Hebel’s versatility makes it the perfect match for C & S Lightweight
When Mick Cowan and Tony Stocker encountered Hebel for the first time, they were warned that it could put them out of business.
Instead it was the start of an association that has continued to grow and is now stronger than ever. That association began almost 30 years ago, soon after Mick and Tony had teamed up to establish C & S Lightweight in Melbourne.
Irish-born Mick had worked as a bricklayer in Ireland and England before continuing his trade in Melbourne where Tony and he worked together and set up C & S Lightweight in 1990.
“We were doing a lot of solid brick houses for the high end market,” said Mick. “An architect we worked for said to me one day, ‘This stuff’s going to put you out of business.’ He was talking about Hebel!”
With his curiosity stirred, Mick travelled to the Blue Mountains area of New South Wales to learn more from a team of Danish bricklayers who had been brought to Australia to help build a home using Hebel blocks.
After he returned to Melbourne, C & S Lightweight began laying and installing Hebel blocks and building Hebel homes. They quickly became, and have remained, one of CSR Hebel’s biggest distributors of autoclaved aerated concrete blocks, wall cladding, floors and panels, providing a diversity of services that matches the versatility of Hebel itself.
Demand for Hebel in housing industry
“From starting as an installer of Hebel blocks, we’ve moved into the PowerPanels and also the commercial and industrial applications,” said Tony. “While I think there could be a slowdown in the demand for apartment construction in the future, the housing area of the industry seems to be very buoyant and moving along without any issues.
“A lot of our work involves installing Hebel external cladding on homes for some of Melbourne’s larger builders, with one of our main customers being Metricon Homes.”
Overall, the business supplies and installs external Hebel wall systems for up to 300 homes a year in the Melbourne area.
They also carry out commercial and industrial projects.
“In the past few years, for example, we’ve installed Hebel wall systems at a number of power substations in Melbourne and Hebel SoundBarrier systems on the Western Freeway at Ballarat,” said Tony.
Two of many recent major projects to benefit from the versatile skills of both Hebel and C & S Lightweight were the Owen Dixon Chambers West in Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, and the Ettaro Apartments in the inner Melbourne suburb of Brunswick East.
The Owen Dixon Chambers project involved the addition of four floors to the 20-storey building which houses barristers’ chambers. Hebel was chosen over concrete for the floors because of its lightweight nature.
“One of the major challenges with that job was onsite co-ordination,” said Tony. “We had great help from CSR with that. They co-ordinated the whole process, from manufacturing the panels to delivering them.”
The Ettaro Apartments building was a Hebel façade project, with the C & S Lightweight team installing about 6000 square metres of Hebel cladding on the exterior.
Ease and speed of construction
Both projects demonstrated the ease and speed of construction which Tony and Mick see as major benefits of the Hebel products. Other assets include its insulation properties, high acoustic performance, fire resistance, light weight and long life.
“In the beginning I wasn’t sure how Hebel would adapt to the Australian market because there can be teething problems associated with bringing in overseas products, but CSR to their credit developed it so it could be used to Australian standards under Australian conditions,” said Mick.
“We’ve seen a lot of different types of projects during our involvement with Hebel, because of its versatility and our own ability to take on everything from large architect-designed buildings to commercial projects.
“We seem to complement each other in what we do. We are continuing to grow and CSR continues innovating with new technology as well as progressing with designs, so it’s a great journey for us and a great journey for CSR.”
(photo at top from l-r) Tony Stocker and Mick Cowan, C&S Lightweight