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CARPET & RESTORATION
In the past four years Flood Restoration
Australia (FRA) has grown from a
single-state operation with a handful
of technicians to a staff of 50 across
Victoria, NSW, Albury Wodonga, and
most recently, Tasmania.
During that time FRA has also
moved from a 200sqm warehouse in
Melbourne’s Brunswick, to its soon to be
opened 1000sqm facility in Braeside – its
third move in as many years.
“We’re in the middle of an expansion
phase,” Joe Bonfa, FRA CEO told
“Victoria is our original base and that
still remains our strongest base, but
Tasmania is quickly growing – we’ve got
four vans there now.
“We’ve been in NSW for almost two
years and our focus is on continuing to
grow that market. Hopefully down the
track we can grow along the eastern
Bonfa, who formed FRA in 2010,
having previously operated Melbourne
Central Cleaning, says he’s witnessed
accelerated change in the industry over
the past five years.
“There’s now more accountability, more
players in the market and there’s more
education and awareness around issues
like mould and indoor air quality.”
According to Bonfa, price continues to
add further pressure to the industry, as
well as the allocation of claims to builders
by insurers, which he says has become
more prevalent in Australia over the past
“It’s getting to the stage now where it’s
going to compromise the delivery and the
level of service. There’s only so much you
can cut before it starts to effect delivery.
Ultimately, the end loser will be the insured.
“A builder by their very nature is set up
to strip out and reinstate, so the lines get
a bit blurred there, so you have to ask,
are they really trying to restore or are
they trying to replace?
Our core business is to restore. It’s
much more cost effective and the
inconvenience to the homeowner is less.
FRA on the move as expansion continues
Flood Restoration Australia (FRA)
will move into a new 1000sqm
facility this month, it third move in
as many years, as the Victoria-based
company continues to expand.
INCLEAN editor Claire Hibbit spoke
to CEO Joe Bonfa.
The FRA team
With this happening more and more,
we’re concerned that the emphasis will
become more on stripping and replacing
instead of restoration and, it’s proven that
restoration is more cost effective if it’s
“We think there’s a place for everyone.
There’s a place for restorers and there’s
certainly a place for builders as well, they
can work hand in hand and complement
So what have been some of the
company’s toughest projects to date?
“Just over two years ago we received
a phone call from a building manager in
Melbourne that had a sewerage backup.
We thought it would just be a normal
sewerage overflow, but the main sewer
stack ending up with a piece of PVC pipe
“Once they unblocked it, we started to
do our work, and the PVC pipe moved
again and caused another blockage. This
happened three times before they found
the problem and removed the piece of
pipe. By then it had affected 40 apartments
throughout 12 levels which required major
works to strip out porous materials that
were affected by the sewerage.
“We were there for the best part of a
month. The building manager went on
stress leave so I was left, not only looking
after our end, but also looking after the
builders, property managers, landlords,
“One of the plumbers also hit a sprinkler
head and that caused even more damage.
It was quite a process and because we
were dealing with Category 3 sewerage,
we had to be so careful because of the
potential biohazards present everywhere.”
FRA has also worked in extreme weather
conditions. Last year the FRA team
travelled to Mt Hotham for three weeks to
tackle a flooded three-level townhouse.
“It was quite a difficult job, logistically
to complete but also dry due to the
conditions. We had to work out how we
were going to dry the building in those
- 7° and -10° temperatures.
“We had to remove the inside skin of
the building (the plaster walls) because
they were non-restorable and there was
ice forming on the inside of the building!”
Hotels have also provided FRA a
unique set of challenges, as Bonfa
explains: “Hotels are usually running at
capacity so it’s a juggling act because the
challenge we have is, how we dry a hotel
effectively while keeping it operational?”
“I remember one project where a
woman, whose wedding was the next
day, had hung her wedding dress on
the sprinkler head in her room, she
activated the fire alarms and sprinklers
were going off, her wedding dress was
In the carnage, the water had travelled
down eight levels of the hotel, affecting
around 30 hotel rooms.
“We set up a system that wasn’t too
noisy, or uncomfortable, and we were
able to dry drying the structure within five
days, removing the machines at night and
reinstalling them the next morning
“We had to deal with the limited drying
time each day and the building structure
that was difficult to dry, but they’re
the jobs we love doing because they’re
challenging jobs and we want to be
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