre. Even tropical cyclones well offshore can have significant impacts on coastal areas. High winds, storm surges and large waves can create dangerous conditions.

November 2017 – January 2018:- Climate and Water Outlook

The end-of-month Climate and Water Outlook video covers rainfall, streamflow and temperature for the next three months. It includes a wrap-up of recent conditions and a look at which drivers are influencing the climate.

For more information on the weather season ahead please see: www.bom.gov.au 

For more information on how to prepare your home for an emergency please see: www.qld.gov.au/emergency/dealing-disasters/prepare-home

All Metal Roof Sheets are Not the Same

Galvanic corrosion (also called bimetallic corrosion) is an electrochemical process in which one metal corrodes when it comes into contact with another metal that is of dissimilar type.  The corrosion is caused by a self-induced current created when the two dissimilar metals are in contact in the presence of an electrolyte such as fresh potable water (a weak electrolyte) and this can become stronger if the roof is within close proximity of the marine environment and salt deposits on the roof dissolve into the water.

Three Elements of Galvanic Corrosion

For Galvanic Corrosion to occur, there are three elements required:

  1. Dissimilar metals
  2. Metal-to-metal contact
  3. Metals in the same conduction solution (rain water, exacerbated by salt)

Old verse New Roofs

Older metal roofs in Queensland tended to be constructed out of galvanised metal sheets giving rise to the phrase “timber and tin” houses.

The term galvanised iron, originated in England with the use of wrought iron sheets as the base metal in the earlier part of the 1800s.

Mild steel sheeting rapidly replaced wrought iron as the base metal following improved steel making and processing methods later in the 19th century. The first Australian galvanising works were set up in Sydney in 1863 and Lysaght’s plant in Newcastle began producing corrugated galvanised roofing on 4 April 1921.

The old hand-dipping process provided the metal sheets with excellent weather protection. Sheets of 0.6mm thickness (24 gauge steel) could be curved for bull-nose verandah roofs. Thicker sheets of 0.8mm (22 gauge steel) were also used for roofing although they were less common.

Materials used for hot dip galvanising have not changed. However, early dipping processes tended to make the galvanising layering more uneven with thinly-coated areas more prone to weathering and rusting. On the other hand the coating could be in places very thick (as much as 800 gms/m2).

The use of lead flashings on this type of roof did not cause galvanic corrosion so lead on galvanised roof sheets was and is common.

In the 1960s Colorbond or pre-painted roof sheets commenced production in Australia as did Zincalume sheets. Colorbond has a zincalume core with a painted surface to allow for a variety of aesthetically pleasing applications.

Zincalume is a metallic-coated steel product that consists of 55% aluminium, 43.5% zinc and 1.5% silicon. However the entire coating is approximately 80% aluminium. The coating gives it a lifetime of four times that of galvanized steel and is lightweight, with edge protection. Due to the metallic-coating system employed, zinc sheets are incompatible with lead flashing and copper piping.

Dissimilar Metals

Examples of dissimilar metals that cause bimetallic corrosion are:

  • Stainless steel self-drilling roof screws used to fix Colorbond painted steel roof sheeting
  • Zincalume steel roof sheets and lead flashing
  • Galvanised roof sheets and Zincalume roof sheets
  • Black marking pencil on bare galvanised and Zincalume steel products

Colorbond roofing has a higher resistance to galvanic corrosion because it has an inert paint layer covering the reactive Zincalume coating.

In the image below, it can be seen that water running from an upper galvanised roof to a lower zinc roof is starting to show signs of galvanic corrosion in the discolouration of the zinc sheets.

Below is a more obvious example of a roof we assessed in Yandina on the Sunshine Coast where the reaction between the dissimilar metals has eaten through the top sheet.

You will note the roofing screws to the right where the galvanised sheet is on top of another galvanised sheet are not showing signs of corrosion.  However just a short distance away roofing screws that are fixing a galvanised sheet to a zinc sheet are obviously corroding due to being in contact with the dissimilar roof sheets.

Ambrose Building

Conclusion

When installing or replacing metal roofs it is critical that consideration be given to the pre-existing metal sheeting and what is being used to repair it.  While galvanised sheeting is more expensive it is still available and will prevent galvanic corrosion occurring.

Of Note – Do Not Use Lead Pencils on Metal Roof Sheets

In our March 2016 Bulletin we highlighted the issues of using a common black led/marking pencil on a zinc roof due to galvanic corrosion.  The Bluescope Technical Bulletin states:

“One unusual example of such galvanic activity is related to the corrosion induced by the use of common black marking pencils on bare galvanized and zincalume zinc/aluminium alloy-coated steel products. Black “lead” pencils contain graphite/carbon rather than lead. This reacts with the metallic coating resulting in indelible marking or fine corrosion of the sheet surface and, in aggressive environments, severe knife like corrosion of the metallic coating”

To read the Technical Bulletin click HERE

 

In the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Debbie we were confronted with a number of concerning situations, none more so than the contamination of properties by water containing sewage, and homeowners who had stayed in the properties because they felt they had nowhere else to go.

Is sewage contaminated water dangerous?

The IICRC S500 Standard (3rd Edition), states that Category 3 Water – is that which is highly contaminated and could cause death or serious illness if consumed by humans. Examples: sewage, rising flood water from rivers and streams, ground surface water flowing horizontally into homes.

Category 3 Water is also known as black water.

The IICRC states there are over 120 different viruses that can be excreted in human feces and urine and are present in sewage. These can include Rotavirus, causing severe and sometimes life-threatening diarrhea in children, Adenoviruses, causing respiratory and eye infections, and Norovirus, a significant cause of gastric flu or stomach flu.

There are highly infectious parasitic agents like Giardia and Cryptosporidium that can cause chronic and severe intestinal diseases in both children and adults. Bacterial pathogens in sewage can include Salmonella, Shigella and Escherichia coli.

These organisms contain endotoxins that are released at the time of cell death. Endotoxins can cause respiratory inflammation, airway restriction, create the potential allergic and infectious disease responses and when inhaled they may adversely influence the central nervous system.

How does water get in to a property?

There are two ways in which water enters a building:

  • The first involves falling or wind driven rainwater that enters as a result of damage to the roof or walls.
  • The second involves ground surface water (storm surge) accumulating and travelling horizontally and inundating the property.

At Ambrose we continually talk about top down or bottom up water.  Top down tends to be clean water (Category 1) and when gotten to early simply needs to be extracted and the area dried before the water turns bad.  Bottom up water tends to be blackwater (Category 3) as it carries silt, dirt, organisms and potentially sewage.

When Clean Water Goes Bad

As was the case in TC Debbie, the lack of power and isolation due to flooded roads meant that many properties what were impacted by top down clean water, were more seriously damaged because of the absence of power and specialists to remove the water and dry the impacted areas before it becomes blackwater.

Most household microorganisms (fungi, bacteria) typically require five conditions for germination, growth, amplification and dissemination. Generally, they include:

  • organic food source, especially cellulose (e.g., paper, wood), which are found in abundance in construction materials
  • moisture (which can simply be high humidity)
  • warm temperature – 20-30°C
  • stagnant air
  • time – several hours to several days

What can be done in the aftermath of a Natural Disaster when there is no power?

Ventilate

If power has been interrupted it is critical that ventilation is maximized.  Fresh moving air discourages the growth and amplification of microorganisms. If safe to do so, windows and doors should be opened to air the structure out thoroughly. It should also be understood that ventilation reduces, but does not eliminate, inhalation of microorganisms.

Remove Debris

If possible, remove debris (silt, vegetation, floating objects brought in by storm surge), with shovels, rakes, etc.

Remove Unsalvageable Wet Materials

Ensure some form of personal protective equipment is worn and carefully clean all tools with appropriate detergents after use.

If items such as carpet have been saturated and there is no means of extracting the water and drying the items within 3-5 days, the wet and unsalvageable carpets and soft furnishings should be photographed and removed to allow for better air circulation before microbial growth can occur.

While it is likely that other flooring and even structural components such as wall frames have been exposed to contaminants in the water, the risk in stripping out wall linings and flooring should be carefully considered based on the age of the property and each individual situation, due to the potential for asbestos and electrical wiring being exposed as part of the strip out.

Summary

Wherever possible:

  1. Ventilate the area
  2. Wear PPE
  3. Remove debris
  4. Remove unsalvageable carpet and soft furnishings
  5. Leave the property and access temporary accommodation until the hazards can be professionally assessed and removed

Be mindful of:

  1. Electrical hazards
  2. Building material contaminants such as asbestos

Source: http://www.iicrc.org/registrants/industry-perspective/

 

 

 

During the response to Tropical Cyclone Debbie we paid close attention to roof uplift. As you can imagine, an incorrect assessment of the roof could mean the difference between putting a new roof on when it is not required or leaving a damaged roof in place when it should be removed.

Some of the tell-tale signs of uplift include:

  • gaps between the roof battens and rafters
  • laps to roof sheeting showing signs of high wind uplift
  • barge capping missing or twisted out of shape
  • gaps between the roofing nail/screw, screw fastener and the roof sheet

Cause of Uplift

As wind moves around a structure, it applies pressure and suction to all external surfaces of the building.  The Cyclone Testing Centre at James Cook University has identified that “Wind pressures acting on roofs are actually fluctuating, large amplitude and repaid with time. The fluctuations in pressure are due to two separate but interacting flow phenomena – firstly the natural turbulence or gustiness in the wind, and secondly the local pressure fluctuations at sharp corners and roof-wall junctions where the flow separates from the surface, and vortices and eddies are formed” (Technical Report 37, p1).

In this 50 second video produced by the Cyclone Testing Centre, the Air-Box test shows the impact high turbulence and high suction from severe wind events have on roof sheeting.

When an external windward facing wall is being impacted by the approaching wind, it is pushed inward and all other surfaces generally have suction on them pulling that surface outwards.  These pressures act directly on the cladding material and are transferred to the structural elements underneath them (QRA, p6).

Source: QBCC, p.3

If the windward facing elevation sustains damage and doors, windows or storm created openings allow wind into the structure the internal pressures increase and push upwards on the underside of the roof and this effect adds to the upward forces caused by suction (QRA, p6). Where an opening is caused on any other elevation, the internal pressure will be low causing suction on all internal surfaces, significantly increasing the load that must be resisted by the structural elements (QRA, p6).

The Building Code of Australia requires buildings to be designed and constructed to resist the design wind forces. This means that all cladding, windows, doors and garage doors must be built to resist the possible combinations of design wind pressures at the design wind speed. It also requires all structural elements to be designed and constructed to resist the wind pressures.

Wind Classification of a House

Every house in Australia is wind-classified based on the wind region and site conditions it is exposed to.

Tropical Cyclones that cross the coastline in North Queensland do so in Region C.

Batten Uplift

Below is a common example of where the hardwood batten has pulled away from the rafter due to uplift. This property in Sproule Street, Bowen was attended by Ambrose Building in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Debbie.  The uplift at this property was evident in the outside veranda area and in the roof cavity.

Tropical Cyclone Debbie

Tropical Cyclone Debbie

Sheet Lap Uplift

As was shown in the James Cook University Air-Box test video above, the fluctuations in turbulence or gustiness can cause the sheet laps of the roof to lift under the force of the winds in the cyclone.

This property in Cannonvale is exhibiting those exact consequences where the sheet laps are easily identifiable when looking along the roof.

Due to the force, the roof sheet has lifted and caused the sheet lap to bend and in the below image the damage to the sheet is easily identified by the shadow that is cast due to the location of the sun at the time of inspection.

  

Below is perhaps the easiest sign of uplift to identify where the screw and fastener have been lifted. As the roof sheet has dropped under normal gravity forces, the screw and fastener have remained raised away from the roof sheet.

