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Common Site Issues | Absolute Balustrades
Absolute quality, value and services since 1995

Common Site Issues That Delay Balustrade Installation

9/12/2014

In the current marketplace, we know how important it is for our builders to keep their costs low and lead times competitive. Therefore, we have listed some common issues we come across on site that delay installation and add unnecessary additional costs to the builder.

Here is a list of common site issues we regularly come across, and some tips on how to overcome them;

Electric cables and water services

Cables/pipes that are laid too close to the slab or wall surface can cause issues when it comes to balustrade installation. Electric cables and water pipes should be spaced at least 200mm clear of any area where balustrade/handrail is to be installed. Electric cabling is especially dangerous whereby our installer may inadvertently drill through it. We have had situations where this has happened during construction and only become known when site power is switched over. This can then cause the balustrade to become ‘live’.

Gaps between pillars

The BCA Codes stipulate that any gaps on a balcony/stair balustrade can be no more than 125mm apart and this also refers to the gaps in between pillars etc. If there is a gap greater than 125mm between balcony pillars, it will require a small piece of balustrade to be installed in order to meet the regulations (see FIG 1.0 below). This small piece of balustrade is very labour intensive and takes longer to do, which delays installation and adds unnecessary costs. By reducing the gap between the pillars to less than 125mm at planning stage, this can save on unnecessary costs and installation time.

FIG 1.0: Gaps between pillars

Inadequate support to fix balustrade to

The strength of a balustrade is only as good as the substrate it is fixing to. All our balustrade products are BCA compliant, but they still need adequate support to retain their structural integrity. The following are some common structural issues our installers come across on site;

  • Inadequate timbers to fix balustrade to-  this generally happens with a balcony/deck, where the timber beam at the edge is not wide enough to support our balustrade posts. In this case, we require extra timbers to be laid between the joists prior to installation of our balustrade in order to have adequate support to fix the balustrade posts to. See attached instructions on Fitting additional timbers to a balcony/deck..
 
  • Polystyrene walls-  polystyrene foam is often used as an energy efficient building alternative to brickwork. However, it is a more fragile material and, therefore causes problems when it comes to supporting a balustrade on a stair or balcony. In this case, we will use TOX screws (see FIG 1.1 below), which use tapered treads to secure the screw into the foam and prevent it from coming loose. However, polystyrene walls are still not as structurally sound as installing the balustrade directly to concrete, timber or brickwork. If using polystyrene, we recommend fitting additional timbers behind the foam to fix the balustrade to in order to give it strength.
 

       FIG 1.1: TOX screws

  • Floating timber floors or laminate flooring-  because floating floors have a foam underlay, fixing the balustrade to it can cause the floor to dip as the foam contracts. Therefore, our installers need to cut the flooring out before fixing the balustrade, which takes a lot of extra time and adds extra costs for the client. We always prefer to install the balustrade before timber floors are laid to eliminate these extra costs. The space around the balustrade leg can then be covered using a cover plate or the flooring contractor can install a timber flooring finish around it (see FIG 1.2 below). It is imperative that we know what the flooring is going to be prior to site measure so we can discuss any issues that may arise.
 

       FIG 1.2: Timber flooring finish around aluminium balustrade leg

 

Poorly laid tiles

If tiles are not installed properly they will sound ‘drummy’. This is because the adhesive has not bonded the tile properly to the floor and it can cause the tiles to crack or even lift. If the tiles are ‘drummy’ our installer cannot install the balustrade, due to the risk of cracking the tile. If there is a problem with the tiles they will possibly need to be refitted.

Site not ready

It is common for a job to get called up before the site is ready for measure or installation. This causes delays, wastes valuable installation time and attracts additional costs (i.e. call out fees) for the builder. Two common reasons for a site not being ready are power and access. Another issue is other trades, such as flooring and painting, working in the area where installation is required. For your convenience, we have put together a list of site requirements  to clarify what needs to be done before we can site measure and install our balustrade.


Most of these common issues can be easily avoided with some forward planning. Simply keeping them in mind at design stage could mean avoiding unnecessary costs and delays in installation time in the long run. If you need more information or if you require a quote call our sales team on 08 9302 1947 or fill in our quote form on the right of this article.

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