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19 April 2013

A Picton man has diversified his business and joined forces with other companies to supply prefabricated steel trusses and framing for the Christchurch rebuild.

Picton ITM owner Gary Knofflock said steel house frames would be ideal as an alternative to traditional timber framing.
Steel frames were equal in strength to timber, but 65 per cent lighter and up to 30 per cent quicker to manufacture and assemble, he said.

"When I was in Christchurch, we heard from builders how TC 2 and TC 3 [liquefaction-prone] land carrying standard homes required different foundations, which added a substantial cost to the build.

"Lighter frames and less concrete in the foundations results in a lighter build and less engineering work."

Since signing a deal with Framecad New Zealand, Picton ITM had become the South Island licensee of the Framecad Design and Build System.
Key to the deal was buying Framecad's roll forming machine, which was sitting in Christchurch gathering dust, because the company could not find anyone with the knowledge to make a go of it, he said.

"They needed someone with the know-how of the industry and marketing skills to make it viable," he said.

Fifteen months and substantial investment later, and the machine was on site at the Picton ITM, and three-quarters of the way through manufacturing the frames and trusses for its first home, he said.

Mr Knofflock sourced the work through his Christchurch counterparts, who were suppliers for Mike Greer Homes.
The engineering design and detailing work was done by Framecad's Auckland office, which also had branches in Dubai, Australia, South Africa, North America and China, and could help with overload when the work ramped up, he said.
Once the plans have been approved by the council, Framecad sends the specifications through to the Picton machine, which manufactures the parts at a push of a button. The frames were assembled in Picton, loaded on to one of ITM's trucks and freighted to Christchurch ready for build. "We can produce the average house frames and trusses in a single day with three guys running the machine," he said.

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