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The world's first EXPAN Quick-Connect building is coming soon


As a building timber merchant, there’s no better way to showcase the product than having a cutting-edge timber building.


That was the thinking of TUMU ITM in Hastings when they decided to use EXPAN technology in their new builder’s supply depot – making it the first commercial building in the world designed and constructed using the EXPAN Quick-Connect engineered timber portal frame system.


"At ITM, timber is our game, so building something innovative from renewably resourced timber just made sense,” says Paul Waite, Management Partner at TUMU ITM Building Centre.


“We see it as an opportunity to showcase the product to clients, so we’ve gone with a timber theme right throughout the building, with LVL countertops as well. This gives clients chance to see, touch and feel the product. We’re thrilled with it - it’s warm, inviting, and nice and light. And it’s turned a lot of heads, people have been gobsmacked with how it looks,” Paul says.

And the long span has given ITM the flexibility to trial different store layouts.


“It’s eliminated the need for additional centre supports, giving us a 10 metre wide driveway through our bolt store, making it nice and clear for builders to come in and out, and given us the chance to try different layouts to ensure the customer shopping experience is second to none.”


And this building is not all about looks and layout – cost and construction wise, it’s also been hugely successful.


“When we tendered out the project, the timber option came back as cost comparative with steel, so it’s great to see timber competing well there now, and great to use a product produced here in New Zealand,” Paul says.


Due to be open in November, construction on the 4200m₂ building is well advanced, and on target, with building design undertaken by Hastings-based Stratagroup Consulting Engineers, and construction by Alexander. Auckland University Student Felix Scheibmair has also been heavily involved in assisting the design of the world first building, supported by Professor of Timber Design Pierre Quenneville.


Essentially, the Quick-Connect system has alleviated the need for thousands of nails, and greatly reduced construction costs and time. The building has concrete panels forming the lower parts of the walls, topped with steel columns and a timber roof structure. In the past, the steel column to timber rafter connections have been a problem, with the most likely connection detail being a 'nailed gusset connection', formed with a plate either side of the joint which is then 'nailed-off' onsite whilst cranes hold the roof structure in place.


This can be a time consuming process, and large connections often require up to 1000 nails per connection side - but not with Quick Connect. Most of the fabricating work is done on the ground, leaving only a few rods to place once the roof has been lifted. This significantly reduces onsite crane times, and therefore cost of construction.


A timber roof structure with solid rafters also leaves no areas for birds to perch – which can be a significant problem with steel structures.


“The timber joints have made construction so easy, and cost effective. It’s just been a very, very easy product to use – the building has gone up very well,” Paul says.


Structural Engineer Duncan Bruce from Stratagroup says aesthetically, the building is a great alternative to grunty steel plates with hundreds of nails.


“For the client, for people to be able to drive in and see a very aesthetically pleasing timber building has got to be good for ITM’s timber sales.


“From our perspective, using EXPAN has made design a lot easier, and it’s nice to be at the cutting edge. There’s been a lot of press which has sparked a lot of interest, and we’re hoping to get more projects using this technology, it’s been great to work with. The sustainable and green angles have also generated a great amount of interest – they’re hot topics right now,” Duncan says.













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