At Arbor Designs we believe that we offer you the best answer to your solid wood-frame structure needs. We also realize that there are many other operators out there in our industry, some good (though not as good as us, obviously), some bad, and some down right ugly.
We care about our industry so whether you choose to use us, or decide to go another direction we kindly ask that you consider the following when making your choice of supplier:
BEWARE of 'Backyard Bangers'.
These are fly-by-night Wendy builders that use the clients premises as their workshop. Usually they have a semi-skilled laborer and as many casuals (sometime complete strangers to the contractor) as required.
Less than desirable, but all to common a scenario and should be avoided at all costs.
Firstly, your premises are open to strangers who can take up to three days to complete building a unit. Compare this to a professional company that gets the job done in a number of hours by bringing pre-manufactured kit to the site. The fact is that you are giving complete strangers carte blanche to case your property for several days, putting you at risk for several months to come.
Secondly, they are notorious for passing off sub-standard material as SABS compliant. No reputable manufacturer is ever going to do this; it just isnt worth the knock to their reputation of the potential loss of certification and approval from the authorities. Bear in mind you are making a large investment in a product that should last for years. A warranty given by someone who is hard to get hold of the day after the build is not worth the paper it isnt printed on.
Remedy: Ensure you use a Registered Company who's on-site staff are qualified and registered with the Department of Labour, that the materials used are of SABS standard, and your warranty is actually held with a reputable Company.
Make sure you are dealing with an actual Manufacturer.
There are companies out there who are merely advertising agencies pretending to be the manufacturer. What they actually do is outsource the job to the company who offers them the lowest price, even after having convinced you that you are getting a premium product. You pay the top rate, but get the bargain basement end product. Often they have an impressive web site, good telephone manners, but are coy about visiting the manufacturing plant.
As well as supplying poor quality products at inflated prices, they are also likely to pass the buck when it comes to after sales service- putting the blame for poor quality on the supplier, who are themselves likely to be a company referred to in tip 1 meaning that you get done both ways.
Remedy: Insist on visiting their Factory premises. Make sure of who the actual owner/s is/are and if they are legally registered. Some Agencies Have a Deal with Certain Manufacturers, who allow the agent to say it is their Factory. It is best to use a Company that actually processes the logs themselves, thus ensuring best quality and service from a secure base manufacturer.
Beware of companies offering Free Plastic Lining!
Plastic lining is much cheaper to install than it is to use proper grade timber. Some companies use inferior grade timber called 'rustics' that has one clean cut side and one rustic bark side They hide the rough side behind the plastic lining. This cheaper material is also harder to machine properly, and therefore the end product tends to let in water through the gaps between planks. A plastic lining hides this leakage, but doesn't stop it from entering. What it does instead is cause condensation between the wall and the plastic layer, and this moisture helps facilitate in the rotting process, thereby shortening the lifespan of the product, and posing a huge health risk to people using the structure.
Remedy: If Plastic is offered free, make sure to go out and visit the factory and view the materials and quality of the timber and its cut.
Check the structure.
The strength of any solid timber framed structure lies in the number of upright ribbings (called 'studs') and the distance between their intervals. These studs should not be wider than 600mm apart in wall paneling. The thickness of the cladding boards does not make a difference to the lifespan of the unit or the strength, and the most common thickness used is 12mm boarding. Some companies may offer thicker boarding, with the result they use less studs and save costs on structural material and framing labour. Such units are suspect to collapse in their early lifespan.
Remedy: Ensure the unit you are purchasing has studs not wider than 600mm apart.
Pay attention to floors
Floors are the most important part of the structured unit as it is the base on which the entire unit rests, and should be built on a 3-way pallet system, the top decking planks, the centre mezzanine bearers (floor studs), which should not be further than 300mm apart, and the underneath holding struts which holds the entire structure together. Some Manufacturers cut costs by leaving the underneath holding struts out and space the mezzanine bearers at wider intervals than 300mm part.
Remedy: Check with the Manufacturer how far the studs are apart and if there are under bearers running the full length, supporting the floor underneath.
How do they nail
The Best form of attaching the Nutec Cladding or Planks to the Ribbed Frame Work is with a Pneumatic Nail Gun. Far Less Nails are used in Hand nailed Units as each one is inserted manually, were as Nails shot in Pneumatically reduces Stress and insets the nail in one shot reducing the risk on already fixed nails being vibrated loose.
Remedy: Ask Your Supplier if they use Pneumatic Nail Guns, If not find a Supplier that Does.
Check to see how the supplier puts together its units on site.
Some will tell you that the best method for secure units is to nail them together on site (or maybe deliver them already made for smaller units and not tell you how they were put together). Nailing units together is quicker and cheaper than the correct method of screwing the panels together.
Screwing the panels together on site means that a) there is less noise, and b) the unit can be easily taken apart if it needs to be moved for any reason. If the unit is nailed together it is likely to sustain a lot of damage whilst being taken apart. Screws are more expensive and require more time and thought in the design, however they do provide a better mechanical strength and make taking apart your unit a breeze.
Remedy: Make sure before ordering that the unit is screwed together on Site.
Is all the work certified?
There are companies who offer to wire and plumb your wendy houses as part of a package. When you price up the cost of the Wendy house and then add in what it will cost for a plumber and electrician it often looks like a great deal. If this is the case then consider that if its too good to be true then it probably is.
If any professional services are part of the deal then treat then like you would if you were getting individual contractors to do the work. Will the work be certified to the standards required by the building inspectors? Will your insurance company accept the work and will you get the required certification after installation.
The fact is that, if they are not installed by qualified personnel, and signed off by a certified professional, the existing property's insurance will be null and void in the case of a property claim resulting from the unit.
Remedy: It is best to use local qualified personnel to install these fixtures in order to save costs in the long term, and if there are any after sale problems, you have a local professional at hand, and not an individual from a wendy house company.
Beware the 'Structural Guarantee'
They are only Guaranteeing the Structure against Collapse and not the Workmanship, Product or Leakages.
Remedy: Only Purchase From a Manufacturer Who gives a full Guarantee.