The below roof from Mackay also shows evidence of uplift evidence at the sheet lap.

 

 

Repair

Where part of the structure has been damaged and the elements have failed due to their own weaknesses, consideration must be given to replacing these elements with stronger more appropriate elements to prevent similar damage occurring in the future.  A like for like replacement will only return the property to its previous weak state and do nothing to increase the resilience of the structure to protect it against future events.

Interestingly, consideration must be given to the whole structure.  If a weak point is strengthened but elements elsewhere are left unimproved, the probable consequence is the weak point will be transferred from one element to another.  For example, if a cyclone rated garage door is installed and nothing is done to increase the structural integrity of the surrounding wall frame, while the garage door is now strong, the building could fail at either side of the door installation as it now provides a sail like catchment moving the forces from the door to the surrounding structure.

Battens

It is well known that roof battens must be anchored to the rest of the structure to carry all of the forces applied to it during a natural weather event. Houses built prior to the 1980’s may not have had the battens anchored to the rest of the structure, thus placing them at risk of uplift.

For houses in areas rated as medium exposure (C3), straps or framing anchors must generally be used to deliver the higher strength required.

Tie-downs

The Queensland Reconstruction Authority advise,

A typical house structure relies on multiple continuous chains of tiedown elements: from the roof cladding, through battens, trusses or rafters, into the walls, down through the walls and into the subfloor structure including the footings.

Tie-down rods in timber framed construction and steel frame elements transmit uplift forces from the roof down through the wall structure and eventually to the ground.

Wall systems must be correctly anchored to the subfloor including concrete slab for slab-on-ground construction. Particular care is needed at the sides of openings as higher forces can be transmitted there.

The required anchorages for your house are determined by the wind classification and the area of the structure that contributes load to the building element. Some alternatives are given for each element in the tie-down system in AS1684.

 20% of the Structural Element

Section 61, 80 & 81 of the Building Act 1975 requires the assessment of Building Work on existing structures and as a result if more than 20% of the structural replacement of these components is required the assessment needs to consider the current provisions of the Building Code requirements for compliance (National Construction Code).

Therefore if 20% of the structural element is required to be replaced full tie down would be required, with bracing calculations and engineers design as part of the Approval.

Conclusion

High wind induced uplift is a serious consideration for all insurance repairers.  Clear understanding of the indicators of uplift across the entire structure are critical for identification by Estimators and Assessors.  Seeking early advice from Engineers and Private Certifiers is vital to ensure that the repair is completed to code and all weak points are identified and considered for either private upgrade or covering as part of the insurance repair to ensure the overall resilience of the property is increased.

 

Sources:

Cyclone testing Stations, 1992, Behaviour of Different Profiled Roofing Sheets Subject to Wind Uplift, Technical Report No. 37. (https://www.jcu.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/321973/Technical-Report-37-Behaviour-of-Different-Profiled-Roofing-Sheets-Subject-to-Wind-Uplift.pdf)

QBCC, 2014, Bracing, Tie-down and other issues (http://qbis.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/2-6-14-QBCC-Tiedowns-Bracing.pdf)

Queensland Reconstruction Authority, Planning for a stronger, more resilient North Queensland (http://qldreconstruction.org.au/u/lib/cms2/planning-for-stronger-nq-part-2.pdf)

Electricity Safety Week promotes the importance of electrical safety in Queensland workplaces, with statewide events focused on young worker safety, safety leadership and culture and getting industry ready for the new Wiring Rules.

The Electrical Safety Office is partnering with Lawrence and Hanson Electrical Wholesalers and CNW Electrical Wholesale to host breakfasts throughout Queensland to discuss the changes in the new Wiring Rules.

ESO inspectors will discuss the new standard and transitional arrangements.

Click here to find a breakfast near you.

The breakfasts are free with no registration required.

 

Insurance claims – cooling off period

General Insurance Code of Practice, section 4.5: Cooling off period for claims arising from a natural catastrophe or disaster.  If the insurer (financial services provider or FSP) is a member of the General Insurance Code of Practice (the Code) and it finalised a claim within one month of a natural catastrophe or disaster, the insured has a six-month cooling off period to check whether their claim included everything that was lost or damaged.

The cooling off period is available to customers even though they may have signed a release when their claim was finalised.

Some FSPs also have guidelines which allow a review of your claim arising from a natural disaster at any time after finalisation.

Source: https://www.fos.org.au/news/news/tropical-cyclone-debbie-and-flooding-assistance/

The QBCC advised that the Spiral Spring Mixer Tap tapware purchased from Aldi in June showed potential of lead contamination.

“Our initial test results show that there is a cause for concern, and that the tapware may cause lead contamination of drinking water,” QBCC Commissioner Brett Bassett said.

“Tests by Queensland Health Forensic and Scientific Services have shown that lead levels are up to 15 times the maximum acceptable level of lead in drinking water, as per Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

“The tapware in question is the ‘Spiral Spring Mixer Tap’ (EASY HOME brand, model number NI183ESCRT-AUD), and it’s believed that more than 3,000 units have been sold in Queensland.

“The QBCC’s Product Committee is aware of the issue, and further testing has been planned, to understand the full extent of the potential issue.

“The QBCC has also advised the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) of the test results.

For further information please visit the QBCC Website.

Aldi responded and advised on 26 July 2017:

ALDI Australia is pleased to confirm that the Spiral Spring Mixer Tap, sold as a Special Buy on 10 June 2017 has passed additional testing against AS/NZS 4020:2005, which is required for the Australian WaterMark certification and is the testing method under the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines. The additional test was conducted by a laboratory accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) for this Standard, meaning that the product is safe for use. This result is consistent with previous independent testing, which was conducted prior to sale.

“At ALDI, we are committed to providing our customers with safe products of the highest quality. For this reason, I was alarmed by the claims suggesting that the Spiral Spring Mixer Tap, sold as a Special Buy on 10th June this year, may contaminate drinking water. I can assure you that as soon as this matter was brought to ALDI’s attention, we initiated a priority investigation. Our teams have worked tirelessly with authorities and independent testing laboratories to confirm that the tests conducted prior to sale were accurate, and the product is safe,” said Tom Daunt, CEO of ALDI Australia.

“We are disappointed that so many ALDI customers were provided information that generated such unnecessary concern and inconvenience. The Queensland Building and Construction Commission’s prematurely published statements were based on tests that were not conducted in accordance with the Australian Standard.” Mr. Daunt said.

For more information please see the Aldi media release.

Sources:

QBCC Media Release

Aldi Media Release

The Insurance Council of Australia have released the claims statistics for TC Debbie (as at 17 July 2017).

ICA TC Debbie Claim Stats

Source: Insurance Council of Australia (https://disasters.org.au/cyclone-debbie)

Griffith University – Logistic Lessons from TC Debbie

Preparation is key – particularly when facing a potentially devastating natural disaster.

Tropical Cyclone Debbie made landfall in March, bringing with it cyclonic winds and flooding, and causing damage to thousands of properties across Queensland.

But the cyclone, which crossed the coast as a Category 4 system, was unusual in that the logistic challenges were slightly less than would normally be associated with such a major weather event.  Professor Peter Tatham from Griffith Business School said,

“The logistic response was actually quite impressive, not least because the cyclone gave 2-3 clear days’ notice of its arrival,”

“As a result, there was time to undertake the necessary preparation activities – for those likely to be evacuated, for example.”

Professor Tatham, a global expert in humanitarian logistics, said that responses were tested and generally found to be satisfactory under the circumstances.

“In that sense, it was a useful rehearsal for the next – and potentially more challenging – event.

“This is incredibly important because Far North Queensland doesn’t get hit by cyclones too frequently, and so there is a danger that lessons identified are forgotten in the intervening periods.

“Also, it’s likely that changes in individual and organisational responsibilities can easily result in a loss of institutional knowledge and expertise.”

To further improve the emergency response, Professor Tatham recommends establishing a common catalogue of items likely to be required – one that can be accessed by each of the responding agencies.

Ambrose Building is willing and able to discuss how from a Builder’s Perspective we can and should be preparing for the next event now.

Source: Griffith University

At Ambrose Building, it really hits home when we respond to natural disasters like Tropical Cyclone Debbie, that we are very proud to be a family owned Queensland company, that employs locals in each of our offices in Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton, Bundaberg, Sunshine Coast, Brisbane and Toowoomba.

This month we are proud to support the Core Life magazine, the number one source of printed entertainment for the thousands of people living in the Mackay, Whitsunday, Bowen Basin and Central Highlands districts, to highlight the fact that our Building Supervisors who are rebuilding communities from Rockhampton to Bowen after TC Debbie are locals themselves!

TC Debbie Ambrose Building

First In – Last Out Policy

Our First In – Last Out policy refers to our use of local trades when responding to Catastrophic Weather Events. When an event first hits or in the case of a cyclone is forecast to hit, all local Business as Usual (BAU) trades are placed on standby, briefed on the impending situation and readied for the response.

As Make Safes are first received our BAU trades are mobilised under the coordination of the local Regional Supervisor. These trades are often the first on the ground in any natural disaster.

In Tropical Cyclone Debbie, subcontractors were briefed and a toolbox completed by our State Construction Manager Brock Johnson on the required response, safety hazards and control measures for each.

The contractors confirmed their capacity, listing how many local trades would be available, and ensured all trades were inducted into our Safety System.

Ambrose Building MackayAmbrose Building BowenAmbrose Building Sarina

We are proud of the fact that long after the others have rolled out of town, Ambrose Building will still be completing insurance repairs in Mackay, Proserpine, Airlie Beach and Bowen – all with locally engaged BAU trades.

If you see us in the street, feel free to stop us and say hi!

Cyclone Debbie was touted to be the most dangerous cyclone to impact Queensland since Cyclone Yasi in 2011. Forming as a tropical low on 23 March, the low gradually intensified to a named tropical cyclone on 26 March 2017. After steadily strengthening offshore to a Category 4 system, Debbie eventually made landfall near Airlie Beach, at around 14:00 AEST on 28 March 2017.  Debbie rapidly weakened into a tropical low by late on 28 March, but continued to travel south, causing significant damage and flooding in South East Queensland and the Northern Rivers of New South Wales.

As a specialist Insurance Repair builder with local offices in Townsville and Mackay, Channel 7 News paid our Sunshine Coast Head Office a visit to have a look behind the scenes of what it takes to respond to a natural disaster of this size.

The Electrical Safety Office is investigating a serious electrical incident that happened in February 2017 in Townsville which resulted in the death of a person at a residential property.

Initial investigations suggest the person was handling a submersible pump used to pump bore water at the time of the incident.

This alert is to remind you of the danger electricity can pose – especially where equipment is located in a wet environment and is energised.

If you have broken or damaged electrical equipment or are unsure of the equipment’s safe use, stop using it and contact a licensed electrical contractor to inspect it. You should also consider ensuring all power outlets have a safety switch protecting them and if unsure have a licensed electrical contractor inspect and confirm.

More information
For electrical safety information visit www.electricalsafety.qld.gov.au or call 1300 362 128.

You Spot the Difference?

In the following pictures, you can see a very different approach to safety and edge protection.

Scaffold Erected in Elizabeth Street, Imbil as at 2 March 2017

The above is a picture of a roof repair currently being completed at Imbil in the Mary Valley. It has some form of adhoc scaffold that is attached to the side of the home.

On the left elevation toward the rear of the property you can see the system comprises of pieces of timber fixed together to provide a frame and the timber rail does not extend 1 metre past the gutter line.

The aluminium trestle at the front left nearly touches the mains power line coming into the property and at various points construction clamps are used to hold the structure together.

