Leading the way to build warmer homes

02:41, Aug 13 2014
Scott Pickett
WARMER: Luggate’s Scott Pickett is building some of the most heat efficient homes in New Zealand.

In a small workshop in Luggate one man has been quietly chipping away at an insulated panel that makes homes more efficient in terms of heating, cooling and sound.

Scott Pickett of Kia Kaha Developments Ltd doesn't like cold draughty houses, and this was his motivation for building New Zealand's first Structurally Insulated Panel (SIPS) house.

The 34-year-old Hawea Flat builder can now happily say he's responsible for 12 of the most heat efficient homes around the country.

"I wasn't happy with the way homes were built in terms of heat retention and performance, compared with overseas," he said.

His first SIPS house was built in Albert Town in 2010, basically using hand tools, and a bit of kiwi 'know how'. Now four years on he has a specialised factory in Luggate with his own cutting gear and equipment.

It has been a lot of hard work and money, but an investment that is starting to pay off.


"It's been hard slog for a young kiwi fellow, and I had nothing to follow but pictures off the Internet," he said.

While SIPS houses are well known in other parts of the world, nobody in New Zealand had yet used this technology, and Pickett relied on some European tuition to help him construct the first panel house.

"I was prepared to be the guinea pig," he said.

The Albert Town house was also used to train another 12 builders around the country by a German builder who specialised in SIPS technology.

Pickett is currently the only one in New Zealand who is set up to cut and pre-manufacture the panels.

This made life a lot easier when dealing with house plans, when clients wanted to change things.

SIPS houses are now in Wanaka, Nelson, Arthur's Pass, Jacks Point, and Alexandra, with the airtight insulated panels replacing the traditional method of timber framing and insulation.

Made of a rigid urethane core, sandwiched between two layers of OSB strand board, the panel is energy efficient, airtight and environmentally friendly.

Pickett said when the Albert Town house went on the market, the real estate agent commented how much warmer it was compared to the other five for sale on the same street.

"And this was in winter with no form of heating."

The house quickly sold and following his first success, he decided to invest more time and money into getting the right tools to pre-manufacture the panels.

"It has cost a lot of money and taken a lot of time but we're at the point now where we can do twice as much in half the time."

His company employs four other staff, but Pickett said he was "not trying to get too big too quickly. It's about quality."

His next SIPS house will be built in Tekapo, with others to follow in Wanaka in the spring.

The Mirror