Bad building call: The danger of cutting costs


More often we see builds go ahead using alternative imported products. Does this create a risk that your quality and aesthetic expectations may not be met? Today, the race to get things done cheaply is too often compromising quality. We’re seeing time and time again builders choosing to go with imported products, which, though they offer price advantages, may not comply with quality assurance or building standards that local providers offer.
The disadvantages of using cheaper imports

In early 2015, an architect designing a publicly-funded government building worked with Locker Group to detail an aesthetic external cladding using expanded metal mesh. However, after the construction went up for tender, the building company that won the job attempted to undercut Locker Group, disregarding the fact that the architect had specified them.

Despite Locker Group sales manager Ian Dunstan going out of his way to service the client, they decided to use an alternative product imported from China based on price. Going for a cheaper imported option turned out to be a very bad call. “We explained to them because of the particularly sensitive nature of this job, the product needed to be good,” Ian said, “You can’t really treat this facade like anything else and just slap something on because it will look terrible.” However, that was exactly what the builder did, admitting to Ian that he’d “gone in really cheap with this project and couldn’t afford to buy locally.”

The build went ahead and according to Ian, “These guys effectively had no idea what they were doing.” “They brought in some imitation products from China, imported them on pallets, and just used a couple of self-tappers to screw them on the side of the building.” After seeing the finish himself, Ian saw major misalignments in the panels, unsupported ends, colour inconsistencies, insubstantial clamping, and even bowing panels. “It is just a mess,” Ian stated.

The decision to go with this alternative supplier meant forgoing the expertise and support that Locker Group would have provided during design, engineering and throughout the installation. The final product does not meet the designer’s intent, this choice essentially spoiled the visual appeal of the building.
Although this case is mainly a visual issue, we are seeing how these thrifty decisions are impacting the buildings and the lives of those who reside in them. Back in November 2014, firefighters responded to a terrible fire that was rapidly engulfing the 23-storey Lacrosse Building in Docklands.

The Melbourne Fire Brigade soon found that the extent of the blaze was intensified by some cheap imported external cladding, which did not comply with combustibility standards. Locker Group strives to remain competitive in the global market. As Ian explained, the services and support necessary for top-quality Australian-made architectural products definitely outweigh any cheaper import if you are thinking about total value. And it’s this notion that budget-seeking builders are failing to understand. ‘We just want to make sure we are comparing apples with apples,” said Ian. “In many instances, it’s chalk and cheese.”

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