Below is an example of Ambrose Building working on a double story property.

Which site would you prefer to have your workers on?

When Poor Fall Protection Equals Death

Two Queensland family-owned businesses and their directors have been committed to stand trial following a Workplace Health and Safety Queensland investigation into the death of a 62 year old roofer who fell and died while working on a roof without protection.

The prosecutions are Queensland’s first category 1 under work safety laws. If found guilty, the companies may face a maximum fine of $3 million, and the directors fined up to $600,000 each, with maximum jail terms of five years.

The defendants, Lavin Constructions Pty Ltd and Multi-Run Roofing Pty Ltd, and company directors Peter Raymond Lavin and Gary William Lavin, have been charged for contravening Section 19 (2) and/or s20 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

On 29 July 2014 Mr Whareheepa Te Amo was one of five roofers working on an industrial shed at Lake MacDonald in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland when he fell to his death. It is alleged that Mr Te Amo was several metres ahead of two scissor lifts being used for fall control and was not wearing a personal fall protection harness.

The shed was part of a larger complex being refurbished by Lavin Constructions, the builder in control of the site, while Multi-Run Roofing was engaged to fit the roof sheeting.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland Head Dr Simon Blackwood said falls from heights is a serious issue.

“The roofing/re-roofing trade is certainly one where things can go wrong at height. In this case, the court will hear evidence that appropriate safety equipment was available and on-site.”

“Had the available and correct controls been used, Mr Te Amo’s death would not have occurred” Blackwood said.

“Not following simple safety guidelines and taking unnecessary risks is just not on”.

The Law on Working at Heights

The WHS legislation makes it a requirement to have edge protection or a fall arrest device in place before accessing any roof over 2 metres or on a roof with a slope of greater than 26°.
Before starting work the person conducting the business or undertaking must:

  • Fall prevention controls in place (e.g. edge protection or travel restraint system) to prevent a person falling any distance, or where this is not practicable;
  • Fall arrest controls that arrest a person’s fall (e.g. fall arrest harness or catch platform) and prevent or minimise the risk of death or injury to a person when the fall is arrested.

The WHS Regulation sets out specific requirements for these types of control measures (s.306E to s.306J).

Interpreting the Law for Insurance Builders

The WHS Act places the primary health and safety duty on a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU). The PCBU must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers at the workplace.

During the response to the Brisbane Hailstorm, Ambrose Building engaged an independent Safety Consultant to provide written advice on working at heights and the implications for Ambrose Building as the PCBU. We requested this advice because of the number of homes we were assessing that were double story, with limited access, on sloping blocks and possessing many hazards and obstacles should a fall occur.

Below is an excerpt from this report:

 

WORKPLACE HEALTH AND SAFETY – DUTY OF CARE

All businesses have a Duty of Care under the WHS Act 2011 for the safety of all persons that may be affected by the business undertakings either directly or indirectly.

NB: This includes insurers who engage building contractors on behalf of their customers.

In the instance of repairing roofing damage to residential properties from the recent storms, like those mentioned above, it is reasonably practical to expect that contractors engaged to complete the repairs are at risk of falling from heights as identified in the first part of this report. Due to the nature of the work required, workers can fall onto obstructions, fixtures and concrete/ paved surfaces at the residences, ultimately resulting in death. Therefore, appropriate site specific workplace health and safety management must be put in place.

Therefore, it is important to refer to the following section of the Work Health and Safety Act for guidance:

Work Health Safety Act 2011 – Section 19:
1) A person conducting a business or undertaking must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of—

(a) workers engaged, or caused to be engaged by the person; and
(b) workers whose activities in carrying out work are influenced or directed by the person;

While the workers are at work in the business or undertaking.

A worker by definition (WHS Act 2011 – Section 7) is a person who carries out work in any capacity for a person a person conducting a business undertaking, including a person who works as an employee, a contractor or subcontractor (including their employees).

Prior to commencing work on a roof an assessment must be undertaken to identify and mitigate the hazards associated with working at heights, in relation this distance varies between domestic (3 metres) and commercial (2 metres) structures and what can be fallen onto or into. It is always preferable to use more substantial mitigation to reduce risk using the hierarchy of controls. In the instance of working on roofs, the elimination and isolation of risk is not possible or practical therefore engineering controls are the most effective. I.e. Scaffolding and edge protection.

Work Health Safety Regulation 2011 – Section 306C:

A person conducting a business or undertaking who intends to do construction work must, before the work starts—

a. ensure each hazard that may result in a fall or cause death or injury if a person were to fall is identified; and

Examples of hazards—
• vertical reinforcing steel, or the edge of a rubbish skip, 1m below a surface from which the work is to be done
• unsheeted floor bearers and joists 2m below a surface from which the work is to be done
• an object, for example a picket fence or stack of bricks, that could cause injury if a person fell on it
• a brittle roof on which the work is to be done 2m above a floor

b. ensure the risk of death or injury that may result because of the hazard is assessed; and
c. ensure any control measures necessary to prevent, or minimise the level of, exposure to the risk are used.

The following is an example of a simple risk assessment, this is not extensive, however, gives an indication of the type of assessment that needs to occur.

PREVENTION OF INJURY THROUGH FALLS FROM HEIGHT – EDGE PROTECTION AND SCAFFOLD

References:

a) WHS Regulation 2011 Section 306E,306P, 306Q,
b) AS/NZS 4994.1 Temporary Edge Protection.
c) AS/NZS 1576.1:2010 Scaffolding – General requirements
d) AS/NZS 4576-1995 Guidelines for scaffolding

Edge protection and scaffolding (or a combination of the two) when installed correctly prevents workers from incidentally accessing the live edge. Edge protection and scaffolding are required to be set up as per the manufactures specifications, by a competent person. These systems need to be considered even for lower buildings where there is a risk on falling onto or into hazards around the residence, e.g. fences close to gutter line, pools, gardens, garden ornaments, etc…

Section 306E (5) (c) of the Work Health and Safety Regulation states that a roof with a pitch greater than 26 degrees are required to be 900 mm from the surface that is at the base of the edge protection, or scaffold, or the toe board and must have infill made a sturdy metal mesh or similar material. The edge protection system must be specifically designed to accommodate the additional loading caused by the infill mesh. Therefore scaffolding is the preferred and logical option.

CRITICAL NOTE: Highset and multi-story residences exceeding the statutory 3 metre height will require a prescribed control to be implemented, as per the regulations.

Scaffold;
The nature of roofing work requires that the roofer, access the roof area and work near the live edge to secure the roof sheeting meaning that the control needs to take both aspects into consideration. Scaffolding provides safe access to the roof and provides fall protection for the areas where it is installed. Scaffolding also provides access for work to be undertaken on the soffit, facia and gutter. Scaffolding, when erected for purpose, ensures better fall protection for work undertaken on a roof with a pitch of greater the 26 degrees, along with being a much safer and more solid structure for roof heights over 4.2m. Scaffold, also allows workers to take frequent breaks given the stressors caused by the incline on their muscular skeletal system.

It is my recommendation for the safe replacement of roofs throughout Brisbane that our client – Ambrose Building analyse each specific site including the height of the property, pitch of the roof, concrete/ paved surfaces/ and potential existing hazards and structures surrounding the home to determine the safest and most suitable fall arrest system required. The comprehensive safety system, safe work method statements procedures and training that each of the Ambrose Building supervisors have access to enable them to be competent to assess the related risk.

Damaged or degraded roof sheeting, a full inspection prior to commencing works should identify sheeting that will not support weight, such as fibro or alsonite roof sheeting. Sheets identified as unsafe should be covered with form ply or similar if they are to be left in situ during the repairs and clear marked to ensure that person do not walk on them. Roofers should be encouraged to walk on the screw (or truss) line to reduce the chance of a sheet failure. (please find attached a WHSQ alert relating to a recent fatality of the worker falling through roof sheeting).

Edge protection;

It should be noted that edge protection is NOT designed to be lent against during the process of passing down and lifting up of roof sheets. It is designed as an emergency fall arrest system only.

When working at a roof platform height of between 4.2 – 6m with edge protection as the primary form of scaffold it will almost be impossible to not apply pressure onto the system potentially causing it to fail under the weight of the worker and material being handled.

Is the Insurer Responsible for these Types of Works Onsite?

On 23rd June 2016 Principal Inspector Barry Trinder from WHS Qld presented a session to the Ambrose Building Supervisor’s Conference on the topic of WHS legislation and the responsibilities on all parties as dictated by the Act.

Barry advised that if Builder A submits a quote for a high-risk activity and suitable controls are put in place, i.e. scaffold due to height and fall hazards, and Builder B does not; if a representative of the insurer such as an Assessor makes a decision to use Builder B based on the cost saving, Section 20 dictates that the Assessor and the insurer possess a duty under the Act because the risks have been highlighted by a competent person, i.e Builder A.

Critical Note: Section 20 is the section WHS used to bring Category 1 charges against the Directors of the companies alleged to be responsible for the death of Mr Te Amo

It is important to note that while Builder B has a non-transferable responsibility for the safety of the onsite works, the Insurer cannot transfer their responsibilities to the builder because they awarded and allocated the work being aware of the risks that need to be managed on that site. This dual responsibility is made possible due to the provisions of Section 16 of the Act where more than one person can have the same duty.

The Act identifies High Risk construction work as anything involving:
• asbestos, explosives or diving work
• work carried out in an area in which there are artificial extremes of temperature
• a risk of falling more than two metres or is carried out on a telecommunication tower
• building or demolition work involving tilt up or precast concrete, structural alterations or repairs to a structure that requires temporary support to prevent collapse
• the demolition of a load bearing part of a structure or the demolition of any part of a structure that is likely to affect its physical integrity.

It also includes work carried out in, on, or near any:
• confined space
• shaft or trench with an excavated depth greater than 1.5 metres or a tunnel
• pressurised gas distribution mains or piping
• chemical, fuel or refrigerant lines
• energised electrical installations or services
• area where there are artificial extremes of temperature
• area that may have a contaminated or flammable atmosphere
• road, railway, shipping lane or other traffic corridor that is in use by traffic other than pedestrians
• area at a workplace in which there is any movement of powered mobile plant
• water or other liquid that involves a risk of drowning.

Responsibility Under the Act for Ambrose Building

At Ambrose Building we employ QBCC Licenced Building Supervisors as the means of managing everyday safety on each of our sites and this is the reason Supervision is necessary for each and every job, no matter how small in dollar value.

See our article on a recent Safety Incident which saw our plasterer receive an electric shock due to the work practices when the home was originally constructed.  

While the ultimate accountability for all works completed at Ambrose Building sits with Managing Director Brett Ambrose, accountability for the practical execution of the day to day safety and the use of the safety tools provided by virtue of our Workplace Health and Safety Management Plan sits with our Building Supervisors.

The Unseen Value for Insurers Provided by Safety Conscious Builders

At Ambrose Building we create a Site-Specific Safety system on every high risk repair we do to ensure we are meeting our WHS responsibilities. This not only protects our staff, trades, and business but it is the often unseen and undervalued service we also provide to our clients.

We continue to invest heavily in safety and as of this week our Safety System is entirely online, via a mobile App that requires our trades to sign in to every site, every day, allowing them to review the WHS Management Plan, Project Safety Environmental Analysis (PSEA) and Safe Work Method Statements containing the step-by-step work processes, possible hazards and their related safety controls.

Our investment into this form of safety technology, allows our Supervisors to update any controls relating to work on site and this is immediately accessible to all of our relevant trades.

