Why you should consider a “super-sub” for your next façade project

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14 March 2023

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4 min read

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When it comes to exterior envelopes there’s a serious advantage in using a single supplier and exterior expert to take care of your project from design to completion.

When the façade contractor for the enormous 276-apartment Kainga Ora development at 139 Grey’s Ave in central Auckland engaged ACMF to provide parapet caps, they had no idea just how many solutions these exterior envelope experts would end up providing for them during the construction of the project.

ACMF specialises in supplying and installing cladding, flashings, louvres, screens, balustrades, roofing, and fire-rated joinery – but that’s only the start of what they can do, says ACMF general manager Steve Eagles.

“We're a bit of a ‘super-sub’ in the fact that we can execute and deliver on multiple different types of façades, versus coming in and just doing the cladding or the screens. We can come and do the whole thing and build in a maintenance package at the end.”

For the 139 Grey’s Ave development, this meant assisting in the design of the Horoitu inter-tenancy screens along with the associated manufacturing to allow each tenant to have privacy. ACMF also ended up supplying and installing flashings, fascias and soffits.

“The screens we assisted in designing all had to get approved by the architects which needed to be in line with the intent derived by local iwi. We were then able to go out and source the product, get it punched and anodized to a particular look, then fabricated and installed,” says Steve.

“It’s an example of where we started on a project supplying and installing just the parapet caps, but with the team we've got we were able to pivot pretty quickly and pick up and provide a range of other solutions for the façade contractor on that project,” says Steve.

Initially engaged to provide parapet caps for the 139 Greys Ave development, ACMF ended up providing solutions for flashings, fascia, soffits and inter-tenancy screens.
Why you should consider a “super-sub” for your next façade project

ACMF subcontracted off Symonite on the Greys Ave project. Interestingly, ACMF was initially set up to provide a maintenance arm for Symonite, but quickly adapted into an all-in-one exterior envelope specialist as it sought to find gaps in the market and provide alternative options.

“It morphed initially from the repairing of cladding, then led into small, commercial projects and residential jobs. We then saw an opportunity where we could assist the main contractor in progressing their projects – so we opened up a flashing division.”

ACMF’s flashing systems are a bespoke service customised to each building. When they started supplying and installing them, they identified that there were junctions necessary for louvres or screens that penetrated their system. Naturally, they saw this as an opportunity to develop and design their own louvre and balustrade systems, allowing for a seamless install.

A close-up of the perforated screens designed by ACMF.
Running the height of the building, perforated inter-tenancy screens designed by ACMF are both attractive and offer privacy for tenants.

They also moved into residential roofing and fire-rated windows.

“Steel fire-rated windows had a lead time of four to six months. We knew we could make aluminium windows in about six weeks for a similar price, so we bought all the equipment and started making them ourselves.”

The beauty of this is that instead of dealing with 15 subcontractors to complete an exterior envelope – the builder, developer, architect or main contractor can deal with just one company.

ACMF now has a staff of 70, including an in-house design team and commercial estimators, which means it can provide an end-to-end service from tendering through design, engineering, project managing, installation, quality assurance, right to the handover of the PS3.

“It's all in-house, nothing is subcontracted out. We fabricate everything for our cladding, and our flashing systems are from locally sourced products. Then we do our own fabrication, which means there's no long wait times or supply chain issues for our clients.”

With Symonite just next door, offering some shared resource and experience, Steve says ACMF is confident it can deliver on any large scale residential developments and light commercial projects.

He believes there’s an opportunity for architects to simplify their specifications to allow for a more straightforward construction process when it comes to designing and building exteriors.

“We do find with balustrades, screens and louvres that architects have often had a preference for the last 10 to 15 years, and yet there are lots of other offerings out there including ours, which is all engineered ready to go. We think they would benefit from investigating a system like ours, where we offer a suite of solutions and can execute and deliver on multiple different types of façades.”

The screen design process involved architect approval, in line with consultation with the local iwi.