Lead­ing the way to build warmer homes

Panel tech­nique an NZ first

Central Otago Mirror - - WANAKA NEWS - By AIMEE WIL­SON

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.

Photo: AIMEE WIL­SON

Warmer: Lug­gate’s Scott Pick­ett is build­ing some of the most heat ef­fi­cient homes in New Zealand.

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