It is our commitment to safe worksites and the provision of smart, specific, transparent, and dynamic tools such as the Site-Specific Safety App that enables Brett Ambrose as the Managing Director of Ambrose Building to demonstrate he is doing everything he can to manage the risks and hazards on site.

The Question for Insurers, Assessors, and Claims Managers:

 

What are you doing to manage your duty under the Act and do you realise that your decisions have a wider implication for your organisation just beyond the financial cost of the repair?

 

The QBCC regulates the building and plumbing industry in Queensland, and, as such, is responsible for ensuring that plumbing, drainage and sprinkler fitting work is compliant and performed by appropriately licensed persons.

Unlicensed work is a major concern for the QBCC, and investigators appointed under the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002 (PDA) regularly visit domestic and commercial construction sites to make sure that everyone performing plumbing work holds the appropriate licence.

The investigation team has been very active of late, and have issued many penalty infringement notices (PINs). Since 1 July, 2016, the following fines have been issued in relation to unlicensed work:

  • 68 PINs have been issued to people performing work without a licence
  • 27 PINs have been issued to licensees supervising unlicensed people
  • 2 PINs have been issued to persons advertising for work they aren’t licensed to perform.

This is a great result for the plumbing, drainage and sprinkler fitting industry, by helping protect jobs of people who are properly trained and licensed, and also protecting public health and safety.

If you have any questions about licensing, please contact the QBCC on 139 333 or email [email protected]

Source: QBCC Service Trades Council – Pipeline – Edition 1 – 2017

The Insurance of Council of Australia have advised “Residents in parts of Sydney affected by last month’s fierce hailstorms are being warned to be on alert for scam artists posing as builders or insurance company assessors.
Insurance companies have received calls from distraught policyholders who have been door knocked by scammers demanding cash for clean-up, inspection and repair services.

ICA CEO Rob Whelan said being aware of the deception can save policyholders from becoming storm victims twice.

“This racket is generally carried out by travelling conmen and woman who typically target elderly residents. They often claim to represent the insurance company and pressure the householder for money to inspect the roof,” Mr Whelan said.

“Other scammers offer special deals on repairs, demanding cash up front, and leaving the job unfinished or poorly done. They will sometimes offer to drive their victims to the bank to withdraw money.

“If someone knocks at your door claiming to represent your insurer, contact your insurance company to check their identity. An insurance company representative would never demand cash to carry out an inspection. Never agree to repairs that you may wish to lodge an insurance claim for without first checking with your insurer. Not only are these scammers unlikely to do a good job, but unauthorised work may not be covered by your insurance policy.”

The ICA recommends:

  • Make contact with your insurance company and seek advice about the repairs process under your policy
  • If unexpectedly approached by a contractor or assessor, ask to see credentials, and if you are not satisfied contact your insurance company to make sure they are appointed by your insurer.  Contractors and assessors authorised by insurers will normally notify customers in advance before repairs or inspections are scheduled to take place
  • If you remain suspicious, ask to see the contractor or assessor’s driver’s licence and write down the licence number and their vehicle’s licence plate number
  • Do not hand over any form of payment directly to a contractor or assessor requesting cash unless authorised by your insurer to do so. Do not sign a contract with someone who identity you have been unable to verify
  • Report suspected scammers to the National Travelling Conman Hotline on 1300 133 408.

Insured losses from the hailstorms have risen to $328 million from 50,192 claims.

Source: ICA Media Release

The Request

We recently received a request from a client to attend a property in North Queensland to assess and quote on the damage caused to the roof when a tree crashed down during a storm.

The Owner’s Observations

Upon arrival, the insured advised that water had come through the ceiling in the kitchen and the adjacent patio. The insured stated that the day after the storm he accessed the roof and painted a black waterproof membrane on the valley, roof sheets, skylight flashing, vent pipe and dektite as well as the patio roof to prevent further water ingress. He also stated that he removed some leaf matter from the roof.

Our Estimator’s Observations

Our Estimator completed an initial inspection of the kitchen ceiling and could see the surface of the plasterboard sheet had a stipple finish and the sheet was sagging and expansion had cracked the cornice.
Ambrose Building
Image 1: Cracked cornice and sheet along expansion joint

An inspection of the ceiling cavity revealed the valley directly above the damaged ceiling sheet was the cause of the water ingress.
Ambrose Building
Image 2: Valley above the water damaged plasterboard sheet

An inspection of the roof confirmed the presence of the black waterproof membrane, which made commenting on the pre-existing condition of the roof difficult.
Ambrose Building
Image 3: Black waterproof membrane installed by owner

No storm damage was identified, nor was any owner maintenance or building defect that would have contributed to the water ingress.

In the professional opinion of our Estimator the valley would have been backed up with debris which would have restricted the flow of water down the valley iron. This conclusion was supported by observations of other valleys and gutters having a heavy buildup of leaf matter still present and the insured stating he had cleaned the debris from this valley gutter.
Ambrose Building
Image 4: Buildup of leaf matter in gutter

Our Estimator was curious as the original causation reported by the insurer was damage from a falling tree. A single small dent was located on the patio roof that the insured said he believed was caused by a tree branch falling onto the roof.

Inspection of the lower patio roof had waterproofing also painted on the roof sheets and internal corner below the valley. All flashings appeared to be in good condition, although a complete visual inspection was hindered by the surface being covered in the black waterproof membrane.

Ambrose Building

Image 5: Waterproof membrane applied to the roof

The dent on the patio roof was observed to be directly in line with the leaking valley and was between roof battens. Its location is consistent with the natural pathway to inspect the valley and our Estimator believed the dent was more consistent with foot traffic over the roof. It was noted that the dent did not contribute to the water ingress and in his professional opinion the dent was not caused by a falling tree branch.

The Repair

The repair to the internal ceiling was approved as resultant damage from the storm and the scope of works required:

  • electrical (to isolate/disconnect internal light – located in the middle of the sheet to be replaced)
  • strip out of damaged plasterboard ceiling sheet and cornice
  • plastering to replace the plasterboard sheet and cornice
  • painting to the ceiling and walls

Our Safety System

We inducted the home owner into our site specific safety system which included our Workplace Health and Safety Management Plan and Project Safety Environmental Analysis being applied to the site.

Our trades are inducted into our Safety System annually and the PSEA and SWMS for each site completed and updated as the repair progresses.

Ambrose Building
Image 6: Site Safety Sign erected onsite

The Incident

On Friday 24/2/17 our licenced electrician disconnected a light that was in the middle of the plasterboard sheet to be replaced and isolated the wire in the ceiling using a junction box ready for the ceiling sheet replacement to commence on Monday 27/2/17.

On Monday 27/2/17 our plasterer removed a 1350 x 3600 ceiling sheet and was prepping the ceiling battens for the install of the new sheet. In doing so the plasterer touched the fifth batten in from the external wall which gave him an electric shock and threw him off his plasterer’s trestle (approximately 800mm off ground) landing on his shoulder.

The plasterer immediately contacted our local Building Supervisor advising he had received an electric shock and proceeded to hospital via ambulance.

Our Supervisor actioned our Safety Incident Reporting Plan and immediately notified our Safety Officer and State Construction Manager via phone, advising them of what had occurred. Our Supervisor advised he was heading to site to inspect the work area and make the site safe.

En route our Supervisor contacted our electrician who attended site within 20 minutes of the incident occurring.

The Investigation

Upon inspection, it was identified that a subsequent light wire, located approximately 6m away from our area of operation, had been screwed through directly into the metal ceiling batten. It appears this had been done during the original construction of the home and the ceiling batten had been live since that time.

Ambrose Building
Image 7: Screw through wire into batten

Ambrose Building

Image 8: Screw removed from batten

Note: the electrical wire runs between the plasterboard sheet and under the metal batten

Upon further investigation by our electrician it was found that the screw had only pierced the active wire when it was screwed through into the batten, therefore the metal ceiling batten was live however as it was not able to be earthed, meaning this would not be picked up by any tests done during the completion of the house by the original electrician or builder.

Our electrician identified that if the screw was just 1mm over, thereby touching the earth and the active, this would have resulted in the power cutting straight away during original testing and the problem would have been found and rectified.

The meter box was inspected which found that the power point circuit has a residual current device (RCD) which is designed to break the electric circuit within 300 milliseconds to prevent serious harm from an ongoing electric shock. However the lighting circuit did not have an RCD installed.

At the time of the construction of the home, approximately 25 years ago, it was legal to complete the install in this manner. Even if the lighting circuit had been equipped with an RCD, this still would not have highlighted the problem at the completion of the original build. What the installation of an RCD on the lighting circuit would have done, was at the time of someone touching the batten, it would delivered a shock but the RCD would have tripped and prevented someone from clenching onto the object they were holding.

Reporting

The matter was reported to Workplace Health and Safety as required and as a result we met on site with a WHS Inspector and Electrical Safety Office Inspector to review the incident.

Our safety system was fully inspected and found to be compliant with legislative requirements.

Conclusion

The main lesson from this repair is vigilance. Previous work practices and standards can and will have an impact on the repairs we complete today and well into the future.

In this example, there was nothing to indicate that a lighting cable had been screwed through and the batten was live.

Previous testing had failed to identify the risk present and the home owner’s had resided in the property for years with no problems or issues occurring.

As Estimator/Supervisors, becoming hyper vigilant to the location of cables in ceilings; and identifying if they run under battens and not over them, is just one indicator that a hazard exists in that environment.

The investment we at Ambrose Building have put into our safety system and procedures is purely designed for the safety of our trades, staff, occupants of the home and their visitors, now and into the future.

The plasterer reported dislocating his shoulder and has taken time off work.

This case study highlights the importance of using a QBCC Licenced Supervisor, even on the smaller value jobs because you never know when a safety incident might strike.

For any questions about our site specific safety system please contact our Safety Officer Mike Hessell.

Several companies around the world have explored 3D printing to such an extent that affordable housing is able printed out of concrete in under 24 hours. The printer is based on the principles of contour crafting—a process that 3D prints large-scale objects layer by layer.

American company Apis Cor recently used its 3D-printer to lay down concrete walls on a test home at a site in Russia, printing out a 400-square-foot or 38 square metre house. As can be seen in the above video, the printer resembles a small crane that lays down layer upon layer of a concrete mixture that the company says can last for 175 years.

After the walls were printed, the machine was removed, and a group of contractors installed insulation, windows, appliances, and the roof.

The company says that it can build and furnish these small houses for a cost of about $10,000 USD.

Chinese Printing – Two Story Homes

Chinese construction company HuaShang Tengda have used a 3D printer to create a 400-square-meter, two-story house in a month and a half.

Beijing-based HuaShang Tengda is a major competitor of fellow Chinese construction company WinSun, who have 3D printed a six-story apartment building and a mansion.

Like Apis Cor, HuaShang Tengda printed their two-story villa entirely on-site. However in a unique process that looks quite different from other 3D printed construction techniques the HuaShang Tengda team first erects the frame of the house, complete with reinforcement bars and plumbing pipes, and then prints over them with their gigantic 3D printer.

The technology, according to HuaShang Tengda, was developed entirely in-house and is controlled by custom-designed software that consists of four “systems”: an electronic ingredient formulating system, a concrete mixing system, a transmission system and a 3D printing system.  The versatile printer, the company says, can be used to print buildings of any size and shape, including high-rise apartment buildings as well as structures with unconventional shapes that wouldn’t be feasible with other construction methods.

NASA and Printing in Space

Inhabitat.com reports “Professor Behrokh Khoshnevis’ revolutionary robot can 3D print an entire 2,500-square-foot home in just 24 hours. The technology was first developed at the University of Southern California, and it has since caught the eye of NASA and major building firms.”

