Be amazed at how this sustainably designed house comes together
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.
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.