Why redeveloping a depot was a piece of cake
Balmain builder Mat Wilk reveals why industrial projects are simple compared to architectural homes
At Ballast Point Projects, no job is too big or too small – or too unusual. For the right client, we will do whatever they need. While most of our projects involve redeveloping homes in the inner city, a few years ago we were contracted to demolish and repurpose a former paint factory at Blacktown and turn it into a depot for our friends at Red Truck Removals & Storage.
The former Wattle factory had been operating for more than 50 years, and they’d just kept adding bits to it. It’s a 10-acre property, and we were working there for weeks and weeks and still finding new buildings. The job involved demolishing about 60 buildings, repurposing the main sheds to be container storage sheds, and refurbishing part of the office.
Compared to some of our previous projects, it was easy. For the last job I project managed when I was at Yuncken Builders we had to close Pittwater Rd to excavate into the side of a cliff and create a ramp rising some 25 metres up to the house, so we’re used to working places that are difficult to get into and out of. Then we got to this depot off Sunnyholt Rd, with a two-lane driveway to drive into. You could drive a 200-tonne crane in and out if you wanted to. We were used to solving logistical problems; we were used to steep sites with awkward access. What made this project tricky was it was a decommissioned paint factory, so it had half-buried tanks, pits asbestos and lead, with some parts abandoned some time ago and falling into disrepair. So, it was more about health and safety logistics.
But there were some other challenges. At one point my guys hit a water main in the middle of the depot so there was this 30ft geyser shooting into the air. The main was already shut down and yet unbeknownst to anyone there was another unknown and undocumented main running through the job. It wasn’t on any plan and there was no obvious way to shut it off. It took most of the day to work out how to stop the water. When you have developed architectural homes, industrial jobs are pretty simple, but that doesn’t mean you don’t get thrown curveballs occasionally!