“The innovative technology of 3D printing large structures could revolutionize the building industry and help meet the growing demand of housing in city centers. Meanwhile, NASA has given Khoshnevis a grant to experiment with lunar structures and buildings that could potentially be erected on other Earth-like planets.”

Low Cost / Severe Weather Event Damaged Housing

The application of the technology has already caught the attention of many organisations around the world who can see the obvious benefit in using the approach to quickly build robust low cost housing for victims of natural disasters.

 

Some Statistics on Apis Cor

 

Source: Apis Cor

The Bureau of Meteorology reported this month that Brisbane had its warmest February on record in terms of mean temperature. Brisbane also had its highest February mean maximum temperature on record and second-warmest February mean minimum temperature on record. Rainfall was well below average at all Brisbane locations.

Persistent heat throughout the month; record warmth

  • Brisbane had its warmest February on record, with a mean temperature of 27.6 °C (+2.3 °C above average), beating the previous record of 27.3 °C set in 2004
  • Brisbane also had its hottest February days on record, with 32.5 °C (+3.5 °C above average); also its second-warmest mean minimum temperature on record with 22.7 °C, and only 0.2 °C below the record set in 1981
  • Brisbane had a record run of 26 consecutive days above 30 °C (1st to 26th), beating the previous record of 16 days set in 2016 by a long margin
  • The peak of the heat occurred between the 10th and the 13th, and the hottest day on the 12th at most sites; Amberley had its hottest February day on record
  • A mostly stagnant weather pattern over the southeast during the month resulted in all sites recording mean maximum temperatures more than more than 2 °C above the long-term average, and most metropolitan locations having their warmest February days on record
  • Overnight temperatures were well above average, and some locations sites had their warmest February nights or equal highest on record
  • It was extremely hot on the 12th: Thargomindah (47.2 °C), Birdsville (47.1 °C), Ballera (47.0 °C), St George (46.8 °C) and Bollon (46.5 °C) all equalled or exceeded the previous Queensland record for the hottest February day (was 46.5 °C at Ballera on 6 February, 2006)

Well below average rainfall totals

  • Overall, rainfall was below to well below average at all Brisbane metropolitan locations
  • All sites recorded less than 30% of their average February rainfall and reported monthly totals between 20 mm and 40 mm
  • Showers brought light falls to the southeast on the 8th and 9th; thunderstorms on the 13th produced falls up to 20 mm across the metropolitan area
  • Overnight thunderstorms on the 18th, and continuing showers across the southeast coast resulted in falls of 10 mm to 15 mm at most locations
  • Most of the State had below to well below February rainfall; pockets along the southern border and in the southeast had their driest February on record or in several decades
  • Much of the southwest and southeastern districts of Queensland recorded less than 20% of the average February rainfall

Severe Thunderstorms

  • A line of severe thunderstorms formed over the southeast coast on the 13th, and affected parts of the greater Brisbane area with very strong wind gusts of up to 115 km/h recorded at the Inner Reciprocal Marker in Moreton Bay

Tropical cyclone Alfred

Alfred was first identified as a tropical low near Borroloola (in the Northern Territory) on the 15th, and remained slow-moving near the southern Gulf of Carpentaria coast for a number of days
Tropical cyclone Alfred was named early on the 20th, and remained a category 1 system for almost 24 hours, before weakening and eventually crossing the coast as a tropical low in the early afternoon of the 21st
Sweers Island recorded a rainfall total of 1159 mm from the 14th to the 23rd

Special Climate Statement 61—exceptional heat in southeast Australia in early 2017

The Bureau’s Special Climate Statements provide a detailed summary of significant weather and climate events. In Special Climate Statement 61 the BOM review the exceptional heat and heatwaves across the Southeast.

Click here to review the Special Climate Statement.

  Ambrose Building

Image 1 & 2: Cloud Roll Caloundra on Sunday 19/2/2017 (Anthony McLean)

January

The BOM recorded that Queensland had its sixth-warmest January on record.  Statewide, mean maximum temperatures were well above average, while mean minimum temperatures were the second-warmest on record for January. Rainfall was mixed: above average in the north and west, below average in parts of the southeast. No tropical cyclones formed in the Queensland region in January, which is unusual but not unprecedented.

Quiet tropical cyclone season so far

  • The Queensland region experienced an unusually quiet tropical cyclone season to the end of January, with no tropical cyclones forming in the Eastern Region
  • Of the last 21 tropical cyclone seasons, 13 seasons had seen a tropical cyclone in the Queensland region by the end of January

February

Severe thunderstorm warnings were received for Queensland on eight days of February so far, being:

  • 1st
  • 13th
  • 14th
  • 15th
  • 16th
  • 18th
  • 19th
  • 20th

First Cyclone of the Season

On Friday 17th February the BOM forecast a Tropical Cyclone would form in the Gulf of Carpentaria over the weekend.  The category one cyclone did form on Monday 20th February and was given the name Cyclone Alfred.  At approximately 4am on Tuesday 21st February the cyclone was downgraded to a tropical low.  The impact on Queensland was limited apart from increased rainfall associated with the monsoon trough in the lead in to the cyclone forming.

The following cloud roll was observed at Caloundra on Sunday 19th February 2017.

Research undertaken by the Insurance Council of Australia confirmed that most customers (about 80 per cent) don’t read the legally mandated PDS before purchasing a policy.

Consumer Research on General Insurance Product Disclosures

 

The Insurance Council of Australia’s Effective Disclosure Taskforce has driven research into new strategies and tools for consumers when buying insurance.

ICA CEO Rob Whelan said

“Insurers want to make the policy information they provide clear, simple and easy to navigate. The Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) is the key means of doing this. Unfortunately many customers find these legal documents too long and complex.”

Other key findings included:

  • Consumers focused most on price when buying insurance, rather than policy detail
  • Most consumers believed they had considered all of the details when buying insurance, even though most do not look into policy exclusions and limits
  • Policy renewal letters were the most trusted and commonly used document for insurance customers
  • While most consumers (88 per cent) were confident they understand the detail of their policy, actual understanding of policy exclusions and limits were poor
  • Many consumers do not consider the specific risks they need to cover when purchasing insurance
  • Policyholders who had previously made claims were typically better informed, and more likely to read the PDS.

Mr Whelan said it was crucial that consumers understood the features of the policies they were buying, rather than simply focusing on price.

“Customers are exposed to dozens of brands offering multiple policies that differ on price and features. Finding the most appropriate one can sometimes be challenging,” he said.

“If a customer doesn’t understand a policy’s exclusions and limits or buys the wrong level of cover, they can end up financially devastated. For insurers, these situations create angry customers, bad publicity and costly disputes. It’s in everyone’s interest to avoid misunderstandings.”

To read the full report click here.

 

Master Builders Media Release: 17 February 2017
Business confidence in the Queensland economy and building industry strengthened during the December 2016 quarter, continuing to rise into positive territory in the latest Master Builders survey.

The Master Builders Survey of Industry Conditions for the October-December quarter 2016 shows the majority of respondents (45 per cent) now regard the outlook as stronger, despite 90 per cent of all home construction being in the southeast corner.

Master Builders deputy CEO Paul Bidwell said the shift in mood was coming from both the residential and commercial sectors, and was obvious in the resource regions of central Queensland, Mackay, Whitsunday and north Queensland.

“This is despite the recent concentration of work in Brisbane and surrounding coastal cities,” Mr Bidwell said.

The survey is one of the best ways to gauge specific industry expectations and business performance in all regions across Queensland.

To read the full media release: click here
To read the full Survey of Industry Conditions Report: click here

Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni said that the Queensland Building Plan consultation was an opportunity for industry and consumers to help shape the course of the state’s $44 billion building industry.’

“We have a strong, modern and vibrant building industry and this government is committed to making sure the sector continues to grow and develop.

“The Queensland Building Plan looks at a number of reforms designed to bring increased confidence to the sector, including our government’s historic reforms on security of payment for subcontractors.”

Mr de Brenni said that the discussion paper covers of a range of areas including a review of licencing and plumbing and drainage laws, the potential for a single state housing code and the sustainability of buildings.

Community and Industry Expos

The Ambrose Building team attended the Sunshine Coast Community and Industry Expo to listen to the sessions presented by the various Government departments represented, including:

  • Working with government – tips and tricks to help win building and construction work
  • Plumbing and Drainage Act reform – streamlining processes and protecting public safety
  • Licensing reform – simplifying and modernising the approach to licensing
  • Security of Payment and Project Bank Accounts – helping to ensure payment in full, on time, every time
  • Home Warranty Scheme – improving the Scheme and insurance cover for residential construction work

The Master Builders surveyed members over their concerns in the Survey of Industry Conditions and highlighted the following as Hot Topics emerging from the Building Plan:

Project Bank Accounts – While there was strong support for ensuring that all parties in the construction supply chain are paid , there were concerns that a system of project bank accounts would not work as intended, and tie up businesses with more complexity and paperwork.

License and insurance thresholds – The majority of respondents felt that both thresholds should remain unchanged or increase.

Engaging building certifiers – The majority of respondents opposed the idea of a ‘cab rank’ model for assigning building certifiers. The reason was because lack of an ongoing relationship would make it more difficult to get answers to questions as they arise and may lead to issues being ignored or avoided, thereby allowing certifier standards to drop.

Investigating and prosecuting non-conforming products – Respondents were almost universally in favour of stronger government intervention to stem the flow of non-conforming products.

Have Your Say

As committed member of the Queensland Building and Construction Industry we would encourage everyone involved to review the various documents and information sheets on the Queensland Building Plan website and to have your say by undertaking the relevant submissions available here.

All submissions are due on 28th February 2017.

UPDATE – Monday 20 February 2017

A category one cyclone has formed in the Gulf of Carpentaria but is due to weaken before heading towards the Northern Territory coast.

The slow-moving low had been threatening to turn into a cyclone for days, and finally intensified into Cyclone Alfred about 7:00am.

Friday 17 February 2017

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has warned there is high chance of a cyclone forming in Queensland’s Gulf of Carpenter this weekend.

A tropical low moved from Gulf waters onto land during Friday morning, which saw the BOM downgrade its warning to a watch.

The tropical low is expected to move back over water later on Saturday and there is a more than 50 per cent chance it will develop into a tropical cyclone on Sunday.

It is possible the system may reach category two intensity if it remains over water.

“It would be the first cyclone of the season,” BOM forecaster Janine Yusa said.

If the cyclone develops it will be called Alfred.

Cyclone Forecast Map – Issued at 12:22 pm AEST Friday 17 February 2017

Understanding Tropical Cyclone Forecast Track Maps

Source: www.bom.gov.au

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has launched a review of the General Insurance Code of Practice to ensure it keeps pace with recent developments affecting the industry.

The Code, introduced in 1994 and previously reviewed four times, commits insurers to mandatory standards of service above and beyond their statutory obligations.

All ICA members offering products covered by the Code are signatories to the document, which is monitored and enforced by the independent Code Governance Committee.

ICA CEO Rob Whelan said: “The Code is a living document that evolves to remain the benchmark for industry self-regulation in Australia. Though it remains fit for purpose following a thorough review in 2012, external developments mean that a more focused review is now merited.

To read the full media release on the review and other associated documents please click here.

It is with great pleasure that Ambrose Building attended our first SCAN4WHS Meeting on the Sunshine Coast at Sundale on Thursday 16th February 2017.

The quarterly meeting brings a group of motivated businesses and government representatives together to discuss Workplace Health and Safety issues and initiatives.

