Installing balconies has never been faster - Building NZ
Installing balconies has never been faster

Installing balconies has never been faster

A year after its soft launch in Aotearoa, Belcanto has successfully completed two projects using its patented Grappler balcony system. With these successes under its belt, Belcanto now has its eyes on 2022.

Words by Nick Forrester

The demand for medium and high density housing continues to grow rapidly in New Zealand, be it townhouses, apartment complexes or retirement villages. In most, a connection to the outdoors — a non-negotiable for many Kiwis — comes in the form of balconies, so construction companies specialising in them are also in hot demand.

A year after its soft launch in New Zealand, Belcanto has met this demand head on, and completed its first two major projects as part of the nationwide rush to build upwards. At the centre of its efforts is its Grappler balcony technology: a patented system designed for medium and high density residential buildings, manufactured offsite and installed onsite easily and quickly.

The two completed projects — the Summerset Kenepuru retirement village in Porirua and the Ridge apartments in Auckland’s Orakei — were delivered on time and on budget, says Belcanto business development manager Patrick Kendrick, despite each of them posing their own set of challenges.

Install of the 42 balconies was completed in around 18 hours across three days.

The Ridge apartments

“The Ridge apartments actually used a slightly different variation of the standard Grappler balcony,” he says. “It used a patent pending hook on the structural connection into the concrete block façade. This was developed from scratch, in order to better blend in with the architecture of that particular building.”

This bespoke version of the Grappler balcony utilised solid aluminum balustrades and WPC flooring, which facilitated the free draining of the balconies while matching the modern look of the project.

It also followed the trend of Belcanto balconies being installed quickly.

“Install of the 42 balconies was completed in around 18 hours across three days,” says Patrick.

The Sunset Kenepuru retirement village received very positive feedback.

Summerset Kenepuru

Meanwhile, the Porirua retirement complex incorporated both a glide on and post supported structural connections with bespoke column cladding design to the façade as well as HVAC services contained inside the balcony cassette. A porcelain tile floor level finish with aluminum fin Balustrades completed the look.

“We also needed to incorporate some additional bits in those balconies too,” says Patrick. “For example, cladding the columns — this helped achieve the look that they were after.”

Belcanto’s ability to deliver quality balconies quickly and efficiently while accommodating for specific needs of particular sites has meant that feedback from stakeholders has been ‘emphatically positive’.

“The efficiency of offsite construction, accuracy of build and speed of installation has impacted on the bottom line for project delivery,” he says. “They look and feel and perform better than any alternative options.”

Belcanto uses the Autodesk Revit BIM 360 cloud platform to help coordinate its projects.

The key to success: Collaborative tech

It takes a village to assemble and install balconies to code in New Zealand. Key to achieving project delivery goals was the integration of common design platforms with design consultants and manufacturing partners, Patrick says. Key, also, is the utilisation of BIM technology to coordinate balcony design concepts.

“BIM software is critical for our process as a design office,” he says. “We use the Autodesk Revit BIM 360 cloud platform, which allows us to collaborate with design and engineering offices in the cloud where we can exchange information.”

From there, he says, Belcanto can refine the minute details needed for manufacturing the final product.

“Balcony design is fully developed at this point for building consent, including custom specification and PS1 engineering.”

Because of the uniqueness of the construction environment in Aotearoa, Patrick says Belcanto had to adapt balcony design and connection systems to suit it— and currently, there are three types of applications that are suited for this market.

  • Cantilevered glide on for concrete and steel midfloor construction
  • Hook on for concrete block or precast panel
  • Post supported (stacked solution) for panelised modular.

“Incorporating additional decorative façade design features such lightweight floor to floor louvers and panels has become popular,” says Patrick. “A clean façade line speeds up the build process, de risks waterproofing penetrations, and allows design expression of our elements to be a lot more than just functional.”

Once the project is coming out of ground, detailed manufacturing drawings are consumed from the BIM model into the manufacturing eco system for production, assembly, and offsite storage before being required for installation towards the end of the project.

“This offsite process allows for inspection and quality assurance checks from all stakeholders.”

Belcanto is now looking ahead, with several exciting projects in the works in 2022.

What's ahead for Belcanto

After the completion of their inaugural projects last year, Belcanto is now looking ahead. Half a dozen projects are due for completion in 2022, across multiple sectors — including healthcare, private residential projects and social housing.

“We’re certainly on a nice little growth curve, and there are even more exciting things on the horizon in 2023” says Patrick.

An environmental product declaration (EPD) for the Grappler system is also in the pipeline, he says, which will offset the carbon produced in manufacturing the balconies.

“Our material and manufacturing processes are first class, and we want to be market leading, considered and accountable for how we contribute to the ever-changing construction environment,” says Patrick.

“Many see this as a ‘nice to have’, but in our case it’s a ‘must have’.”

Learn more about Belcanto’s Grappler balconies.

Recommended reading