Michael Byrne on why Hebel matters for apartment builders & owners
With more than three decades of experience in the construction industry under his belt, Michael Byrne knows an efficient wall system when he sees one.
That’s why he has chosen to work with Hebel internal wall panels from the time he researched them and became aware of their many benefits in the early 1990s.
It’s also why he doesn’t hesitate to encourage others in the industry to follow his example in advocating the installation of Hebel internal wall systems in structures including high rise residential apartments.
“Years ago, after hearing about Hebel, I went to Sydney to talk to the CSR people about it. I wanted to investigate the system so I could learn how to use it and teach other people to use it too,” said Michael, who is the founder and Managing Director of Byrne Construction Systems Pty Ltd which he established in 1979.
“We’ve now been using Hebel for internal walls in residential apartments in Melbourne for more than 20 years.”
The reasons for Michael’s enthusiasm all relate to the special features and advantages of the Hebel PowerPanels which are made from steel-reinforced, autoclaved aerated concrete. He has found that these features and advantages ensure an efficient construction process, with the finished product then resulting in exceptional comfort and security for people living in the apartments where it is used.
Quick and efficient to install
“For one thing, it’s quick and efficient to install and it helps the builder get his apartment shells up very quickly,” said Michael. “Because it’s so quick and easy, there’s not the need for as many workers as there is with some other systems. And when you have fewer labourers, you also have fewer problems.
“Using Hebel also helps to meet the project schedule because you can guarantee the work output by the team. After 20 years, I know exactly how long the job is going to take. Overall, therefore, it’s easier to work with.”
Spreading the word about the benefits of using the Hebel internal wall systems is important to Michael.
“We’ve converted some builders to it, and after that they’ve stuck with it over the years,” he said. “There are others who’ll tell you it’s more costly to use than plasterboard but we don’t believe that. We believe Hebel is comparable with all plasterboard systems.”
This is the information, gleaned from long experience, that is being passed on to others in the industry by Michael and the team at Byrne Construction Systems Pty Ltd including his sons, Ricky and Brent, who both work in the family business.
The Hebel Express Head Wall System streamlines installation with the steel-reinforced Hebel PowerPanel providing the fire-rated element with only one sealant position required.
Soundproofing is ‘second to none’
One of the big advantages for apartment dwellers is the excellent acoustic quality of Hebel, which has the effect of significantly reducing the transmission of noise such as traffic from outside and also, perhaps even more importantly, between internal walls. In this way it provides soundproofing that Michael describes as “second to none,” a major benefit for people living in close proximity to each other in a high rise apartment building.
“We’ve had it tested on a number of occasions and it always passes the required sound ratings,” he said. “This is an important factor with apartments. The people who live in them don’t want to be worried by noise from next door. Also, builders don’t want to be called back to a building after completing it to fix up noise problems and the building management doesn’t want to have to deal with noise complaints from residents. This doesn’t happen with Hebel. We’ve never had a problem with its acoustic quality.”
The security and peace of mind that result from living with Hebel walls are other benefits that Michael sees for apartment residents, thanks to the non-combustible nature of Hebel panels and the strength of the lightweight but steel reinforced walls.
“It’s a masonry wall,” he explained. “This gives you more security between apartments compared with a solely plasterboard wall. In theory somebody could cut through plasterboard in no time, but that can’t be done with masonry.
“The question I would ask is: ‘Why wouldn’t you have a Hebel wall between you and the next apartment?’ Australians tend to like brick houses but I always say you can have Hebel.”