During this meeting we heard Industry Case Studies from:

  • Julie Ashwell (Sundale) on Managing Workers with Non-Work Related Injuries
  • Pam Moore (Sunshine Coast Private Hospital) on Innovations in protecting infrastructure through the unique use of a new type of sandbag
  • Sam Bevis (Architectural Metalworks Australia) on Using the PEfrorM model in Manufacturing
  • Sue Beaton (University of Sunshine Coast) on Office Ergonomics in the Design Phase
  • Sara Pazell (Viva! Health at Work) on the Value Proposition of Good Work Design (Rio Tinto Weipa)

We were also provided a Workcover Update from Helena Creighton and WHSQ update from Kerry Cowling, Jennue Hunter and Greg Karlsson.

Some of the key takeaways and resources included:

  • eNEWS (is a free email subscription service keeping you informed on a range of topics and health and safety issues that affect workplaces in Queensland.
    Sign-up to receive regular newsletters and updates delivered to your inbox)
  • Heat Stress
  • WHS eTools for use by businesses and organisations to assess the risks for various hazards and determine the return on investment for their health and safety initiatives.
  • Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 amendment and 18 additional on the spot fines
  • Young Workers Safety Resources

Ladders are used for convenient access to higher and lower levels everyday, especially when the use of scaffold or working platforms is not practicable.

It is important to realise that many serious injuries result from falls from ladders.

In the eight years frmo 1 July 2003 to 30 June 2011, 37 workers died following a fall from a ladder.

30% occurred where workers were climbing up or down the ladder

20% occurred due to overbalancing on the ladder

15% occurred when the ladder moved

In completing the risk assessment in using the ladder and accessing a roof, the type of task, duration and physical surroundings must be taken into consideration.

To help manage the above risks, each of our estimators use a safety product known as Ladder’s Little Helper.

Made in the USA, the device provides an anti-slip function when accessing the ladder and specifically prevents sideways movement while the Estimator is on the ladder.

The device’s manufacturer claims the Ladder’s Little Helper fits 99% of gutters and 99% of ladders.

The other major benefit of using the Ladder’s Little Helper is it protects the gutter from scratching.

To install Ladder’s Little Helper simply follow these three basic steps.

   

Two things we have found very helpful that is not openly shown or discussed in any of the advertising material is the use of the tie off eyelet at the top of the Ladder’s Little Helper, meaning you can secure the ladder to the device and also by securing the bottom the risk of movement while on the ladder is greatly reduced, if not eliminated.

  

Better Homes and Gardens featured the Ladder’s Little Helper on their show:

Where to buy?

Ladder’s Little Helper is available at any Bunnings store and online.

In the storm season it is easy for staff to extend hours to meet KPI or SLA timeframes.

Work related fatigue is more than feeling tired it is a state of mental or physical exhaustion that reduces a person’s ability to perform safely and effectively. QWHS advise signs of fatigue include:

  • tiredness even after sleep
  • reduced hand-eye coordination or slow reflexes
  • short term memory problems and an inability to concentrate
  • blurred vision or impaired visual perception
  • need for extended sleep during days off work.

Fatigue can usually be traced to one or more of your habits or routines. The level of fatigue varies for individuals as it is dependent on sleep, physical exertion, length of shift, poor eating habits, driving times to and from work or lack of sleep.

Mind and Body to Fight Fatigue

Ambrose Building is proud to announce that we are an inaugural member of a new type of health facility on the Sunshine Coast.  Hunt’s Fitness provides a mix of strength and conditioning classes that you would expect with any top line facility, along with a series of high intensity and interval training, but also they have a strong commitment to mind and body with a full range of yoga and pilates classes.

Thus far all of our staff who have taken up memberships have tried the mind and body stream and even after two short weeks, the management of workplace fatigue and increased productivity is absolutely evident.

Dietary Suggestions to Fight Fatigue

Sometimes a few simple changes to diet can assist in boosting energy levels. Some of the following may be of assistance:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Be careful with caffeine (if you are tired, try and reduce your caffine intake and see how you feel)
  • Eat breakfast
  • Don’t skip meals
  • Increase the amount of fruit, vegetables in your diet and reduce the amount of high fat, sugar and salty foods you consume
  • Rather than 3 big meals, try 6 smaller meals to spread your intake more evenly across the day

Sleep

Finally make sure your sleeping patterns and habits allow you to get periods of undisturbed, restful sleep each night.  Researchers have confirmed that 17 continuous hours awake is equivalent to a blood alcohol content of 0.05. If your sleepless hours add to 21, your blood alcohol content can reach 0.08.

Guide for Managing the Risk of Fatigue at Work

Safe Work Australia has published the Guide for Managing the Risk of Fatigue at Work.  The guide takes a practical approach to explaining and managing fatigue and includes a Fatigue Checklist where employers and employees can identify risks of fatigue and set about implementing control measures to counter them.  To review the report click on the image below.

A range of Eaton Quicklag ELQ-TW earth leakage circuit breakers have been recalled by the suppliers due to risk of electrical fire.

The affected models can be identified by a green test button as shown in this image and are listed in the table. Models without a test button or with a white or an orange test button are not impacted by this recall.

The affected models were supplied nationally from 1 April 2004 to 15 December 2016. The RCBO has a serial number on the side from which the date of manufacture can be determined.

 

Safety issue: Risk of Fire
A non-compliant material has been used in the manufacture of a component. When operating under short circuit conditions the RCBO may put out ionised gases through the exhaust port which can lead to a fire.

Action required:
Building owners, managers and electrical contractors are urged to check switchboards or load centres for potentially affected RCBOs.

If you find a recalled RCBO model installed in a customer’s premises, you should notify them about the recall and have them contact the supplier to arrange for a replacement RCBO to be installed.

Supplier details:

Eaton Industries Pty Ltd
Phone: 1800 870 851
Website: www.eatoncorp.com.au/elqtw-r

Today our Safety Officer, Mike Hessell was on an Assessment at Laidley west of Brisbane and encountered six Redback spiders, that he could see.  The picture to the left shows the largest of the spiders present.

Mike advised that if he did not do a thorough inspection prior to moving into the work area he could have easily put his hand on one of the venomous arachnids.

LOCATION
Redback spiders are found commonly throughout Australia, especially in drier and built up areas. The spiders are shiny black in colour with a distinctive red stripe running along the length of their body. The venom from these spiders contains excitatory neurotoxins and they stimulate the nervous system. In most cases, Redback spider bites cause severe, localised pain that may last for several days. In some cases, the localised pain can develop into more general symptoms, including sweating, nausea, weakness, chest pain and abdominal pain (Source: NSW Health)

HOW TO AVOID REDBACK SPIDER BITES

To avoid Redback spider bites:

1. Look for evidence of spider activity before commencing work
2. Avoid putting your hands into places you can’t see
3. If unsure wear gloves and a long sleeved shirt

ACTION IF BITTEN BY A REDBACK SPIDER

1. Wash the bitten area with soap and keep it clean.
2. Apply cold compresses and ice packs to reduce pain.
3. Pressure bandages should not be applied as they make the pain worse.
4. Call the Ambrose Building Safety Officer or your Building Supervisor and notify them you have been bitten
5. Develop a plan to seek immediate medical attention

It is with great excitement that Brett and Melissa Ambrose are able to share the first rendered images of the new homes to be built in Buderim.

Known as Rainforest Retreat these houses will provide the Buderim property market with a much needed boost of quality designer homes.

 

For any inquiries or to register your interest for updated regarding the homes to be built in Rainforest Retreat please email: [email protected]

 

 

 

These school holidays have been very busy for the Ambrose Building teams.  With various projects underway for Schools and other Government facilities.  Below are some progress pictures of some of the projects nearing completion that we have been working on.

 

Bray Park State School

 

Bli Bli State School

Internal works to provide new vinyl to the kitchen, installation of joinery, new door frames and doors, internal wall linings, operable wall enclosure, new floor coverings, new covered area roof, pool fencing and pathways.

 

Caboolture Ambulance Station

The Ambulance station required a new carport, complete with concreting and upgrades to the Plant Room.

 

Noosa District State High School

Construction works required to blocks identified as Pomona campus “G” block and “A” block involving removal of operable wall and installation of a solid fixed wall with new air conditioning, sound proofing and internal doors..

 

St Patricks Secondary College, Gympie

New plasterboard ceiling.

 

 

St Patrick’s Primary School
Remove and Replace Roof.

 

 

Sagging Ceilings

USG Boral Plasterboard ManualAll too often we see plasterboard ceilings that have noticeably come away from their fixings.

Manufactured on a continuous production line, plasterboard is comprised of a specially formulated gypsum core encased between heavy duty paper liners.

Plasterboard is normally fixed to framing using a combination of stud adhesive and fasteners or in older ceilings screw or nail fixed only.

It is critical to understand that stud adhesive on its own DOES NOT constitute a fixing system and MUST be used in conjunction with screws or nails.

The combination of an adhesive and a fastener is the preferred option for general applications as nominated in the USG Boral Plasterboard Installation Manual (October 2016).

The manual clearly states that on High Shrinkage timbers a combination adhesive/fastener system MUST be used.  High shrinkage timber is defined as Timber with moisture content at or above 16% at the time of lining and a tangential shrinkage of more than 8% is categorised as high shrinkage timber.

This generally includes timbers such as Mountain Ash, Messmate, River Red Gum, Alpine Ash, Karri and Blackbutt (commonly referred to as Builder’s, or OB, Hardwood).

Reasons for Plasterboard Ceilings to Fail

Plasterboard FailureThe fixing system on a plasterboard ceiling can start to fail for a number of reasons, including:

  • incorrect original installation
  • extra load being placed on the plasterboard in the ceiling cavity above
  • excess moisture, causing the paper around the fixing to give way

 

Unfortunately poor workmanship is impossible to identify until the fixings start to fail.  The reason being the strength of the entire fixing system relies on the correct application of adhesive and fixings.  It is is impossible to check the correct application of adhesive once the ceiling is in place.

Key Points

Weight: A 6000mm sheet weighs over 50kg

Adhesive: Without correctly applied stud adhesive, screws and/or nails are unable to hold the weight over an extended period of time.

Once one goes: As soon as one nail or screw fails, this puts more weight on the surrounding fixings, and over time they too will fail.

There she goes: The sagging or downward curving of the sheet is the ceiling slowly falling down.

Signs a Fixing System is Failing

Ceiling Drop V JoinAn obvious sign that a fixing system has given way is the ability to see a pronounced ‘V’ where the plasterboard sheets meet or join. This can be caused by the fixings in the centre of the plasterboard sheets letting go.

 

A simple test that can be completed quite safely is by pushing the plasterboard ceiling up towards the ceiling timbers. If the plasterboard moves upwards or if the screws or nail heads become visible or pop through the surface, this clearly shows there is a gap between the timber and plasterboard and the fixings have already started to let go of the plasterboard.

Bowed CeilingPlease Note: when completing this test, be careful to gently ease the sheet as comes back down. If the fixings have given way this will minimise the pressure on the sheet and any fixings that are still intact and holding the sheet in place.

If the ceiling is at the stage where a noticeable curve is present, the fixing system has failed and should be repaired as soon as possible.

 

In the above image you can see how far the ceiling is from the edges of the level but is touching in the centre.

Repairing the Ceiling

There a number of options to repair a plasterboard ceiling that has sagged.

Often the preference is to drop the old ceiling and replace it with new plasterboard and cornice because these works are easily able to be warranted.  However there are other options depending on the extent and timeframe from when the fixings started to fail.

Option 1 – Total Ceiling Failure

This option is to be undertaken when the the ceiling sheets have become distorted due to length of time the sheet has been curving down and or if the majority of fixings have failed.  If this is the case the old plasterboard ceiling and cornice will need to be removed before installing new sheets and cornice.

