Finalist 2023

Dam Buster Roof Drainage System

Dam Buster Pty Ltd

Dam Buster makes design and installation of compliant, very high performance box gutter systems incredibly easy.

Dam Buster presents the world's first ever integrated, tested and fully conforming system for box gutter drainage. Historically the requirements for these systems have been very poorly understood by plumbers, designers, architects and builders and many mistakes are regularly made, commonly leading to the interior flooding of buildings and costly insurance claims. Dam Buster fixes all of that by bringing a "Lego" like simplicity to it whereby fully engineered, certified components are simply selected and then easily installed to make a 100% conforming, high performance system that meets all Australian, New Zealand and international design standards.

Design Brief:

With the incredible and unacceptable position of no conforming or compliant box gutter products readily available on the Australian market, nor any sufficient understanding by many industry stakeholders of the risks, many homes and businesses were commonly flooding due to at times catastrophic box gutter system failures, which are also one of the key causes of so called "Leaky Building Syndrome". Such events have for decades been costing our economy huge amounts of money in insurance claims, while also causing enormous stress to home and building owners. They have also resulted in substantial environmental and resource losses through at times, repeated repairs to damage caused. Dam Buster decided to find an engineered solution that could be mass produced, was economic to purchase, easy to install whether new or retrofit, significantly reduced the risk of installation errors, and was also high performance, fully meeting all Australian, NZ and international standards.

This project was developed by:

Design Process

The long standing joint AS/NZ standard for roof drainage, AS/NZS3500.3 contained clear requirements and a range of graphs and formulas which plumbers were supposed to be using to design box gutter systems, however virtually nobody e.g plumbers, architects, building designers, builders, nor building surveyors, actually understood them, nor the processes required in the General Method of that standard to achieve a result that was conforming and compliant and actually worked in at least a 1:100 year storm event (the minimum performance standard set in Australia) so that they would not flood the building.

Dam Buster started by looking at the AS3500.3 requirements and formulas, then we reverse engineered them to create a range of products nobody had ever seen before anywhere in the world. The initial designs were developed over a period of several years and checked by two forensic civil engineers, then by several eminent hydraulic engineers, including two Professors of hydraulics, Associate Professor Terry Lucke of the AHSCS Research Foundation and also more recently, Associate Professor Robert Keller of Monash University.

The brief was fully met and actually greatly exceeded. The initial brief was one product, however the end result was a range of products for different uses, all deploying the unique "Free Flow" approach deployed by Dam Buster for the first time in a range of highly innovative ways. The uniqueness of this approach has in turn enabled Dam Buster to secure a range of Australian and international patents on the products, including also in the USA and NZ.

Design Excellence

The Dam Buster rainhead won an Australian Good Design Award in 2018 in the category of Hardware and Building as being a revolution in rainhead design, solving the problems of decades of poor design.

The designs of all of our products are genuinely world leading, as evidenced by our ability to patent them in Australia and overseas - this would not have been possible if they were simply new versions of old ideas.

The importance of box gutter design, conformance and compliance has become extremely significant due to the extensive use of box gutters in modern contemporary construction, particularly in modern homes and multi unit developments, but also on larger commercial properties including shopping centres, warehouses and the like.
By fully conforming with all mandatory codes for roof drainage, and also being made to very high tolerances down to 0.1mm and 0.2mm by leading edge laser cutting and CNC controlled step folding, these devices are absolutely fit for purpose, very high quality, guaranteed extreme performance, great looking, easy to install and select and also are designed to be largely maintenance free. They are also conservatively certified meaning they will actually perform far better than the certification suggests.

Dam Buster products absolutely set an entirely new benchmark for all box gutter drainage products and absolutely blow away all other such products on the world market - not just in Australia. They demonstrate what can be done by starting with a new approach, not accepting mediocrity or existing practices as being OK, and then solving a massive series of problems using Australian ingenuity.

Design Innovation

See above. There has been nothing like the Dam Buster products anywhere in the world before. The rainheads unique free flow design replaced existing, very low quality market products which were extremely poor in every way and did not remotely meet the AS/NZS3500.3 requirements, hence were placing buildings and homes at serious risk. The rainhead device then led to the free flow sump device, and in turn to the equally unique free flow direction change devices. The sumps and direction change devices are also utterly unique in the world and allow not only high performance box gutters to be designed and installed, but also open up a whole world of new design possibilities for architects and building designers, that simply were not even conceivable in the past due to the severe restrictions on available devices and how box gutters could be designed.

It has been a genuine revolution in every way and brings forward a range of ground breaking features and advantages. By doing what is says 'on the box' these devices also answer user need from all of those involved in the building design and construction process, ranging from concept designers, to plumbers doing the installation work and then owners knowing their home will not flood from any defects in their box gutter system.

Design Impact

A well designed, robust, fully conforming and compliant box gutter system means that the building will not be flooded or suffer nuisance leaks from that box gutter over its' designed lifetime. The benefits of this are enormous for everyone involved, and also have clear environmental benefits by elimination of waste and repeated repair of water damaged properties as often happens now; the Dam Buster system is a "do it once and get it right" system, not a 'design a disaster' system as is often currently the case with roof drainage.

Recent publicity about building faults focused heavily on leaks - box gutter systems and balconies are essentially the only two causes of those leaks, and Dam Buster has fixed the box gutter problem.

The social benefits include potential savings on home and building construction costs which can be passed on to consumers, plus all building owners and occupants can literally sleep soundly knowing their roof drainage is not going to fail or require constant vigilance to prevent problems. Insurance companies can also directly assist by encouraging their policy holders e.g by premium reductions, to adopt the Dam Buster system and retrofit it to their homes.

The Dam Buster system absolutely fits the principles of the Circular Economy. These innovative products, devised entirely here in Melbourne and made only in Australia using Australian materials have absolutely world wide potential impact because the same issues exist in all countries which use box gutters e.g UK, Europe, USA, Canada, Japan and so on.

Circular Design and Sustainability Features

We think Dam Buster products are a perfect example of the Circular Design approach. Firstly, the manufacture of Dam Buster products has been designed to be of the absolute minimum impact on resources. Using Australian sourced materials and local licensee makers close to the location of end use, all products are precision cut by laser from CAD designs, then folded by CNC controlled machines. The resulting parts are then simply assembled and it is almost impossible to make a mistake, unlike the conventional manufacture of these products which uses manual labour with its significant potential for error, huge quantities of silicone and wasteful manual templates which are redundant as soon as any changes are made and must then be thrown away.

The customer in turn gets a precision made, very high quality Dam Buster product which is 100% conforming with all mandatory codes and will do precisely what it 'says on the box'; the products will not fail if correctly selected and installed, so this is a range of products which get things right first time and have also been designed to be as 'idiot proof' as possible from manufacture to installation. Hence the currently substantial risk of water damage caused by poor quality box gutter installations stands to be totally eliminated, along with the substantial environmental, health, social and economic impacts any such events otherwise would have on all building occupants. Enormous reductions in the numbers of water damage insurance claims (currently the leading cause of insurance losses in Australia) is therefore anticipated from widespread adoption of the Dam Buster product range.

As metal products, at the end of their design life span (50 years) all Dam Buster products can also be very easily recycled and those resources brought back to the supply chain.

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