Building in a point of difference

19:54, Aug 05 2012
NEW WAY: Another alternative to the traditional timber-framed home has emerged.

Another alternative to the traditional timber-framed home has emerged, writes LIZ McDONALD.

A small house building company - which does away with framing, sprays its homes with an organic foam insulation and uses floor-to-ceiling doors to spread heat - hopes its concept will catch on for the Christchurch rebuild.

The company, Fusion Homes, had just been launched when the first earthquakes struck, and set about reworking its energy-saving house plans to suit the new environment.

The company was founded by Christchurch builder Chris Haughey and has sold seven homes in the city, has more set to go up in the Yaldhurst Village subdivision, and hopes to secure rebuilding jobs.

"We are looking to provide points of difference for people," says Peter Crampton of Fusion. "What we are all about is sustainability and low-cost for families."

Crampton says the company looked for ways it could build more eco-friendly homes which were affordable to build and heat.


It chose to seal them all over with spray-on insulation made of soy foam and corn starch, a system commonly used in North America and Europe. Construction is with load-bearing engineered timber panels made in the North Island under the name Metrapanel which mean no frame is needed - so no wall studs or plasterboard linings.

Solid core full-height doors, a heat-saving ventilation system, double glazed windows and a choice of claddings completed the picture.

All the company had to do was alter its pile and foundation designs to meet the post-quake environment and it was ready to go. Crampton calculates that its concept halves building time, trims costs by 10 per cent, and adds 6 per cent more useable floorspace.

The company can build a three- bedroom home for less than $200,000, he says, and is in talks with the Canterbury Co-operative Land Trust to build homes on its cut-price Rolleston sections for red zoners.

"We are getting a really good response, it is exciting."

The system is one of a growing number of alternatives to the traditional timber-framed house being offered by businesses for the rebuild of Christchurch.

A few others are also using Metrapanel and other panel-type construction methods, some for portable homes, while several are offering homes with steel frames and Golden Homes is doing so with all its houses.

Various types of timber lamination such as LVL and Glulam are being used for framing, both in commercial construction and home building.

At Hive, the Home Innovation Village showhome complex in Middleton, all the homes on display are built with prefabricated components.

And shipping containers are not just useful for rockfall buffers and pop-up malls - several New Zealand businesses are offering homes made from containers and ranging in style from budget to architecturally designed.

The Press