Option 2 – Minor Failure that has been detected early

If the area affected is relatively small or picked up very early, the plasterboard sheeting can be rescrewed to the ceiling timbers.  The sheets should be fixed every 300mm to pull the plasterboard back into place and fix it securely to the ceiling timbers.

Option 3 – Temporary Battens

If the ceiling cannot be pulled back into shape using Option 2, this method can be used if the fixing failure has been detected relatively early.  It requires temporary timber battens to the be fixed to the underside of the plasterboard and these are screwed off to the ceiling timbers, supporting the sheets and allowing them to return to their normal flat shape.  The battens are required to be left insitu for approximately one week before being removed.  As this option requires a longer repair time, material costs for timber battens and labour for finishing and painting, it must be assessed for cost effectiveness because while this retains the original plasterboard, it can be more costly than just replacing the ceiling.

Option 4 – Sheet over the old ceiling

It is also possible to replace the ceiling by leaving the original sheeting in place, installing permanent timber or metal battens under the old sheeting and installing a plasterboard underneath.

This method will save time, mess, allow the existing insulation to remain in place and save on dumping fees, however it will reduce the ceiling height by approximately 40mm and therefore may not be option depending on the building design.

29-nov-16-kitchen-3  29-nov-16-bed  29-nov-16-living-2

Recently the ABC News website posted an article by Brett Williamson asking the question

What causes a thunderstorm to become a hailstorm?

The article quotes Sam Slattery from the BOM’s Severe Weather Team, saying.

“You really need what is called a ‘sustained updraft'”.

“You need the air to be rapidly moving up in the atmosphere.”

Ms Slattery explained that as warm air rushes up, moisture is lifted and pushed into cooler parts of the atmosphere.

When the updraft intensifies, the moisture becomes caught in a cyclic, tumbling wind pattern.

And when the lift created from the updraft is strong enough to keep the moisture aloft, hail begins to form.

BOM Wind Pattern within Storm

If the updraft is strong enough, small stones will continue to be tossed upwards and grow until they become large enough for to gravity pull them down.

“[The hail] just does this big circle and keeps growing and growing,” Ms Slattery said.

Misshaped hail stones are caused when stones collide during the cycle of formation.

The moisture available below the storm and the speed of the updraft determines the size of hail stones.

The Bureau of Meteorology’s Storm Spotters’ Handbook states,

A thunderstorm is associated with a very tall cloud mass, a cumulonimbus cloud, that has a flat, dark base from which heavy rain and hail can fall. When not obscured by haze or other clouds, the top of a cumulonimbus is bright and tall, reaching up to an altitude of 10-16 km (lower in higher latitudes and higher in the tropics). The top may appear to be ‘boiling’ with cauliflower-shaped lumps but more often has a fibrous, frozen appearance.

Although a thunderstorm is a three-dimensional structure, it should be thought of as a constantly evolving process rather than an object. Each thunderstorm, or cluster of thunderstorms, is a self-contained system with organised regions of updraughts (upward moving air) and downdraughts (downward moving air). Their movement within the cloud and interaction with prevailing winds at various heights in the atmosphere form changing cloud features that you can see and interpret. The whole process is an example of convection, which acts to distribute energy more evenly in the atmosphere.

Three Main Parts

Every thunderstorm cloud has:

  1. a core region
  2. a spreading anvil top, and
  3. an inflow-outflow region.

Severe Thunderstorm Features
The core is that part of the cloud where sustained strong updraughts of relatively warm and moist air condense to produce rain, hail and/or snow (collectively known as precipitation) and associated downdraughts. Underneath the core we see a rain curtain, whilst above it the tallest part of the thunderstorm can be found. The dark flat cloud base that extends away from the core (usually to the west or north) is called the flanking line or rain-free base, along which air fuelling updraughts into the thunderstorm rises in successive cumulus towers.

 

Rainfall was well below average for Queensland in December 2016.

1st December – Severe thunderstorms swept through on the 1st with large hailstones up to 10cm recorded in Kandanga and widespread damage to roofs was recorded around Imbil.

3rd December – Multiple severe storms impacted the South East. The first of several supercell storms moved into Queensland from New South Wales sweeping through Brisbane’s CBD, Brisbane Airport, Nudgee, Samford and Albany Creek about 5:25pm, before moving north-east all the way through to waters off Bribie Island. A further storm cell hit Boonah, Laidley, Gatton, Esk, Burpengary and Brighton about 5:50pm and cells impacted Caboolture, Kilcoy and Kingaroy north-west of Brisbane after 7:00pm, before moving over Maroochydore and Caloundra on the way to Gympie.

18th December – a severe storm hit the south east with wind gusts up to 100km/h being recorded at Amberley. A home in The Gap lost its roof and many homes sustained damage due to falling trees. Ipswich received the heaviest rainfall, with 55 millimetres falling in 30 minutes.

January has seen heatwave conditions across the state, coupled with severe storms and flash flooding.

3rd January – an offshore trough caused low level convergence, humid atmosphere, and the showers aligned for continuous showers. Sucrogen Weir, near Sarina, recorded 269mm in the 24 hours to 6am on 4th January 2017 and the Mackay Airport recorded its wettest January day since 1951 with 233mm to 9am. As a result of the heavy rain flash flooding has been recorded with homes inundated and 13 roads recorded as closed across the region.

7-11th January – Continuous rain has fallen across the Far North with Innisfail experiencing over 1000mm in the period 7-11 January 20117. Some water ingress claims being responded to.

Queensland has experienced heatwaves across the state with the BOM defining a heatwave as “three or more days of high maximum and minimum temperatures that are unusual for the location”.

Innisfail in Far North Queensland has recorded 871.8mm in the first 11 days of 2017.

What makes this remarkable is 824mm fell from Saturday 7th January.

January Rainfall:

  • Sun 1/1/2017 – 0.6mm
  • Mon 2/1/2017 – 1.8mm
  • Tues 3/1/2017 – 2.6mm
  • Wed 4/1/17 – 1.8mm
  • Thurs 5/1/2017 – 25.2mm
  • Fri 6/1/2017 – 15.2mm
  • Sat 7/1/2017 – 62.2mm
  • Sun 8/1/2017 – 183mm
  • Mon 9/1/2017 – 263mm
  • Tues 10/1/2017 – 240.2mm
  • Wed 11/1/2017 – 76mm
Source: Weatherzone (accessed 11/1/2017)
Ambrose Building
Ambrose Supervisor Phil Laffey’s view from his ute in Innisfail

The wettest 24hr total for the region was set on 31st January 1913 with 531.1mm recorded as falling.

Several sources have recorded that wets of Innisfail 1003mm fell in the same period.

For context the average annual rainfall for Brisbane is 1021.6mm.

On Monday 9th January the Cassowary Coast Regional Council issued a boil water advisory notice for residents from Cardwell to Silkwood due to high levels of turbidity in the creek systems with the heavy rain.

 

 

Typical to this type of situation we are responding to water ingress via roofs and water damage to ceilings.  While there is flooding to creeks and waterways, inundation of homes has been relatively minor.

Bureau of Meteorology Forecaster Shaun Luscombe said flooding would subside in the next few days.

He said there should be coastal showers this week with up to 115mm predicted for Cairns from today until Saturday.

“Real” monsoonal rain is not expected until next month.

Mena Creek Waterfall at Paronella Park

Ambrose Building   paronella-park-2

This was the site on Monday where a number of Kayakers paddled over the edge.

Cairns Post – Thrill seekers kayak off Paronella Park waterfall in death-defying video

At 9.27pm on 3rd January 2017 the Bureau of Meteorology issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the Mackay and Whitsundays region.

BOM meteorologist Mark Trenorden said “An offshore trough caused some low level convergence, humid atmosphere, and the showers aligned for continuous showers”.

Sucrogen Weir, near Sarina, recorded 269mm in the 24 hours to 6am on 4th January 2017 and the Mackay Airport recorded its wettest January day since 1951 with 233mm to 9am.

As a result of the heavy rain flash flooding has been recorded with homes inundated and 13 roads recorded as closed across the region.

Overnight Rain Totals – 24hrs to Wed 4th Jan 2017

  • 387mm at Sunnyside
  • 350mm at Sarina Range
  • 304mm at Sarina
  • 281mm at The Leap
  • 271mm at East Mackay
  • 233mm at Mackay Airport
  • 192mm at Sarina Beach
  • 173mm at Bakers Creek
  • 167mm at Rosella
  • 167mm at West Mackay

Before: Sunday 19 June 2016    

After: 20 December 2016

The Situation

On Sunday 19 June 2016 a severe weather event occurred across South East Queensland with a severe storm warning issued by the Bureau of Meteorology. The weather system delivered heavy localised rain for approximately four hours which caused flash flooding in parts of Brisbane with suburbs like Alderley, Toowong and Corinda receiving 150-180mm during the deluge. Streets were also fully or partially closed at the Sunshine Coast, Redcliffe and Caboolture, with fallen trees and flooding causing problems in these areas.

In a simultaneous but separate weather event just before 6pm, tornado like winds were experienced in Akeringa Place, Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast. Akeringa Place sustained the brunt of the high winds where at least five unit blocks clustered at the end of the street suffered extensive damage or were destroyed.

The Timeline

19 June 2016 – Storm hits Akeringa Place, Mooloolaba and devastates unit blocks

21 September 2016 – Ambrose Building was approved to complete the repairs to 24 Akeringa Place, Mooloolaba

20 December 2016 – Repairs were completed and units handed back to their owners in time for Christmas

Case Study

Address: 24 Akeringa Place, Mooloolaba

Impact: 4 x units (2 x ground floor; 2 x first floor)

 

Scope of Works

The scope of works to the unit block included repairs to the ground floor units, Unit 1 and 2 and an entire rebuild of the first-floor units, Unit 3 & 4.

Unit 1 and 2 required a complete ceiling and robe door replacement and partial replacement of the kitchen including bench tops. All interior surfaces had mould remediation completed and were repainted.

The first-floor Units, 3 and 4, required demolition and then a total rebuild from the floor up. New wall, ceiling and roof framing was installed. Ultrabond salt resistance roof sheeting, gutters and down pipes were installed due to the proximity to the marine environment and new external brick works and rendering undertaken. Plasterboard linings were installed throughout and painted and a new kitchen, complete with appliances, was installed in each unit. The new bathrooms were fully tiled, with new vanities and tap ware installed. New floor coverings were then installed throughout and a complete clean undertaken.

21 October 2016

28 October 2016

4 November 2016

11 November 2016

18 November 2016

29 November 2016

13 December 2016

19 December 2016

20 December 2016 – Completion

Sunshine Coast Daily Reports

Win News

As is an all too often occurrence, a flexi-hose bursts under a sink and water damage is to done to the kitchen, joinery and timber floor.  When it happens in a multi-story home this can pose a multitude of other issues.  Further, when the timber finish is high gloss, and the customer has high expectations of the result, it is fantastic when we over deliver on their expectations.

Great work Mike Hessell and your team for this great repair in time for Christmas!

Read more:

Ambrose Building

Case Study Escape of Liquids

At 2.14pm on Sunday 18th December 2016, the Bureau of Meteorology issued a severe thunderstorm warning for very dangerous thunderstorms with destructive winds and large hailstones.

As the storm hit Energex recorded 36,000 lightning strikes and 10,000 southeast Queensland homes and businesses were left without power.

The SES received 144 calls for assistance in Ipswich and 41 in Brisbane, Logan and the Scenic Rim.

A home in The Gap had its roof blown off, a supermarket in Bellbowrie sustained a partial roof collapse and in Wynnum a shop front fell on an unoccupied car.

Many homes across the region sustained hail and impact damage from falling trees.

