Un­fold­ing drama

Be amazed at how this sus­tain­ably de­signed house comes to­gether

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Home - - FRONT PAGE - More mod­e­homes.com.au, sus­tain­able­house­day.com Pic­tures David Cur­zon

In an age where we’ve be­come ac­cus­tomed to flat pack fur­ni­ture per­haps it’s not so sur­pris­ing that it’s pos­si­ble to cre­ate a fold­ing house. The brain­child of ar­chi­tect Matthew Dynon, the con­cept es­sen­tially means a house is pre­fab­ri­cated at a fac­tory and then “un­folded” on de­liv­ery to the site.

Matthew’s con­cept is one of more than 43 homes across NSW that will be open for the pub­lic to visit on Sus­tain­able House Day on Sun­day, Septem­ber 17.

The event, which has been run­ning for more than 15 years, of­fers peo­ple the chance to walk through new and ren­o­vated houses to pick up ad­vice on how to build or retro fit a sus­tain­able house.

Lo­cated at Bel­more in Syd­ney’s south­west, the fold­ing house made by Mode Homes opens out on site to be­come al­most three times its trans­porta­tion size.

Matthew says he wanted to cre­ate an ar­chi­tec­turally de­signed home that over­came the high cost of trans­porta­tion by us­ing pan­els that are just 3.5m wide.

“In Aus­tralia one of the ma­jor bar­ri­ers to pre­fab­ri­ca­tion of homes is de­liv­ery be­cause dis­tances are long and any­thing over 3.5m wide re­quires things like po­lice es­corts.

“Other pre­fab­ri­ca­tion builders are build­ing to about 4.8m wide.”

As for why the house folds, Matthew says hav­ing the pan­els con­nected prior to de­liv­ery means they open eas­ily and the house can be set up quickly on site with fewer work­ers.

Easy peasy

To get this house from the Mode Homes fac­tory in Black­town to its even­tual lo­ca­tion in Bel­more, the wall pan­els of the mod­ule were con­nected us­ing hinges and the roof was at­tached with pin joints. Foot­ings were pre­pared on site prior to the de­liv­ery day.

After it was craned into po­si­tion, the house was folded out in a mat­ter of hours.

Matthew says as much work as pos­si­ble was done off site, in­clud­ing the bath­room.

The kitchen con­sisted of sep­a­rate pieces and was as­sem­bled on site at Bel­more. No til­ing was needed as it has a win­dow as a splash­back, bring­ing in ad­di­tional light.

The house has one bed­room, a liv­ing and din­ing space, plus a small laun­dry.

The Bel­more project was ap­proved un­der Com­ply­ing De­vel­op­ment leg­is­la­tion. Con­struc­tion in the fac­tory takes about eight weeks with two weeks on site.

From the very be­gin­ning

How the house is po­si­tioned on site to make the most of the avail­able nat­u­ral light is key to its suc­cess, but Matthew says its sus­tain­abil­ity jour­ney be­gins on the fac­tory floor.

“It was en­vi­ron­men­tally ef­fi­cient to pro­duce and also en­vi­ron­men­tally ef­fi­cient to run,” he says. “There was min­i­mum waste from the fac­tory and zero waste on site.

“Also, we used min­i­mum fu­els both dur­ing con­struc­tion and through­out the life cy­cle of build­ing so it also has an eight-star en­ergy ef­fi­ciency rat­ing.”

The fram­ing is made from steel, with Weather­tex cladding, Color­bond steel for the roof and the win­dows are dou­ble glazed as stan­dard. The house is also heav­ily in­su­lated, in­clud­ing dou­ble-glazed win­dows, to keep tem­per­a­tures even all year round and re­duce the need for ad­di­tional heat­ing and cool­ing.

Screw piles, which are a ground an­chor­ing sys­tem, are used for the foun­da­tions, which means the home is fully re­lo­cat­able.

The Mode Homes pre­fab­ri­cated fold­ing house sys­tem can be used to cre­ate homes of vary­ing shapes and sizes, in­clud­ing two-storey homes. It’s also pop­u­lar for ex­ten­sions be­cause the builders are on site for only a few weeks rather than months.

The fold­ing homes have drawn in­ter­est from peo­ple in re­gional ar­eas be­cause of their trans­porta­bil­ity.

“In those ar­eas it’s harder to get builders, it gets more ex­pen­sive to get trades out there,” Matthew says.

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