Ipswich received the heaviest rainfall, with 55 millimetres falling in 30 mins, while winds in excess of 100 kilometres per hour were recorded at Amberley Airport and Brisbane’s western suburbs.

18-dec-2016-storm

The QBCC is the regulator of the building industry in Queensland, issuing licences to contractors, providing a free dispute resolution service and administering a home warranty scheme to provide insurance cover for residential construction work in Queensland.

Under the home warranty scheme, licensed contractors must pay a premium for residential construction work they carry out.

The scheme provides home owners with cover for loss where a licensed contractor does not complete the contracted works or fails to rectify defective work.

Scheme Changes
From 28 October 2016 the Scheme will be changed in various ways. These changes include:

  • everything previously insurable under the home warranty scheme, will continue to be insurable;
  • the scheme has been expanded to cover other additional items; and
  • a consumer will be able to increase the amount of cover by payment of an additional premium;

In addition to these changes, an important change has also been made in relation to the payment of the insurance premium under the Scheme. This change has important GST implications for licenced contractors.

Scheme Changes and GST
Prior to 28 October 2016, the contractor had a statutory obligation to pay the premium, yet the owner is the party that receives the benefit of the insurance. This arrangement is somewhat unusual in the insurance industry – normally the person who pays the premium gets the benefit of cover.

As the contractor paid the premium (including a GST amount) most contractors claimed back the GST component in their GST return process.

From 28 October 2016, the amendments to the Act require that the licensed contractor collects and pays the premium on behalf of the consumer to the QBCC.

As the contractor is collecting the premium and making payment to the QBCC on behalf of the consumer, this change has two main GST implications:

1. Tax invoices
The QBCC will issue a tax invoice to the consumer and will no longer issue a tax invoice to contractors.

For administrative purposes contractors will receive a receipt acknowledging that the QBCC
has received the relevant premium monies from the contractor.

2. Entitlement to GST credits
As the contractor makes the payment of the premium on behalf of the consumer, the contractor is unlikely to be entitled to claim back the GST component of the premium. This is because one of the criteria to claim back GST credits (officially referred to as ‘input tax credits’ in the GST Act) is that the payer is liable to pay the monies in their own right. Where the payer (ie contractor) is acting on behalf of another party (ie consumer), the other party (ie the consumer) is usually entitled to the GST credit (if other requirements are met) not the payer.

Implications for Contractors
Under the new Scheme contractors do not pay GST to the ATO on the premium collected from Consumers. The QBCC has advised that the collection of premium from the consumer will not constitute a taxable supply made by the contractor to the consumer under section 9-5 of the GST Act. This is because the contractor is collecting the premium and passing it on to the QBCC on behalf of the consumer (as deemed by the amendment to section 68A of the QBCC Act).

As a result, the contractor will not be required to pay GST to the ATO in respect of on-charging the premium to the consumer. The contractor will pass on the entire GST inclusive value of the premium collected to the QBCC in order to comply with the amendments to section 68B of the QBCC Act.

Under the new scheme the QBCC will no longer issue tax invoices to the contractor, rather they will be issued to the consumer and the contractor will receive a receipt acknowledging the QBCC has received payment only. For more information visit the QBCC website.

Hail storms are a good example, where damage may occur to buildings that have passed their serviceable life.

For us the definition of serviceable life is whether the element can continue to provide the expected performance as designed by the manufacturer.

In the below example there is clearly hail damage to this roof however it also showing signs it has passed its serviceable life.

Ambrose Building
Overview of the Roof

Ambrose Building

Close-up of corrosion through roofing sheet

Ambrose Building

Lead head nails that have popped

Ambrose Building

Condition of sheet and ridge capping

Ambrose Building

Condition of paint and sheet surface

 

Would you authorise repairs on this roof?

For those who do not know, Kandanga is a small Queensland town located on the Mary Valley Highway, 28 kilometres south west of Gympie.

The storm that hit the region on 1 December 2016 went viral when photos of tennis ball sized hail were posted on social media.

Read more: Kandanga Hail

Ambrose Building

IDQ20038
Bureau of Meteorology
Queensland Regional Office

TOP PRIORITY FOR IMMEDIATE BROADCAST

SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING – SOUTHEAST QUEENSLAND

for DAMAGING WIND and LARGE HAILSTONES

For people in parts of the
Scenic Rim Council Area.

Issued at 4:37 pm Friday, 28 October 2016.

The Bureau of Meteorology warns that, at 4:35 pm, severe thunderstorms were detected on the weather radar near Lamington National Park and the area south of Canungra. These thunderstorms are moving slowly towards the north. Damaging winds and large hailstones are likely.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services advises that people should:
* Move your car under cover or away from trees.
* Secure loose outdoor items.
* Seek shelter, preferably indoors and never under trees.
* Avoid using the telephone during a thunderstorm.
* Beware of fallen trees and powerlines.
* For emergency assistance contact the SES on 132 500.

The next warning is due to be issued by 5:40 pm.

Warnings are also available through TV and Radio broadcasts, the Bureau’s website at www.bom.gov.au or call 1300 659 219. The Bureau and Queensland Fire and Emergency Services would appreciate warnings being broadcast regularly.

 

Plan Image

Insurance Council of Australia Media Release

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) says the reported identification of asbestos in imported construction materials at two worksites this week underscores the risks posed by non-conforming building products.

The dangerous and illegal substance was detected in metal skirting at the site of the Queensland Government’s Executive Building, and within roof panels at Perth’s new Children’s Hospital.

The discoveries coincide with the release yesterday of a report by the Building Products Innovation Council (BPIC) aimed at combating the increasing use of non-conforming building products in Australia.

ICA CEO Rob Whelan said building product substitution could lead to potentially life-threatening situations.

“The use of non-conforming or non-compliant building products, either inadvertently or deliberately to lower costs, is a serious problem that must be tackled,” Mr Whelan said.

“Often the use of sub-standard building products only becomes apparent when something goes wrong, posing a risk to construction workers and the ultimate occupants of the building.

“Installing products that don’t meet the required standards for their intended use may save costs for builders and developers, but detecting and removing them down the track can be extremely costly for owners, and potentially taxpayers.

“The increasing use of imported building materials, often ordered online from unfamiliar and untested suppliers and manufacturers, has increased the potential for non-conforming and counterfeit products to enter Australia.

“The ICA broadly supports the BPIC’s goal to better protect consumers and compliant businesses from poor-quality building materials. Just as the building and construction industry has evolved, so must the regulatory regime that oversees it.”

-ENDS

Link: http://www.bpic.asn.au/home

Insurance Council of Aust  Media Release

 

Insured losses from the east coast low which pounded four states this month have more than tripled over the past week to $235 million.

Latest figures from the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) show insurers have received almost 32,000 claims across Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.

ICA CEO Rob Whelan said residents and business owners were still lodging claims from the event, which was declared an insurance catastrophe.

“Since the ICA last updated the catastrophe data, insurers have received very large claims for commercial and marine damage, substantially lifting the overall losses from these storms,” Mr Whelan said.

“About three-quarters of all claims are domestic, and mainly relate to typical storm damage, although a small number of homes have been severely damaged and are temporarily uninhabitable.

“Under the ICA’s catastrophe declaration, insurers have mobilised their resources to help their customers. They are pulling out all stops to process claims, get assessors out to properties and start arranging repairs, with priority given to the most urgent cases.”

With the weather bureau predicting more storms and heavy rainfall this weekend along the east coast, the ICA is urging policyholders to start preparing now to protect their property.

“Households and business owners can take a range of steps to minimise the risk of storm damage,” Mr Whelan said.

“Check that guttering and piping are clear and the roof is in good condition. It’s also a good idea to secure loose items outside your property that could become missiles in strong winds.”

Mr Whelan said properties that were damaged in the storms almost two weeks ago may be especially vulnerable to the impact of this coming east coast low.

“If policyholders suffer further damage, they should let their insurer know, which may see their claim further prioritised,” said Mr Whelan.

“Whatever the weekend weather has in store, insurers stand ready to move into affected areas once they can gain access, and start helping their policyholders get their lives and businesses back on track.”

For more information on preparing for storms and recovering in their aftermath, visit: http://understandinsurance.com.au/types-of-disasters/storms

-ENDS-

We recently surveyed our plumbers across all major centres to gain a better understanding of the impact of flexible water hoses or flexi hoses and their contribution to escape of liquid claims.

Ambrose Building Escape of Liquids

Overwhelmingly all of our plumbers identified that flexi hoses sold outside of specialist plumbing suppliers are the problem. Specialist plumbing suppliers sell flexi-hoses with a stainless steel sleeve and soft PEX inner core that have a 10 year manufacturer’s warranty.

On average our plumbers are attending to an average of two flexi-hose failures per month and in some areas more.  The main issue is where the hose has been twisted or kinked during installation.

Mainly in the bathroom, but they are also located in kitchens, laundry’s and toilets.

The main reason flexi hoses burst are because of the age of the hose, incorrect installation and damage over time such as corrosion caused by lack of maintenance.

Ambrose Building  Ambrose Building

Image 2: Flexi twisted during installation                                Image 3: Corrosion on the stainless steel sleeve

Our recommendations for flexi hoses are:

  1. Always have a licenced plumber install the flexible hose
  2. Inspect all hoses regularly (3-4 times per year)
  3. Replace all hoses every five years
  4. Ensure the stainless steel sleeve is free from trauma caused by twisting or kinking
  5. Ensure the stainless steel sleeve is free from corrosion
  6. Do not clean with harsh chemicals
  7. Where poor quality hoses are encountered replace with better quality PEX inner core hose with a 10-year manufacturer’s warranty
  8. Wherever possible replace flexi-hoses with copper pipe
  9. Tag the pipe with the date of installation and the date of the last inspection

Help or Hindrance?

This is not an easy question to answer.  By virtue of their design and application, flexible hoses solve a number of problems encountered when hard-plumbing with copper pipe.  The easy of installation lends itself to the DIY or handyman installer – however they are increasingly failing, mainly because of incorrect installation, causing the pipe to twist or kink, or purchasing the wrong length hose and then stretching or over tightening it to make it fit the application.  All of these factors will dramatically reduce the life of the pipe and in many instances void any manufacturer’s warranty on the product.

With regular inspection and maintenance most problems can be identified early and prevented.

The problem with flexi hoses is they are often out of sight, out of mind.  How many are lurking unsupervised in your home?

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Customer - Satisfaction

At Ambrose Building we have specialised in completing every type of repair, to every type of building since 2008. Whether you have experienced a major event like a cyclone or something minor, we understand it is all an inconvenience to have trades in and out of your home. At Ambrose we strive to provide you with the best repair experience possible. Therefore, if at any time you want to speak to someone, ask a question or just have a chat about your repair, don’t hesitate to give your Supervisor, Customer Service Officer or any member of our team a call and we will make sure we get you the information you need. Thanks for choosing Ambrose Building and we look forward to assisting you just like we have for tens of thousands of Queenslanders.

Customer Satisfaction
Jobs Logged in 2017

2012 92%
2013 93%
2014 94%
2015 93%
2016 92%
2017 93%

Year on Year Satisfaction

Customer Satisfaction is a critical element to everything we do. Year on year we strive to deliver the best possible Customer Satisfaction. While we understand there are repairs that may not always go to plan, it is our job to ensure we do everything we can to resolve the issues and ensure the job is done right, every time. Since 2012 our Customer Satisfaction has been above 90%. Even in 2014/15 while simultaneously attending to multiple catastrophic weather events across Queensland we achieved above our target of 90%. At Ambrose we will never rely on past performance and every day we are looking at ways of making repairs better, faster, and a more positive experience for all. If you have any ideas on how we can improve, please don’t hesitate in letting us know.

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